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Venerable Master: Do you believe in the Dalai Lama or do you believe in Shakyamuni Buddha? Disciple: Well, I believe in the Buddha, but I, well...
Venerable Master: Well, I don't know if the Dalai Lama eats meat. I've heard that he is vegetarian, but that many Lamas under him do eat meat. Even if the Dalai Lama himself does eat meat, Shakyamuni Buddha did not advocate eating meat. Now are you going to follow the Dalai Lama in eating meat, or follow Shakyamuni Buddha in not eating meat?
Disciple: Do Buddhists have some way of counteracting the effect of eating meat on a karmic level? I understand the karmic retribution involved in eating meat. I know that we shouldn't eat meat. But I've heard that there are certain circumstances in which Buddhists can eat meat. I was wondering what your views on this were, and whether there was a way of counteracting the bad karma of eating meat.
Venerable Master: The Buddha ate meat. But he did not advocate eating meat. He himself did not want to eat it, but it was offered to him. Also, he did not kill the animals he ate. He condoned three kinds of pure meat which could be eaten by Bhikshus and lay people.
What are the three kinds of pure meat? If you did not see the animal killed, it is pure. If you did not hear its cries as it was being killed, it is pure. If it was not killed expressly for you, it is pure. If you didn't see the animal killed or hear its screams as it died, and if the animal wasn't killed just for you to eat, in that case, if your body is weak, you can eat it. In the Buddha's day, the monks went out begging for food and they ate whatever they were given. It wasn't that they could cook whatever they wanted to eat. They just ate whatever was offered to them.
But why is it that cultivators of the Way should not eat meat? It's because eating meat increases people's sexual desire. Cultivators should have no sexual desire, and so they should consume food and drink which do not stimulate desire.
That's the most important reason, really, for practicing vegetarianism. Cultivators must be pure and undefiled. That is the most important reason for not eating meat.
Okay, we can do the Great Transference now and recite the Buddha's name. Burn the plaques when we recite the Mantra for Rebirth in the Pure Land.
The assembly then drove in a caravan to the ocean and performed the final Great Transference of Merit at the beach as the sun set, recalling the first of the contemplations listed in the Sutra of Sixteen Contemplations: "Contemplate the setting sun, its appearance like that of a suspended drum..."
Venerable Master's Dharma Words
We may think we are doing good deeds,but they are not necessarily good deeds.That's because the "seeds" or causes may not be pure.