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Return to Why Animals: Matter A Religious/Philosophical Perspective

Why Animals Matter: Buddhist Quotations

For ease of reading all quotations appear in a Purple Font
Please note: External links will open into a new window

Page one Introduction, History and Basic teachings
Page Two Why animals matter in the Buddhist tradition 
Page Three Reasons why Buddhists should be vegetarian or preferably vegan
Page Four Modern Day Buddhism and vegetarianism/veganism

Page Four

Modern Day Buddhism and vegetarianism/veganism

Most westerners assume Buddhists to be vegetarian, but unfortunately in many countries despite the obvious teachings of Buddha that one should not harm other beings this is not always the case, and this includes monks. However in more recent years attitudes are changing.

The following is a small selection of contemporary advocates of Vegetarianism from different sects of Buddhism

The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

On January 3rd 2007 the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, (the Karmapa is leader of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism) instructed all his monasteries and centres to become vegetarian. He stated that it was most important that both Mahayana and Vajrayana students do not eat meat.

"There are many great masters and very great realized beings in India and there have been many great realized beings in Tibet also, but they are not saying, "I'm realized, therefore I can do anything; I can eat meat and drink alcohol." It's nothing like that. It should not be like that. According to the Kagyupa school, we have to see what the great masters of the past, the past lamas of Kagyupas, did and said about eating meat. The Drikung Shakpa Rinpoche, master of Drikungpa, said like this, "My students, whomever are eating or using meat and calling it tsokhor or tsok, then these people are completely deserting me and going against the dharma." I can't explain each of these things, but he said that anybody that is using meat and saying it is something good, this is completely against the dharma and against me and they completely have nothing to do with dharma. He said it very, very strongly."

Chatral Rinpoche

His Holiness Chatral Rinpoche a renowned Dzogchen - a type of Tibetan Buddhist teaching - master, a wandering Yogi in his mid-90s is in particular well known for his advocacy of vegetarianism, and his yearly practice of ransoming the lives of thousands of animals in India is legendry. He has stated that anyone who wishes to be his student must be vegetarian.

Make every effort not to kill any living creature,
Birds, fish, deer, cattle and even tiny insects,
And strive instead to save their lives,
Offering them protection from every fear.
The benefit of doing so is beyond imagining.

The Benefits of Saving Lives
by
Chatral Rinpoche

The Benefits_of_Saving_Lives.pdf

Venerable Abhinyana

Venerable Abhinyana, was born in England in 1946. During a summer holiday in India in 1970 he made his first contact with Buddhism, deciding he needed to follow the path of Buddhism he left his home and became a Buddhist monk in the Thai Theravada Tradition in Malaysia. He began a teaching career in 1979 the idea of which was to teach people about Buddhism with the purpose of helping people to alleviate suffering. He constantly travelled to teach the Dharma, teaching, to anyone wishing to learn and practice Buddhism

An advocate of Vegetarianism he has written the very thought provoking article :Taking a Stand, from which another quotation appeared earlier. 

To use scripture to justify the disgusting and cruel habit of eating meat is both dishonest and unworthy. I’ve never been able to reconcile the preaching of Metta-Karuna (Loving-Kindness & Compassion) with the practice of meat-eating; they contradict each other. And as to seeing, hearing or suspecting that the animal was killed especially for someone, well, for whom is the animal killed if not for those who eat its flesh? No amount of twisting, juggling and verbal gymnastics can get around that. If nobody ate meat, the butcher would not kill the animals. This is
not only obvious to everyone except those who refuse to see, but is in line with the Buddha’s teachings about the Law of Dependent Origination, or Cause-and-Effect in the moral realm, whereby
it is shown how one thing leads to another in a chain-like sequence.

This is an excellent article. Take time to read the entire publication for a good understanding from a Buddhist perspective concerning the importance of living a vegetarian diet
shabkar.org/download/pdf/Taking_a_stand.pdf

Drubwang Konchok Norbu Rinpoche 

Drubwang Konchok Norbu Rinpoche 1921-2007, also mentioned earlier, was born in Drikung Tibet and was a revered and eminent practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. At a very young age he became a monk entering Drikung Thil Monastery and studied Buddhist philosophy at the Drikung Nyingma Changra Buddhist Institute.

In 1991, overcoming great difficulties he travelled from Tibet to India. where he met with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama who requested him to travel to different places to give teachings for the benefit of all sentient beings. He encouraged and inspired people to do the simplest of all dharma practices: to extend kindness to all sentient beings and to do the practice of the three kayas by the  recitation of the following mantras:

OM AH MI DEWA HRIH ( Heart Mantra of Amitabha)
OM MA NI PAD ME HUNG ( Heart Mantra of Chenrezig)
OM AH HUNG VARJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUNG (Heart Mantra of Padmasambhava)

The six syllable mantra OM MA NI PAD ME HUNG is recited to free sentient beings from suffering, all sentient beings including animals.

"The syllable PAD closes the door to the suffering of being reborn in the animal realm. The suffering of animals is stupidity, preying upon one another, being killed by men for meat, skin, etc. And being beasts of
burden.
"

Click the link below for the source of the above quotation and an
in-depth explanation of this mantra :

The
Significance and Benefits of Six-Syllable Mantra Recitation by His Eminence Drubwang Konchok Norbu Rinpoch

The following are his comments concerning the recitation of the six syllable mantra OM MA NI PAD ME HUNG ( Heart Mantra of Chenrezig) and the need to practice nonharm to sentient beings.

 

"As a Buddhist, we practice so as to benefit self and others hence we do the six-syllable mantra practice. However, when we eat meat be it chicken, pork, fish or eggs in our daily lives, we are creating immense negative karma. If on the one hand, we chant the mantra and on the other hand, we eat the meat of mother sentient beings, then our words and actions do not tally with one another. We are not doing as we preach. Can this be considered as loving kindness and compassion towards sentient beings? Is this doing good and abstaining from evil? We take refuge in the Buddha because his teachings could benefit all sentient beings. As a Buddhist, we should understand the essence of the Buddha's wisdom and teachings, which is to do good and abstain from committing evil deeds. Abstaining from evil means that we have to keep our precepts. Hence we should not take meat. When we are sick, old or near death, we would go to the doctor, we would practice and do anything possible to extend our lifespan. However, when we take meat, we are killing sentient beings that are healthy. How great is our compassion and loving kindness if we treat sentient beings in such a manner? We should abstain from killing because it generates immense negative karma. Instead, we should develop loving kindness and compassion towards all sentient beings."

"In countless rebirth, all sentient beings have been our parents. When we took rebirth in the human realm, we had human parents; when we took rebirth in the animal realm, we had animal parents and so forth. Samsara is such. We need to generate a sense of gratitude towards our parents in this lifetime and those of our past lives. Hence, we should be vegetarians and abstain from taking meat. In such a way, we would do good and give meaning to our practice. By doing so, our practice of the six-syllable mantra would be able to benefit ourselves and others, and also aid in the flourishing of the Dharma. There are some people who say that their doctor has advised them against becoming vegetarians, as they would suffer from malnutrition. This is a sign that the determination of these people is not strong enough. For if one has strong determination, one would avoid doing evil deeds at all costs and under any circumstances. Hence in our daily lives, we should stop committing the negative deed of eating meat. On this basis, the merits generated from our refuge and practice of the six-syllable mantra would be inconceivable. We should try to change our lifestyle towards vegetarianism. We would certainly face difficulties in becoming full vegetarians. However, when such obstacles arise, we should remember how every sentient being had at one point or another been our parents. When we remember this, then we would not take meat just as we would not eat the meat of our parents of this lifetime."
 

The 14th Dalai Lama

The 14th Dalai Lama has encouraged a vegetarian diet whenever possible. In recent years the Dali Lama was asked what he thought about Vegetarianism, he replied:

"It is wonderful. We must absolutely promote vegetarianism."

I do not see any reason why animals should be slaughtered to serve as human diet when there are so many substitutes. After all, man can live without meat. It is only some carnivorous animals that have to subsist on flesh. Killing animals for sport, for pleasure, for adventures, and for hides and furs is a phenomenon which is at once disgusting and distressing. There is no justification in indulging in such acts of brutality.

In our approach to life, be it pragmatic or otherwise, the ultimate truth that confronts us squarely and unmistakably is the desire for peace, security and happiness. Different forms of life in different aspects of existence make up the teeming denizens of this earth of ours. And, no matter whether they belong to the higher group as human beings or to the lower group, the animals, all beings primarily seek peace, comfort and security. Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to a man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not to die, so do other creatures.
The 14th Dali Lama
The Vegetarian Way, 19th World Vegetarian Congress 1967 quoted  in The Extended Circle by  Wynne-Tyson

"Thousands— millions and billions
— of animals are killed for food. That is very sad. We human beings can live without meat,especially in our modern world. We have a great variety of vegetables and other supplementaryfoods, so we have the capacity and responsibility to save billions of lives. I have seen many individuals and groups promoting animal rights and following a vegetarian diet. This is excellent."

"I think that our basic nature as human beings is to be vegetarian—
making every effort not to harm other living beings."
The 14th Dali Lama

Vegetarian food only is served at the Dali Lama's World peace ceremony

Dalai Lama's World Peace Ceremony Goes Vegetarian
AMARAVATI -

At Kalachakra for World Peace 2006, presided over by the Dalai Lama, all the food served to the 200,000 people attending the ceremony was vegetarian. He made a speech in Tibetan, criticizing factory farming and meat consumption, and urging Tibetans to stop the trade in wild animal skins and furs.

If the human community is based on principles of peace, it will lessen the sufferings caused to millions and billions of animals. Otherwise, out of humans' limitless and unjustified greed and desires, they build beef farms, pig farms, and fish farms which never existed before and are not needed. And now, when the animals bring diseases they are killed in large numbers. So many fishes are killed and they suffer so much.

These days there are many Tibetan groups in India working for vegetarianism and spreading compassion for animals, such acts are extremely good and something to rejoice. Most of the monasteries have also turned their kitchen into vegetarian which is really good.
- from Dalai Lama's speech

The above was extracted from the Raw Veg webpage, Buddhist Vegetarianism, where you will find more information about the growing move towards Vegetarianism in Buddhism.

Buddhist Vegetarian | RawVeg.info
 

Videos:

Dalai Lama and Vegetarianism

This is a poignant slide show film with quotations not only from the Dali Lama but also from many noteworthy Buddhists.

Video by: JakubNo You tube user

 

Buddha's Final Teaching on Avoiding Meat & Fish

The video below is a slide show of excerpts from the final teachings of the Buddha on abstaining from eating meat, including fish.

Shakyamuni Buddha's Final Teaching on Abstaining from meat & fish. In the Buddha's last teaching before his passing, he said in no uncertain terms that his followers to abstain from meat and fish. He stated that to eat meat or fish destroys the great seed of compassion. The Buddha said that even if a monk is offered meat or fish, to accept it but wash away the meat and fish with water and eat the rest and if there is too much meat in the offering, to not accept it. He said in the 100 years that people would state that the Buddha said it was acceptable to eat meat. They will claim to be following the Buddha but they are not. Any follower who abstains from meat is truly following his wishes and is practicing right action.


Live Vegan: You tube user and producer of the video,
Buddha's Final Teaching on Avoiding Meat & Fish

 

For the full text version of this section of the sutra please click here Mahaparinirvana Sutra| Abstaining From Eating Meat and Fish, Even Died by Natu

You can see that the teachings of Buddha overwhelming advocate a vegetation even vegan diet, anything other is not in keeping with the first precept. The above is merely a snippet of the many teaching of Buddha and eminent Buddhist monks and adherents from all sects of Buddhism. The craving of flesh appears to be quite a problem even for those dedicated to a spiritual path and it is sad that the proponents of meat eating persist in their endeavours to justify the unjustifiable. 

The Surangama Sutra says:
"The reason for practicing dhyana and seeking to attain samadhi is to escape from the suffering of life. But in seeking to escape from suffering ourselves, why should we inflict it upon others? Unless you can control your minds that even the thought of brutal unkindness and killing is abhorrent, you will never be able to escape from the bondage of the world's life...After my parinirvana in the final kalpa different kinds of ghosts will be encountered everywhere deceiving people and teaching them that they can eat meat and still attain enlightenment...How can a bhikshu, who hopes to become a deliverer of others, himself be living on the flesh of other sentient beings?"
 

Click the following internal link to see more quotations advocating vegetarianism or veganism from Buddhists past and present.
Why Animals Matter: Buddhist Quotations

Links

Buddhism and Vegetarianism | namahatta.org

Tibetan Volunteers for Animals
(TVA) is a registered non-government and non-profit organization registered under Karnataka Societies Act 1960. TVA is managed and run by a group of young Tibetan activists determined to make a difference.

TVA's main aims and objectives are:

1) To foster the understanding that all sentient beings on Earth have an equal right of life from the smallest of ants to the largest of animals like the elephant or whale.
2) To stop all forms of animal abuses.
3) To contribute to the protection of the environment and assist in the production of world peace.

More Buddhist quotes may be found at:
Buddhist Quotes Meat-Eating & Vegetarianism

shabkar.org:Buddhism and Vegetarianism

"Shabkar.org is a non-sectarian website dedicated to vegetarianism as a way of life for Buddhists of all schools.
The site takes its name from Shabkar Tsodruk Rangdrol (1781-1851), the great Tibetan yogi who espoused the ideals of vegetarianism."

A huge amount of information including articles audio and video

Buddhist Vegetarian | RawVeg.info

Included earlier this is an excellent webpage concerning a significant move in Buddhism towards a vegetarian or preferably a vegan diet. Quotations from eminent Buddhists advocating a vegetarian diet. Please take time to read.

EarthSave International

Mindful eating can help maintain compassion within our heart. A person without compassion cannot be happy, cannot relate to other human beings and to other living beings. And eating the flesh of our own son is what is going on in the world, because we do not practice mindful eating.

Extract

Eating for Peace - the Art and Science of Mindful Consumption
By Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Important please note:

I am not an animal expert of any kind just your average person who loves animals, all animals, and feels deeply about the plight of many of our fellow creatures. Neither am I a writer, or any other expert. Therefore please keep in mind that the information included in this website has been researched to the best of my ability and any misinformation is quite by accident but of course possible.

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