My New Understanding of "The Issue of Eating Meat"

Veronica Lee

PureInsight | February 16, 2004

[] While listening to Lecture Seven,"The Issue of Eating Meat" during Teacher's "Fa Lecture in Dalian," I suddenly realized an attachment that was not obvious to me.

Teacher said, "If there is no meat in their bowls, some people simply will not have their meals. That is an everyday person's desire." (From "The Issue of Eating Meat" in Lecture Seven of Zhuan Falun)

I realized that when I chose to do certain Dafa work, I was unconsciously going after the "meat" that I wished to eat. On the surface, I had performed truth-clarification work (or eaten the meal), but, in fact, one of my motives was to satisfy my attachment (desiring meat.) For example, because I desired respect from other people (the meat), I had chosen to join certain work groups so that I could show off my talents and skills to win respect from fellow practitioners. That was how I obtained the "meat."

After I had been attached to fame (the meat) for a long time, one day, low and behold the "meat" suddenly started to smell and taste sickening. In other words, one day everyone suddenly stopped respecting me and even started ignoring me. It was time for me to give up my desire to fame. If I didn't carefully look inside and abandon my pursuit for fame, I would experience an increasing number of escalating tribulations. Teacher said,

After reaching this level, you will not be able to eat meat, as it is being reflected from the gong. If you really swallow the meat, you will indeed throw up... This person will have a stomachache upon eating meat. With abstention from meat, he or she will not have pain. This situation will happen, and it means that one should not eat meat.

(From "The Issue of Eating Meat" in Lecture Seven of Zhuan Falun)

I must really have poor enlightenment quality. When fellow practitioners would find the smell of meat sickening, I would be very envious and thought, "How fortunate you are! Teacher is taking care of you." When it was apparent that for my cultivation it was time for me to discard my desire to seek fame, it was a sign that Teacher takes care of me, too. Then why did I feel pain when everyone stopped respecting me? I couldn't see that it was actually a good thing!

In hindsight, as the "meat" began to smell sickening to me, I could not help noticing that some fellow practitioners in the same work group as me were also attached to eating "meat." I thought, "Why am I the only one who must refrain from eating meat?" The truth is that it is all just an illusion. Everyone's gong will reflect at different times that he should eliminate his attachment to "meat" (everyone's individual attachments are like this), but everyone must discard the attachment to "meat" if he wishes to cultivate to completion. In the past, when I could no longer satisfy my attachment to "meat" in a particular Dafa work group, I would sometimes resign from the group. I decided that if I could not get my "meat" there, I would go elsewhere. This was exactly like the example Teacher gave in "The Issue of Eating Meat" section in Lecture Seven of Zhuan Falun: "I'd rather give up ten years of my life to eat meat!" (I would rather give up doing some Dafa work to satisfy my desire for meat!) But when I joined another work group, I would soon find that I would not be allowed to eat "meat" there either. That is because "it is being reflected from the gong" that I must give up my attachment to eating "meat."

Furthermore, Teacher said, " may ask for a soda, he or she may ask for mineral water, and another person may ask for a beer. Nobody will force you to drink alcohol. You make your own choice and drink as much as you want." (From "The Issue of Eating Meat" in Lecture Seven of Zhuan Falun)

I now realize this means that cultivation is an individual practice. While others wish to drink alcohol, I need not follow them. Teacher said, "Nobody will force you to drink alcohol." I see now that it means a genuine cultivator who is determined to eliminate all of his attachments should not and would not be interfered with or dragged down by other people's attachments. Teacher said, "You make your own choice and drink as much as you want." I realize now that it means I determine to which level I let go of my attachments. After all, the cultivation level I achieve depends on me, myself.

When I saw the attachments of others, I would feel very uncomfortable and try to get as far from them as possible, so as to spare myself the pain of witnessing them. But at that time I didn't remember the fact that Teacher did not ask those "...responsible for making business contacts" (From "The Issue of Eating Meat" in Lecture Seven of Zhuan Falun) to change their jobs. Instead, Teacher said they should still do their jobs well, and may sit at the same table with those who drink alcohol while each orders his own drink (attachments). It is none of my business to interfere in others' cultivation. I must stick to my own beverage (my choice to eliminate my own attachment), and that is what I should do as a cultivator.

In the section, "The Issue of Eating Meat" in Lecture Seven of Zhuan Falun, Teacher said:

In the field of this class, no one thinks of smoking a cigarette. If you want to quit, it is guaranteed that you can do it. When you smoke a cigarette again, it will not taste right. If you read this lecture in the book, it will also have this effect. Of course, if you do not want to practice cultivation, we will not take care of it.

This is serious business. I can no longer be oblivious to my attachments because it means I do not want to practice cultivation and Teacher will no longer take care of me. If the most fundamental Law of the universe cannot save me, then I am beyond salvation.

Furthermore, "The Issue of Eating Meat" section is immediately followed by the section "Jealousy" in Zhuan Falun. I suddenly realized something, that jealousy comes from all kinds of desires. In the section of "The Issues of Eating Meat," Teacher talked about the issues of eating meat, drinking alcohol and smoking. I think these actually refer to desires in general. I think this is why the section of "Jealousy" immediately follows the section of "The Issue of Eating Meat." How can a person without desire be jealous?

I am glad that I finally reached a new understanding on "The Issue of Eating Meat". However another question then surfaced. In the past when I did not have this understanding of the Fa of "eating meat," and when I was in a good cultivation state, I would still be able to cultivate myself and resolve conflicts with benevolent solutions. However, although the conflicts might disappear at the moment, similar conflicts would arise again later. I used to be very perplexed. Was it because I pretended to cultivate that those conflicts were not actually resolved? In other words, had I only pushed the "illnesses" (conflicts) further down the line?

Teacher said, "...there are people today who still hold firmly to the doctrines of Zen Buddhism." (From "Different Levels Have Different Fa" in Lecture One of Zhuan Falun) I realize that in cultivation, one cannot hold fast to any Fa that one has understood, because the Fa you come to understand at any given level cannot guide you to higher levels of cultivation. This is why in the past I might have understood a level of Fa and passed a test on that level, but as tests of higher levels come, I need to strive to enhance my understanding of the Fa and cannot hold fast to the previous level of the Fa as an unchangeable Fa to guide me at all cultivation levels. The Buddha Fa is boundless. Every Fa principle we come to understand on a certain level is as puny as the stalk of reed Boddhidarma rode on to cross the river to come to China. Why did Boddhidarma have to ride on a stalk of reed? I think it's a metaphor. It is because his Fa is as small as the size of the reed, but Boddhidarma was so attached to his Fa that he even rode on his lesser Fa (compared to the ultimate Buddha Fa) to China. Instead of continuing to cultivate himself, Boddhidarma tried to spread his Fa to others. This is a grave lesson for me. Even though I have attained a new understanding of "The Issue of Eating Meat," I must not be attached to this understanding in my future cultivation. If one holds on to the principle at one level and does not continue to cultivate upwards, even that Fa principle will eventually vanish like Boddhidarma's Fa.

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