Re: Buddhist diet

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Posted by Tim C. ( on April 26, 2000 at 08:38:19:

In Reply to: Re: Buddhist diet posted by Rochelle on April 25, 2000 at 13:10:24:

Dear Friends:

Three or so years ago I was visiting my fiance's family in New York. One afternoon we were driving in the car on the way to dinner--five of us were. I was in the back seat of the car reading a text by His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. I came to a passage which said that as a Buddhist we should (at best) strive to help others, but at least we should do them no harm. After three or so minutes of contemplating this passage, I sat forward in my seat and said, "I'm a vegetarian; I am no longer going to eat animals or fish."

Ever since that afternoon I have not eaten meat except for one time. My fiance and I were at our favorite Thai restaurant in North Miami Beach which serves a wide array of Thai foods as well as sushi. I ordered "vegetable rolls" which were written as having rice, carrots, spinach, and cucumbers. When the order arrived, to my suprise, there was raw-tuna in the center or the rolls. This normally would not have been a problem (considering my fiance is not a strict vegetarian or a Buddhist), but the one thing she refuses to eat is raw-tuna. We discussed my predicament for a little while and I came to the realization that I had to eat the rolls. My decission was essentially backed by the understanding expressed by Rochelle: "even if we didn't kill the animals, we should eat it for the sake of respect for the deceased." I was well aware that if I did not eat the rolls, they would be thrown out and that hurt me even more than the thought of eating the rolls--what I was worried would be breaking my resolve. So I ate the rolls, and while eating them cultivated compassion and love for the fish which I was eating.

The point of this whole story is that in Buddhism (to the best of my knowledge) there is no rules regarding whether practitioners are to be vegetarian or can be non-vegetarian. My interpretation of the teachings is that for me, eating meat would not be good practice. However, I see absolutely no flaws in Rochelle's reasons for eating meat. I think this aspect of being a Buddhist is open for interpretation, and there are many good reasons to eat meat or to not eat meat--it depends on what your heart says. My mother (who is also a Mahayana practitioner) eats meat. Just as Rochelle expressed with regards to His Holiness, my mother tried to not eat meat, and she found herself feeling real weak and unhealthy. Obviously, there is no flaw in the logic of eating meat for such reasons. The decision is the individual's to find from within.

However, I want to warn, (in my opinion) if one looks inside and finds "I ENJOY EATING MEAT" this is not a very good reason to eat meat. I would probably have to say that the individual is not looking deep enough if this is the only answer found--meat eating as being pleasurable.

Basically what I am saying though, is look within. Consider your "Buddhist ethic" and make your decission. Either way, if it comes from within and your logic in finding this answer is not flawed or of wrong intent, then you found the right answer.

Take care, Friends.


Tim C.

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