Just as Gwo Fang said, some monks and nuns openly tell people to be nonvegetarian and break the precepts. Whether you really understand Buddhism or not, you must know whether such theories are correct.
Why are people vegetarian? Being vegetarian purifies the mind and reduces desire. That’s what eating plants does, whereas eating meat increases desire. An increase in desire means that you give up traveling on the proper path and abandon dwelling peacefully. This is something that makes Buddhists’ hearts ache.
Why do people eat meat? It’s said to be for nutrition. However, you have to study how the Chinese character “meat” (肉) is written. “There are two people (人) within the character ‘meat’.” The first radical that you would write in composing the character “meat” is “mouth” (口). This mouth is open because it’s waiting to eat some meat. Where did meat come from? The two radicals that mean “people” represent somebody who is doing the eating and someone who is being eaten. The one being eaten is already in the eater’s mouth. The one doing the eating is half inside the mouth and half outside of it. This shows that while you eat meat now, you will be eaten in the future. Therefore, “The person outside is connected to the person inside.”
By eating pork, you start an incorporation with pigs. By eating beef, you start an incorporation with cows. By eating veal, you start an incorporation with lambs. Why do I say this? Let’s all think about this: when we eat pork, our flesh turns into pork; when we eat beef, we smell like cows; when we eat veal, we smell like lambs. Not to mention meat, you smell like milk when you drink it. When you drink goat milk, you smell like it too. No one drinks pigs’ milk, but eating pork and drinking pigs’ milk would be the same—you would smell like pigs.
If you don’t believe it, you may experiment. You smell like onions when you eat onions; your mouth reeks of garlic when you eat garlic. You smell like whatever you eat. Then why do you still try to “plug your ears and steal the bell,” claiming nothing is happening? You deceive yourself and others. You still find it unbelievable though people have already told you about it. You will have to become a pig if you don’t believe it! Wait until you’re a pig, then you’ll say, “Ah, now I know, Dharma Master Hsuan Hua! Now I have taken a real loss by not believing you. Now all I eat are other people’s sullied water and leftovers. Pig feed is not very clean. I would never have eaten this stuff as a human being. But now I have to eat it because I can’t tolerate the hunger pangs. I have no energy to run, and nowhere to run. Dharma Master Hsuan Hua, please be compassionate and come and save me!” Dharma Master Hsuan Hua would then say, “It’s too late, much too late. I don’t have the awesome power to turn you into a human being!” Ah, this pig cries, “Forgive me! Be kind! It was just a mistake then.” But it can’t be helped. There’s nothing I can do. This is the first line that describes the Chinese character “meat”. Since there are two “person” radicals, the person inside is the one being eaten, and the person outside is the one doing the eating. Therefore the one inside is connected to the one outside. These two individuals are inseparable. The pig is a human; the human is a pig. The pig isn’t a human; the human isn’t a pig. Nonetheless, they insist on starting a shareholders’ company. Finally, they would lose their capital and claim bankruptcy.
“Living beings eat each other’s flesh.” People say God created all animals, so by right we ought to eat their meat. Those animals say, “God created all human beings; we should also build a chemical factory and eat them.” Everyone eats each other. Furthermore, we don’t know whether the pigs that we’re eating are relatives, friends, parents or ancestors from the past. We don’t know. Since we don’t know, we are reckless. We smile when we eat meat, saying, “Yummy! Delicious!” Wait until the time when you are eaten by others, and you will exclaim, “Oh, don’t eat me! Don’t eat me!” That person insists on eating you though. Since he insists on eating others, others will eat him in the future. That’s why living beings eat each other’s flesh. “Think about it: It’s really people eating people.” People eat people because they resent each other. It’s also said that, “For hundreds and thousands of years, this stew in the pot,” this meat stew, “Has been the cause of enmity as deep as the sea. Its hatred is difficult to level.” It’s impossible to turn resentment as deep as the sea into peaceful coexistence. “If you wish to know the reason for wars in this world, try listening at midnight by the butcher’s door.” Listen to sounds of slaughter at midnight. The cows are crying, the pigs are crying, and the lambs are crying. They are all weeping together. A lamb may say, “I give up. Since he will eat us, we will eat him in the future. Let everybody eat each other.” Therefore, if you consider it carefully, people are really eating people.
People turn into pigs, and pigs turn into people. This is how people eat people. There are way too many people who gobble each other up in this world right now. Look at the refugees who escape by boat. When they run out of food to eat, they kill and eat one other. They can’t wait until they become pigs; they have to eat others right there and then. You eat me and I eat you--this debt of hatred can never be settled. This is one of the best descriptions of life in that it clearly describes why people devour one another.
Now I remember a female physician who was challenged by her classmates when she was studying medicine. Her classmates said to her, “You’re a woman learning to be a doctor? You won’t have the guts enough to experiment on cadavers! Wait until we need to do experiments on cadavers. You will lose all your guts then!” She said, “There’s no need to wait until then, let’s go to the morgue right now. Let’s see if I am daring enough.” They went to the freezer that housed the dead. She grabbed a knife, cut off a piece of a cadaver’s flesh and ate it. This scared her male classmates so much that they turned pale, saying, “Gosh! You really dare to eat human flesh!” She said, “What’s the big deal?” She seemed fine when she ate that piece of human flesh, but after she became a doctor, a ghost often came looking for her at night. The ghost would press down on her so that she couldn’t utter a word or make a move. This happened frequently. She couldn’t do anything even though she was a doctor. She thought: Everything is made from the mind alone; this is probably psychological. Although it was psychological, she could not solve the problem. Then, she heard somewhere that ghosts were scared of me, that ghosts stay away from anyone who took refuge with me.
She came to take refuge while I was in Canada. After she took refuge, that ghost really didn’t dare to bother her anymore. Though the ghost stopped hassling her, she became mad. How so? She claimed that there is no cause and effect. She lectured on the sutras and spoke Dharma for people, but she said, “All sutras are fabricated. The Buddha never spoke any sutra. People manufactured them. It’s useless to recite ‘Amitabha Buddha’ too. Everywhere she went she passed on such wrong knowledge and views to people. What happened as a result of such talk? She got cancer. She was a surgeon. I don’t know whether she had been to Taiwan or not. She was the fastest surgeon around; foreigners couldn’t compete with her either. She operated in a way that was clean and sharp.
She couldn’t operate on her own cancer, however. She had to find another surgeon to operate on her. After her surgery, she had no problems during the day, but her wound would hurt terribly at night. Her cancer went into relapse later. She had operations several times without ever fully recovering. Finally, she called her friends to say goodbye, saying, “The doctor has diagnosed my illness as being terminal. I don’t know what to do about my family etc. after death.”
One of her friends wrote me a letter, saying, “I have a friend who can lecture on the sutras and speak Dharma. She’s a doctor who can save lots of people. If you save her, you would be helping the world a great deal.” She had hoped that I would save her friend. “This person is also a disciple who took refuge with you. Her name is such and such.” I took a look and said, “Let’s wait and see.” When I went to Vancouver, she was still stubborn and talked tough despite her illness. She wasn’t afraid of anything. Since she wasn’t afraid, I scolded her. I scolded and scolded until she couldn’t tolerate it anymore. Just as she was about to stand up to take her leave, I whacked her with my hand that is weak. She couldn’t move from being smacked. I said that I had beaten away her little ghost and I didn’t care if a big ghost came. She has been cured of cancer since then.
To be continued