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Eating meat, kamma and first precept

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  • Eating meat, kamma and first precept

    Dear Venerable,

    I would like to ask a quick question. Is there bad karma from eating meat? Is eating meat breaking the first precept? Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Hi Steve,

    The first precept is to actually kill the animal yourself. Killing is the real bad intention, the real bad karma. So eating meat is not breaking the precept.

    The Buddha allowed the monks and nuns to eat meat, and he must have eaten meat himself. This is not because he thought it was good, of course, nor because he thought the monks and nuns need it, but because they have to be content with whatever food they are given. Imagine this: a person goes through a lot of effort to cook food for you, and then you say you don't want it! That's not really nice, is it? Therefore the Buddha allowed, and advised, the monks and nuns to eat with few desires, even desire for vegetarian food.

    But on the other hand, the Buddha also said to reflect on food thinking: "this way I won't cause harm". What exactly this means, I'm not sure. In context it seems to mean to not cause harm to your own body. But I like to reflect on it as not being a cause for harm to animals. Because in the monastery I'm living now we have a choice on what food to take.

    When I was a lay person I saw a slight unwholesome intention in buying meat, personally. So I was effectively vegetarian for a long time before becoming a monk. When I ate with others, I just ate what they wanted to serve me and was fine with that. But when I cooked for myself or friends, it was vegetarian. That was just my way of doing things. Other people may have no problem with buying meat.

    In the end it is all personal. Kamma is not a judgement or law of a higher power. It is our own intention that matters.

    If you feel you have no bad intentions eating meat, then that's what matters.

    Hope that helps.




    • #3
      I handle this in the same way as Venerable Sunyo does. I myself don't prepare meat, nor do I buy it. Most friends and relatives know that I don't eat meat so when I visit them for a dinner, they see to it that I get a vegetarian meal. If I am served meat though by people that don't have anything else and/or don't know that I am vegetarian, I eat it because it would not be nice towards the people offering it, to reject it.



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