Years ago, I wrote a book about the merit of being vegetarian and the faults of eating meat or being non-vegetarian. Our talk today is based on part of that book. With regard to the Buddhist views on being vegetarian and non-vegetarian, here is what the book said:

According to the Theravada tradition, one is allowed to eat only the ‘three kinds of clean flesh.’ Other kinds of meat are strictly forbidden. Now in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries, the Sangha still upholds this practice. They think that not eating meat at all is to follow the decree of Devadatta. 1 And the practice of eating the three kinds of clean flesh is rather in keeping with the precepts taught by the Buddha in the Theravadin Vinaya.

To liberate lives is a common practice frequently performed by many Buddhists. When conducted properly, the resulting merit is boundless. Otherwise, the merit will be greatly diminished. It is therefore very important for us to know the proper way of liberating living beings.

All the activities of a bodhisattva can be put into six different categories, that is, the six paramitas or the six perfections. In other words, the bodhisattva’s view, conduct, practice and activities of benefiting and delivering sentient beings are vast like the ocean, but all can be summed up in the six paramitas.

If it is performed properly every time, liberating lives can have all the remarkable qualities of the six paramitas as well, even to liberate just a single life. Now let us see how this can be done.

The need to separate the way of living and the meaning of life.

The way of living and the meaning of life may seem to be the most basic things that we should all know about, but to separate the two in practice is not so easy. I personally feel that it is rather important to be able to tell the difference between the two. Nowadays, many people including quite a few Buddhist practitioners think that the way of living and the meaning of life mean one and the same. However, what they have in mind is just the way of living, which less intelligent animals also know, never the purpose and significance of life.

How should a Buddhist live? The Buddha gave us the answer long time ago. Being his followers, we should all adopt the kind of life that he had prescribed for both the monastics and laypeople. Doing so will make for a much more meaningful life.