Journal of Buddhist Ethics
Mahayana Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Vegetarianism, Meat, Jigme Lingpa
Tibetan Buddhism has long argued for the sanctity of life, condemning the killing of humans and animals alike. For just as long, however, meat has been a staple of the Tibetan diet. Tibetan Buddhism idealizes the practice of compassion, the drive to relieve the suffering of others, including animals. At the same time, however, meat is a standard part of the Tibetan diet, and abandoning it is widely understood to be difficult. This tension between the ethical problems of a meat based diet and the difficulty of vegetarianism has not been lost on Tibetan religious leaders, including the eighteenth century master Jigme Lingpa. Jigme Lingpa argues repeatedly that meat is a sinful food, incompatible with a compassionate mindset. At the same time, however, he acknowledges the difficulties of vegetarianism, and refuses to mandate vegetarianism among his students. Instead, he offers a variety of practices that can ameliorate the inherent negativity of eating meat. By so doing, Jigme Lingpa offers his students a chance to continue cultivating compassion without having to completely abandon meat.
Barstow, Geoffrey, "Buddhism Between Abstinence and Indulgence: Vegetarianism in the Life and Works of Jigme Lingpa" (2013). Religion & Philosophy Faculty Scholarship. Paper 6.
Barstow, Geoffrey. "Buddhism Between Abstinence And Indulgence: Vegetarianism In The Life And Works Of Jigme Lingpa." Journal Of Buddhist Ethics 20 (2013): 74-104.
Used with permission.