Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Vegetarianism and Buddhists

I gave up eating meat when I was eighteen. For a brief period after my heart attack, I ate some fish. Largely salmon or tuna. This was a mistake. I have nothing aginst those who eat meat. I am not draconian enough to try and push my dislike onto others in the attempt to convert them to eating only vegetables. Are we better animals than our fellows? Is a tiger wrong in hunting a fellow animal? Is a cat wicked to toy with a bird? No. It is the way of the world. It is Tao.

We are animals, primates. We are no better than other animals and to suggest there is something bad or wicked or indeed evil about eating a thing that has been killed for consumption is a supreme arrogance. An arrogance by way of seeking to elevate a non-meat eater to lofty heights of self-perpetuated superiority.

"Buddhists should be vegetarians, shouldn't they?

Not necessarily. The Buddha was not a vegetarian. He did not teach his disciples to be vegetarians and even today, there are many good Buddhists who are not vegetarians.

But if you eat meat you are indirectly responsible for the death of a creature. Isn't that breaking the first precept?

It is true that when you eat meat, you are indirectly and partially responsible for killing a creature but the same is true when you eat vegetables. The farmer has to spray his crop with insecticides and poisons so that the vegetables arrive on your dinner plates without holes in them. And once again, animals have been killed to provide the leather for your belt or handbag, oil for the soap you use and a thousand other products as well. It is impossible to live without, in some way, being indirectly responsible for the death of some other beings, and this is just another example of the First Noble Truth, ordinary existence is suffering and unsatisfactory. When you take the First Precept, you try to avoid being directly responsible for killing beings.

But I still think that a Buddhist should be vegetarian.

If there was a person who was a very strict vegetarian but who was selfish, dishonest and mean, and another person who was not a vegetarian but who was thoughtful to others, honest, generous and kind, which of these two would be the better Buddhist?"

I am not a Buddhist nor Zen Buddhist. Tao is not Taoism yet I follow Tao. Tao is the way. I am not Taoist.

For me, and this is core to my being me, meat is unpleasant. The taste of it and the fact I don't want to kill anything. I am not Jainist yet I always avoid treading on insects. Life is precious. Conflict is harmful. By following your own path others may find the way you travel beneficial to them and copy you. However, one individual should not force his or her views on another.


Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.


Cara H said...

I've not been able to entirely give it up. I do try to eat more plant based foods than meat based and to use organic meat where possible.

Russell Duffy said...

I think being the person you are, kind and generous, outweighs your eating meat.

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A Utility Fish Shed Blog

A Utility Fish Shed Blog