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Buddhadharma : Winter 2008
19 winter 2 00 8 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Send your queStionS by mail or to teaCherS@thebuddhadharma.Com PHOTOSBY(l-R):BARBARAWENgER,MARYEllENMCCOURT,MARYlANg Why is the cruel treatment of animals almost never discussed or questioned within Buddhist circles or Buddhist magazines? So many Buddhists continue eating meat and wearing leather and fur. I don’t un- derstand this. What is your view, and how can we who live by the dharma bring about a change? zenKei Blanche hartman: My view is that we are most effective in bringing about change in the world around us by the example of how we live our own lives. The most convincing argument for treating all beings with kindness and compassion is encountering someone who is doing that wholeheartedly. We feel the effect of their kindness and compassion and also observe that a person who lives like that is generally happy and grateful, as well as kind. Your question here in Buddhadharma will en- courage dharma practitioners to think about whether the way we are living is kind to all beings, not only humans. For example, as I was about to say that I never see dharma friends wearing leather or fur, ex- cept for shoes, I began to consider whether I might be able to find suitable footwear that is not made of leather. So I think it is useful to raise the question so that we may all be more thoughtful in the choices we make. However, we also need to be careful not to fall into the painful state of mind that accompanies being judgmental or critical of others. While most dharma groups in the United States that I’m familiar with serve only vegetarian foods, it is important for you to realize that there are tra- ditional Buddhist cultures at high altitudes or high latitudes where the climate is not appropriate for a human population to survive solely on the plant foods that grow there. Those cultures have developed in dependence on foods from animal sources. The most relevant concern, for me, is the inhu- mane treatment of animals in the commercial mass production of animal foods. I therefore choose to eat a mostly vegan diet, except for some yogurt and cottage cheese and occasionally some fish. I also sup- port People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in their effort to help people become more aware of the need for more humane treatment of animals grown for food. geshe tenzin wangyal rinPoche: Among a monk’s vows is the vow to not eat meat, but often Tibetan monks did not strictly adhere to this vow. Living in the mountainous regions of Tibet at high altitudes, roasted barley, meat, and dairy products were the asK the teachers Zenkei Blanche hartman is former abbess of the San Francisco Zen Center Geshe tenZin WanGyal rinpoche is a lineage holder of the Bön Dzogchen tradition of Tibet narayan lieBenson Grady is a guiding teacher at Cambridge Insight Meditation Center