Editorial by Jim Martin
I have been working on The Unusual Buddha for over 8 years now. While I don’t claim to know everything about the Dharma or even about the spirituality/metaphysics genres, I have seen a lot from a different perspective than most.
So many people are looking into Buddhism either exclusively or via meditation and mindfulness. This is a natural expansion in the Dharma and is a beautiful thing. We are all playing part in planting and cultivating seeds of thr Dharma as we’ve all read is good karma.
Some folks, in the name of good karma, have taken numerous vows. Some of them are truly and beautifully altruistic. Ahimsa or harmlessness, celibacy (though in my mind too much, nonetheless hearts in great places), poverty, and, veganism.
All of these vows can and do contribute something to the body of the Dharma and its beauty is amazingly unsurpassed. The issue I take is with some of those who vow veganism in the name of Dharma.
In my travels I haven’t seen other vows championed in quite the same way as veganism. I have never received hate mail from those vowing celibacy. I have never woken up to an angry comment thread, miles long in some cases, from someone vowing harmlessness.
The logic behind the argument isn’t wasted on me. I understand the idea of compassion towards animals. The amount of vitriol spewed toward any who aren’t on board with your vow is extremely antithetical. The irony of denying the most basic proposal of Buddhism, compassion, in favor of something the Buddha himself never actually proposed is just… well, frankly, unbelievable.
Regardless of your tradition, school, or, lineage within Buddhism, or any other faith for that matter, no one is obligated to adhere to your vows. That’s the thing about vows they are an undertaking that by their nature are differentiating from norms. If everyone did it, your vow wouldn’t be special or meaningful. It would just be standard issue run of the mill stuff.
Eat meat, don’t eat meat, the choice is like any other, highly individual. I’m not here to judge you for yours, all I’m saying is there is room enough for different view points within this great big picture.
We are both the jailer and prisoner in this existence. Attachment to ideals also breeds suffering like any other
Obviously this is all my opinion and I’ll reap whatever karma I’ve earned regardless of anyone’s opinion. To me our vows aren’t as meaningful as your actions. Expecting others to live within vows you’ve taken is actually a similar outlook and stance that has spurred a lot of religious and philosophical reform. Some of the most hated groups in history tried to force their beliefs on to others.
Who knows maybe I’m right; or maybe I just misunderstood.