The growth of the live animal export trade will make the spread of diseases more likely, experts have warned.
As a kind of public service announcement through Níngbō’s Meritorious Virtues’ Forest’s Veg(etari)an Place’s opening’s ad (宁波功德林蔬食处开办广告), the Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng (净土宗十三祖印光大师: 1862-1940) wrote the following — ‘Meat foods have poisonous toxins, with animals when killed, that are with their hateful minds formed thus. Thus, when all epidemics (and pandemics) spread, extremely few veg(etari)ans get infected. (肉食有毒，以杀时恨心所结故。故凡瘟疫流行，蔬食者绝少传染。)
Also, meat is indeed the substance of dirty defilements, eating of thus, with the blood becoming defiled and the mind muddled, with bodily development made faster and ageing with weakening earlier, most easily leading to the beginning of sicknesses. Vegetables and the related are foods of cleanliness, eating of thus, with the spirit pure and wisdom clear, with longevity and healthiness, and difficulty of ageing, with them full of energy for nourishment.’ (又肉乃秽浊之物，食之则血浊而神昏，发速而衰早，最易肇疾病之端。蔬系清洁之品，食之则气清而智朗，长健而难老，以富有滋补之力。)
Meat is subtly but surely toxic due to chemicals secreted from hate, pain and fear throughout the body during slaughter. With use of unnatural chemicals like growth hormones and antibiotics, their long-term effects on humans are hard to predict too. With reared livestock and captured wild animals imprisoned in ever more hellish conditions that lack space and hygiene, it is no wonder that viruses eventually develop and leap onto their human oppressors, executioners and consumers.
When epidemics thus spread, naturally fewer veg(etari)ans get infected, as they neither handle nor consume sick animals. This makes them less karmically connected to suffering conditioned by their viruses. Tragically, many animals are also killed in the thousands and even millions when there are contagious disease outbreaks among them. In a vicious cycle, this increase in killing increases negative karma, that creates further suffering for humans, who might nevertheless continue with the breeding and killing of more animals.
Meat is defiled because it contains all the foul substances that exist in our bodies too, with more, as above. What more, animals’ forms are born from negative karma, as embodiments of spiritual defilements. Meat products also tax the body’s energy with harder digestion, thus accelerating ageing. Eating them can increase blood-related diseases in terms of high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and such. Top killer diseases are increasingly linked to meat-eating too. Add novel viruses and public health spins out of control. Spiritually, what greedily and deludedly consumed conditions the mind to be more muddled too.
Why have humans not yet learnt? In this one generation alone, the world has already experienced outbreaks of mad cow disease, bird flu, swine flu, SARS… Note the varied animals involved. As long as there is no restraint from cruel trapping, breeding, killing and eating, ill history will repeat. Even the COVID-19 pandemic will not be the worst or last man-made disaster.
In ancient China, when ruled by wise emperors, there would be nationwide decrees to abstain from butchering and meat-eating when there are such epidemics. However, with globalisation in terms of busy human travel and lucrative livestock export, such measures to contain diseases are challenging to uphold. It is then up to communities and individuals to make kinder choices as consumers, to reduce demand for supply of meat.
Why not choose nutritious vegan foods instead? Choose fresh, rich and colourful fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds, nuts… that are without gradual side-effects, or sudden fatal effects (by viral attacks). The longest living and healthiest humans are after all those who consume the least animals. Even the strongest beasts of burden (that humans unfortunately exploit) are vegans — such as horses, bulls and elephants.
As another remedy for outbreaks, the Great Master also taught the following in his second reply letter to layperson Zhū Shísēng (复朱石僧居士书二) — ‘Mindfulness of Buddha’s meritorious virtues, are able to eradicate all evil karma. All encountering wars, waters, fires, epidemics, (pandemics), locusts, droughts, floods and other disasters, if able to, with utmost sincerity, be mindful of the Buddha (i.e. Āmítuófó) or mindful of Guānshìyīn Bodhisattva, definitely will be able to, when encountering the inauspicious, transform them to be auspicious.’ (念佛功德，能消一切恶业。凡遇刀兵水火瘟疫虫蝗旱潦等灾，若能至诚念佛念观世音菩萨，必能逢凶化吉。) Together with the first remedy, we have veg(etari)anism and mindfulness of Buddha (吃素念佛) as powerful twin solutions, both urgently needed for these times.
Noting that the year 2020 is already 1,547 years into the 10,000-year Dharma-Ending Age (末法时期), in the ‘Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of The Dharma’s Complete End’《佛说法灭尽经》, the Buddha already warned — ‘The Dharma will end and disappear… Floods and droughts will not be in harmony, with the five grains not ripening. Epidemics (or pandemics) by air will spread, with those dying many.’ (法将殄没。… 水旱不调，五穀不熟。疫气流行，死亡者众。) This could describe the current climate crisis, with the elements out of balance, and increase of airborne viral diseases. Thus, though the COVID-19 virus’ transmission, according to WHO (currently), is by close contact and only sometimes airborne, now is still as timely as ever to heed the Great Master’s advice.
Consumer demand for fresh meat is also rising as the global population approaches 8 billion, including many who are increasingly adopting diets rich in meat.
(This article was first contributed and published online here.)
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