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The Buddhist View on the Moral Dangers of Eating Meat
The Buddhist Concept of Rebirth
The most important precept of Buddhism is: "To refrain from taking life." This is why strict Buddhists are vegetarians or vegans. One of the reasons for this is the belief that animals have in other lives been relatives of human beings.
This might seem strange at first to the western mind, but it was Albert Einstein who called Buddhism the religion of the future. One only needs to look at modern physics that Einstein revolutionized to see that it shares with Buddhism the concept of the inter-connectedness of all things.
According to Buddhism, animals can be reborn as humans and vice versa. What's more, the animals eaten by a non-vegetarian are connected to him from previous lives, either as his relatives, or as human beings who ate him. The Venerable Master Hua, in a talk given on the Dharma, told the story of the high monk Zhi in the time of Emperor Wu. Zhi could look at an effect and tell its cause. When asked to recite sutras at a wedding, as was the custom at the time, the monk was able to discern the connection between different people in the gathering.
- A grandson was married to his grandmother who out of attachment had been reborn as his wife.
- A daughter was relishing a pig's foot, not knowing that it was that of her mother from a previous life.
- A musician was beating a drum covered with the skin of his father.
- Guests who had been pigs and sheep were preparing to eat the flesh of those who had slaughtered them in another life: "The six kinds of relatives who had eaten those pigs and sheep were now being chopped up and cooked in the pots to pay off their debts."
The monk was struck by the irony of it all: this was not celebration but "suffering."
How the Chinese Write 'Meat'
The Venerable Master Hua goes on to explain the symbolism of the Chinese character for 'meat'. It is written as one man eating another man.
There is also an animal indicated in the character, meaning that the eater of animal flesh is reborn as an animal and is eaten by the animal he ate who is reborn as a man seeking revenge. They are literally (in the character for meat) 'fenced in' together. Their mutual resentment binds them together.
The Mahayana Attitude to Animals
In the Lankavatara Sutra of the Mahayana sect (whose monks are strict vegetarians), The Buddha forbids his followers to eat the flesh of animals, fish and fowl because they can sense their violent intentions and this causes them terror. He adds that lions and wolves wait in the forests to devour the eater of flesh.
In fact, Chinese and most Korean monks and nuns (followers of the Mahayana) are strict vegetarians.
In Angulimala Sutra, The Buddha says: "In the sequence of lives during our beginningless and endless coming and going in samsara, there is no being that has not been our mother, that has not been our sister. Even dogs have been our fathers before. . . Therefore, since our own flesh and that of others is the same flesh, the buddhas do not eat meat."
I Don't Eat My Friends (1 of 5) on Vegetarianism
Reasons to be Vegetarian
Vegetarian Diet Helps to Free one from the Wheel of Rebirth
According to The Buddha, life brings suffering. Therefore, the goal of life is to attain freedom from rebirth. Rebirth stems from a cause. If one plants the cause by eating animals, he will face the result. The animals he eats will eat him.
- Space Time and Beyond - Towards an Explanation of the Unexplainable -- Book by Bob Toben and Fred Alan Wolf
- The Horror of Taking Lives and Eating Meat -Venerable Master Hua' s Talks on Dharma, vol. 9
- Eating Meat: People Eating other People -- the Venerable Abbot Hua
- The Next Great Turning --Robert Gilman