[The] Mahāyāna Entry [Of] Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra’s Eighth Chapter [On] Severing [Of] Eating Meat
Great Zhōu [Dynasty’s] Yútián City’s Tripiṭaka Dharma Master Śiksānanda [with] received imperial decree translated
At that time, Great Wisdom [i.e. Mahāmati] Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva again [to Śākyamuni] Buddha said,
‘World-Honoured [One], may [you] for me speak [of] eating [and] not eating meat’s meritorious virtues [and] faults.
I and all Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas, knowing their meanings already, for future [and] present [sentient beings, will] report [and] practise them, [for] influencing meat-eating sentient beings, [with] expounding of [it].
[Note 1: Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas are Bodhisattvas able to combine great compassion and great wisdom to give rise to all kinds of expedient means to guide sentient beings to Buddhahood.]
Enabling [the] renouncing [of] meat’s taste [to] seek of [the] Dharma’s taste, for all sentient beings giving rise [to] great loving-kindness’ mind, further [with] one another close [and] loving, [with each] like [an] only child thought [of].
Abiding [on] Bodhisattva’s ground [to] attain Anuttara Samyak Saṃbodhi, perhaps [with the] Two Vehicles’ grounds temporarily stopping [and] resting, [which] ultimately will become unsurpassable right awakening.
[Note 2: Anuttara Samyak Saṃbodhi is Unsurpassable Right (And) Equal Right Awakening of Buddhahood. The Two Vehicles are the paths to self-liberation as Śrāvakas (i.e. Arhats) and Pratyekabuddhas.]
World-Honoured [One], Lokāyata [and] all other external paths’ contemporaries, give rise [to] existence’s [and] nothingness’ views, [with] attachment [to] nihilistic [and] eternalist [views].
[Note 3: Externalist paths are those that stray away from the path to the internal or inner, the mind, for awakening. The view of existence clings to phenomena as eternal. The view of nothingness clings to phenomena as nihilistic. These are two extreme and dualistic misconceptions. The true nature of phenomena abides on the Middle Path between them.]
Still, [there] is [the] precluded, prohibited, [and that] not heard [of killed for one, for] eating meat. What more, [the] Thus Come [One] should [be with] Right [And] Equal Awakening, [with] great compassion encompassing [and] educating, that [the] world relies [upon. How] then [can he] allow both self [and] others [to] eat meat?
[The] excellent World-Honoured [One], complete [with] great loving-kindness, compassion [and] empathy [for all] in the world, equally contemplate [each] sentient being [to be] similar to [an] only child.
[Note 4: As the Buddha taught in the Mettā (i.e. Loving-Kindness) Sutta《慈心经》, ‘Just as a mother would protect her only child with her life, even so let one cultivate a boundless love towards all beings.’ (Translated by Piyadassi Thera)]
May [you] for explaining meat-eating’s faults [and] evils [and] not eating [meat’s] meritorious virtues, enable me and all Bodhisattvas [and] others, [having] heard [them] already, practise widely, [and] for others speak [of them].’
At that time, Great Wisdom Bodhisattva repeated [that] said [with] verses saying:
[with] aspiration seeking unsurpassable awakening,
[of] alcohol, meat and chives,
[are they] for eating [or] not for eating?
[ii] Fools [with] greedy fondness [of] meat,
[that is] smelly [and] defiled without name,
with those evil beasts [the] same,
how can [it] then be eaten?
[iii] Those [who] eat have what faults,
[and those who do] not eat have what virtues?
Only wishing [the] most supremely honoured [one],
for me [to] completely expound [thus].’
At that time, [the] Buddha told Great Wisdom Bodhisattva-Mahāsattva said,
‘Great Wisdom, listen attentively, listen attentively, [and] reflect well mindfully of [this]. I will for you differentiate [and] explain.
Great Wisdom, all meat [has] immeasurable conditions. Of Bodhisattvas within, [they] should give rise [to] compassion [and] empathy, [and] should not eat [it]. I now for you, [will] speak [of] their lesser parts.
Great Wisdom, all sentient beings from beginninglessness, in [the cycle of] birth [and] death within [have been] reborn without rest, [with] none not previously been [our] Fathers, Mothers, brothers, [sisters], male [and] female relatives, and even friends, close loved [ones and] attendants. Changing [when] reborn, then receiving birds’, beasts’ [and] others’ bodies, how can [they] within [be] obtained of, then eaten?
Great Wisdom, Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas, [should] contemplate all sentient beings [to be the] same as oneself’s body. Mindful [of] meat [to] all come from [that] with life within, how can [there] then [be] eating [of it]?
Great Wisdom, all rākṣasas [and] others [who] hear me saying [this] still should sever [from] meat[-eating], moreover people [with] joy [in the] Dharma.
[Note 5: Rākṣasas are violent ghosts who eat human flesh.]
Great Wisdom, Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas, at where [there is] rebirth, [should] contemplate all sentient beings [to] all be relatives, and even [with] loving-kindness mindful, [with each] like [an] only child thought, therefore should not eat all meat.
Great Wisdom, [at] intersecting roads’ city markets, all people [who] sell meat, perhaps take dogs’, horses’, humans’, cows’ [and] others’ meat, for seeking profit thus, then [with] selling of [them. Of] such mixed defilements, how can [they be] eaten?
Great Wisdom, [as] all meat is all [by] sperm [and] blood’s filth that [is] formed, [of] people [who] seek purity, how [can they] obtain [to] eat [it]?
Great Wisdom, [as] of people [who] eat meat, [when] sentient beings see of [them, they] all [have] alarm [and] fear, [of] those [who] cultivate loving-kindness’ mind, how [can they] eat meat?
Great Wisdom, for example, [like] hunters and Caṇḍālas, [who] catch fish, net birds, all evil persons [and] others, dogs seeing [them, are] alarmed [and] bark, [and] beasts seeing [them] run [away. In the] sky flying [and in the] water abiding, [of] all sentient beings, if [there] are [those with] seeing of [them], perhaps have this thought, ‘These people’s breath [is] similar to rākṣasas’. Now coming to here, [they] definitely will kill me.’ For protecting [their] lives thus, all avoid [them. As] of people eating meat, [they are] likewise thus, therefore Bodhisattvas, for cultivating loving-kindness’ practice, should not eat meat.
[Note 6: Caṇḍālas are of the untouchable caste, tasked with disposing of corpses.]
Great Wisdom, [as] those [who] eat meat, [have] bodies smelly [and] defiled, [with their] evil names spreading, [whom] noble [ones and] good people abandon, [not] becoming close [and] familiar [with them], therefore Bodhisattvas should not eat meat.
Great Wisdom, [as] those blood [and] meat, [are] that [which] many gods [i.e. rishis] abandon, [which] multitudes [of] noble [ones do] not eat, therefore Bodhisattvas should not eat meat.
Great Wisdom, Bodhisattvas for protecting sentient beings’ faithful minds, [to] enable [them], of [the] Buddha’s Dharma, [to] not give rise [to] ridicule [and] slander, with loving-kindness [and] empathy thus, should not eat meat.
Great Wisdom, if my disciples eat of meat, [this] enables all [the] world’s people [to] all embrace ridicule [and] slander, and make this statement, ‘How can śramaṇas who cultivate pure practice, abandon that [which] heavenly beings’ eat of [and] taste?’ Similar to evil beasts [who] eat meat, [with] full bellies wandering in [the] world, [who] enable all sentient beings [to] all embrace alarm [and] fear, destroying pure practice, [and] losing [the] śramaṇa’s path, therefore should [it be] known [that] of [the] Buddha’s Dharma within, [it is] without taming practice.’ Bodhisattvas [with] loving-kindness [and] empathy for protecting sentient beings, [to] enable [them to] not give rise to such minds, should not eat meat.
Great Wisdom, [as] like roasting human flesh, that air’s smelly defilements, with roasting [of] other meats [is] without difference, how can [one] be within, with [the question of to] eat [or] not eat [them]? Therefore, all those [with] joy [in] purity should not eat meat.
Great Wisdom, [as] all good men [and] women, between burial mounds, under trees [and at] araṇya’s [i.e. forest retreat] places tranquilly cultivating practice, perhaps abiding [in] loving-kindness’ mind, perhaps upholding mantra methods, perhaps seeking liberation, [or] perhaps approaching [the] Great Vehicle, with meat-eating thus, [have] all obstacles [arising], not attaining accomplishment, therefore Bodhisattvas [who] desire [to] benefit self [and] others should not eat meat.
Great Wisdom, those [who] eat meat, seeing their shapes [and] forms, thus already give rise to greed [for their] taste’s mind. [As] Bodhisattvas, [with] loving-kindness mindful [of] all sentient beings, [to be] similar to oneself’s body, how can [they] see of [them] and have food’s thought? Therefore, Bodhisattvas should not eat meat.
Great Wisdom, [of] those [who] eat meat, all heavenly [beings] far depart, [as their] breath [is] constantly smelly. [With] sleep [and] dreams not peaceful, [when] awake already [with] sorrow [and] fear. [With] yakṣas [and] evil ghosts seizing their essential vitality, [their] minds [are with] much alarm [and] fear. [With] eating not knowing contentment, growing [in] sickness, easily giving rise [to] sores [and] ringworms. Constantly by all worms [or insects], of those biting [and] eating, [yet still] not able [to], of eating, profoundly give rise [to] revulsed renunciation.
Great Wisdom, I often say, [of] all that eaten, have [one’s only] child’s flesh thought. [Of] other foods still [doing] thus, how can [there] then [be] allowing [of] disciples [to] eat meat?
Great Wisdom, meat [is] not beautiful [and] good, [and] meat [is] impure, giving rise [to] much transgressions [and] evil, [that] destroy all meritorious virtues. [Of] that [which] all gods [and] noble persons abandon, how can [it] then [be] allowed [for] disciples [to] eat? If saying [I] allow [meat-]eating, these persons slander me.
Great Wisdom, those [with] pure [and] beautiful eating, should know thus, [that it] is [with] non-glutinous rice, corn, big [and] small wheat, beans, red basil oil [and] rock candy. [Of] such [and] other types [of food], these are [what] past, [and] all Buddhas those allowed. That [which] I [had] declared, [of] my lineage within’s all good men [and] women, [have] minds embracing pure faith’s long planted good roots, of [their] bodies, lives [and] wealth [do] not give rise [to] greedy attachment, [with] loving-kindness [and] empathy [for] all [beings, to be] similar to oneself’s body. Of such people, [with] that [which] should [be] eaten, [are] not those [with] all evil habits [of] tigers’ [and] wolves’ natures, [with] minds that [have] attachments heavy.
Great Wisdom, [in the] past was [a] king named Lion Born [i.e. Siṁhasaudāsa], [who] indulged [in] attachment [to] all kinds [of] meat. Thus, [of those] not already following, [to] reach eating [of] humans, [the] subjects [who could] not bear [it], all left [and] betrayed [him, as he] lost [his] country [and] position, [and] received great suffering [and] afflictions.
Great Wisdom, Śakra Devānām Indra abiding [in a] heavenly king’s position, with past meat-eating’s remaining habit, transformed as [an] eagle and [gave] chase of [a] pigeon. I then was [a] king named Śivi, [whom with] empathy mindful [of] that pigeon, personally cut [my] body’s flesh for replacing its life.
Great Wisdom, Emperor Śakra [with] remaining habit still [gave] afflictions [to] sentient beings, moreover those eating meat, [who] remain without repentance. [As it] should [be] known [that] eating meat [causes] self-afflictions [and] afflictions [for] others, therefore Bodhisattvas should not eat meat.
Great Wisdom, [in the] past, [there] was a king [who] rode [a] horse [to] wander [and] hunt, [whose] horse [was] alarmed, [and] ran fast [to] flee, entering into dangerous mountains, [that were] both without [a] returning road and absolutely [without] people dwelling. [There] was [a] female lion with [him], where together wandering, followed [him, as they] practised disgusting conduct, [giving] birth [to] many children, [with] that most elder [one] named ‘Spotted Feet’. Later attaining [to] become [a] king [who] led seven koṭis [of] families, [with] meat-eating’s remaining habit, [with what is] not meat not eaten. First eating birds [and] beasts, later and even humans. Those born males [and] females are rākṣasas, [whom having] reborn [from] these bodies already, [were] again born [as] lions, jackals, wolves, tigers, leopards, eagles, vultures [and] others within. Desiring [to] seek [the] human body, [in the] end, [it] cannot [be] attained, much less [to] exit [the cycle of] birth [and] death, [with the] path of Nirvāṇa.
Great Wisdom, those who eat meat, have such [and] other immeasurable faults. [As] severing and not eating [meat] obtains great meritorious virtues, ordinary ignorant [ones who do] not know thus have loss [of] benefits. Therefore, I now for you expound, that all that [is] meat, all should not [be] eaten.
Great Wisdom, all those [who] kill lives mostly [are] for people [to] eat. [As] people if not eating [meat], likewise [will there be] without [the] matter [of] killing, therefore eating meat and killing [are the] same transgression. Strangely, in [the] world [are those with] greedy attachment [to] meat’s taste, [whom] of human meat, still obtain [and] eat of, moreover of birds [and] beasts, with those not eaten. With greed [for] taste thus widely setting up expediences, [with] rabbit nets, fishing nets [and] bird nets everywhere fixed [and] applied. [Those in the] water, [on] land, flying [and] walking all [are] by [them] killed. [Even] if personally not eating, for greed [of their] value, directly doing these matters.
Great Wisdom, [the] world moreover [has] people [with] minds without loving-kindness [and] empathy, [who] focus [on] practising cruel violence, similar to rākṣasas. If seeing sentient beings, their bodies full [and] abundant, [they] then give rise [to] meat’s thought, saying these can [be] eaten.
Great Wisdom, [the] world [is] without having meat, [that is] not personally killed, [and] also not [by] others killed. [With the mind] not suspecting [of] killing [for one], then can that [be] eaten. With this meaning thus, I allowed Voice-Hearers [to] eat such meat.
[Note 7: See Note 15 below on how laypeople’s purchased meat does not fit such criteria.]
Great Wisdom, [in] future lives, [there] are ignorant people, of my Dharma [teachings] within, then as [those who] leave [the] household [life, who] falsely speak [of the] Vinaya [i.e. monastic precepts] [to] destroy [the] right Dharma, [and] slander of me, saying [I] allowed eating [of] meat, also [with me] personally previously eating [it].
[Note 8: There is no record in any sūtra or the Vinaya, of the Buddha having eaten meat, while in this sūtra, the Buddha clearly says he had never done so.]
Great Wisdom, I if allow Voice-Hearers [to] eat meat, I thus am not those aiding [in] loving-kindness’ mind, those cultivating contemplation practice, those practising asceticism, those approaching [the] Great Vehicle. Why then exhort all good men and good women, of all sentient beings, [to] give rise [to an] only child’s thought, [to] sever all meat[-eating]?
Great Wisdom, I in many places spoke [of] precluding [the] ten kinds [and] allowed [the] three kinds, [which] were [to] gradually prohibit [and] sever [meat-eating, to] enable it [to be] cultivated [and] learnt. Now, [in] this sūtra within, [of those] self-dying [and by] others killed, all those [that is] meat, [are] all [to be] severed.
[Note 9: The Buddha revealed that he gave increasingly more rules on meat-eating as an expedient means to eventually rule it out totally. This had to be done as most would not be able to accept not eating of any meat at all, if teaching so right in the beginning.
Note 10: The Ten Kinds of meat are the flesh of (1) humans, (2) elephants, (3) horses, (4) dogs, (5) snakes, (6) lions, (7) tigers, (8) leopards, (9) bears and (10) hyenas. They are said to be prohibited as these animals can be violently provoked by the smell of the flesh of their own species, and as some of them tend to belong to royalty, which spells trouble if eaten.
Note 11: The Three Kinds of meat are from those not seen, heard and suspected to be killed for one, with all criteria to be met.]
Great Wisdom, I [had] not previously allowed [my] disciples [to] eat meat, likewise [do] not now allow, [and] likewise will not allow [it].
[Note 12: In the Śūraṅgama Sūtra《楞严经》, the Buddha revealed that the meat alms-seeking monastics gathered in his lifetime were all manifested by his supernormal powers, and that after his Parinirvāṇa, there should not be any more meat-eating. This means they did not eat actual meat; having eaten only ‘mock’ meat.]
Great Wisdom, all [who are with] meat-eating, of [those who have] left [the] household [life], are all impure.
Great Wisdom, if [there] are ignorant people, who slander, saying [the] Thus Come [One, as having] allowed eating [of] meat, also personally eating [it, it] should [be] known that these people [are by] evil karma entangled, [and] definitely will [for a] long time fall [into] where [there are] no benefits.
Great Wisdom, of all [my] noble disciples, [they] still [do] not eat of ordinary beings’ pieces [of] food, much less eat [of] blood [and] meat, [as that] impure of foods.
Great Wisdom, [As] Voice-Hearers, Conditioned Awakeners and all Bodhisattvas [are] still only [with the] Dharma [as] food, how can it be [that the] Thus Come [One does not]?
Great Wisdom, [the] Thus Come [Ones’] Dharma Body [is] not mixed foods’ body.
Great Wisdom, I [have] already severed [and] eradicated all afflictions. I [have] already washed [off] all [evil] habits. I [have] already virtuously selected all [of] mind’s wisdom. [With] great compassion equally [and] universally contemplating [each] sentient being [to be] similar to [my] only child, how can [I] then allow Voice-Hearer disciples [to] eat of [my] child’s flesh, much less [to] personally eat [it? Of] those [who] make this statement, [it] is without possibility [to be true].’
At that time, [the] World-Honoured [One] repeated [that] said [with] verses saying:
 ‘All previously [were] as [our] relatives,
[from] many defilements those grown.
[With] fear [are] all [who] have life,
therefore should [meat] not [be] eaten.
 All meat and chives,
leeks, garlic, [onion, hing] and all alcohol,
such impure foods,
those cultivators [of] practice far depart.
[Note 13: In the Śūraṅgama Sūtra《楞严经》, the Buddha also taught to avoid non-meat animal products, as they arise from animal exploitation and even killing. Beyond vegetarianism, this effectively advocates veganism.]
 Likewise constantly depart [from] sesame oil [that involve killing in production],
and all perforated beds [with holes, such as weaved ones],
with that [having] many small insects,
in [the] middle [who might have] great alarm [and] fear.
 [With] drinking [and] eating unrestrained,
[with] non-restraint giving rise [to] evil awakening,
from [this] awakening giving rise to greed,
therefore should [meat] not [be] eaten.
 [With] evil awakening giving rise [to] greed thus,
[the] mind by greed that intoxicated,
[with the] mind intoxicated growing [in] attachment [and] desires,
[from the cycle of] birth [and] death not liberated.
 For profit killing sentient beings,
with wealth obtaining much meat,
both together are [with] evil karma,
[after] death falling [into the] Crying Out Hell [i.e. Raurava Naraka].
[Note 14: The above verse might seem difficult to accept, but it can be analysed line by line respectively to see how it is perfectly reasonable.
(1) The first line is on directly providing the supply of meat, by killing.
(2.1) The second line is on directly providing the demand of meat, by buying. The word ‘诸’ can also be translated as ‘many’, ‘all’ or ‘various’, to be further addressed below.
(3.1) The third line is on both together creating negative karma as they are two halves of a cycle. To directly provide supply of the killed, and to directly provide demand of the killed are surely both equally culpable, as there will be no supply without demand, just as there will be no demand without supply. When demand increases, supply increases. When demand decreases, supply decreases. When demand ends, supply ends.
(4) The fourth line is on the evil karmic effect of personally causing or conditioning sentient beings to cry out in hellish fear and pain when being killed for one, which is surely to personally experience the similar after death. As most people do use their wealth to obtain meat in their lives by buying, and are aware of themselves being part of the cycle of supply and demand, does this mean most will fall into hell?
(2.2) The answer pivots upon the phrase ‘much meat’ in the second line. Surely, one cannot fall into hell just for buying one small piece of meat, as such a consequence would be too drastic to be karmically fair. Thus, the key question is – ‘How much is too “much”, to be enough to incur a hellish effect?’ Since this is uncertain, it is best to reduce or abstain from buying meat, be it for personal or others’ eating, as both sustain or increase demand for killing.
(3.2) It might be believed by some that killing creates more negative karma than buying the killed. However, just as the Buddha taught that butchering is a Wrong Livelihood not to be engaged in, it is surely also wrong to support others in this livelihood, by paying them to do the dirty job of killing, which cannot be totally blameless. Every purchase of meat is after all a vote for continual or more killing.
Just as killing involves all Three Poisons, as greed for profit, hatred in killing, and delusion about the karmic cause and effect of killing, buying (and eating) likewise involves the same poisons, as greed for meat’s taste, hatred of kinder and healthier foods, and delusion about the karmic cause and effect of buying (and eating).]
 Not thinking [of], not asking [for or] seeking [it],
[of] these three kinds named ‘pure’,
[this] world [is] without such meat,
[of] those [who] eat I sternly reproach.
[Note 15: Previously, the Buddha also taught alms-seeking monastics that meat (1) not seen, (2) heard and (3) suspected to be killed for them can be eaten. These criteria forms the Threefold Pure Meat (三净肉). This does not apply to meat bought by laypeople, as although they do not see or hear the animals killed for them, being part of the cycle of supply (for killing) and demand (for meat) with continual purchase and consumption, they are the usual suspects of who they are killed for, thus failing the third criteria.]
 Further, [of] one another eating,
[after] death falling [into the realm of] evil beasts within,
stinking, defiled and deranged,
therefore should [meat] not [be] eaten.
 [Among] hunters, Caṇḍālas,
butchers [and] rākṣasas,
[of] these [and] other kinds within born,
that [is of] all [who] eat meat, [their] retribution.
 Eaten already [and] without repentance,
life [after] life often deranged,
[by] all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas,
Voice-Hearers [i.e. Śrāvakas] those loathed.
 [In the sūtras] Elephant Flank [i.e. Hastikakshya] and Great Cloud [i.e. Mahāmegha],
Nirvāna [and] Aṅglimālika,
and this Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra,
I all regulated [to] sever meat[-eating].
 [With] previously said [on not] seeing, hearing [and] suspecting [meat killed for one],
[as to] already sever [from] all meat,
with that evil habit thus,
those foolish falsely differentiate.
 Like [how] greed obstructs liberation,
meat [and] others likewise again [are] thus.
If [there] are those [who] eat of [them],
[they are] not able [to] enter [the] noble path.
 Future lives’ sentient beings,
of meat [will] foolishly speak,
saying this [is] pure [and] without transgressions,
[that the] Buddha allowed me [and] others [to] eat [it].
 [As] pure eating [should] still [be] like [taking] medicine,
just as [with one’s] child’s flesh’s thought,
therefore, those cultivators [of] practice,
knowing [this] reasoning, [should] then practise alms-seeking.
 Eating meat [turns the] back [to] liberation,
and goes against noble expressed form.
Enabling sentient beings [to] give rise [to] fear,
therefore should [meat] not [be] eaten.
 Those peacefully abiding [in] loving-kindness’ mind,
I say [to] constantly [have] revulsed renunciation,
[of] lions and tigers, wolves,
[and] should together [with] wandering [in rebirth] stop.
 If of alcohol, meat [and] others,
all not eating,
definitely [attains] birth within [the] virtuous [and] noble,
[with] abundant wealth possessing wisdom.’
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
Śūraṅgama Sūtra: How Should All Aspiring For Buddhahood Eat And Drink? (Introduction to Maha-Veganism, short for Mahāyāna Veganism, as taught by the Buddha)
Śūraṅgama Sūtra: How The Buddha Eventually Advocated Veganism
Various Sūtras: How The Buddha Gradually Urged The Kindest Diet