“In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away” – Shing Xiong

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


A precious and powerful elder I meet occasionally said to me that he did not take full ordination because he was unable to relinquish the eating of meat, he felt his body needed meat sometimes and so he could not be fully ordained.

Where in the teachings of the Buddha, the Dhamma, does it say "Thou shalt not eat meat"? Rather it guides us to eat mindfully with consideration and understanding that this fundamental act of survival means the taking of life, whether animal or vegetable or insect all beings love life and learn and share and create and experience and have awareness, and even if we ate only completely artificial inanimate things (which at this point or probably anytime would not be healthy) we are bound to impact others in deeply disturbing ways.

We are complex components of complexity itself. Eating reminds us of the interconnectedness of all things - and yes, that is a word. When we say eat mindfully we do not mean the raisin exercise although sometimes that is a necessary preliminary step, eating mindfully means being aware of all that goes into eating, not the sensory aspect, the impact upon ourselves and other and the web of all being. Rather than vegetarianism which still causes the inadvertent, incidental taking of life, the Dhamma guides us toward eating not too much and not too little, toward generosity compassion and discernment, toward maintaining optimal health of the body mind and spirit for optimal Practice, practice of the Dhamma, so there is cost to life, in eating we take life and that is a tender pain, a point we must always be aware of and in doing so be conscious, be respectful, be cognizant, be appreciative, be grateful, be honest. That level of honesty is vulnerable, it is intimate, it is painfully present, and that is what the Dhamma is guiding us toward, a full commitment to life in all its complexity and awesomeness. Simply being vegetarian is like eating the raisin consciously, it opens the door to that complexity but if one stops there it falls short of the true Dhamma of Awakening.

But we are all different and at different places in our growth-development-evolution, for some it is proper to eat one thing and not another, to do one thing and not another, there is no blanket rule, sorry all Rajju Jims out there, there is no blanket rule, I sometimes want a rule too, want things to be simple, but that does not fit my perception of reality, of Dhamma. To judge others controverts Dhamma, to judge ourselves is similar, we must be governed by generosity compassion and wisdom and judgement becomes another aspect of eating.

Full ordination is not that different from novice or laity, if the same level of regard is given the Dhamma it makes no difference what outward form is used, that is merely labeling. Live the Dhamma, be the Dhamma, and every moment is an opportunity to Practice, every moment is sacred.

1 comment:

  1. A monk asked the the Master: "What am I supposed to do?"
    Shih-T'ou replied: "Why are you asking me?"
    Zen Mondo