☸ To The Readers
This article was formerly prepared as a dissertation paper to be submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master in Research to the University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka. Highlighted here is the Buddhist Perspective on Vegetarianism with reference to Pali Texts.
Nowadays, all over the world, there appear many people who follow the practice of Vegetarianism yet are found to hold different views. Some become vegetarians on account of their health conditions whereas for most people, such practice is based on their religious beliefs.
In this context, there may be different ideas on how they follow this practice. How people make a decision on consuming food as regards to the life of the animals? Basically, vegetarians can be classified into different categories. Some vegetarians consume eggs but not milk whereas others avoid eating eggs but drink milk. Still some people abstain from partaking any food products of animals such as milk, eggs, etc. but love to use materials made from animal skins. In other cases, they refrain from either consuming or using any products of animals.
According to Theravada Buddhism, its adherents are neither encouraged nor insisted to be a vegetarian.
Since it is not a compulsory practice, neither vegetarians are praised nor are non-vegetarians to be blamed. The purpose of consuming food in Buddhism is to sustain one’s life and body, while partaking any kind of food which should be blameless and to remove craving for food.
As Buddhism emphasized on Majjhima patipada (Middle Way) as its one and only practice to attain final liberation, it wisely advises its adherents to avoid extremes (anta).
The Omniscient Buddha expounded His followers to avoid any food which is unwholesome; the food which is wholesome but blameworthy; to refrain from ordering the killing of animals as he accumulates demerit and finally to remove wrong view about being a non-vegetarian which is blameworthy.
This article attempts to convey the original essence of the Buddha’s teachings as regards to Vegetarianism. May the readers realize the true perspective of being a good Vegetarian.
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