Oryoki

Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by seattlegal, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    Nick - do you agree with the statement "we should be the change we wish to see in the world"? If not you, who? If not now, when?

    There are many negative things/habits in life that are very difficult to "give up", but breaking these attachments in the long-term makes us more spiritual and more ethical human beings.

    What is the longest period of time you (or anyone else reading this thread) have ever gone without eating meat?

    In my experience, the personal part of giving up the pleasure/habit of eating meat is easier than the social part of giving up meat. After becoming a vegetarian, I craved a good hamburger or steak for about a year. However, even now 10 years later, some of my old friends and acquaintences treat me differently because I refuse to eat commercially-raised meat. And many new acquantences treat me differently because of what a do/don't eat. I think they somehow feel threatened by this; as food is such a large part of our social fabric and ceremony, and apparently social acceptance.
     
  2. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    "we should be the change we wish to see in the world"?

    --> Just as you are saying, meat is an addiction. We should not criticize addicts simply because they are unable to give up an addiction. Rather, we should encourage them for making any progress they make, even if it is only a change in their way of thinking.

    I believe in reincarnation, and I believe that giving up ALL of our vices will take many, many lifetimes. Fortunately, the way I see it, we will have enough lifetimes to accomplish this very lofty goal. Another good thing about the idea of reincarnation is that it allows addicts who die to come back and get rid of their addiction, rather than the idea of non-reincarnation, which does not give them this important alternative.
     
  3. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    Agreed, I wasn't trying to criticize, just trying to motivate :)

    I disagree. Waiting "until the next lifetime" to deal with an addiction doesn't help the present moment at all. In fact, I think belief in reincarnation can be a crutch; one can put off dealing with personal issues until their next life. Whereas living purely in the present moment, without belief in afterlife, gives more motivation to deal with issues in the here & now. Under your belief system, "be the change you want to see in the world" becomes instead "you can wait until your next reincarnation to be the change you want to see in the world".

    Do you agree with the Suttas that Nibbana (unbinding from attachment) can take place in 8 hours if one so chooses?
     
  4. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Well, does a rhetorical question require an answer?! :rolleyes:
     
  5. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    I would suggest that in choices of diet people will have disparate reasons for such decisions.
     
  6. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    IG,

    I agree that waiting until the next lifetime to deal with an addiction doesn't help That is just kicking the can down the road. It has also been said that, when people create bad karma but choose to wait until a later lifetime to burn it off, the bad karma becomes stronger, so these people are actually making themselves more trouble by not dealing with it in this lifetime.

    "you can wait until your next reincarnation to be the change you want to see in the world".

    --> When a person uses such an excuse to not work on issues, they are creating bad karma.

    I was not suggesting that addicts delay dealing with addiction until the next lifetime. I was saying that for some people, addiction is such a big problem that it cannot be dealt with in one lifetime, so it is fortunate for these people that they have more than one lifetime to remove the addiction.

    "Do you agree with the Suttas that Nibbana (unbinding from attachment) can take place in 8 hours if one so chooses?"

    --> No. I believe that a person must burn off most (if not all) bad karma before they are eiligible to achieve enlightenment. (I see enlighenment and nirvana as being quite different.) I also believe that a minimum amount of spirituality is required to achieve enlightenment (and I see many people around me in this world who do not have such a minimum amount of spirituality). It is a very popular belief that anyone, anywhere, at any time, can achieve enlightenment if they just put themselves into the right frame of mine, but I disagree with such an idea.

    Do you see enlightenment and nirvana as being the same or different?
     
  7. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    Hi Nick, I am not a Buddhist, and so use the terms bodhi and nirvana differently than most Buddhists probably do (feel free to scold me accordingly :)). I do tend to use them interchangeably, although I know that is not the official Buddhist view. I don't believe in a "literal state" of samsara or bodhi or nirvana. I personally think of bodhi more as a journey in life towards a higher spirituality/awareness. I don't believe in so-called "literal rebirth" so my idea of nirvana/enlightenment is a journey of everyday improvement in this lifetime, trying my best to live in the present moment and be the change I wish to see in the world; I'm not concerned with attaining "literal" enlightenment or ending the cycle of samsara.

    I enjoy posting in this part of the forum as I'm trying to learn more about the Eastern ways of thought and philosophies. So please go easy on my terminology :)
     
  8. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    They might give disparate reasons for such decisions. But IMHO the underlying motivation, in any Western Society, is selfishness/greed, not altruism/compassion. Or I suppose they could be purely ignorant of the interdependent consequences of their actions.

    You state that one can eat meat yet attain Nibbana. Which part of the Noble Eightfold Path do you think eating meat is consistent with? (Right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.)

    Do you think the Buddhist precept to refrain from destroying living creatures (of the Five Precepts) applies just to humans or to all living creatures including those whose flesh is served as hamburger and pork tenderloin?

    And no, these are not rhetorical questions. Although, of course, you can apply Buddha's four ways of answering questions when deciding if/how to respond :)

    Sincerely,
    Iowa Guy, who is
    frustrated that, of all world belief systems
    Buddhism, which teaches non-harming and interdependence
    does not embrace vegetarianism
     
  9. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    IG,

    There is no need to scold you! You are doing a very good at taking an intense look at your own personal belief system. You should be complimented, not scolded. I am not a dogmatist, so I do not scold people who believe differently than me. (I find it fascinating but also sad that you expect people to scold you for not having ‘approved’ beliefs.)

    I, too, use the terms enlightenment and nirvana differently than most Buddhists do. (I personally do not know any Buddhist who distinguishes between enlightenment and nirvana, yet the fact that Buddhism uses these two different terms seems to indicate there is a difference between the two.) I commend you on having the courage to not follow dogmatic teachings, but say what you believe and use definitions that work for you. Keep up the good work.

    "…of all world belief systems Buddhism, which teaches non-harming and interdependence does not embrace vegetarianism."

    --> Some forms of Buddhism do not teach vegetarianism. (The Dalai Lama is very much a vegetarian, he teaches vegetarianism, and he is disgusted that animals are slaughtered just so humans can eat.) In the same way, some forms of Buddhism do not teach the idea of 'literal rebirth' (from human body to human body) either. It is the job of any new Buddhist to pick and choose which of the many different and disagreeing present-day forms of Buddhism to follow.
     
  10. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    This is a good point Nick, ultimately every person chooses their own belief system and there are many different paths, even within a particular "religion" such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc.

    But I still can't wrap my mind around how, if one is a follower of Buddhism, upholding the basic Buddhist ethics of the Five Precepts and heading down the Noble Eightfold Path, how can they justify eating meat? Regardless of the particular strain of Buddhism?

    It would be analogous to someone in the Christian Tradition, agreeing to uphold the Ten Commandments, but using God's name in vain every time they sat down for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

    I don't know any Christians who do not believe in the Ten Commandments, or who believe that not all 10 apply to them. Are there Buddhists who do not believe in the Five Precepts or the Noble Eightfold Path? Those seem like basic Buddhist fundamentals to me... How can one be a Buddhist of any strain but only uphold 4 of the Five Precepts?
     
  11. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    IG, it’s funny that I think I pointed you towards the ATI website and now you’re quoting it to me! I think I’ll take the counter-questions option!
     The Buddha (one who has Awakened) ate meat. Why?
    He refused Devadatta’s request on insisting the Sangha’ code become vegetarian (Amagandha sutta). Why?
    The Buddha’s teachings include the Noble Eightfold Path and the Precepts. Which part of the Noble Eightfold Path do you think the Buddha thought eating meat was consistent with? Do you think the Buddha thought that the Precept to refrain from destroying living creatures applies just to humans or to all living creatures?
    For myself, I wonder how “a hunter” could describe themselves as any “strain” of vegetarian (The Vegetarian Society defines a vegetarian as: "Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or by-products of slaughter."). I’m not saying that to be critical of you, I’m just using that of an example of me saying everyone has their own reasons and justifications for their dietary choices. Similarly of course, the Five Precepts suggest one refrain from enjoying a nice glass of wine.
    Have you seen the Wikipedia page on vegetarianism in Buddhism? As I think I’ve said, various schools have various approaches. Regarding other “world belief systems” there’s a more straight-forward approach I think by Jainism, but I could be wrong.

     

     

     
     
  12. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Taken from the ATI website (Theravadan perspective):
     
    From the Theravada perspective, the choice of whether or not to eat meat is purely a matter of personal preference. Many Buddhists (and, of course, non-Buddhists) do eventually lose their appetite for meat out of compassion for the welfare of other living creatures. But vegetarianism is not required in order to follow the Buddha's path.
    Although the first of the five precepts, the basic code of ethical conduct for all practicing Buddhists, calls upon followers to refrain from intentional acts of killing, it does not address the consumption of flesh from animals that are already dead. Theravada monks, however, are clearly forbidden to eat meat from a few specific kinds of animals, but for reasons not directly related to the ethics of killing. Monks are free to pursue vegetarianism by leaving uneaten any meat that may have been placed in the alms bowl, but because they depend on the open-handed generosity of lay supporters (who may or may not themselves be vegetarian) it is considered unseemly for them to make special food requests. In those parts of the world (including wide areas of south Asia) where vegetarianism is uncommon and many dishes are prepared in a meat or fish broth, vegetarian monks would soon face a simple choice: eat meat or starve.
    Taking part in killing for food is definitely incompatible with the first precept, and should be avoided. This includes hunting, fishing, trapping, butchering, steaming live clams, eating live raw oysters, etc.
    And what about asking someone else to catch and kill the animal for me? On this point the teachings are also unambiguous: we should never intentionally ask someone to kill on our behalf.
     
    And what about purchasing meat of an animal that someone else killed? Is this consistent with the Buddhist principles of compassion and non-harming, a cornerstone of right resolve? This is where things get tricky, and where the suttas offer only spotty guidance. In the Buddha's definition of right livelihood for a lay person, one of the five prohibited occupations is "business in meat" [AN 5.177]. Although he does not explicitly state whether this prohibition also extends to us, the butcher's clients and customers, it does place us uncomfortably close to a field of unskillful action.
    To summarize what the suttas tell us: it appears that one may, with a clear conscience, receive, cook, and eat meat that either was freely offered by someone else, or that came from an animal who died of natural causes. But as to purchasing meat, I am just not sure. There are no clear-cut answers here.
    We are all guilty of complicity, in one way or another and to varying degrees, in the harming and death of other creatures. Whether we are carnivore, vegan, or something in between, no matter how carefully we choose our food, somewhere back along the long chain of food production and preparation, killing took place. No matter how carefully we trod, with every step countless insects, mites, and other creatures inadvertently perish under our feet. This is just the nature of our world. It is only when we escape altogether from the round of birth and death, when we enter into the final liberation of nibbana — the Deathless — can we wash our hearts clean, once and for all, of killing and death. To steer us towards that lofty goal, the Buddha gave us very realistic advice: he didn't ask us to become vegetarian; he asked us to observe the precepts. For many of us, this is challenge enough. This is where we begin.
     
  13. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Also taken from the ATI website:
     Here we may briefly consider the question of meat in relation to the bhikkhu. The word bhikkhu is derived from the root bhikkh = "to beg" (this English word is from the same Indo-Aryan root). Although a bhikkhu, when he goes out to obtain almsfood, does not beg (he collects what is offered), since he is not allowed (unless ill) to ask for food, still he is largely dependent upon whatever is put into his bowl. After he has returned to the vihara he may if he wishes, select whatever vegetable foods he has been given and eat only that. In this respect it is proper to remember that when Devadatta requested Lord Buddha for a ruling that bhikkhus should abstain from flesh, the latter did not agree to rule thus, saying: "And the eating of flesh that is pure in three respects, that is to say, that the eater has not seen, heard, or suspected that it has been killed (specially for bhikkhus) is allowable." (Flesh and fish allowable must, however, be cooked as bhikkhus cannot eat any kind raw or uncooked.) There is also the Discourse to Jivaka on the same subject and the oft-quoted Amagandha Discourse, in which the evils of ill-conduct in so many ways are pointed out as much more harmful than the eating of meat.
     
  14. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    From the official website –

     “His Holiness's kitchen in Dharamsala is vegetarian. However, during visits outside of Dharamsala, His Holiness is not necessarily vegetarian.”
     
  15. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    I could be wrong and I may have said it before I think the only thing common to all Buddhist schools is dependent origination and the seals of conditioned existence.

    As to analogous to Christianity, as you cite, perhaps sg (with a foot in each) can provide a good response for you. Perhaps the two do not make good analogies. Buddhism is an offering of a toolkit for fallible humans. It is not an unchanging revealed religion, it is a project. 

    And I make this comment not as a criticism of Christians but in light of your analogy and the context of this discussion: You imply that all Christians believe in the 10 commandments and furthermore think that they all apply to them. This should mean then that no Christians kill, steal or lie does it not? If they do, how can one be a Christian if one does not uphold all 10?
     
  16. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    "if one is a follower of Buddhism, upholding the basic Buddhist ethics of the Five Precepts and heading down the Noble Eightfold Path, how can they justify eating meat?"

    --> Everyone has personality weaknesses they need to work on. Do you have any personality weaknesses? Any 'quirks'?
     
  17. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    I do appreciate you pointing me towards the ATI website, I have learned a lot so far by reading the articles there.



    If he were alive today, with all of our environmental problems, I do not think that he would eat meat that is commercially-raised in a factory farm.


    And, of course, in other suttas Buddha supports the idea of vegetarianism. So I guess we can pick & choose our poison on this one. Just like Christians choose between "an eye for an eye" or "turn the other cheek" and cite the bible as justification for either choice.


    Yes, I see how that could be confusing. And yes, dietary choices, particularly regarding meat, can be highly nuanced for those that have thought it through. I began my “mindful meat-eating” path 10 years ago as a strict vegan. I continued down that veganism path for a couple of years, but found it TOO strict and dogmatic. Instead of becoming more in tune with Mother Nature and feeling I was contributing to the greater good, I found myself distracted by constantly checking ingredient labels to be sure I wasn’t purchasing anything with animal by-products in it. (Which is about as hard as not ever buying anything made in China). Veganism distracted me from focusing on big-picture issues in life/society by being too much of an end-goal in itself, and not enough of a tool; at least for my personality. Kind of like if you're getting eaten alive by mosquitos it's hard to enjoy a beautiful hike.

    I guess you can say I have chosen a “middle way” with meat. I don’t buy any meat, or order meat in a restaurant, or eat meat at someone else’s house. I only eat meat that I kill and butcher myself. I take full responsibility for taking the lives of those animals whose meat provides healthy nutrition to my family.

    I hunt and fish, like my ancestors have for 200,000 years; and I also have a small flock of chickens on my farm. Therefore I eat organic eggs, old “stew hens” and young-of-year roosters from that same flock, local fish, and deer/wild turkey/rabbit that I sustainably harvest from the wild.

    I am more aligned with traditional Native American values in this way than I am with Buddhism. I came from the energy of the universe, and when I die I will return to be part of the energy of the earth. One day my body will feed other organisms in nature, just as the deer I harvested this week will nourish me. I am very thankful to be part of this cycle. (You alluded to being part of the "rest of the earth" in an earlier post as well.)

    Actually, hunting and butchering other animals has helped me overcome my own fear of death. I don’t want to sound like Lunatik here, but I do see death as a beautiful part of the circle of life. I embrace the unknown/unknowable without fear of death. Killing another animal to nourish my own life gives me a very intimate and personal view of death and life.

    In the end, as you say, we all make our own choices about what we eat. I just hope that humans consider the consequences of their decision to eat meat, and particularly where that meat comes from (a local organic farm, a sustainably-harvested wild animal or fish, or a 5,000 animal confined feeding operation). This is in alignment with the Buddhist principles of right mindfulness and right action.



    :eek: Yikes! In fact, I’m breaking that precept as we speak with a glass of homemade wine :)
     
  18. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    IG,

    I'm glad you find the ATI site interesting. I'm always happy to discuss, to be corrected and have my faults of understanding pointed out. What I find more difficult is assertions of the Buddhadharma that are based in apparent or genuine ignorance and show no interest in learning through reference to the authentic sources. 

    It is of course speculation as to what Siddhartha Gautama might make of the world today, regarding diet. I think he thought it was preferable not to eat meat, but that it was not his greatest concern and the Sangha (which of course included himself)  should gratefully receive all alms without preferential requests. Regarding Devadatta's request: the Buddha wished the Sangha to be open to all, including those that had committed  serious crimes, so he did not want to impose conditions that might preclude joining him. And the request should defintely not be taken at face value; Devadatta was a devisive element of the Sangha who contrived three times to have the Buddha killed.
     
  19. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    IG,

    You said,

    "I don't know any Christians who do not believe in the Ten Commandments, or who believe that not all 10 apply to them."

    --> Well, since you brought it up, I will respond. (But this will take this thread wildly off-topic, so feel free to ignore this if you wish, or perhaps we can start a new thread.)

    I do not see Jesus as a deity. The Ten Comandments say for us to have no false gods, but by my definition Jesus is a false god, and so I say all Christians who see Jesus as God are breaking the Ten Commandments.

    Many Buddhists do not see eating meat as breaking the first Buddhist precept of do not kill. Many Christians do not see believing Jesus as God as breaking the Ten Commandments. I think there is some similarity between the two situations.

    There are also the cases of Christians to cheat on their taxes or lie about their 12-year-old child being only ten years old, so the child can get into a movie for half price. (Who among us have never done such a thing?) I think these kinds of things occur among followers of many religions, and Buddhists and Christians are no exception.

    There is also the idea that Christians who go to war are breaking the rule of turning the other cheek. On and on it goes.
     
  20. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    Nick - interesting topic, but perhaps a new thread in the Abrahamic forum would be more appropriate? I'm not sure how many folks that would have good commentary on that are following an Oryoki thread 5 pages deep?
     

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