So Does It Mean That One Have To Be a Vegetarian To Be a Buddhist?

Simply put, no. One does not have to be a vegetarian or vegan for that matter, to be a Buddhist.

Vegetarianism as a pre-requisite to being a Buddhist is a misconception that had been advocated directly or indirectly in the Chinese Mahayana tradition.

I’ve received many queries and responses from lay people about vegetarianism. Some wonder if it is a pre-requisite to be a vegetarian to be a Buddhist. Others wonder if it is a precept or by-clause under the No-Killing precept. All these questions plus some exchanges with a fellow Buddhist who is a vegan spur me on to write this post.

Here is a summary:

  1. To be a Buddhist, it is optional to be a vegetarian.
  2. To observe the First of the Five Precepts of “abstaining from Killing”, one does not have to be a vegetarian. It is still optional to be a vegetarian even if one observes the Five Precepts.
  3. To observe the Bodhisattva vows under the Chinese Mahayana tradition, it is *compulsory* to be a vegetarian.

Foot note to #3, it is not compulsory to be a Bodhisattva even if you follow the Chinese Mahayana tradition. It is only at a later stage that the Bodhisattva vow became a somewhat compulsory package for monastics. For lay people, the Bodhisattva vow is still *not* compulsory.

More after the jump.

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Putting One’s Money Where One’s Mouth Is

Putting money where one’s mouth basically means showing due support for what we advocate. Also interpreted as “stop giving lip service and take some real actions.”

Yesterday, Puay Khim commented to me that there is an interesting debate going on in some online forum about how it is wasteful or pointless or both to have a stupa cast in gold. The theme here is that Buddhism should focus on its teachings and not so much on devotional aspects that they become the main focus. Such views are commonly upheld by a strata of Buddhists who are supposedly the intellects. They are inclined towards Buddhism because of its teachings and see little value in devotional practises like chanting, prostrations or having Buddha statues or stupas built. Read More …

Don’t Give Dhamma Talks for the Sake of Giving Dhamma Talks

So the other day, I was having a casual ‘one to one’ session with someone and he mentioned that he aspires to be a Dharma teacher.

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While it is heartening that he aspires to be a Dhamma teacher, it is important not to become one for the sake of being a Dhamma teacher. Or simply put, not to give Dhamma talks for the sake of giving Dhamma talks.

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