Horror of Taking Lives and Eating Meat
The mere use of such names as “vegetarian chicken” and “vegetarian duck” plants seeds of defilement.
the reign of Emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty, when Buddhism flourished
Emperor Wu’s time, there was a high monk called the Venerable Zhi.
He had attained the Five Eyes and the Six Spiritual Penetrations, and
thus he could clearly discern causes and effects. One time, a rich man
asked him to recite Sutras at a wedding. As soon as he stepped in the
door, he sighed and said,
strange! How very strange indeed!
grandson marries the grandmother.
daughter is eating her mother’s flesh,
the son is beating on a drum made of his father’s skin.
and sheep are sitting on the couch,
the six kinds of relatives are cooking in the pots.
have come to offer congratulations,
I see that it is truly suffering!
this mean? The grandson marries the grandmother. Would you say
this is strange or not? Right before she died, the grandmother of the
family had held her grandson’s hand, not being able to part with
him. She said, “You all have your own families, but this little
grandson of mine has no one to take care of him. Ah! What is there to
be done?” Then she died.
arrived at King Yama’s court, King Yama gave her the following
verdict, “Since you love your grandson so much, you might as well go
back to be his wife and take care of him.” And so the grandmother
was reborn as her grandson’s future wife. The workings of the law of
cause and effect in this world can be quite frightening.
daughter is eating her mother’s flesh.
Outside the house, a girl was eating a pig’s foot with great relish,
not realizing that the pig had been her mother in its previous life. And
the son is beating on a drum made of his father’s skin. Venerable
Zhi then took a look at the musicians who were beating drums and
blowing on their trumpets and flutes. What excitement! One man was
banging away vigorously on a drum stretched with mule hide, not
knowing that the mule had been his father in a previous life.
Zhi looked at the people sitting on the couch and said: Pigs and
sheep are sitting on the couch. Then he looked in the pots and
said: And the six kinds of relatives are cooking in the pots. All
the former pigs and sheep that had been slaughtered before were now
getting even and eating the people who had eaten them before! The six
kinds of relatives who had eaten those pigs and sheep were now being
chopped up and cooked in the pots to pay off their debts.
have come to offer congratulations, / But I see that it is truly
thought it was a happy occasion, but the Venerable Zhi only sighed and
said, “This is really suffering!” People take suffering to be joy!
hearing this story you should understand the horror of killing and
eating meat. Let us look at the Chinese character for meat (
are two people ( )
inside the character for meat.
person inside is linked to the one outside.
beings eat the flesh of living beings.
really think about it, it is people eating people.
is best to be vegetarian. However, we shouldn’t use names
such as “vegetarian chicken,” “vegetarian duck,” and
“vegetarian abalone” for vegetarian dishes. Since we are
vegetarians, why can’t we forget about meat? The mere use of such
names plants seeds of defilement. Vegetarian dishes shouldn’t be
called by non-vegetarian names.
people who came to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas this time have
vowed to become lifelong vegetarians. This is a very good thing,
because this way one severs unwholesome affinities with living beings
in the six paths. If you don’t eat them, they won’t eat you; if
you don’t kill them, they won’t kill you. The cycle of karmic
retribution will thus be purified.
benefits are there in being vegetarian?” someone asked.
“There aren’t any. You’re being cheated while you’re
alive.” Because vegetarian food isn’t as tasty as meat, you take a
loss by being vegetarian during your life. However, if you don’t
keep a vegetarian diet, then you will be cheated after death. It’s
like a scale. You have to figure out for yourself which side is
heavier and which is lighter.
will you be cheated after death if you eat meat? Well, your body is
composed of the foods you eat. If you eat vegetables, you will smell
like vegetables; if you eat onions, you’ll smell like onions; drink
milk, and you’ll smell like milk; eat cheese, and you’ll smell
like cheese. If you eat some garlic, your breath will smell of garlic.
The things you eat become part of your body. If you eat a lot of a
certain thing, your body will become very similar to it. Therefore, if
you eat a lot of pork, you will become a pig. Eat a lot of beef, and
you will become a cow. These accords with science and logic. The meat
you eat incorporates with your body, and after you die you turn into
that kind of animal. If you smell like a pig, for instance, after you
die King Yama takes a sniff and says, “You smelly thing, you should
be reborn as a pig.” The same goes for sheep, cows, chicken, and
dogs. That’s what I mean by being cheated after death.
investigate this carefully. Why does a butcher of pigs have eyes
resembling those of a pig? It’s because he had been slaughtered as a
pig many times in the past, and now he has come to seek revenge.
Although he is human, his eyes are those of a pig. Cattle butchers
have the eyes of a cow. The law of cause and effect is never off.
There is a verse:
For hundreds of
thousands of years, the stew in the pot
boiled up resentment very hard to level.
you want to know why there are wars in the world,
listen to the haunting cries that come from a slaughterhouse at
grief and hatred brewed up in a pot of meat stew is as deep as the
ocean. It could never be fully described. The wars and massacres in
the world are brought about by the convergence of the evil karma of
living beings, causing beings to undergo retribution at the same time.
If you listen carefully to the cries of misery coming from a
slaughterhouse in the middle of the night, you will realize the horror
of the ceaseless killing that goes on in there.
have discovered that people who eat a great deal of meat tend to get
cancer. This is because the resentful energy in the bodies of
slaughtered animals accumulates in the bodies of those who eat meat
and eventually turns into a harmful toxin. We should cut off this
relationship of causes and effects with animals and stop the vicious
cycle of creating offenses against cows, sheep, chickens, and other
animals. Then we will gradually be able to decrease the evil energy in
the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, we want to uphold the Proper Dharma
and avert the crisis of killing in the world. We want to slowly and
invisibly extinguish this disaster. Therefore we advocate: no
killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no lying, no drinking, and
no drugs. At the very least, we should observe these five precepts
and maintain our purity in that regard. Since you have come to this
treasure mountain, don’t leave empty-handed!
A talk given on November 20, 1979