Buddhist Vegetarianism: Do Plants Possess Life?

Dharma Master Ming Zheng

Dharma Master Ming Zheng

Original Chinese Language Source Text: By Dharma Master Ming Zheng

(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)

Dharma Master Ming Zheng’s Dharma Words: All sentient beings are constantly experiencing the transmigration process of samsara, and as such, all beings have been one another’s loved ones and relatives throughout time and in various rebirths. This is why it is illogical from a Buddhist perspective to participation in eating the flesh of our relatives and loved just because they now occupy an animal body. This is a simple statement of Dharmic truth – it is the Buddha’s position – and there is an extensive discussion – regarding the benefits of not eating meat, and disadvantages of eating meat – contained within the various versions of the Lankavatara Sutra (which we can reference later). An interesting question concerns plants and whether they possess life? The is ‘yes’ – plants do possess life – but they do not possess conscious awareness like an animal or human, simply because they do not possess the same physical sense organs that the Buddha taught facilitates conscious awareness. For instance, there is no conscious awareness associated with the eye organ, the ear organ, and the nose organ, etc., and as such does not possess the eight consciousnesses.

A plant, although ‘alive’ does not feel emotion, cannot ‘love’ other beings, and does not possess the type of consciousness that defines ‘sentient’ life. Another important difference is that when plants and vegetables (that are growing naturally) are cut, they can recover and grow again. Even a tree can grow again if it is cut in a certain manner, but if a human is cut in half, there is no regrowing of the body, and only physical death is observed. The sentient life of a human is different to the non-sentient life of a plant. Plants do not experience pain, and do not generate hatred, even though some people think otherwise.

Others have stated that if a tree is cut, revenge is aimed (by the tree) at the individual doing the cutting. It is not the tree as such that is seeking revenge, but is rather a spirit living in the tree. If a spirit lives in the tree, then the spirit takes the tree as its body, and assumes that it is its body that has been attacked – hence the possibility of retaliation. In reality, however, a tree or plant does not feel emotion and cannot ‘think’ in the conventional sense, therefore it does not possess the ability to be angry or to retaliate. Negative reactions may result from overly aggressive or violent behaviour toward trees if a spirit lives in the tree and is disrupted through actions associated with human ignorance.

©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2015.

Original Chinese Language Source Text:

http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_477a57e70102vjj1.html

为什么佛教只吃素,植物不是也有生命?

明证法师开示:因为所有的众生在轮回的过程当中,互为六亲眷属,大家都是亲人,都做过亲人,何忍吃自己的亲人呢,这是一种朴素的说法,但是也是事实,关于不吃肉的好处和吃肉的坏处,在《楞伽经》的最后,有很详细的论述,不同版本的《楞伽经》都有这一部分内容,下来以后大家可以检索。植物有没有生命?有,但是植物没有识,它没有眼识、耳识、鼻识,没有这八个识,一个都没有,所以,它不是有情,它没有情感,没有情识,所以,野菜你把它割了以后,它可以再长出来,树你把它砍了以后,旁边也再会长出来,你把人腰斩了以后,他就不会再活,不一样,你砍植物,植物也不会叫痛,也不会报你的仇,有的人说不然,砍了一棵大树以后,结果就被报复了,报复你的那个不是大树,而是在树上住的神,就是鬼道众生可能住在这棵树上,他把这棵树执着为自己的身体,是因为这么一种情况,并不是说这棵树,它能报复你,树不是有情,它是无情,它不能报复你,能报复你的,是在树上住的鬼神,因为你毁了他的家园,所以他不甘心。

文章来源:摘自明证法师《佛学问答1》

 

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