How A Shocking Teaching Can Be True

[1] 为利杀众生,
[2] 以财取诸肉, 
[3] 二俱是恶业,
[4] 死堕叫唤狱。 

— 释迦牟尼佛

[1] For profit killing sentient beings,
[2] with wealth obtaining much meat,
[3] both together are [with] evil karma,
[4] [after] death falling [into the] Crying Out Hell
[i.e. Raurava Naraka].

— Śākyamuni Buddha
(Mahāyāna Entry Of Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra’s
8th Chapter On Severing Of Eating Meat: Verse 6)

The above verse might seem difficult to accept, but it can be analysed line by line respectively to see how it is perfectly reasonable.

[1] The first line is on directly providing the supply of meat, by killing.

[2.1] The second line is on directly providing the demand of meat, by buying. The word ‘诸’ can also be translated as ‘many’, ‘all’ or ‘various’, to be further addressed below.

[3.1] The third line is on both together creating negative karma as they are two halves of a cycle. To directly provide supply of the killed, and to directly provide demand of the killed are surely both equally culpable, as there will be no supply without demand, just as there will be no demand without supply. When demand increases, supply increases. When demand decreases, supply decreases. When demand ends, supply ends.

[4] The fourth line is on the evil karmic effect of personally causing or conditioning sentient beings to cry out in hellish fear and pain when being killed for one, which is surely to personally experience the similar after death. As most people do use their wealth to obtain meat in their lives by buying, and are aware of themselves being part of the cycle of supply and demand, does this mean most will fall into hell?

[2.2] The answer pivots upon the phrase ‘much meat’ in the second line. Surely, one cannot fall into hell just for buying one small piece of meat, as such a consequence would be too drastic to be karmically fair. Thus, the key question is — ‘How much is too “much”, to be enough to incur a hellish effect?’ Since this is uncertain, it is best to reduce or abstain from buying meat, be it for personal or others’ eating, as both sustain or increase demand for killing.

[3.2] It might be believed by some that killing creates more negative karma than buying the killed. However, just as the Buddha taught that butchering is a Wrong Livelihood not to be engaged in, it is surely also wrong to support others in this livelihood, by paying them to do the dirty job of killing, which cannot be totally blameless. Every purchase of meat is after all a vote for continual or more killing.

Just as killing involves all Three Poisons, as greed for profit, hatred in killing, and delusion about the karmic cause and effect of killing, buying (and eating) likewise involves the same poisons, as greed for meat’s taste, hatred of kinder and healthier foods, and delusion about the karmic cause and effect of buying (and eating).


— 释迦牟尼佛

All previously [were] as [our] relatives,
many defilements those grown.
[With] fear [are] all [who] have life,
therefore should [meat] not [be] eaten.

— Śākyamuni Buddha
(Mahāyāna Entry Of Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra’s
8th Chapter On Severing Of Eating Meat: Verse 6)

Related Sūtra:

Complete Version: The Mahāyāna Entry Of Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra’s
8th Chapter On Severing Of Eating Meat

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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