Buddhist Perspective on Becoming Vegan

Dr. Nicholas Ribush, founder of Wisdom Publications and former monk, talks about his journey of becoming a vegan in this interesting article. From the article:

And I think the reason that the Buddha, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Rinpoche can’t just come out and tell their followers to be vegetarian, much less vegan, is that not everybody can do it from the start, and to do so would be to drive many potential students away. Like me, we have to be brought along gradually.

The reaction many people have when you tell them you’re a vegan is funny. Right away they become defensive, as if you’re judging them. Even Buddhists; perhaps especially Buddhists. You’re immediately labeled pious or militant or self-righteous or something like that. I would have thought that living in a way that clearly decreases animal suffering is the most Buddhist thing you can do. But people do seem threatened by it. It’s that attachment at play again.

 

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Transforming Spiritual Knowledge Into Spiritual Wisdom

In this interesting transcript of a teaching by Lama Yeshe, he gives advice on how to integrate intellectual knowledge of spiritual practice so that it transforms into realizations. An excerpt:

The ancient Mahayana practitioners of India and Tibet would first listen to teachings and study deeply. When they felt they had gained enough knowledge, they would go into solitude and, avoiding all contact with other people, look completely within and experiment with inner realizations. It’s now necessary for you people to do the same thing.

What’s the point of listening, listening, listening to teachings, collecting words, but then not integrating what you’ve heard with your mind or gaining realizations? You’re not here to learn language from me! Your English is much better than mine. You’re not here just to listen and collect words; don’t believe that it’s only through listening to words that you can gain realizations. That’s a wrong conception.

You have to integrate into experience whatever you understand. Once you have gained experience and realization of one topic you need to go on to the next, which takes you further down the path. Without moving forward step by step, it’s impossible to progress; you can’t simply collect high-sounding words while leaving your actions down here on the ground. Collecting words that talk of flying to the moon doesn’t mean you fly to the moon; with words alone you remain earthbound. It’s the same if you think arrogantly that you can get higher realizations simply by listening to Lama’s words. Without actualizing that which you understand and integrating it within you, you can’t.

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Preliminary Practices According to Karmic Connections

In this transcription of an interesting teaching by the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche, he explains how to go about proceeding on preliminary practices (ngondro), and how its most beneficial to do it with a tradition that one has a karmic connection with. He metions:

The different schools of Buddhism that developed in Tibet, Japan and elsewhere are all teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. Within the Tibetan traditions there are four main schools—Nyingma, Kagyü, Sakya and Gelug. Do not consider the teachings of a particular school to be more advanced, for all traditions teach tantric meditations that can lead to ultimate realization within one lifetime. However, when commencing the preliminary practices it should be clear which system of teaching is more beneficial to your mind, according to your past karmic connections. By following the tradition most suited to you, you should have faith in the Fully Awakened Being and his Truth without any discrimination, because sectarianism is not only detrimental to your practice but is also an unwholesome action leading to miserable results. If you avoid this error, your practice will flourish and will proceed rapidly through all stages of the path.

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Benefits of study in Buddhist practice

In an interview with Mandala magazine, Ven George Churinoff explains the benefits of in depth study. He mentions:

There’s this famous adage that you’ve probably heard that to try to meditate without having heard or studied is like someone trying to climb up a craggy cliff with no arms.

Sometimes when people get excited about Buddhism and meditation, they think, “I’m just going to meditate. All that study is for scholars.” But in order to meditate, you have to have something to meditate about. And hopefully what we’re going to meditate on is a correct understanding, not a blurry, or, even worse, a wrong understanding.

Click here to read more from the interview