by MPD
Categories: Eats, People
Tags: .

Some say that freegans — a person who only consumes discarded goods — should be, by practice, vegetarians; other’s say that anything goes. If the Dalai Lama was king of the freegans, he’d probably side with the latter group.

Over the years, the Dalai Lama has been criticized for promoting compassion towards all creatures yet still continuing to consume meat. Even Paul McCartney gave him a stern talking to. In a recent conversation with NDTV, the Dalai Lama explained his dietary habits and philosophy.

“In vinaya no prohibition in eating meat,” said the spiritual leader. “So monks in Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, they take both veg and non veg food. One time I asked, discussed this subject with a monk from Sri Lanka about 40 years ago, he said Buddhist monks are neither veg nor non veg… he should accept whatever he gets, so that’s the principle. But vinaya clearly mentions that meat which was purposely killed for you was not to be eaten but in general was not prohibited, some books like langaavatarasutra prohibited any kind of meat, including fish etc but some other texts not prohibiting, so different case, I think practically in northern part of Tibet, no vegetables. Very difficult. So that’s practical reason.”

We hear what the wise man is saying, but we’re still a little confused about the whole thing. What do you think? Should monks consume animals products if given to them as offerings, or should they just buy a V is for Vegan shirt and call it a day? Chime in and share your thoughts!

  • ASB

    Excuses. I heard the Dalai Lama speak at University a few years ago and his specific explanation at THAT time was that he consumes animal products for “medical reasons” on the direct advice of his doctors.

    • Santiago

      It is true. He actually once tried to become vegetarian but he became sick so the doctors advised him not to. Yet, many buddhists eat meat (what they don’t create in their minds is the intention or desire to eat meat, nor to kill) and the reason is because of their deep understanding of the law of karma.

      Peace be with you.

      • Jayfa

        Yeah, apparently he became really jaundiced and was advised to eat meat.

        He does make a good point about how narrow the traditional regional Tibetan diet is – expecting them to just turn vego would be nearly as tough as expecting the same of eskimos and inuits living in line with their heritage.

      • Samanta

        “He actually once tried to become vegetarian but he became sick so the doctors advised him not”

        He wasn’t a ‘vegetarian’, he was living off milk and nuts, an unhealthy diet for anyone.

  • Rachelle

    Just my opinion, but I don’t see how ANYONE–spiritual leader or otherwise–can preach “compassion for ALL creatures” and yet still continue to eat the creatures they find tasty.

    • Laura

      Simply stated. So true.

  • Mark

    How does he define meat that wasn’t purposely killed for him? That could be interpreted in so many ways.

    • OttoMad77

      He means he didn’t chose an animal, and then have it killed specifically for him–rather it had been killed for someone else and who then offered it to him. It goes back to the Buddha traveling through northern India and accepting whatever was offered to him–and he did eat meat–dying from eating rotted pig.

      Odd thing about all this is many Tibetans, even today, will have animals killed by the Muslims who live in Tibet, in order to avoid accumulating bad karma. Of course I have often wondered, in Buddhism, wouldn’t knowingly putting someone at risk for developing bad karma be equally as bad simply killing an animal yourself?

      • Jayfa

        Yes, and they address this. There is no ‘chain of karma’ where the majority of the proverbial blood is on the Muslim butchers’ hands, and only a trickle on yours.

        But there is the lingering bon/buddhist superstition that when you die, if you have murdered you will feel yourself being murdered by each of your victims (animals included) for a long period of time (1 year, 10, 100 – I don’t remember now…).

        It’s not uncommon in dharma-centric cultures to ‘leave others to their karma’, which is the exact opposite of the concept of karma. People will justify their actions any way they can.

  • metoo

    Making it up to suit himself. Like most religion it is full of pooh.

  • ash

    This is in my top three questions for any maker I might meet when I die. What’s the deal with the animals? And why is the chain of life for animals so cruel? Therein lies the point I guess… we have a choice, animals do not. For the Buddah, if he had a true way to live vegetarian, then I would hope he would choose to do so. I get what he’s saying about if they had very limited choices for food.

  • Santiago

    To understand why the Dalai Lama eats meat, and yet feels compassion for
    every sentient being, it is necessary to have a deep understanding of the
    law of karma, one of the pillars of Buddhism beliefs (it is always better to
    do a profound research before judging, this if you ever consider judging as
    a good thing to do).

    • Linda Sullivan

      I so agree with you. Yeah I’m compassionate about animals too, but I would research about Tibetan and Buddhist traditions first to be able to contribute intelligent insights

  • A

    What he’s saying Mark, is that if someone were to offer him meat,and if there is nothing else, out of politeness, he would take it. He would not take it however, if the animal the meat comes from was killed with the express intention of handing it to him. That’s the usual Buddhist interpretation. Some schools of Buddhism just limit the consumption of meat,others not at all.

    • Melissa

      As you said, I know many Buddhists who eat meat (and I don’t mean Americans who converted either). I mean many Japanese Buddhists, who were born into the religion.

  • Angel Justice

    You gotta be kiddin’ me! Why do think this clown “His Nothingness” calling himseslf The Dalai Lama cares? He is an admitted terrorist leader, and Nazi sympathizer. Just google: Dalai Lama, Hitler.

  • Mark

    So the way I understand it, he couldn’t purchase meat because he would be providing demand for the killing and in essence the animal would have been killed for him. However if he is given meat out of charity or as a gift, or if the animal died of natural causes, it is fair game? (no pun intended)

  • Esta

    I find it uber-irritating that the Buddhists talk about not stepping on bugs to avoid doing harm to sentient beings but they then go out and eat slaughtered animals for lunch! I once took a Buddhist Meditation class and couldn’t tolerate the ‘disconnect.’ The Dalai Lama, as a Buddhist leader, should practice what he preaches about compassion for all beings. And I don’t believe he needs to eat meat for his health. Since when is meat a ‘health food?’

  • nika

    you people have no clue about the life of a monk – you just know your own little purist world and thats about it.

    Monks (the world that the Dalai Lama is speaking of) must immerse themselves in the community and be fed by the community. Your average monk (part of a larger sangha) will walk through the community in which he serves with his bowl and receives donations from lay people who feed the monks.

    The lay people give the monks what they can – a spiritual hospitality if you will.

    The monk does not have to eat corrupting foods (like candies or McDonalds if offered, etc, depends on the monk) but they also must not waste.

    They can eat meat – the food offered likely fully depends on the community in which the monk lives.

    The biggest thing – and I think something people here REALLLLLY need to learn – is that there must NOT be an attachment to what one receives in the bowl. It simply is.

    There is an almost fever pitch saturation of attachment to purity in the present day vegan culture that is so unhealthy.

    • Jayfa

      Someone gets it! Tibetan Buddhism is about attachment, specifically breaking attachment. This includes attachment to friends, family, pets, money, ambitions, desires and, of course, food. Secondary to that is causing as little harm as possible.

  • anonymuncule

    All living things. What about vegetables? Are they not living? So in order to be truly compassionate, we can only eat fruits?

    It is an illusion to believe that one can go through life without leaving a trail of corpses along the way, be they plants or animals. We have to accept that many lives are lost for our sake. I’d like to think that the key here is “appreciation” rather than “avoidance”. Rather than surviving on an unhealthy diet of fruits (can’t even be nuts or grains because some may consider that a “potential life”), humans should learn to be grateful of the lives that are sacrificed for their continuance, and then try to help other lives so that we can give back a speck of what we have received.

    My Tibetan guide said that Tibetans would rather eat a big animal (like yaks) than small ones (like fish). The rationale is that one big animal can feed lots of people, and therefore can minimize the killing. So, food for thought: you’d have to eat a whole lot of plants/grain to survive on a vegetarian diet. Or, you can eat meat to minimize the killing. But you can also argue that the animal has been eating the grain/plants. But I think they feed leftovers to pigs nowadays … so what’s “worse”?

    Just eat a balanced meal.

  • Laura

    I think it’s just an excuse. I am compassionate that it’s a hard decision once you begin a vegetarian lifestyle, and I’m only now beginning my journey as a vegan. I made excuses just like his for years, and I hate to say it, but it’s ignorance. Maybe food producers didn’t have YOU individually in mind when they killed the animal, but they knew that people LIKE YOU would consume them, that’s why they were killed. I always admired the Dalai Lama for obvious reasons, but I’m actually quite disappointed hearing about this.

  • Whoever…

    Excuses, excuses, excuses…

    While he is travelling all over the place, his people is being oppressed by the chinese.

    Regarding veg*nism, it’s the healthiest diet we know and therefore the so called doctors who advised him to eat meat should have done more research previously.

    “compassion for all living creatures”… unless it’s not convenient!
    What can I say? Religions are all a bunch of crap…

    Regarding veg*nism being ‘deadly to plants’, well we can eat most vegetables and fruits without killing the ‘mother plant’. Those that are killed are already in the process of dying during the harvesting season. Besides, plants don’t feel the same way as animals and their level of awareness is lower than the one of animals and therefore we can’t compare their suffering to that of the animals.

    Finally, I believe that if veg*ans could obtain the energy our bodies require without killing any form of life we would chose that way instead.

  • Bencat1000

    Is murder such a difficult word to understand? What does a killed plant have to do with a killed animal? People make everything so complicated. Murder could not be more obvious. Only those who are so heavily addicted to murdered animal flesh will continue to confuse the issue with ‘murdering’ a plant. His holiness, the Dalai Lama is a fake, a fraud and a murder supporter. Is it not obvious? Why the confusion?

    • David

      If you can pervert the definition of ‘murder’ to include non-human animals, then why can’t others extend it even further to plants. I mean they are living things, so their lives are ended so you can eat them.

      • don miguelo

        Murder means “to kill or slaughter barbarously,” when used as a verb. The legal definition is what you are talking about (you know, for court trials). Unless you meant perverting a group of crows into not killing non-human animals!

        I always considered murder to be the intentional ending of ANY animal life, remember humans are after all, animals too. Why don’t I extend that to vegetables, insects and bacteria, etc? I guess because of a slightly selfish reason, I don’t have another way to exist without any sustenance. I walk around, it kills bugs. My stomach acid kills bacteria. OMG! If I freaked out about that I would either be a Jainist (look it up) or go crazy. I selfishly don’t want to go crazy and I want to stay alive. Can you forgive that selfishness?

        Vegetables, remember (as I know you have brought this up before) do not have central nervous systems (they are not feeling pain, not self-aware). Many vegetables and fruits naturally fall off the actual root of the plant. Ok but I can see that humans (and other animals) “kill” vegetables for food and why is that any different than killing animals for food? Metaphysically, it is not any different. However don’t make the mistake that because something is true in one way that it’s true across the board. I know a person of your caliber would be mortified if he was to do that.

        Yes, vegetables are alive, and from a certain-intentional-black-and-white point of view, ending their lives makes all vegetarians and vegans hypocrites. You can tell yourself that’s true until you are blue in the face. I can’t refute that anymore than if a light switch is off, saying it’s not off. You’ve put it in “it’s either This or That” terms. Unfortunately, that’s an easy cage to get trapped in, especially since it suits your purposes. Search out the dimmer switch, the gray between the sides, the complexities that are also more holistic realities.

        I think it’s safe to stay where you are right. You don’t have to open up to another point of view if unless somebody can prove your airtight argument wrong. Control the argument terms and you control the answers. I get it. Sad (and not a true scope of the issue or its answers) but also very safe.
        I am done trying to refute your argument until I am blue in the face as well. We have be better than that.

        I’ll end this way too lengthy post with this:
        Not killing animals for food and eating vegetables instead reduces the overall cone of destruction by so much that it’s worth doing. That’s just simple math.

      • David

        So don miguelo, I see you are so bored and have so little in your life that you have decided to stalk my online comments. I mean going back over a month and answering my questions that were specifically directed to Bencat 1000 just smacks of a complete lack of a life.

        Cherry-picking one definition that matches your argument out of multiple definitions is kind of beneath you isn’t it?

        “I always considered murder to be the intentional ending of ANY animal life.” But then you put insects in a different category. By any definition I have ever seen insects are animals. So what you are really saying is that you have decided to arbitrarily draw a line between what is OK to kill and what isn’t OK to kill.

        You try to bring up this straw man about a central nervous system and feeling pain. But insects do have central nervous systems; as do worms, which are also animals. So by your earlier statement killing insects is murder, as well as hook worms, heart worms, tapeworms, etc. Or did you shift your arbitrary line to put them into the OK to kill category. Also where is your proof that a central nervous system is needed to feel pain? Just because plants are constructed differently doesn’t mean that there may not be some analog of pain that plants can feel.

        “I selfishly don’t want to go crazy and I want to stay alive.” There is the heart of the matter. You want to stay alive so you draw a line in such a way that you can feel OK about killing the things you need to kill to meet your goal of staying alive. You analog of the dimmer switch is very good, it is just that you have set your dimmer at a lower point than I have, although you still place some animals in the OK to murder category. And then you have to tap-dance to justify why your setting is better and more moral than mine. A dance you have no hope of pulling off. And I believe you know that and that is why you avoid these types of arguments because as you said before you don’t want to go crazy.

        “I am done trying to refute your argument until I am blue in the face as well.” One post in answer to my month old post, hoping I won’t notice it and you call that arguing until you are blue in the face?

        Oh and you can pull back that ego a little bit. I realize you believe that you are super-intelligent and far above all us meat-eaters, but I have know about Jainist for decades. I admire their commitment but always thought they are a bit extreme. Maybe if you didn’t try and talk down to people you would have more to do with you life than stalk people on internet forums.

        I will end my post with your own words, which seem to fit your post better anyways. ” Control the argument terms and you control the answers. I get it. Sad (and not a true scope of the issue or its answers) but also very safe.”

  • anil bishnoi

    All lives have equal right to live, what if they can’t show ressistance to the cruelity done to them by human beings.We people have no right to take life of other creatures. As we feel that our human life we get only once and we should live it to the utmost happiness, so is the life of other creatures who have the feeling to live their life span.We must consider this.LIVE HAPPILY.

    • David

      So mosquitoes, even if they cause malaria, have a right to live and shouldn’t be killed? And tapeworms? What about bedbugs and lice?

      Do you really mean it when you say “All lives have equal right to live”? Or like don miguelo, are there actually animals that you are OK with killing?