On the 6th day of the Spring teachings of Gyalwang Karmapa in Sarnath, he discussed about the core issue of whether a buddhist practitioner eat meat. He also clarified the incorrect meaning of his suggestion for people to stop eating meat that he made few years ago at a Kagyu Monlam.
Gyalwang Karmapa said that he only made a suggestion that people should stop eating meat and he didn’t mean to say that a kagyupa should stop eating meat to remain a kagyu practitioner. He said that it was his predecessor the 8th Karmapa, Gyalwang Mikyo Dorjee who said that a Kagyu practitioner should not eat meat and not his idea.
He interpreted Mikyo Dorjee’s word to be meant that if you are a non-vegetarian person, then you are not a pure Kagyu practitioner but that you are at all a Kagyupa. He said that there are many Kagyu masters who eat meat and it is difficult to say that eating meat meant that you have some faults. But he urged all the dharma practitioners to actually think deeply about eating meat.
Besides there interpretations, the Karmapa shared about why he gave up eating meat. He said that he has become a pure vegetarian based on two reasons.
The first reason he told is because of the intense suffering that the animals who are killed go through. He explained that every single day millions of animals are killed to feed us, and many are subjected to terrible conditions to provide us with food.
The second reason he share is because of his Mahayana training in seeing all sentient beings as his mothers. “We say I am going to do everything I can to free sentient beings from suffering. We say I am going to do this. We make the commitment. We take the vow. Once we have taken this vow, if then, without thinking anything about it, we just go ahead and eat meat, then that is not okay. It is something that we need to think about very carefully.”
In addition to it, Gyalwang Karmapa also explained that within the Buddhist Vinaya, or in the rules for monks and nuns, eating meat is allowed mainly when one is ill and that too should meet three conditions: we must not have seen, heard, or thought that the animal was killed particularly for us to eat it.
“We should not eat the meat in order to enjoy it, because it is delicious. We should not eat it because we want to enjoy the great flavor and savor what we are eating. Instead we should eat the meat only in order to keep ourselves alive.” he continued to explain it properly.