Are The Animals You Eat Blessed?

Bodhisattvas who crave the taste of meat
weaken their compassion.
They should abstain!

– Vajradhara Reting Trichen

It is sometimes said that when practitioners of the Dharma and especially of the Vajrayana eat meat, their actions are justified because they are creating a connection between the slaughtered animal and the teachings. They are conferring a special benefit on the animal. It is therefore good to eat meat, in quantity and on a regular basis. Shabkar [Tsogdruk Rangdrol] considered this line of reasoning particularly laughable. Like many false but attractive arguments, it is constructed of half-truths. The principle of interdependence, it is urged, is universally applicable and must of necessity be operative in the present case. If it is possible to gain a connection with the Dharma by seeing, hearing, or touching representations of the teaching, it is logical to suppose that an animal gains a connection with the teachings by being eaten by a Dharma practitioner.

No doubt there is some truth in this contention. But the question that must now be asked is whether the principle is universally applicable and whether, in particular, it is applicable to us. If, given interdependence, it is possible for an animal to be benefited through the consumption of its flesh, much will depend on the status of the consumer – on his or her own connection with the Dharma and on the degree of his or her spiritual  attainment. If the person eating the meat is an enlightened being – a Buddha or a great Bodhisattva residing on the ground of realization [not that they really do eat meat] – it is not difficult to suppose that, compared with other animals slaughtered for their meat, the being in question is indeed fortunate.

But honesty must surely oblige us to admit that, in our case – that of ordinary people, struggling with the practice – “connection with the Dharma” consists of listening to a few teachings, reading a few books, attending an empowerment or two, having the blessed substances placed upon our heads, and trying, when we have time and the mood takes us, to meditate and practice. When all is said and done, our own connection with the teachings is tenuous enough. And if it were to occur to us to wonder about the predicament of the being whose body we are in the process of eating, who of us would be able to even locate its mind in the bardo, let alone lead it to a buddhafield? What possible benefit could conceivably come to an animal by having its flesh eaten by the likes of us – mere aspirants on the path, who are without accomplishment and are of ourselves prisoners of samsara?

Food Of Bodhisattvas: Buddhist Teachings On Abstaining From Meat
Translators’ Introduction (Padmakara Translation Group)

Related Article:
Quickly Kill To Deliver Me, Please?


Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.