When the Buddha was in the world, he encouraged people to be vegetarian, but he didn’t force them. Why? Because some people were very fond of good flavors. If the Buddha had insisted that his disciples be vegetarian, those people wouldn’t have dared to leave the home life. Therefore, some of the Buddha’s gluttonous disciples ate meat, and he didn’t say anything. Left-home people are supposed to make their almsrounds to get food. Those who aren’t gluttonous say, “I eat whatever people offer.” The gluttons are more selective.
What’s the difference between eating and not eating meat anyway? People who eat meat have more desires and random thougths. It’s not easy for them to attain samadhi. People who don’t eat meat, however, are content and have fewer desires and random thoughts. Vegetarians have purer blood and energy. Meat contains a turbid energy because it comes from something filthy and turbid. Therefore, people who eat meat find it difficult to uphold precepts, develop wisdom, and attain samadhi. You want to uphold precepts, but your mind is filled with false thoughts, so you cannot follow the rules and attain samadhi, and are restless whether walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. Since you cannot attain samadhi, you have no real wisdom. If you have true wisdom, nothing presents a problem. Eating meat takes you down the path of ignorance, and not eating meat takes you along the path of wisdom. That’s the difference.
If you want to have true wisdom, you should be content and reduce your desires. Don’t eat so much meat. If you eat too much pork, your own flesh combines with that of pigs and you form a corporation with them. It would really be surprising if you didn’t become a pig yourself one day! If you eat too much beef, you form a corporation with cows and develop affinities with them, and you’ll very likely be reborn as a cow. Eating dog meat, you will become a dog. Eating rat meat, you will turn into a rat. Your body retains affinities with whatever kind of meat you eat, and eventually you’ll become that kind of animal. Your physical energy turns into the energy of pigs, cows, or whatever animal you eat. Your blood becomes that kind of blood; your energy becomes that kind of energy; and your flesh becomes that kind of flesh Wise people should give this deep thought!
A talk given on January 22, 1984