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Thread: Buddhist "rules" concerning the eating of meat.

  1. #1

    Buddhist "rules" concerning the eating of meat.

    There has been much discussion about the rules of "eating meat" in Buddhism. The following is an excerpt from a dissertation by Sherad Chodzin Kohn, author of the reknowned Buddhist text, "The Buddha and His Teachings". It discusses a part of the Buddha's life, in which the Buddha is dealing with the stressful schism caused by one of his disciples, Devadatta, who had wanted to lead the Sangha more towards an austere, rule filled, life. Interesting concepts concerning rules, eating meat, and killing animals, can be found in this passage.

    Knowing that the people idealized self-denial as a high spiritual goal, he (Devadatta) went to the Buddha and proposed five points of strict behavior for Sangha members: they must keep to the forests and never live in a settled place; eat only begged alms food and never accept meal invitations; wear only robes pieced together from refuse rags and never accept a gift of cloth; dwell only outdorors and never in shelters; and never eat fish or meat. He proposed that violation of any of these rules be met with expulsion from the Sangha.

    The Buddha rejected these rules as too extreme. He ruled that Sangha members were free to dwell in forests or villages, eat alms food or accept invitations, wear refuse-rag robes or accept cloth as they chose. They could dwell either outdoors or in shelters for eight months of the year, but must take shelter during the rainy season. Meat and fish could be eaten if it was not seen, heard, or suspected to have been killed expressly for the eater.


    Devadatta succeeded in brining five hundred bhikkus from the fold, causing a schism in the ranks, and starting his own sect that followed a more austere method of living by living according to the above mentioned five regulations. However, with time, some of the Buddha's disciples succeeded in convincing these five hundred to return to the Buddha's fold. Devadatta, fell by the wayside by his separatist actions, eventually became ill, and died.

    Anybody care to explain this?
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  2. #2
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    Devadatta was the Buddha's cousin and decided to cause a split in the Buddha's sangha. He used these 5 rules that he created as a catalyst so that he could split the sangha. There were many monks who lived simply, and some who lived austerely, but just as long as they didn't take it too far.

    Everyone's limit is different, so different people have different levels of simplicity. The Buddha was wise in this regard and knew that many of the monastics would not be able to follow such austere living.

    I would suggest that if you would like to know more about the Buddha's life, then you should read Old Path White Clouds by my teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. It really has a lot of info about the Buddha, his life, and his teaching. I warn you in that Master Nhat Hanh does add a touch of his teaching, but nonetheless it really gives a lot of info. It also reads like a novel, but it is completely in accord with the Tipitaka (Tripitaka) (Trust me I checked personally in the monastery, there are very few descrepencies).

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  3. #3
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    I was wondering, do the monks, not eat meat that was killed? If so can they eat whey?

  4. #4
    As opposed to eating meat that wasn't?
    Experienced Community organizer. Yeah, let's choose him to run the free world. It will be historic. What could possibly go wrong...

    "You're just a jaded cynical mother****er...." Jeffpeg

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  5. #5
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    LOL

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