Buddhism, vegetarianism, and the ethics of intention

November 22, 2014

smile pigOne of the most attractive things about Buddhism is that it considers ethics to be based on the intentions behind our actions. This perspective is radical in its simplicity, clarity, and practicality.

When our actions are based on greed, hatred, or delusion, they’re said to be “unskillful” (akusala), which is the term Buddhism prefers over the more judgmental terms “bad” or “evil” — although those terms are used too, albeit mostly in the context of poetry. By contrast, when our intentions are based on mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom, they’re said to be skillful (kusala).

For many people accustomed to systems of morality based on commandments, rewards and punishments, the Buddhist ethical perspective is liberating and … Read more »

Becoming a vegan again: Day 1

January 18, 2013

vegan-1I’ve been a vegetarian for over 30 years now, ever since I visited a slaughterhouse as part of my veterinary studies and saw an animal being slaughtered. I didn’t consciously decide to become vegetarian. It was as if the decision was made for me, deep down, and I just had to go along with it. And in 30 years I’ve never once been tempted to lapse.

And I’ve tried being vegan several times, sometimes lasting for a few years. It’s a natural and logical extension of vegetarianism. Really, there isn’t a lot of different between eating eggs and eating a chicken. In both cases a chicken dies, but in one case the chicken lays lots … Read more »

Why Buddhists should be vegetarian

July 23, 2012

The Buddha ate meat. This is a fairly well attested fact. The issue of vegetarianism is addressed a few times in the Suttas, notably the Jivaka Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya. The Buddha consistently affirmed that monastics were permitted to eat meat, as long as it was not killed intentionally for them. There are numerous passages in the Vinaya that refer to the Buddha or the monastics eating meat, and meat is regularly mentioned as one of the standard foods.

For these reasons, the standard position in Theravada Buddhism is that there is no ethical problem with eating meat. If you want to be vegetarian, that is a purely optional choice. Most Theravadins, whether lay … Read more »

“Monkey mind?” Who, me?

April 24, 2012

The UK’s Daily Mail has a collection of photographs of this meditating lemur, taken by Belgian-born amateur photographer Sebastian Degardin, who lives in Finchley, north London.

The photographs were taken on a forest path in a nature park in Mons, Belgium.

Check out the rest of the pics here.

Marmoset monkeys will meditate — for marshmallows

September 30, 2011

New Scientist magazine relates that scientists have trained marmoset monkeys to meditate. The study was designed to investigate whether the placebo effect is involved in neurofeedback training, where the electrical activity of the brains of epilepsy sufferers is recorded and displayed back to them, in order to encourage them to generate “helpful brainwaves.”

Since monkeys aren’t aware of the potential helpful effects of being hooked up to a neurofeedback display, they’re not susceptible to the placebo effect, where the expectation of improvement brings improvement about.

The researchers, at the Biomedical Primate Research Centre in Rijswijk in the Netherlands,

attached electrodes to the brains of marmoset monkeys to pick up electroencephalogram (EEG) signals from the brain.

Read more »

‘Yoga meditation music helps cats relax’

July 22, 2010

Cats relax better if they are played yoga meditation music. When they are unwell, cats become less stressed when they listen to relaxing music, a study shows.

Student veterinary nurse Sian Barr carried out the research on cats being treated at a vet’s surgery.

She found that those who were played yoga meditation music and “Om Shanti” tunes calmed down and began to breathe more slowly while in cages at the practice in Powys, Wales, reports the Telegraph.

Barr, who has just graduated from veterinary school with a first class honours degree, said: “Stress in small doses can be a good thing, such as if a cat is under stress to eat, then it can … Read more »

Cat’s guide to attaining enlightenment

After so many years in Japan, I have come to realize that it is not so hard to achieve enlightenment. As long as you’re a cat.

Among the enlightenment-seeking general populace, cats seem to achieve their goal faster than any other animal or human. Even kittens seem to bound out of the womb happy to learn that they came into this world as kittens and not, say, mice. So they have a good platform to start their road to enlightenment.

Just food, water, sleep and meditation can bring one to a state of enlightenment, according to my cat, who achieves enlightenment every day, at least once. To think it takes some people 20 years! They … Read more »

“Doga”, yoga and meditation for dogs and their owners

January 27, 2010

Dog-owners and yoga-lovers have finally found a way to bring their two passions together: doga. Yoga classes for dogs and their owners are sprouting all around the United States, combining massage and meditation techniques with gentle canine and human stretching. Ludicrous or blissfully relaxing?

Doga aficionados are adamant: there’s nothing like balancing your cocker spaniel on your belly as you stretch to create a bond between you and your canine companion. The practice stems from an unsaid philosophy shared by many yogis: because dogs are pack animals, they are a natural match for yoga’s emphasis on connection with other living creatures.

Created eight years ago by Florida-born yoga instructor Suzi Teitleman, the popularity of doga … Read more »