A. The Buddha wasn’t a vegetarian, nor were his vast sangha, including countless arhants who, like the Buddha, had finished their training and gone beyond the creation of karma, reaching the pureness of thought, word and action. The numerous traditions that sprang up in the East over more than two thousand years since the Buddha have never been vegetarian, and I don’t recall any of the prominent saints and sages of Buddhism saying that to follow the Dharma you must be vegetarian. To suggest, as many do, in the West that the first precept is violated by eating meat is to suggest that all those who have practised traditional Buddhism, including the Buddha and the arhants, have been in violation of the first precept. I can best suggest you read the recent post concerning vegetarianism for my general view on the subject.

If you wish to create a ‘moral’ view for vegetarianism (or anything else), then it should be based first on the cultural background, and always be a personal view for you alone. Do remember, there will be many sincere spiritual people, and many fine human beings that don’t have a spiritual path, who will disagree with whatever new ideas you come up with. That’s why if you really seek guidance as to what is right and wrong it is best to stay with ‘rules’ that are part of the natural laws that govern nature, which are always conditioned by the laws of karma.

If we decide to set up new ideas and propagate them in the name of Buddhist morality, we will be setting up a duality, which will always create problems. This will inevitably bring conflict with those who disagree, thus violating the basic spirit of Buddhism, which is to accept things the way they are. Remember, never has there been a conflict in the name of Buddhism in 2500 years; do you think that fine record is in place through mere luck?