Buddhism Today 30 | Fall/Winter 2012

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Katags offering by all the attendees. His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa tirelessly travels around the world to share his wisdom and his experience with the greatest number. Whether it be through his teachings or through his activities promoting peace, humanitarian actions or the preservation of the environment, His Holiness unceasingly works to relieve beings from suffering and helps them to improve their lives. His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa reveals that the secret to happiness lies in the mind. The Middle Way A wonderful book that will become a trusted friend and guide to all who read it.

Can be ordered on the shop Druk Nangsel. What does happiness mean to us? Where does it come from?

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Can we really decide to be happy? We are all chasing happiness. We spend our lives searching for that one thing we think will finally make us happy; that promotion at work, those amazing shoes, having the perfect home. But is happiness something deeper than that, more fundamental? How can this deeper happiness be achieved?

Exploring the simple ways we can train our minds to recognise a happiness that is already there, he gives us the tools to calm anxiety, let go of expectations and embrace an appreciation for life as it is, rather than as we feel it should be. Thailand Culture. Treasures from the Past Series. Environmental Studies. Islam Islam in Southeast Asia Series. NIAS Press. Year published : Pages : Size : 14x21 cm. Share this item:. Pin It. Default Title - Brightened Mind, The In this same village in , there are over 30 villagers who have taken lifetime vegetarian vows.

Given the fact that eating meat has been an important part of Tibetan nomadic culture, this paper primarily asks: why have traditional practices of eating meat changed? Yet, religious reasons alone are not sufficient to explain the widespread growth of a Tibetan-style vegetarianism. For one thing, despite the fact that Buddhism has dominated Tibetan society for many centuries, the popularity of vegetarianism has never before reached the current level of popularity see also Barstow , p.

This paper explores one aspect of this complex situation. Focusing on the teachings of the two most prominent Buddhist leaders from Larung Gar — Khenpo Tsultrim Lodroe Mkhan po Tshul khrims blo gros, hereafter, Khenpo Tsullo and Khenpo Sodarjey Mkhan po Bso dar rgyas 3 — and the response of Tibetans to the movement, I explore how the vegetarian movement is associated with the interactions of these leading Tibetan Buddhist teachers with Chinese Buddhist communities 4 , and in particular, their response to the critiques by Chinese Buddhists regarding the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of widespread meat consumption.

Relatively few studies have been done about how Tibetans interact with Chinese Buddhist communities and how this interaction informs the formation of Tibetan identity and the reform of Tibetan Buddhist tradition. In the first section of this paper, I present the basic elements of the teachings of Khenpo Tsullo about vegetarianism. In the last section, I present ethnographic studies of how Tibetans interpret their participation in the movement.

Barstow , pp. Barstow also suggests that, in early times, vegetarianism was mostly followed by Tibetan religious leaders Barstow rather than lay Tibetans. This seems true in many nomadic communities where Tibetan pastoralists herd yaks and sheep from which they produce meat for self-consumption. Along with other foods including barley flour, wheat flour, butter, and cheese, meat has long been an important part of the diet for Tibetan herders. Yet, the intensification of commercial economic development on the Tibetan plateau has brought many changes in food diversity for Tibetan people.

Recently, other foods such as vegetables, fruits, rice, and even highly-processed foods have become available and integrated into the diet in many Tibetan-populated regions.


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This increase in food diversity for Tibetan people has created conditions that have made becoming vegetarian much easier and more feasible for Tibetans. This point is equally important for the vegetarian movement, but I will not discuss it in this paper. Larung Gar is one of the largest Buddhist training centres and is now home to over ten thousand Tibetan Buddhist monks who want to study the Tibetan Buddhism of different Tibetan Buddhist schools 5.

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The institute has produced many khenpo s with outstanding achievements in Buddhist study and is now a key centre for the promotion of Tibetan culture and Tibetan Buddhism. Many khenpo s have been giving religious teachings not only in different areas of the Tibetan plateau, but also in southeastern Chinese cities. I demonstrate this in the next section.


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Among the many moral issues they have observed in Tibetan society is the phenomenon in which massive animals suffer and are slaughtered for meat consumption. This is an urgent issue that they feel requires intervention through their religious influence. The promotion of vegetarianism in pastoral areas is an example of one such intervention by Tibetan khenpo s and lamas who have been trying to persuade herders to stop eating meat. Khenpo Tsullo is one of the most prominent students of Khenpo Jigphun and has placed great emphasis on the vegetarian movement during his teachings in nomadic communities.

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Aspects of his teachings are similar to those of his master and predecessors Barstow Khenpo Tsullo b cites and discusses various Buddhist teachings about eating meat, different conditions when monks may be allowed to consume meat, karmic consequences of eating meat, compassion for animal suffering, and exceptions in Buddhist rituals. Therefore, slaughtering animals and eating meat both lead to hell, according to the karmic principle of cause and effect. While the call to renounce eating meat is an important part of his teachings, other issues related to meat consumption are also highlighted in his teachings and writings.

For instance, as he thinks that it is impossible for ordinary Tibetans to give up meat entirely, he gives specific suggestions for slaughtering animals in such a way that the animals suffer less a, p. He calls for Tibetans to be aware of these cruel and brutal misconducts and to keep their distance from them Gayley a. One example is his emphasis on physical health. As he speaks very good Chinese language and draws extensively on Chinese scientific studies on diet and health, Khenpo Tsullo has encouraged vegetarianism based on two perspectives.

The first is related to what he calls secular health.


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  4. With the support of scientific research on physical health and the effects of diet, he cites many modern scientific studies to show that many diseases including heart disease, arterial plaque, and high blood pressure are related to the consumption of meat. He also cites a comparative study of two groups of pigeons by a group of scientists of the former Soviet Union, which demonstrates that eating meat causes animals to have a fiery temper and become easily angered.

    Persecution of Buddhists

    Moreover, Khenpo Tsullo mentions scientific findings from Columbia University that compares the biological structure of the human body with that of other carnivorous animals. As human beings are omnivores, they have a longer gut than do carnivorous animals, and if they consumed meat, the meat would stay in the gut for a longer time and easily become toxic. Therefore human beings should refrain from eating meat Khenpo Tsultrim Lodroe a , p. Finally, he maintains that many meat products in the current market contain antibiotics and hormones that are very harmful to the human body Khenpo Tsultrim Lodroe b, p.

    These are also part of a campaign to preserve Tibetan language. These products are common in the markets of Tibetan communities and many Tibetan herders have been learning the importance of being vegetarian through watching VCDs and DVDs and listening to tapes about the movement. Posters on vegetarianism, along with other posters on the campaign for Tibetan language preservation and the anti-slaughter movement, can be also commonly seen on the walls of streets and in Tibetan-run restaurants in many towns of Kham and Amdo. Yet, I suggest that the contemporary vegetarian movement is also a response from Tibetan Buddhist leaders to increasing critiques from outsiders, particularly from Chinese Buddhists, regarding the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of consuming meat.

    In other words, the contemporary vegetarian movement is an outcome of the response of Tibetan religious leaders to the asymmetry between assumptions by other Buddhist communities about Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibetan people, and what Tibetan Buddhist leaders observe on the ground in Tibet. In their interactions with Chinese Buddhists, Tibetan khenpo s, particularly the top ones, have realised that many outsiders make the assumption that Tibetan Buddhist monks take a Bodhisattva vow and do not eat meat.

    But this assumption is in contrast with the fact that a majority of Tibetan religious elites eat meat. In response to this concern, Khenpo Sodarjey , p. At the same time, he also suggested that rather than criticise the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of meat consumption in general terms, people need to understand the complexity of the situation in a more reflective manner. First, he argued that not all Tibetan Buddhists supported meat consumption; there were many Tibetan Buddhist masters in history who were vegetarians and there has recently been a trend in which more and more Tibetans are becoming vegetarians.

    On the other hand, he suggested that the phenomenon of meat consumption by some Tibetan masters was something beyond the imagination and judgement of common people, and this was particularly true in the context of the Tantric tradition. In his online response to Khenpo Sodarjey, the Chinese Buddhist puts it this way: 8. The issue of vegetarianism and eating meat have never been that complicated, but some khenpo s [ Khenpo Sodarjey ] ha ve made it complicated for the sake of protecting the face of Tibetan people. This is just one of many cases of his skilful beating about the bush […] […] Tantric practitioners are very clear about the fact that animals need to be slaughtered because people need meat to eat.

    Who, other than Tibetan lamas, can play such an ironic farce about compassion? Admiring the Chinese Buddhist tradition of vegetarianism, he concludes by saying,.

    Nowadays, with the improvement of transportation, vegetables are available in market and vegetable plantation is possible in many places in Tibet. In the future, even though we may not be able to make all Tibetans vegetarians, which also has not been achieved in the Chinese Buddhist community, we will make sure that the Tibetan Buddhist clergy does not consume meat collectively 9. This is a huge change, and then the rest of job is up to individuals to make their own decision.

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    In those interactions, Khenpo Tsullo and Khenpo Sodarjey represent not only Buddhist monks in general, but also the Tibetan people, who have a distinct culture. Indeed, their response to both the critiques and the situation on the ground of Tibetan communities is a process in which the confluence of two identities — religious and ethnic — has taken place.

    For Khenpo Tsullo, the reinforcement of Buddhism in Tibet is equivalent to the maintenance of Tibetan culture and identity. For Khenpo Tsullo, Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan culture are the same, and his teachings on the anti-slaughter movement and the vegetarian movement are a way to make Tibetans become better Buddhists at the same time as better Tibetans.