[As] that said [about] eating [as] veg[etari]ans, originally [is] with sympathy [for] that pain and suffering [of animals, to] nurture our benevolence, [of consuming their] oils and meat, what difference is [there in being unbenevolent, as demand feeds supply]?
[Thus], meat soups likewise should not [be] eaten.
However, [as] sentient beings’ root natures [are] not one, [if] able [to be] constant veg[etari]ans, thus [should you] enable them [to be] constant veg[etari]ans.
Otherwise, enable [them to] uphold [the] Ten Purification [Days], Six Purification [Days, and/or to] eat vegetables beside meat [if found together].
[Note 1: The Ten Purification Days (十斋日) are every lunar month’s 1st, 8th, 14th, 15th, 18th, 23rd, 24th, 28th, 29th and 30th days (每月初一、初八、十四、十五、十八、廿三、廿四、廿八、廿九、三十), when the Eight Retreat Purification Precepts (八关斋戒) with veg(etari)anism are observed. In the teaching above, the Master was probably only referring to being veg(etari)an on these days, if addressing beginners.]
[Note 2: The Six Purification Days (六斋日) are every lunar month’s 8th, 14th, 15th, 23rd, 29th and 30th days, with the last 2 days changed to the 28th and 29th days for shorter months (每个月初八、十四、十五、二十三、二十九、三十；小月：二十八、二十九).]
[Note 3: Although still commendable, the popular Chinese practice of being veg(etari)an only on the 1st and 15th days is not an actual Buddhist practice, with the above being the actual practices. All these practices are meant to be skilful means to eventually wean people off non-veg(etari)an food totally. Thus, if with choice, yet not consuming less non-veg(etari)an food over the years, one’s compassion for suffering animals is probably not growing much.]
These thus [are] skilful methods for [those] not able [to] eat [as] constant veg[etari]ans, not [the] true meaning [of the practice, which is to always practise compassion for all beings, with everything eaten and drunk].
You, since with [the] cause of [having] sickness and suffering, [with] sympathy mindful [of the] suffering of [other] sentient beings [too], should eat [as a] pure veg[etari]an, [and] not [be] with eating and drinking, as [your body’s and] mind-nature’s burdens.
All [flesh] belonging [to] those with consciousness, [are] all not suitable [to be] eaten.
Although without consciousness, however, having hope for life, like all kinds [of] eggs, [they are] also not suitable [to be] eaten…
[Note 4: There is the phenomenon of parthenogenesis, which is how some unfertilised (chicken, turkey…) eggs can nevertheless develop embryos.]
Why [with] suffering use money [to] ‘buy misfortune’, yet seeking [to be] nourished [and] benefitted? [With eating meat [is] owing (of karmic) killing debts, thus (is it) called ‘buying misfortune’.]
Of people [who] eat meat, if willing [to] eat [as] veg[etari]ans, [as a] definite [natural] law, [they] will [have] less sicknesses, [and be] stronger [and] healthier…
You, since eating [as a] veg[etari]an, even if not able [to] enable [your] whole family [to] eat [as] veg[etari]ans, [they] should [be] enabled [to] eat less [meat, by buying and preparing more veg(etari)an food].
[There] must not [be] buying [of] living animals to [your] home within [to be] killed, [for if your] home within [has] killing [of] lives every day, [it will] then become [an] execution ground, [which is] greatly inauspicious.
[Note 5: Direct killing of sentient beings creates among the strongest negative karma, and can create direct karmic creditors. This does not mean it is totally blameless to purchase pre-killed animals, as this is paying others to kill, which still funds slaughterhouses to remain as execution grounds.]
Pure Land Tradition’s 13 Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
(Reply Letter [To] Layperson Bào Héngshì)
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an