Oryoki

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

  1. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    Authentic sources are good, but they of course contain "subjective truths" relative to the era they were written in. Apparently Buddha wasn't too concerned about meat eating in 500 B.C.; but, given his teachings on compassion, interdependence, and mindfulness, I imagine he would be more concerned in today's world of environmental degradation and overpopulation.

    [​IMG]

    The world population back then was around 100 million humans; today in the US alone there are over 300 million people, and 7 billion worldwide. Literally 70 times as many people today as in Buddha's era. Of course, back then, there wasn't the widespread environmental degradation that we see today, some of which can be attributed to the production of commercial meat. Livestock 2,500 years ago was raised on small, local, organic farms (as that's all there was); or livestock was just free-ranged across the countryside (much like wild game today).

    Today, in contrast, most meat you find in a grocery store comes from large animal feeding operations where upwards of 5,000 animals are crammed head to ass in a building, standing in their own feces for most of their lifetime and fed antibiotics so they don't get sick in those inhumane conditions. And given hormones to make them grow faster or produce more milk. And the waste from those 5,000 concentrated animals causes widespread pollution of our air, water, and soil. It makes me sick to my stomach to drive past those large feedlots here in Iowa and to think people are eating that meat; it looks so clean and healthy in that cellophane packaging!

    Today, we also have over 1 billion people worldwide without enough food to eat. Meat production is a very inefficient use of food resources; for beef, only 10% of animal protein is converted into beef protein. So, 10 pounds of plant protein is required for that one pound hamburger. IMHO that 10 pounds of plant protein should instead be eaten directly by humans instead of feeding a cow; multiplied across the globe that would be more than enough extra food to feed those 1 billion hungry folks.

    That is the problem I have with the logic "Buddha ate meat, so it's OK for me too" (not saying that is your logic, but I have heard that said about both Jesus & Buddha, in an effort to justify someone's eating of meat). IMHO such devotion to historical "authentic sources" that condone meat eating can reduce one's mindfulness of present conditions in today's world. Not eating meat from factory farms is one easy way to reduce our ecological footprint. Do you think Buddha would have embraced reducing our ecological footprint?

    Have you seen the movie Food, Inc? (excellent food for thought on this topic) Or King Corn? (which was filmed in Iowa and gives a good idea of the environmental issues in our state) Have you read Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle?
     
  2. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Interesting thread...spurs numerous comments. Funny how I've ignored it for so long, just opened it today...seems I've allowed it to ferment, like a fine bottle of wine or hanging a deer...

    I agree that there is something more complete about being a meat eater that takes part in the harvest and preparation of the flesh rather than one who simply hires assassins and then cooks the cadavers.

    I think the eating ritual has its medative properties similar to the Japanese tea service, the sand mandalas, or a performing mass....the ritual, the tradition, the focus, enters one into a frame of mind and the repetition of same has a preaparedness.

    I didn't know the name but have discussed this with monks and folks that have done short term sabbaticals....the silence, the 'unfurling' of the bowls and utensils, receiving the food, and then cleaning and restoring the material properly....if I recall it was all required to be done rather quickly and then you were ushered out and back to your task.

    It was something that those folks that were in and out of resented and thought rediculous at first, not having the skills to keep up, but in time and after leaving a favorite memory of developing the skills, enjoying doing the ritual correctly....

    to me it is all a way to indicate how dedicated you are to your path. Not to say it is required for all, the monastarial life is not for all, I think those that choose the 'clergy' in any tradition, are holding that space for us, as we are holding this space and providing for them. a symbiotic relationship.

    I know it has changed from 30 years ago being in the warehouse district and long tables....but if in San Francisco, reserve ahead for a Saturday night prix fix dinner at Greens.

    oh, and I think we've been polluting quite well for millenia...one of the reason so many indigenous people were nomad, not just to follow the seasons, but because they irradicated food sources, and stunk up the place, better to let it recover and come back later...
     
  3. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    IG,

    My comment about authentic sources was concerning the espousing of apparent Buddhist teaching not based on suttas or sutras, but rather from ignorance or hearsay. Of course overpopulation and ecological degradation would not have been on the Buddha's radar; however Buddhism has never been an atrophied dogma, it is a living project (e.g. the Community of Interbeing). 

    I believe referencing the authentic sources is essential, but that is not to say they are meant for simple mindless regurgitation.  They need to be examined and then we should accept what we feel able to accept as beneficial or true.

    I can well speculate that the Buddha would have embraced ecological imperatives. However, there are and always have been many worthy causes. The destruction by man of the biosphere was clearly not an issue 2500 years ago but the Buddha addressed many questions in his 45 years of teaching. I do believe it is to our benefit that he primarily focussed on and is remembered for his analysis of the human condition and how to address our existential angst (dukkha). Fortunately, his mind's attention was not pulled around by every issue of the day, which would have been to the detriment of the thrust of his teaching.

    And no, I've not seen or read what you refer to, but I think you may be preaching to the converted!
     
  4. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    wil,

    I appreciate the sentiment, the honesty and the authenticity that you and IG speak of regarding hunting, and I abhor the heartless industrialised meat industry. But we cannot really countenance 7 billion hunters can we?
     
  5. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    We cannot really countenance 7 billion Buddhist monks begging for food, can we? Who would then grow the food?

    We cannot really countenance 7 billion humans eating food provided by non-sustainable agriculture, while destroying our Mother Earth, can we? Who would grow or hunt the food if Mother Earth is destroyed?

    Humans sustained themselves via hunting/fishing/gathering/gardening for approximately 200,000 years. Modern-day humans have been "sustaining" themselves on intensive, non-sustainable agriculture (heavily dependent upon fossil fuels and synthetic fertilizers/pesticides/herbicides) for a few hundred years now. Long-term I'll put my money on hunting/fishing/gathering/gardening. Reminds me of Einstein's quote: "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

    Many Buddhists believe in rebirths to follow this lifetime. The earth is predicted to last another 5 billion years before the sun becomes a red giant and extinguishes life on earth. What foods do you think will sustain humans 100 or 200 years from now when many fossil fuels run out? 200,000 years from now? 1 billion years from now?!?

    I agree with you that we cannot countenance 7 billion hunters. But is that a product of hunting or a product of overpopulation?

    One can of course be mindful of eating meat and the connection with their ecosystem, even though one is not a hunter. One can start a backyard flock of chickens (you don't even have to live in the countryside as it's legal in many cities); one can purchase a free-range, grass-fed animal from a local ranch (and you'll save money if you butcher it yourself :)); one can purchase fish caught in a sustainable manner; one can grow as many veggies as they can in their own garden, or buy them from a local CSA.

    Wendel Berry's "how we eat determines ... how the earth is used" is applicable here: if we eat in a manner mindful of our ecological footprint and our larger impacts on the ecosystem, the earth will be used more sustainably and justly. And humans (and other sentient beings) will endure less suffering with such "right mindfulness" and "right action".
     
  6. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    IG,

    I have an idea that Buddhism may have been introduced into meat-eating cultures, and the people who introduced Buddhism may have decided at that time to not make a big deal about the meat-eating because it may have slowed the spread of Buddhism in that country. (I don't know if this is true, it's just a guess.) But this would explain the wide-spread eating of meat by Buddhists in the world today. The same is true for me -- I grew up in a meat-eating Christian family, converted to Buddhism, but I am still unable to give up meat. I am glad nobody told me I had to stop eating meat before I could call myself a Buddhist (and I feel they would have been wrong to do so). To use your Christian comparison, I feel even the most evil villan -- even Hitler himself -- still has the right to call him/herself a Christian.

    There is also your issue of eating meat killed in the wild vs. eating meat grown in captivity. I know you think this is an important distinction, but I think the bigger issue here is that killing and eating an animal is more important of an issue than where it is killed, by whom, and how it was raised.
     
  7. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    I contemplate the lines. I look at the Jain, if you have a concern over taking life it seems the Jain viewpoint makes the most sense. Then I think of the lines that a carnivore draws, at horse, dog, cat, monkey, nutria, opossum, guinea pig, crickets, snakes, grubs....or whatever other line depending on cultural mores or ewe factor... is meat meat or isn't it?

    Book recommendation Amazon.com: Diet for a New America (9780915811816): John Robbins: Books

    I reduced my meat eating for two reasons, first hand knowledge of animal production and feed lots, and second an overall concern for health of us and our earth. Animal production vs vegetable production, we can feed more and healthier and pollute and waste less.

    I primarily only eat animals that get infront of someone's gun or I met/pet/know the name of. I say primarily as I have not been able yet to walk by a sushi bar.

    But I do think psychicly, physically, eating dead flesh takes a toll on us and our societies...that as long as killing is in our system, killing will be in ou system.
     
  8. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    My question was not to be dismissive but to stimulate, which I seem to have done! Likewise I do not intend to be dismissive but... A lot of people, including me, live in a small property with no garden at all...just saying...
     
  9. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    ...nor can the average Brit own a weapon (thankfully)...

    I agree the current situation isn't sustainable and all the trends point to big changes, much of which will be enforced and, I think, bad news for many millions. I don't have ready answers but I guess Americans with guns might be well placed...
     
  10. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    I've just coincidentally discovered from my current book (The Simpsons and Philosophy!!!) that philosophers call this simple rule following notion of ethics 'divine command theory'. It is exemplified by Ned Flanders! However, as long ago as Plato, this was undermined, since as Plato explained in Euthyphro, divine command theory makes morality utterly arbitrary (i.e. Whatever the rules say you have to do, whatever the circumstance). I knew the Simpsons wasn't just a mindless cartoon!
     
  11. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    I'm definitely not advocating for 'divine command theory'. I don't believe in "absolute morality" (the morality view of many conservative Christians that I know, as evidenced by the 10 commandments and belief in "absolute truth" from God). IMO morality is relative to a particular society in a particular era; and subject to the views of the individuals that comprise that particular society in that era. You & I have agreed in previous threads that one shouldn't take "holy books" too literally.

    I think this illustrates a major difference between Buddhism and Christianity. Most conservative Christians as I stated earlier believe in the literal interpretation of the 10 commandments (absolute/objective morality). Whereas most Buddhists seem to have their own interpretation of what the Noble Eightfold Path means in their particular life. Snoopy's right mindfulness and right action likely differ from IG's right mindfulness and right action (subjective/relative morality); yet we can both uphold the Noble Path. Would you agree? And if this is true then is bodhi/nibbana relative/subjective? i.e. there are no steadfast rules on how one attains nibbana/bodhi ?


    :eek: Wow, we have totally different worldviews on this topic. I would personally never put a thankfully after that statement. The average Iowan can legally carry a concealed firearm :D. My house and car are always unlocked (keys are in the car) and I wouldn't have it any other way. The joke in rural Iowa is that the only time people lock their cars is during zucchini season so that their neighbors don't load up the backseat with a box of zucchini :)

    Have you ever seen the movie Bowling for Columbine? Michael Moore makes some interesting comparisons between the US and Canada (which has even higher per-capita gun ownership than in the US). On your side of the pond in the UK criminals just use knives since guns are harder to obtain. And of course Norway's gun control laws didn't prevent the Oslo terrorist from carrying out his attack; I can assure you no terrorist could go on a 90 minute unopposed rampage in my home state, even if the police never showed up. Many variables at play on this nuanced topic, would be a good thread in the politics section if you're interested in exploring further.


    Snoop - the UK has one of the best "allotment" systems in the West, does it not? I really dig the history (pun intended), dating back to the community property of the Saxons and including the "Victory Garden" era of WWII. You might even be able to rent an allotment from the Church of England :p Similarly on my side of the pond there has been a recent increase in "community gardens". In fact, several local towns in my neck of the woods have established community gardens in the last few years; this trend seems to strengthen with rising food prices and increasing awareness of the externalities of large-scale food production.

    IMHO, the modern "urban life" of people depending on strangers to grow their food is an experiment on a grand scale never before seen on the earth. I'm also not trying to be dismissive, just saying that modern society as we know it has not yet stood the test of time. What would you do if someday (perhaps in a time of crisis) you go to the grocery store and there is no food on the shelves?

    Reminds me of a quote from the conservationist Aldo Leopold (a native Iowan): "There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace."
     
  12. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    IG,

    For a Buddhist, or at least this one, moral action is only ever action in the present moment, so yes country, culture, individual and also situation. Only robots just follow rules.

    Yes the gun thing is a whole other view.

    Yes, we have allotments; hard to get and too few for the population. You know England is one of the most densely populated places in the world?
     
  13. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    The day will probably come when the stores run out, the fuel runs out. Cue panic, madness, violence and more...
     
  14. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    You keep ringing me?


    See, it's just a thread discussing that environment, and madness and vexation are already upon me! :p
     
  15. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    The monks eat porridge. So do I.
     
  16. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    Well it's been over a decade since I've spent time in London, but I imagine that it's just as dense now as it was then. I have fond memories of the British Museum, street vendors selling roasted chestnuts, and the Chunnel.

    Yes, England = densely populated. Rural Scotland = not so much so. Some of you Brits just need to head north up the island; plenty of land up there to grow cool-season veggies (hope you like turnips) and plenty of rangeland for your grass-fed beef/sheep/chickens/etc. :)
     
  17. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

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    "Meatless Mondays" are catching on in this country, perhaps you might be interested to give it a try along with some like-minded friends or family? Pretty soon you get used to not having meat at every lunch or dinner meal. Before you know it you're going 2 or 3 days without eating any meat at all.

    It also helps to be a good cook with vegetarian ingredients. When we cook a 5 course vegetarian feast with the fresh bounty of our backyard garden, none of our dinner guests ask "where's the meat?" :)


    I disagree, but here is a real-world scenario for us to ponder regarding "Right Action" of killing and eating an animal vs "Right Action" of eating strictly vegetable protein and the externalities of that food production.

    My father has a small farm. His farm has a large pasture of native prairie grasses, which is the "Holy Grail" of wildlife habitat in the Midwest. Over 100 species of plants can be found in this type of prairie, and numerous insects, invertebrates, amphibians, birds, etc specifically depend on prairie habitat for nesting, feeding, etc. Deer also feed on this prairie grass and are abundant on this particular farm (you could substitute cows/sheep, other grazing animals, the logic still applies). These deer (or cows/sheep) are part of the prairie ecosystem, they live in harmony with the other species.

    To provide his family's protein/amino acid needs, my dad can harvest 2 male deer per year off his farm, giving him 100 pounds of boneless meat (or substitute one cow or sheep or flock of chickens). This harvesting of an animal does involve the death of that particular animal, but it is done in a sustainable manner which does not reduce the long-term numbers of the herd as only males are harvested (leaving the females to reproduce). Harvesting the deer/cow/sheep doesn't affect the other prairie species as the habitat is left intact. 2 male deer per year (or one cow) can be harvested in perpetuity from this land.

    Conversely, to provide his family's protein needs, my dad could plow up an acre of this prairie to grow soybeans or some other high-protein vegetable, which he could feed to his family in place of meat. He would not outright kill any animals with a gun or bow and arrow. But he would be destroying 40,000 square feet of wildlife habitat; which numerous species of animals/insects/plants depend on for their food and home. Plowing up the prairie would in turn reduce the population of these species as they now have less habitat in which to live. His production of soybeans would also involve the use of fossil fuels to power his tractor and combine, the use of commercial fertilizer (some of which is mined), and pest control (killing insects that also want to eat "his" soybeans).

    My dad's family needs protein to survive, they can't "not choose" to eat; the act of human survival entails an impact (directly or indirectly) on other species in the environment. So, which of these two scenarios is "Right Action" to feed one's family? Killing an animal every year (deer/sheep/cow) that lives in sustainable harmony with the environment, grazing on the earth's natural habitat? Or not directly killing an animal for meat but instead permanently destroying a given amount of wildlife habitat for the sake of growing vegetable protein, along with the externalities of pest control and fossil fuel use?
     
  18. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Bless you, IG! That would be viewed as an invasion and the Scots would hate the English even more than they do now! (if that's possible!)
     

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