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Vegetarianism and Tibetan Buddhism – ‘If you eat meat you are not Kagyupa’ by The Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje (vegetarian), Part 1 of 2

2021-06-16
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His Holiness, the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, is the spiritual head of the 900-year-old Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Despite having been brought up as a meat-eater in a nomadic family in Tibet, His Holiness subsequently abandoned meat and firmly encouraged others to stop buying, making and eating meat. The 17th Karmapa believes strongly in compassion, loving-kindness, women’s rights, vegetarianism and caring for Mother Earth as universal values.

In one of his talks on vegetarianism given on January 3rd, 2007, at the 24th annual Great Kagyu Monlam, Bodhgaya, India, His Holiness directed all his followers to adhere to vegetarianism: “Any monastery that belongs to Kamtsang Kagyu, the monastery kitchen cannot and should not make any food with meat. And if you bring meat and cook it in the monastery kitchen, then that means that you are not taking me as your teacher, you are not belonging to Karma Kagyu. And there is nothing to discuss about that. That's finished. That is very important.”

“In general, the encampment had very strict rules on meat. They did not begin these rules during the time of the 8th Karmapa. They were ancient rules established long prior to that by previous Karmapas. How do we know this? There is a text by the 9th Karmapa, Wangchug Dorje, called ‘The Great Rule Book for the Encampment: The Ornament of the World’ which says that: ‘The examples of Drumzam Lingpa, 5th Karmapa, Dezhin Shegpa, 6th Karmapa, Thongwa Donden and 7th Karmapa, Chodrak Gyatso are similar. In particular, they gathered only monastics around them. Those that were included in the encampment could not have any meat, not even so much as the hair of a deer, nor drink any alcohol, even as much as a tip on a blade of grass.’”

“Likewise, if you read the 8th’s Karmapa’s commentary on the Vinaya, The Orbit of the Sun that Clearly Illuminates the World, it states that when doing the Gutor and Mahakala rituals at the end of the year, meat should not be included in those offerings. He not only banned eating meat in the Great Encampment, but he promoted vegetarianism to Tibetans all over Tibet. In the index of the 8th Karmapa’s Collected Works, there is also an advice to Tibetans as to why it is inappropriate to eat the meat of defenceless animals.”

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