Which Would You Eat? Carrots or Rabbit?

I’ve met some folks who shared their thoughts on vegetarianism with me.  They reason that vegetables are alive as well and if Buddhists do not eat animals out of compassion and do not wish to have a living thing killed for their food, they should not eat vegetables as well.

I present to you Carrots and Rabbit.

I know, I know.  This is an imbalanced comparison.  For most people who are omnivores would not eat rabbits anyway.  But the principle is this.  Given a choice, which would you pick?

Between vegetables and animals, when I ask a number of people to choose one to kill, cook and eat, most people would choose to eat carrots.  The answer is unanimously because it is easier to ‘kill’ carrots, cook and eat it.  When asked further, why it is easier to ‘kill’ carrots, they replied that because it is comparatively less alive than the rabbit.  I’ve not had one person choose carrots simply
because they don’t eat rabbits.  But I digress.

How about the following?  Is it because we have been conditioned to accept certain living beings as food for the table?


Or is it because both do not exhibit life?  Is that why it is somewhat easier for people to choose between carrots and meat?


Pictures from the following respective sites




Comments On An Article On The Kalama Sutta

A few weeks ago, Meng Haw wrote an article on the Kalama Sutta

He shared it with me and asked for my thoughts on it.  I finally dragged my bony fingers to pen a reply after handling a series of emergencies and releasing the two apps for Android and Apple devices (this message was brought to you by CGZX Labs – we code to bring you the Dharma).

Here are my thoughts on it.  🙂

Thanks for your thoughts and sharing on the Kalama sutta.

Inference is a powerful tool for a start and is often what we mostly use to begin with.  But mere logical reasoning and inference alone is insufficient.  That is I believe the point that the Buddha was trying to bring across.

Most of the other criteria listed is with reference to how people in those days (and perhaps even today) accept or reject a certain teaching or practice.  The Buddha’s point was how one can and should relate to a teaching or practice and consider it based on its tangible result rather than all the other reasonings, speculations, preconception of the teaching based on the messenger etc.

In my opinion, the Buddha was very utilitarian in his approach.  Choosing to look at the purposes and results as to whether it brings short and long term benefit to oneself and others, and not based on dogmatic doctrines.

It’s interesting that you mentioned about trusting and accepting the truth from the scientists.  I’ve mentioned in my talks about how today, the younger educated generation mostly accept whatever is pandered by folks in labcoats.  While I am not refuting scientific approaches nor its discoveries, I believe our acceptance is grounded in our 10 to 20 years of education that has drilled us into familiarity with modern science and accepting them.

While doing so is mostly ok, and in fact convenient for our daily life, it actually goes against the very principle of science.  We should accept the scientific findings with the openness that it can be disproved, or that it stands or holds true within certain known parameters, beyond which it fails.  The thing science has going for it is that for most intents and purposes, our daily encounter with science and technologies fall within the parameters and
boundaries of scientific discoveries and its applications.  So we are quite safe to assume that they are “truth” although a scientist would say “it is true within the following premise XYZ”.

I take a somewhat similar approach to Buddhism.

I like to ask the question “So what?”.  So what if all phenomena is permanent or impermanent?  So what if there is God or no God?  So what if there is self or no self, big or small self?  So what if there are aliens or not?  So what if we were created by God, aliens, evolved through evolution or born, driven by our karma?  So what?

I found that asking this question is many times, more meaningful than answering or discussing those preceding questions.  While those questions are intriguing, inviting and seductive, many times, it is the implications of the conclusions themselves that serves any purposes at all.

Whether a monkey was created by a God believed to exist or evolved from single-celled organism, the fact is, if you snatch the banana from a hungry monkey, you are in some deep monkey trouble!

The same applies to us human beings, whether we exist through our karma, created by aliens or God, or evolved to where we are, if our prized possessions are snatched from our grubbing little fingers, we fret and get upset or angry.  That much is true.


Dharma Circle – Karma, Reincarnation and Rebirth

Dharma Circle – Karma, Reincarnation and Rebirth

Topic: Karma, Reincarnation and Rebirth
Date: Friday, 25 March 2011
Time: 6.30-8.30pm
Venue: YIH Training Room 3
Speaker: Venerable Chuan Guan

Please contact Johan at dharma@nusbs.org.sg to register for free complimentary dinner.


Main points that will be touched
– What are their definitions
– 10 diff sources that the Buddha mentioned in Kalama Sutta
– Underlying impact of Karma to our moral behavior, how to relate Karma to our moral behavior (how Karma is related to our daily life)
– Whether to believe in Rebirth or not
– Linking Karma, Reincarnation and Rebirth
– Concept of soul: What is soul?(link to reincarnation and rebirth)
– Law of causality
– Difference between Reincarnation and Rebirth

Speaker’s Profile

Venerable Chuan Guan was ordained under Master MiuKing (Master MiaoJing) in 2002 (higher ordination in 2003) and began his monastic training in Fa Yun Monastery (New Mexico, United States), learning the sutras and practised meditation under the Mahayana Buddhist tradition while studying the Theravadin Pali Canon. Returning to Singapore in 2006, he continued his training in Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery under till 2009.

Since 2009, he is resident in the Buddhist Library while giving Dharma and meditation classes at the library and various Buddhist
organisations. Online, he reaches out to the Buddhist community via his blog at www.buddhavacana.net, facebook & twitter. He received his degree in Computer Engineering from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and worked in the IT industry prior to monkhood.

Does Animal Liberation Affect or Harm the Ecosystem Significantly?

If animal liberation affect or harm the ecosystem significantly, then surely commercial fishing does more harm.

National Geographic agrees to this.




Fish Crashes Due to Overharvesting

Christensen and his colleagues analyzed more than 200 models of marine ecosystems from around the world to estimate fish numbers between 1880 and 2007. They found that 54 percent of the decline in predatory fish populations had occurred in the past 40 years.

“Cod in the North Atlantic is a classic case of a crash,” he said. “You had hundreds of years of sustainable fishing of cod—on the order of 200,000 to 300,000 tons caught a season—and then we saw an increase up to 700,000 tons, beyond sustainable levels.

“Now it’s been 20 years and we still haven’t seen a recovery.”


Those who want to protect the natural ecosystem should stop commercial fisheries and fishing companies from upsetting the natural marine ecosystem.  A direct way is to stop eating marine life, and start campaigns to raise awareness about it.  As they say it, “When the buying stop, the killing stops”.

And when the commercial fishing stop, animal liberation of respective marine life do not and cannot even take place.

It is laughable when I read articles about how animal liberation can significantly upset the marine ecosystem when commercial fishing companies easily destroy the balance by wiping out tons of marine life every season.

So jog my memory again, how many tons of marine life have we liberated last year?

(Hint: Not enough tons.)

How About That Fish?

Recently when I was in Kuala Lumpur (KL) to speak at a conference, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of 50~60 nice folks from Kelantan, Malaysia.  Very friendly and lovely bunch I must say.

I noticed that some of the locals in KL were eating live seafood and so I quizzed them on how that relates to the first precept of non-killing.  After a very lively discussion, we concluded that eating live seafood crossed the line for non-killing.  Consider how the fishes were happily swimming around in the tanks … ok, maybe not so happily … but nonetheless, alive and swimming.  Then someone may come along to the restaurant and order a meal, resulting in one or more of them being killed for our consumption.  At that point, it became clear that the meal was quite the cause of death or at least the reason.  So far so good, as far as understanding how we relate to the first precept of non-killing.

Then someone pointed out that sometimes, actually most of the time, only one person do the ordering, so perhaps he is the only person bearing the karma of killing.  I threw it open to the floor for discussion and went through a few possible scenarios regarding the causal consequences of the meal.

Case A: Person ordering get 100% of killing karma, while the eaters get none.
Case B: Person ordering get a majority percentage of say N% of killing karma, while the rest share in the 100% – N% of killing karma.
Case C: Everyone gets an equal share of the killing karma.  So if there were five diners, each get 20%.

Then someone further suggest that those who eat more, should be more responsible!  So the formulae became

Case A: Person ordering get 100% of killing karma, while the eaters get none.
Case B1: Person ordering get a majority percentage of
say N% of killing karma, while the rest share in the 100% – N% of killing karma.
Case B2: Person ordering get a majority percentage of say N% of killing karma, while the rest share in the 100% – N% of killing karma on a pro-rata or weighted basis.
Case C1: Everyone gets an equal share of the killing karma.  So if there were five diners, each get 20%.
Case C2: Everyone gets a share of the killing karma depending on the amount they ate.

Things were getting complex!  In the end, we simplified and just considered the original three cases, although as you will see, the reasonings for each case would lead us to similar conclusions.  Bear in mind that we did not assume any of the case to be the actual mechanism behind how karma would or should work out; we simply cover all possible scenarios as much as we can.  So for the following analysis, we then look at each case and say, if this were true, how would or should we act differently?

Case A, while the person ordering gets 100%, should Buddhists who embrace values and qualities like Loving Kindness and Compassion allow someone to bear the brunt (100%) of painful results for one’s meal while one selfishly tucks into the meal knowing that someone else (both the fish and the orderer) is suffering for us.  While highly unlikely, we saw it unseemly for us to partake in such a meal as it is both selfish and unkind.

Case B, letting someone get the majority share and each diner receiving partial payout for the karma of killing didn’t seem to be such a good idea as well.  Nope.

Case C, for most people in the discussion, going pro-rata seem to be the most likely mechanism for karma, but it then becomes even clearer why we should not partake in the meal altogether!

We could have, and were tempted to, gone further and consider many other factors, including those who arrive late, those who fail to turn up but were on the diners’ list, those who were not, but turn up after the ordering, those who were not but turn up before the ordering etc etc.  But we did not.  Most were duly satisfied with the discussion and analysis and left it knowing how better to relate to the precepts in future.

So what did you eat today?

PS: I do not advocate eating as a means of enlightenment, and the discussion of food was really a day-to-day affair that to me mattered to some of those lay Buddhist I met.