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Venerable Master Hua's Talks on Dharma Volume Six 

化老和尚開示 Lectures by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua



The Greatest Causes of Evil: Killing Animals and Eating Meat

人若犯了五戒── 殺、盜、淫、妄、酒,就很容易墮落到三惡道去。
It's very easy for someone who violates the five precepts against killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech, and taking intoxicants to fall into the three evil destinies.



Each person has his or her own history of causes and effects. You have to undergo the retribution for whatever karma you create. Not only people, but all living beings have to undergo retribution for the karma they have created in the past. However, it is not easy for them to understand this. It is extremely difficult for beings who fall into the realm of animals or the other evil destinies to regain human bodies.



Once you lose your human body,
You may not regain it for tens of
thousands of eons.



There are two kinds of causes in the world: good causes and bad causes. If you create good causes, you'll reap good results; if you create bad causes, you'll reap bad results. People who create good causes always regulate their conduct according to the laws of propriety, and humble themselves to be courteous to others. They never take advantage of others, but are happy to take a loss. If they see others in difficulty, they offer their help. Their minds are intent on doing good deeds, earning merit, and cultivating virtue. They are not like ordinary people who know how to benefit themselves, but not how to benefit others. When they have enough wholesome merit and virtue, they will ascend to a higher level. This is to create good causes and reap good results. From the human realm, they ascend to the heavens, and from there to the realm of Arhats, Pratyekabuddhas, and Bodhisattvas. On a vigorous sweep of energy, they ascend continuously. They receive the reward for whatever meritorious deeds they have performed, and their efforts do not go to waste.




What is meant by creating bad causes and reaping bad results? People who create many offenses and commit many transgressions will eventually have to undergo the retribution of being hell-dwellers, hungry ghosts, and animals. Who told them to commit those evil deeds? No one. They did them of their own accord. Thus, it is said, Those who sin of their own will should not be allowed to live. If you commit offenses on your own, it's impossible for other people to forgive you. People who create evil causes will fall into the three evil destinies. In general, doing good deeds allows you to ascend, while doing evil causes you to descend. In everything you do, you must take the responsibility yourself; you cannot rely on others.



Ultimately, what is the greatest evil cause? Killing. It's very easy for someone who violates the five precepts, which prohibit killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech, and taking intoxicants, to fall into the three evil destinies. It is also very easy for him to be ensnared by worldly knowledge and sophistry. Thus, full of improper knowledge and opinions, he does not believe in the Triple Jewel—the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. He falls into the three evil destinies, where the sufferings are inexpressible. What are his greatest offenses? Killing animals and eating their flesh. If you eat the flesh of others, they will eat your flesh. Mutually devouring each other, you fall together. Once you fall, it's not easy to ascend. This is very dangerous, and so we refer to it as a dangerous path.



There is no peace in the Triple Realm;
It is like a house on fire.



Although the house is on fire, the people living in it are very relaxed and think it's very comfortable.



Today, as we hold this Ullambana Dharma Assembly, everyone should consider for a moment: Who among us has the great virtue and cultivation of the Venerable Maudgalyayana, who asked the Buddha to establish the Ullambana Celebration to rescue his mother, father, and ancestors from seven lives past? We could never match up to the Venerable Maudgalyayana, so how much the more are our parents and ancestors waiting for us to rescue them! Therefore, we should definitely not waste time. If we are not careful to be good people, we will be sorry when we lose our human bodies!



A talk given on August 29, 1982,
at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas


法界佛教總會 • DRBA / BTTS / DRBU