regard to the gradual formulation of the three precepts concerning
meat eating, as propounded step by step the Buddha, the teachers
of the past say that in the Vinaya, the consumption of human flesh
and the flesh of animals with undivided hooves is first of all proscribed.[That
is, horses, donkeys, mules, and so on.] Later on,
meat is generally forbidden except for what is pure in the three
ways. These two Vinaya precepts, followed by the general Mahayana
precept that forbids Bodhisattvas to eat meat of any kind, including
the flesh of animals that have died naturally, are the three precepts
Rinpoche [Jigme Lingpa*] said that
in the scriptures he had only ever seen such injunctions as: "I
have not allowed, I do not allow, and I will not allow the eating
of meat. I have told all the ordained sangha that it is improper
to eat meat.... From now on, the Shravakas should not eat meat."
By contrast, he said that he had never come across the Buddha saying,
"Mark the heads of yaks and sheep that are to be killed."
Khyentse Rinpoche also said that the villagers in his neighbourhood
would kill large and fattened animals out of desire for their meat,
and they would bring the liver and other pieces of meat as offering
to the lamas and meditators.
these people!"he cried. "How generous they are and what
pure perception of the lamas they must have! How brave they are,
being able to kill like that! They do not think that killing is
a serious fault! They think that their little gift will do them
a lot of good and cleanse away their sins; and they think that the
lamas can liberate beings as easily as pulling them with iron chains.
It's totally impossible! Nagarjuna has said in his Letter to a Friend:
Were I to
make a pill of mud just berry-sized
For every mother who has given me birth,
The earth itself indeed would not suffice.
beings have been our mothers, but ordinary people do not recognize
them as such, and that is why they are able to kill them. Of course,
we Dharma people cannot eat meat, and why? Because our mothers and
fathers, our brothers and sisters, our friends of the past who were
so dear to us - here they are in front of us! They have become these
bent and stupid creatures called animals, who do not know what is
to be done and what is to be rejected. They may have horns on their
heads, they may walk on four legs, but they are our parents and
friends from the past. People never think about this. They imprison
animals in pens and enclosures; it is quite terrible. And when these
animals, all our parents, siblings, wives, and friends from the
past, have fallen into the hands of their butchers, wicked, cruel
men without the slightest trace of compassion, they tremble with
fear, terrified beyond measure at the mere sight of their executioners.
Their eyes fill with tears and they gasp with fright. They think
to themselves, "Who will help me now? There is nowhere for
me to run; I cannot fly away; there is only death for me!"
They are overwhelmed with dread, their suffering more terrible than
if they were on the very brink of the fiery pits of hell. They are
thrown on their backs on the ground, their eyes staring from their
sockets. And rubbing his hands with satisfaction, the butcher slices
open their bellies with his knife and without the slightest hesitation
sends them onto the path of the next life. What is there here that
could possibly be pleasing to the lama? With complete trust in Guru
Rinpoche, ** I beg you with
tears in my eyes - all you who love me, do not kill even to save
your own lives.
the Buddha has said in the Sutra of Close Mindfulness: "Those
who kill a single being will boil in the ephemeral hell for one
intermediate kalpa." The sutras say that to make presents of
meat, alcohol, poison, and weapons is a negative action, whether
directly or indirectly. Therefore it is quite improper to give meat
as a gift. Even those who know no other practice should at least
abstain from meat as much as they can. May these words of truth
come to pass!"
* Most probably this is a reference to Jigme Lingpa, whose personal
name was Khyentse Ozer. Jigme Lingpa died in 1798 when Shabkar was
seventeen years old. Shabkar later received the transmission of
the Longchen Nyingthig from Lakha Drupchen, a disciple of Jigme
Trinle Ozer, the first Dodrupchen Rinpoche, who was a direct disciple
of Jigme Lingpa.
See Tulku Thondup,
Masters of Meditation and Miracles.
** The name by which Guru Padmasambhava, the Lotus-Bborn, is commonly
known in Tibet. He was predicted by Shakyamuni Buddha as the one
who would propagate the teachings of the Secret Mantra. Invited
to Tibet by King Trisong Detsen in the eighth century, he succeeded
in definitively establishing there the Buddhist teachings of sutra
FB, p. 85-86)
See also: The Story of the Hunted Deer `The Messenger of Renunciation`
- 750 KB] and the article "Buddhism Between Abstinence and Indulgence:
Vegetarianism in the Life and Works of
Jigmé Lingpa" by Geoffrey Barstow, Ph.D. [PDF -316 KB]