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Master Hsuan Hua (1918-1995)

I want to explain the character for 'meat' in Chinese:

This character has the element 'mouth' but the bottom line is left out, meaning that the mouth is open! Why is the mouth open? To eat people! So, in the character for 'meat,' there are two people.
There is a character 'person' inside and another 'person' outside. This shows that meat is inseparable from people. However, people should not be inseparably attached to meat. This represents a person who is eating the meat and a person who is being eaten. One person's head is sticking out of the mouth, and the other person is inside the mouth. But since the mouth is not closed, that person may fall out. When he falls out. he may become a person again. When he becomes a person again, he will go and eat the person who was eating meat. They mutually devour each other. So, there are two people in the character for 'meat', and the one inside is covering the one outside. The person inside and the person outside are bound up in this relationship.
Living beings eat the flesh of living beings. If you reflect on it carefully, it's just people eating people. Since it's people eating people, might that person be my friend? I don't know. Could it be my relative? Don't know. Could it be my father, mother, or ancestor? Don't know. This "not knowing" presents a lot of problems, so it would be best if everyone didn't eat meat.

• Source: The Horror of Taking Lives and Eating Meat [download in PDF 190 KB]
• See also Master Hsuan Hua comments on the Surangama Sutra [download in PDF 942 KB]

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