Non-Violence & Vegetarianism in Buddhism


Acharya Shree, Buddhists follow the principle of nonviolence. Why is it
then that Buddhists and even their monks are not vegetarian? It’s a very good question. Yes, Buddhists follow the principle of nonviolence.
Even the Dalai Lama claims that he’s committed to full nonviolence. But his word is fully nonviolence. But I
see except few sects they follow the vegetarianism. Most of the Buddhists sects, they don’t follow vegetarianism. And they give an excuse, they have an excuse
that even Buddha ate meat. But they fully forgot that Buddha ate meat in very different
situation. It was the question of life and death. He had to. There was no choice. He was fasting for 30 days and he became
so weak. And the fish came out from the little stream and dying on the sand. Buddha ate only that fish. Even he was not yet Buddha, people not used to call him
Buddha at all. He was in the path. He was on the spiritual path. Within his first 6 years. So now they have the
excuse, “Even Buddha ate meat, why we can not eat? So they have an idea that they cannot kill the animal. But
if someone else kills animals for them, they will eat it. My friends, if someone else kills for you or you kill for yourself, you are eating
it. Whoever is eating his – the main person – he’s the main killer. Because if no one eats meat, there is
no meat in the market at all. So that is the only excuse they have, and it happened in Buddha’s
life – in Gautama Siddhartha’s life – I will specify only once. And now they eating every day. Even the Tibetan sects which is
considered very very good sect and they are little quite popular. They also don’t follow the fully vegetarianism. How they can be fully
nonviolent and how they can claim that they are nonviolent people? Yes, they can teach the message of nonviolence. but what about the practical life? If your practical life you
are not vegetarian so you cannot be following the nonviolence because the vegetarianism is the first step towards nonviolence. Because it means you love the animals. You cannot put animals in your stomach at all. See, if you have
one little pet animals like a little dog or a little goat or a little pig, can you eat it? It is impossible. You cannot kill that poor animal. So
animals they feel like us. They feel pain like us. They feel lot of sensations. So it is not right to kill any animals. That’s why many organizations they have animal rights.
They are fighting for them. Support them. I don’t support who are eating them or who are killing them. So, the Buddhist – except few sects – they are still vegetarian.
I consider them they are still Buddha’s followers. All the other sects, I don’t know how they get messed up. But they
are going far away from the real teachings of the Buddha. Buddha never taught eating meat. He was against of Yagnas.
Yagnas was like a fire ceremony. And he put down even Vedas because of that reason. Because in the Vedas there is a system of yagnas.
And yagnas they put, offer, special kind of samagri, and it creates different kind of environment around. But it was messed up – that tradition. They offering animals into
the fire. And after that they used to eat it. And that is Buddha has to put down the first Vedas. So the
Buddha never believed in Veda because the Veda had strongholds of these traditions. They were not even sacrificing animals for the name of yagnas or fire ceremonies. They
are also even begin to sacrifice even the babies of human babies. So Buddha has to put down all these tradition. And he has to stand
for the animal rights. So his followers, they don’t see point still. They are…maybe there was time there was nothing else to eat. But nowadays everywhere
is vegetables or fruits are available no matter which country you live. And you can follow easily vegetarianism. So vegetarian
is the first step towards nonviolence. So I will suggest Buddhist people and Buddhist monks just follow the first
step first. Then you teach further. Otherwise nonviolence is incomplete. If you are not vegetarian, first be vegetarian then you teach it. If someone is alcoholic and he’s teaching “don’t drink alcohol”,
what impact people have for his teachings? They will not believe that. So if somebody is eating meat and
they are preaching nonviolence, it doesn’t make sense. It is contradictory. So first you have to be practical what you teach. Yes, on the other hand, Jains – they teach nonviolence.
And that’s why they are extremely nonviolent people in India. So the Buddhist were same. Because of the middle path,
because of Buddha’s followers, they start compromising. And they didn’t follow the real teachings. They were not able to follow
the real teachings. They accepted the middle path and become non-vegetarian. And it is still if they can again come to the first step
and follow nonviolence from there. It is a great principle. In Indian culture, everyone supposed to follow it –
including Buddha or any other religion.