Question on the first precept...Meat eating

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  • Hotetsu
    Member
    • Jun 2014
    • 230

    Question on the first precept...Meat eating

    Greetings all,

    Sorry for all of my questions, and I'm sure this one has been addressed before. I wish to take Jukai this winter, but I currently eat meat. I do not hunt or fish, nor have I ever done either of those things. If I do wish to take the precepts, should I cease in eating meat? Though it would be difficult for me at first (and definitely annoy my wife to no end), I would stop eating meat if needs be. Thanks everyone.

    Gassho,
    Scott
    Sent from my RM-917_nam_usa_100 using Tapatalk
    Forever is so very temporary...
  • Jishin
    Member
    • Oct 2012
    • 4820

    #2
    Hi Scott,

    I eat meat but it is not my first choice of foods.

    Gassho, Jishin

    Comment

    • Daitetsu
      Member
      • Oct 2012
      • 1145

      #3
      Hi Scott,

      It is not mandatory to stop eating meat.
      However, let me add - as someone who used to eat meat but is now vegetarian (not because of Jukai though) - it is not that difficult to quit. At all.

      Gassho,

      Daitetsu
      no thing needs to be added

      Comment

      • Geika
        Treeleaf Unsui
        • Jan 2010
        • 4980

        #4
        There is no need to stop eating meat to fully participate. I'm not vegetarian, and many here aren't.
        求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
        I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

        Comment

        • Saijun
          Member
          • Jul 2010
          • 667

          #5
          Originally posted by ScottH
          Greetings all,

          Sorry for all of my questions, and I'm sure this one has been addressed before. I wish to take Jukai this winter, but I currently eat meat. I do not hunt or fish, nor have I ever done either of those things. If I do wish to take the precepts, should I cease in eating meat? Though it would be difficult for me at first (and definitely annoy my wife to no end), I would stop eating meat if needs be. Thanks everyone.

          Gassho,
          Scott
          Sent from my RM-917_nam_usa_100 using Tapatalk
          Hello Scott,

          First and foremost, let me congratulate you on your decision to receive the Precepts.

          I am primarily a vegetarian, though I do have the occasional moment of weakness (and if someone cooks a meat dish for me, I believe that killing their generosity is a much more grievous offense than eating the meat). As others here have posted, vegetarianism is not required in order to receive the precepts.

          I'm sure that you've seen or heard of the endless polemics on the subject, but even though some sutras speak heavily in favor of vegetarianism (Lankavatara, Shurangama, and Brahmajala leap to mind), the Dharma Drum Mountain Sangha has published something that was pretty helpful to me on the subject. In part:

          Originally posted by Dharma Drum Mountain
          Perhaps the best attitude to adopt toward violation of the precepts is to understand that ordinary bodhisattva practitioners, meaning all of us, are "infant bodhisattvas." When babies first learn how to walk, they invariably fall down over and over again. However, it is only in this way-by taking a few steps, falling down, getting back up again, and taking a few more steps-that babies do finally learn to walk. Thus we, as newborns on the bodhisattva path, should not be disheartened by the repeated falls, or failures, along the road. Rather, we should know that as our legs become stronger and we learn what to do with them, we will fall down less and eventually learn not only to walk, but to run, skip, and jump! So our attitude toward keeping the bodhisattva precepts should not be one of fear and guilt, but rather one of open-mindedness, self-acceptance, hope, and joy.

          [ ... ]

          Still, it is better to break the precepts than not to have any precepts to break. With our initial vows to keep the precepts in mind, we can repent and renew our vows over and over again as many times as necessary. There is, in fact, an intimate relationship between repentance and the observance of the bodhisattva precepts: by virtue of repeated repentance, we become increasingly aware of the depth of our delusion and grow in our commitment to the cultivation of compassion. By continuing to practice with increased mindfulness and diligence, we can gradually purify the deluded mind and strengthen our resolve and ability to help all sentient beings attain Buddhahood. (Emphasis mine)
          If you view vegetarianism as necessary, transition to vegetarianism. If you break a precept, learn from your mistake and keep going. The Bodhisattva Path can be a long road; if we fall into a ditch we pick ourselves up, brush as much dust off of ourselves as possible, and get back on the road. Ultimately, though, we arrive with each step and depart with each step, not abiding anywhere. It's a pretty good hike.

          Hands palm to palm,

          Saijun
          To give up yourself without regret is the greatest charity. --RBB

          Comment

          • Risho
            Member
            • May 2010
            • 3179

            #6
            I eat meat... but remember the first precept isn't just 2 dimensional about eating meat.

            Gassho,

            Risho
            Email: risho.treeleaf@gmail.com

            Comment

            • Hotetsu
              Member
              • Jun 2014
              • 230

              #7
              Hi all,

              Thanks to everyone for your answers. I think I'll try to eat vegetarian during Ango. If I think I can go beyond that, I'll stick with it.

              Gassho,
              Scott
              Sent from my RM-917_nam_usa_100 using Tapatalk
              Forever is so very temporary...

              Comment

              • lorax
                Member
                • Jun 2008
                • 381

                #8
                Hi Scott
                When studying the precepts preparing for Jukai, there is a lot of energy put into the discussion of this precept. You should look at some of those past discussions that are still posted at Treeleaf. One of the things that becomes clear is that we can not avoid taking life. You say you do not hunt or fish, but if you choose to eat meat, someone had to do the taking of life. By eating that meat you are part of that process. Even if we are vegetarians we must acknowledge that lives are lost in the agricultural industry through accidents, pesticides etc. We must acknowledge those deaths. So it comes down to awareness of what has been given to provide us with the food we eat and pause before eating to contemplate on that.

                The best to you on your path.

                Jim
                Shozan

                Comment

                • Hans
                  Member
                  • Mar 2007
                  • 1853

                  #9
                  Hello,

                  it is a good question to look at the reasons for one's eating meat. Is it due to convenience, enjoyment, patterns due to one's culture or something else?

                  I eat very little meat and will try to once more to go fully vegetarian in the not too distant future. The modern meat industry is a great and terrible perversion.


                  Gassho,

                  Hans Chudo Mognen

                  Comment

                  • Entai
                    Member
                    • Jan 2013
                    • 451

                    #10
                    Scott,
                    I've been a vegetarian for about 25 years or so, and it works for me. That said, it's good to remember that something ALWAYS dies so that another can live, be it a cow or a carrot. My suggestion would be to honor whatever life sustains your own by the way you live your life. Not killing includes honoring life.

                    Gassho, Entai

                    泰 Entai (Bill)
                    "this is not a dress rehearsal"

                    Comment

                    • Daijo
                      Member
                      • Feb 2012
                      • 530

                      #11
                      I think in some ways we have to understand what the precepts mean to us personally. We have to decide for ourselves what our own ethical values are, and then do so without judgement of others. For me, I have elected to cut out meat, dairy and animal products from my life. This is not something I proselytize, but it is an important part of my own practice and my own understanding of the precept of non killing. If asked, "Is it possible to be a Buddhist (or buddhish) and not be a vegetarian?" I would say yes. But it is not possible for me to be a Buddhist without being a vegetarian.

                      Peace.

                      Comment

                      • Daiyo
                        Member
                        • Jul 2014
                        • 819

                        #12
                        Hi, I think this is going to be a big big issue for me.
                        Somehow I knew I would have to face it one day or another.
                        Please those of you vegetarians take no offense as you read the next words.

                        As you may know, in Argentina it's a cultural habit to eat meat.
                        I think we are one of the countries with the higher meat consumption ratio.
                        Entire families gather around the barbecue pit. The "asado" is for us the main way to celebrate anything.
                        Our culture is friendly, we gather a lot. Many people, friends, relatives, neighbours.
                        And most times an "asado" is the perfect reason for gathering.

                        And what is worst, over the years, for that cultural characteristic, I became very skillfull at grilling any meat cut, even whole animals.
                        Every family meeting it's me who cooks the "asado". That's the place I've built myself. And they are all expecting me to do it.
                        Last year my mother in law was asking my wife If I (now practicing buddhism) would celebrate Christmas.

                        Here is common for example for christmas or new year to go to a farm, choose a lamb or a little pig and have it butchered for cooking.
                        I've never hunted, and have recently quit fishing (which BTW never did it regularly) since I started to practice buddhism.
                        I try to eat more vegetables, and have been gradually reducing meat consuption.
                        I also made myself recently the vow to never order an animal to be killed as I described above for cooking.

                        I'm not sure if I will prepare myself for Jukai, but if I do, this could be such a hard challenge.
                        I would love to commit myself more with the practice and this path, but can not commit to something if I am not sure I will be able to fulfill it.

                        I think it 's going to take a whole lot of reflection.

                        Gassho,
                        Walter.
                        Gassho,Walter

                        Comment

                        • Risho
                          Member
                          • May 2010
                          • 3179

                          #13
                          My opinions -- just a beginner, not a teacher at all, so take this with a grain of salt.

                          The precepts are not commandments, and you can never live up to them. But you must give your heart and live them.

                          I eat meat too, and vegetables. I also drink. I swear. I also get jealous and very angry.

                          I kill things by virtue of living. But then there is also no death or life. These precepts come with a myriad of facets. Each precept is the entire Way in and of itself. And keep in mind, that we can kill many other things than just animals. Killing extends beyond what I would obviously think is killing.

                          I don't have answers, but to me the path of Zen and practicing the precepts is all about engaging them, living with them, asking more questions than you have answers for. If you think you have achieved something by meeting the qualifications for precepts 1 - 10, that's not it.

                          The cycle goes on, there is no end. There is nothing to achieve, so I can never be ready, and from that perspective I could never take them. But accepting them is like accepting a new path in your life... a challenge. It's a really beautiful thing but it shouldn't be rushed into. You know in your heart if it's right. The answer is going to come from a place different than giving up or continuing to eat meat. If that is important to you, you should. After all, it is your practice. But eating meat doesn't make you less of a Buddhist... or more importantly, less of a human being.

                          Just be honest with yourself, your practice, and you'll be ready. This isn't about becoming a saint or a robot. This isn't about living on a mountain in medieval Japan. This practice is about what it is to be a living, breathing, stinking human being right here, right now, in the post-modern, crazy, nuclear proliferating, 21st century.

                          It's about how to practice in that marketplace.. this marketplace that is better than our ideals of killing vs. not killing because it is real.

                          Gassho,

                          Risho
                          Email: risho.treeleaf@gmail.com

                          Comment

                          • Jakudo
                            Member
                            • May 2009
                            • 251

                            #14
                            For myself being a vegitarian is not only about the taking of life, but also about the conditions these animals must bear, the harmful effects of factory farming on the environment, and also the fact that consuming meat is so wasteful. I have had to work in meat processing factory's in the past so I am perhaps biased.
                            Gassho, Jakudo.
                            Gassho, Shawn Jakudo Hinton
                            It all begins when we say, “I”. Everything that follows is illusion.
                            "Even to speak the word Buddha is dragging in the mud soaking wet; Even to say the word Zen is a total embarrassment."
                            寂道

                            Comment

                            • Daiyo
                              Member
                              • Jul 2014
                              • 819

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Risho
                              Just be honest with yourself, your practice, and you'll be ready. This isn't about becoming a saint or a robot. This isn't about living on a mountain in medieval Japan. This practice is about what it is to be a living, breathing, stinking human being right here, right now, in the post-modern, crazy, nuclear proliferating, 21st century.

                              It's about how to practice in that marketplace.. this marketplace that is better than our ideals of killing vs. not killing because it is real.

                              Gassho,

                              Risho

                              Thanks Risho.

                              That'll keep me reflecting for a while.
                              For now, I can see that as I was raised in a Christian environment, I am so used to have someone else tell me evil from good and live on guilt.
                              After a whole life of having a finger on me saying "you're a sinner, beg for mercy", I find it hard to trust my heart, my honesty.

                              But since I've started practicing, I am gradually learning to see my deeds (and others') through compassion.
                              And that leads me slow and steady nowhere but to right action and right speech.

                              It's amazing what "just sitting" can accomplish when one gives in to it.


                              Gassho,
                              Walter.
                              Gassho,Walter

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