Some Physical And Mental Benefits Of Eating As Vegetarians 吃素之身心利益

Do not consume with cruelty
to any being.
Do consume with compassion

for all beings.

— Shilashanti

It should be known that of those in water and on land, the flying and submerged, all sentient beings have our same minds of spiritual brightness and awareness. Only with past evil karmas deep and heavy, causing their shapes and bodies to be different, with their mouths not able to speak. (须知水陆飞潜诸物,同吾灵明觉知之心。但以宿业深重,致使形体殊异,口不能言。)

[Note 1: All sentient beings have Buddha-nature (众生皆有佛性), the potential for attaining Buddhahood (佛果).]

Observing their circumstances with seeking of food and avoiding of death, naturally can we awaken to them, with people, without having differences. With our minds succeeding past blessings’ power, we are fortunately born in this human path, with our minds having wisdom and careful considerations. We precisely should have esteem of the heavens as our father and the earth as our mother, with friendship of people as fellow citizens and sentient beings together, in order to not betray human beings, with the heavens and earth, together named as the three talents, for joining praising of the transformative education of the heavens and earth. So that people and sentient beings each attain their place, with all together receiving the heavens’ covering and the earth’s carrying, together enjoying natural lifespans, after then ending. (观其求食避死情状,自可悟其与人无异矣。吾人承宿福力,幸生人道,心有智虑。正宜敦天父地母,民胞物与之谊,以期不负人与天地并名三才,以参赞天地之化育。俾民物各得其所,以同受覆载,同乐天年而后已。)

[Note 2: To have esteem of the heavens as our father and the earth as our mother is to respect nature, which makes our lives possible. To have friendship with people and other sentient beings together is to live harmoniously. The transformative education of the heavens and earth is the Buddha’s Dharma (佛法) itself. To each attain their place is to each function dutifully (i.e. appropriately). To receive the heavens’ covering and the earth’s carrying is to gain nature’s shelter and support.]

If you do not understand the virtue of the heavens and earth cherishing lives, without restraint indulging oneself with the thoughts of tāotiès, with me who is strong, bullying and humiliating those who are weak, eating that of their meat, filling that of my stomach, this will definitely lead to one day, with past blessings already exhausted, with killing’s karma manifesting in the present. Desiring to not change heads and exchange faces, to suffer from that of changing continuously, to be killed [and] eaten, how can this be attained? (倘其不体天地好生之德,恣纵自己饕餮之念。以我之强,陵彼之弱。食彼之肉,充我之腹。必至一旦宿福已尽,杀业现前,欲不改头换面,受彼展转杀食,其可得乎?)

[Note 3: The tāotiè is a mythological animal known for being ferocious and gluttonous. The evil karma (恶业) of humans continually killing and eating animals can ripen with these humans, when they are reborn as animals, being continually killed and eaten by those animals, when they are reborn as humans.]

Moreover, meat foods have poisonous toxins, with animals when killed, that are from their hateful minds formed thus. Thus, when all epidemics [and pandemics] spread, extremely few veg(etari)ans get infected. (况肉食有毒,以杀时恨心所结故。故凡瘟疫流行,蔬食者绝少传染。)

[Note 4: To continually eat meat is to continually poison oneself subtly with such toxins secreted from fear and hatred. Meat-eaters are also generally more hateful in temperament, while veg(etari)ans are generally more peaceful (and gentle in thought, word and deed). Animal-related viruses can also spread through eating of animal flesh, such as bird flu, mad cow disease, swine flu, SARS and more (to come). Since veg(etari)ans are karmically less connected to animals’ suffering, they suffer less from animal-related viruses.]

Also, meat is thus the substance of dirty defilements, with eating of it then, with blood defiled and consciousness muddled, with bodily development faster, then with ageing and weakening earlier, most easily becoming the beginning of sicknesses. Vegetables and those related (i.e. grains, beans, nuts, seeds and fruits) are foods of cleanliness, with eating of them then, with spirits pure and wisdom clear, with longevity and healthiness, then difficult to age, with them full of energy for nourishment. This is although with hygiene, that commonly spoken, it truly is the utmost doctrine that utmost displays our nature. Because of social customs, with one another following them, instead leading to accumulation of confusions, yet not returning. (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。此虽卫生之常谈,实为尽性之至论。因俗习以相沿,致积迷而不返。)

[Note 5: Just as there is nothing pure about about flesh, thus is that of animals impure, capable of polluting our bodies and dulling our minds. With eating of growth hormones and such naturally (and artificially injected) in meat, humans’ bodies can ‘mature’ and deteriorate sooner, with various serious and subtle sicknesses. Heavy meat-eating can also more likely lead to ‘long-term’ health issues such as the three highs (三高) of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar, which can in turn lead to worse problems. In contrast, veg(etari)ans are generally more energetic and sharp in body and mind, look younger and live longer. Popular, (secular and worldly) customs can express cruelty and delusion, while practices like veg(etari)anism can express the compassion and wisdom of our Buddha-nature.]

It should be known that those benevolent people definitely will be able to cherish sentient beings, and those merciless to sentient beings definitely will be difficult to be benevolent people, with habitual nature causing thus. It is with a noble king governing the world, that birds, beasts, fish and soft-shelled turtles all accord with their nature. Understanding the path and teaching people, sticky bamboo poles and catapults are all abandoned. (须知仁民者必能爱物,残物者决难仁民,以习性使然。是以圣王治世,鸟兽鱼鳖咸若。明道教民,黏竿弹弓尽废。)

[Note 6: Dharma-Wheel Turning Noble kings (转轮圣王) are the best worldly kings, who practise the Dharma personally and rule others with the Dharma, thus able to influence the masses, including people and animals with the Dharma, to accord with their Buddha-nature. (The Buddhas are the best Dharma Kings [法王], as spiritual kings.) Sticky bamboo poles are cruelly used for trapping cicadas, and catapults for hitting birds.]

Just consider, that from ancient times until now, of all those merciless ‘tāotiès’, their family clans are mostly broken off. If those with benevolent loving-kindness aid others, their children and grandchildren will definitely flourish. ‘Of those who started making wooden (or clay) figures for burial’, Confucius judged ‘them to be without descendants’. Of those without restraint eating meat, the Thus Come One predicted that they will definitely have to repay. (试思从古至今,凡残忍饕餮者,家门多绝。仁爱慈济者,子孙必昌。「始作俑者」,孔子断「其无后」。恣食肉者,如来记其必偿。)

[Note 7: As burial of such figures that resemble humans are with the thoughts (i.e. intentions) of as if burying real persons (to serve the deceased), those who initiated this evil custom might have the retribution of being without offspring. This is so as to think of depriving others of their lives might karmically lead to oneself not having lives wanted in the family.]

I implore that you do not follow those who say that those ‘far from the kitchen’ ‘can’ eat meat, as this is connected to according with custom skilfully speaking only. There certainly should be forever severing from meat and fish, then as matching principles’ true meaning. (祈勿徒云「远庖」,此系随俗权说。固宜永断荤腥,方为称理实义。)

[Note 8: As Mencius (孟子) taught, ‘Noble persons, of birds and beasts too, when seeing them alive, do not bear to see them die. When hearing their cries, do not bear to eat their flesh. Therefore, noble persons stay far away from kitchens (where there is slaughtering too).’ (君子之于禽兽也,见其生,不忍见其死;闻其声,不忍食其肉。 是以君子远庖厨也。)

Choosing to eat a distance away from where animals are killed and cooked still does not absolve one from being connected to the karmic cause and effect (因果) of supply and demand, even if less directly. Mencius’ teaching is a skilful means, saying that there should be staying away from the killing of animals, which should also naturally extend to staying away from the eating of animals, since without eating of them, there will be no killing of them. (Fish meat should not be differentiated from other meats in general, as they are all the flesh of sentient beings. Fish is also already proven to experience pain.)]

[Note 9: On a related note, the Buddha earlier taught on threefold pure meat (三净肉), saying that meat, from animals (i) not seeing their killing (不见杀), (ii) not hearing their (cries and news of) killing (不闻杀), and (iii) not suspecting their killing to be for oneself (不疑杀) ‘can’ be eaten. This is also a skilful means, leading to later teachings on abstaining from meat-eating entirely. With this teaching on threefold pure meat, those more compassionate and wise should soon realise that their consumer meat arises from their continuous demand, while others should later realise this too.

Meat-buying and meat-eating consumers are after all, with their continuous demand, the direct and usual ‘suspects’, for whom animals are continuously killed. With the (iii) third criterion not met, consumer meat is thus not true threefold pure meat, as often mistaken. Only occasional meat received by monastics as totally random alms food (without suspected demand for supply) can be considered to meet the (iii) criterion. Even so, monastics can still encourage laypersons to make kinder offerings, on occasions when they can offer teachings on compassion in return.]

Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
Dharma Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings (First Compilation): Níngbō’s Meritorious Virtues’ Forest’s Opening’s Advertisement

Do not consume with delusion
on anything.
Do consume with wisdom

about everything.

— Shilashanti

Related Article:

How Should All Aspiring For Buddhahood Eat And Drink?

Related Text:

Record Of Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence

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