Connect with us


The Argument On Vegetarianism In Tibet

The Argument On Vegetarianism In Tibet 86

The dilemma of vegetarianism was a vexed one for Buddhists in Tibet, where the large alpine landscape is acceptable for nomadic herding and a meat-and-dairy-based diet. A folk story recounted by American writer Lama Surya Das from the publication The Snow Lion’s Turquoise Mane exemplifies the tension between the Tibetan diet and Buddhist ideal of compassion. From the narrative, a sheep, an ox, and a goat listen from outside the monastery’s walls to the great lamas and scholars debating the dilemma of vegetarianism. The animals are inspired to reverence and religion by the compassionate prognosis articulated from the argument, just to be picked one by one for slaughter during the lunch break. Ideals and practicalities clash as it gradually dawns on the animals the compassionate outlook espoused in the Buddhist teachings doesn’t necessarily apply to”all sentient beings” in practice.

In the Food of Sinful Demons: Meat, Vegetarianism, and the Limits of Buddhism in Tibet, Geoffrey Barstow of Oregon State University tackles the history of vegetarianism in Tibet, surveying the multifaceted arguments of its proponents throughout the centuries. His in depth study relies on a broad swath of texts, such as biographies of distinguished masters, rulebooks for individual monasteries, and literature about the “three vows,” which discusses the connection between the monastic code (Vinaya), the bodhisattva vow to benefit all sentient beings, and the samaya vow taken by Vajrayana initiates. These vows offer different and often contradictory viewpoints on meat-eating, complicating the formula of a coherent Buddhist position on this particular issue in Tibet. Barstow dedicates one chapter to every vow and its consequences for meat-eating in accordance with major Buddhist masters from various Tibetan traditions. This permits him to delve into particular aspects of the vegetarian argument in detail, but at the expense of a chronological sense of these ideas’ development and the lived contexts where particular positions emerged.

For Tibetan Buddhist practitioners in North America, what could be surprising is the pointed criticism of consuming meat in everyday life according to a tantric paradigm. The initial two vows, related to monastic life and the bodhisattva path, are far more clear cut. As Barstow shows the monastic code permits monks and nuns to eat meat as long as they haven’t seen, heard, or suspected that the creature was killed specifically for them (the tale above clearly violates this rule). However, the bodhisattva vow supersedes this in its own compassionate concern for all sentient beings along with the call for vegetarianism in many Mahayana sutras (including the Lankavatara Sutra andMahaparinirvana Sutra). That is, in large part, why Buddhist monastics in China have mainly been vegetarian. Further complicating matters, the samaya vow mandates the usage of meat and liquor in tantric feasts as a means to surpass the thoughts of purity and impurity. This creates a strain with Mahayana ideals by appearing to sanction meat-eating, though the mandate only applies in particular ritual contexts and to specific rare and repulsive types of meat.

In addressing such contradictions, Barstow deftly illuminates a selection of positions: from advocacy for vegetarianism that still requires the usage of a token amount of meat through tantric feasts (by the 18th-century Nyingma visionary Jigme Lingpa and 17th-century Kagyu master Karma Chakme) to permitting meat-eating as medication when sick (most famously, the19th-century Nyingma hermit Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol) to strict vegetarianism in all contexts (for instance, Norchen Kunga Zangpo, the 15th-century founder of the Ngor branch of the Sakya tradition, along with the Eighth Karmapa Mikyo Dorje, the 16th-century head of the Karma Kagyu lineage).
Outside the monastery, the parameters were different. Not merely did non-monastic tantric professionals have fewer limitations on diet and behavior –they frequently married, and dwelt as householders–but other cultural orientations held sway.

Barstow breaks new ground in his talk of the usage of meat for medical purposes and as an element of a heroic masculine ideal. The Tibetan medical tradition asserts the necessity of meat for energy and urges the usage of particular kinds of meat to deal with specific ailments. Meanwhile, a manly ideal exemplified in the Gesar epic valorizes the control and consumption of animals in constituting strength and virility.

In the last chapter, Barstow exemplifies how Tibetans have balanced those varying viewpoints by distancing themselves from the action of slaughter or practicing partial vegetarianism by giving up meat on special holy days or during retreat. He supplies a well-rounded and extensive account of why meat-eating has remained the standard among Tibetans, even monastics, regardless of the powerful Buddhist ethos of empathy for all beings.

Matters have changed lately, however. Improved transport and the introduction of greenhouses have generated a larger assortment of vegetables and other types of protein available. Since the mid-2000s, vegetarianism has gained momentum among Tibetans, encouraged by prominent Buddhist teachers such as Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro at Larung Buddhist Academy in southern Tibet, also among the two claimants to the throne of the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, in exile in India.

In an epilogue, Barstow delves into the possible effect of and controversy about modern vegetarianism but neglects to summarize the wider context that includes an ethical reform movement along with a new set of ten Buddhist virtues promulgated by leaders at Larung Buddhist Academy. This new pair of virtues contains novel pledges to not sell livestock for slaughter; to not smoke, drink, or gamble; to not visit prostitutes; to not fight with weapons or deal in arms; to not steal or hunt; and to not wear fur, all which refocus Buddhist ethics on modern social problems.

Now, vegetarianism has been embraced primarily by Buddhist monastics, with devout lay people giving up meat on special holy days. Therefore it remains to be seen whether Tibetans will make a considerable change in diet and what impact this could have in their way of life. For those following the vegetarian argument as it evolves on the Tibetan plateau and as Buddhism spreads to new contexts, Barstow’s publication offers essential reading.

Source link



Why does Satan’s name mean “light-bearer”?

Why does Satan's name mean "light-bearer"? 91

In modern languages, Lucifer is one of the names of Satan. However, from Latin the word lucifer literally translates as “luminiferous” and comes from the words lux (“light”) and phero (“carry”). What kind of light is this that the infernal ruler carries?

Franz von Stuck.  Lucifer
Franz von Stuck. Lucifer

The ancient Romans called the planet Venus by the word Lucifer, that is, the “morning star”, which is better than all other celestial bodies visible in the morning (as well as evening) firmament. By the way, this name is “tracing paper” from ancient Greek: the ancient Greeks called this celestial entity Phosphorus (from Φωσφόρος – “carrying light”).

Lucifer means ‘that which brings light’. From φῶς (phôs, “light”) +‎ -φόρος (-phóros, “bearing”), from φέρω (phérō, “I carry”).

Venus in the morning sky in January
Venus in the morning sky in January

Why did the name of the star become the name of Satan? This happened as a result of “translation difficulties”. The Bible, in the Book of Isaiah, contains a prophecy about the death of the Babylonian king – a terrible enemy of the ancient Jews. It looks like this:

“… You fell from the sky, morning star, son of the dawn! He crashed to the ground, trampling on the peoples. “

“Morning star” and “son of the dawn” here are nothing more than magnificent oriental titles of the ruler. When Jerome of Stridonsky, the first translator of the Bible into Latin, translated this passage, he translated the Hebrew word הֵילֵל (“heylel”, “morning star”) as lucifer, because that is how the morning star was called in Latin.

Caravaggio.  Saint Jerome
Caravaggio. Saint Jerome

However, Christians, contemporaries of Jerome, associated this passage not with the king of Babylon – the embodiment of evil for the ancient Israelites, but with their enemy – Satan. And the word “lucifer”, which was just the title of the Babylonian king, began to write with a capital letter. So the innocuous name of the star became a terrible hellish name.

Jerome’s other translation error led to an amusing misunderstanding. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, European artists and sculptors depicted Moses – the main biblical prophet … with horns on his head! Why?

Why does Satan's name mean "light-bearer"? 92
Why does Satan's name mean "light-bearer"? 93
Why does Satan's name mean "light-bearer"? 94

The Bible says that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, his face was radiant. In Hebrew, the words “ray” and “horn” are similar. So Jerome got it: “His face became horny because God spoke to him.”

Continue Reading


There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 95

Everyone has their own hobbies. Some are passionate about collecting, others are gardening, and still others are passionate about sports. But the hero of this article has a special passion. Ra Paulette is an American sculptor from New Mexico who burrows into hillsides and caves to create intricate artistic spaces within mountains. Maybe he is now the only one in the world.

You might think that he is a professional architect or sculptor, but no, it’s just that this person has a hobby. Although talent is undoubtedly present, he creates real works of art, sculpts caves like shrines, like sacred places.

He describes his places of work as “a sanctuary for prayer and meditation,” while others describe his caves as works of art. The caves are decorated with “scallops, patterns, smooth curved lines, smooth cornices, crisp ledges and inlaid with stones”. Its caves attract tourists from all over the world.

He has been hiding in a cave in New Mexico, USA for 25 years and has now decided to showcase the interior of his home.

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 96

What he did to the inside of the cave is almost impossible to describe in words, as if we are entering the world of fairy tales.

In ancient times, people made dwellings in caves or dug new rooms in the sandstone, but only for the purpose of living. The works of this artist are more for soul resting.

All this beauty is made in white sandstone cliffs just an hour from Santa Fe. Has anyone from you seen this beauty in real?

Tired of the whims of his bosses and customers, the artist, who was bored with art, began his personal and independent project.

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 97

The results of the project, as well as the process itself, are very impressive. Ra Paulette, who spent the last 25 years in the cave, completely alone, apart from his dog, away from society, spent time carving out walls.

He spent his time carving the sandstone cave he found, transforming it into a wonderful underground space full of light.

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 98

Paulette created different designs and styles for each cave, giving each one a distinct quality and texture.

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 99

The goal of this gigantic piece of art is to create an environment that inspires “spiritual renewal and personal well-being.” It will also serve as a venue for artistic events when its project is completed.
Ra Paulette works exclusively with hand tools, a pick and a shovel. First, he digs in various halls and vaults in any form, not forgetting about ventilation. The artist himself called his style – “dances of the digger” . When he likes what he gets, then he proceeds directly to creativity: decorates the halls and vaults with mysterious carvings and patterns.

In some places, his works look like real natural caves, and in other – like a completely civilized housing

Ra Paulette Cave
That is, you can wander and relax there.

There is a man on Earth who makes caves: you will be amazed when you see what has done alone after 25 years 100
When Ra Paulette made his first cave, it attracted connoisseurs of beauty and tourists. But it was made on state land and, in addition, he could not guarantee the safety of visitors. The cave had to be filled up.

Only later, when he began to make safe projects and all legal issues were met, it was possible to create endlessly. At the moment, 15 underground palaces exist for sure.

A documentary film “Cave digger” was even made about him and this man became even more famous.

In the video below, you can virtually take a trip through one of the caves decorated by the artist.

We can only be surprised by such people who just alone create beauty with which, we become kinder and better beings.

Continue Reading


Sacred Mount Meru: home of the gods and center of the universe

Sacred Mount Meru: home of the gods and center of the universe 101

According to Hindu records, Christians believe that the earth is the center of the universe. In contrast to this belief, the Hindus consider Mount Meru as the universal center and home of their gods.

In the eyes of the Hindus, Mount Meru is quite large, its height is about 84,000 yojanas (about 1,082,000 km). Since Hindu and other Eastern religions idolize Meru, it seems to them that the sun and all the planets of the solar system revolve around it.

According to Jain mythology, Meru is surrounded by two suns, two moons and two “sets” of stars. When some of them are in sight, others hide in the shadow of a mountain, which they believe is about 100,000 yojanas wide.

For the Hindus, Meru is the axis of the earth. Without it, the planet will not be able to rotate. In addition, they see the mountain as the home of the gods, with their kingdoms spread across all of its inconceivable height.

Followers of each of these important gods travel to these heavenly realms to rest and await their next reincarnation.

Sacred Mount Meru: home of the gods and center of the universe
A fresco depicting Mount Meru (left) and a painting (right) from Jain cosmology

For the Javanese, Mount Meru contributed to the origin of the island of Java. According to their legends, Batara’s guru ordered Brahma and Vishnu to fill the island with people. At that time the island of Java roamed and was not tied to any solid land. To stop the movement, the gods moved a part of the sacred mountain from India and attached it to Java. This new anchor was Mount Semeru, now the highest volcano in Java.

For Buddhists, the importance of Mount Meru also lies in their belief that it is the center of the universe. Unlike the Hindu version, Buddhists believe that the mountain was surrounded by a body of water and believe in 31 levels of life on Meru.

Since Mount Meru is the ecumenical center and sacred site, many mythological characteristics are attributed to it. First, it is so high that the mountain touches the sky, and the pole star shines directly above the mountain, giving it a sacred appearance. Secondly, it is said that the Ganges comes to the mountain as one river, and, having reached Meru, is divided into 4 separate rivers.

Third, there are 4 cities filled with residents, one on each side of the mountain. Ancient myths say that these inhabitants constantly see the sun at its zenith, and they always work. The sun rises and sets only for those who do not live on the mountain.

In addition, there is one lord of the heavens, God Indra, and he lives at the top. There are also four heavenly kings on Mount Meru, one on each side. The mountain extends to Jambudwip, which itself is divided into 4 continents. The southern continent is where Buddha was born and his teachings are followed here.

Many famous Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples were built as symbolic images of this mountain. The basis of the style is a characteristic feature of Chinese pagodas.

Although ancient Buddhists believed that the mountain was real, European visitors began to express other thoughts about the earth, which contradicted the Buddha’s teachings about Meru. Modern Buddhist scholars have decided that this is an allegorical story, and not a description of a real mountain.

However, many Buddhists still refuse to change their beliefs about the sacred mountain. For them, belief in the existence of Meru is the same as belief in Buddha.

Sacred Mount Meru: home of the gods and center of the universe

If you plunge into reality, Mount Meru is a volcano located 70 kilometers west of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, 4562.13 meters high.

Continue Reading