When I am out and about I regularly get asked questions about Buddhism and my life as a monk. It is not the time to launch into a Dharma talk, I need to try and respond with a very succinct answer, and sometimes don’t even get to finish that before the next question is fired at me. It occurred to me that these questions, and my answers, might make good material for this blog. I will set myself the challenge of answering in less than 100 words. I’ll start with:
Q. Are you a vegetarian? Why?
A. Yes, I am. Buddhists try to do as little harm as possible. It’s not possible to avoid doing harm completely, but I believe that a vegetarian diet causes the least harm to life, including myself. You don’t have to become a vegetarian to practice Buddhism, though. Usually people who have been meditating for a while find that they naturally move towards a more vegetable-based diet.
That answer is probably a little more polished than the one I gave at the time. And obviously there is a lot more that could be said on the subject, but the principle of doing the least harm is the central point, and addressing the unvoiced concern that giving up meat would be too hard for the questioner to do, also seemed good to address.
Here’s a photo of myself and Rev. Aiden and some of the Sangha who came to the Wesak day at Turning Wheel Buddhist Temple last Saturday. Twenty people were there for the ceremony, Dharma talk and lunch. (The photo was taken towards the end of the day, when many people had already departed.)