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 Protecting Lives through Vegetarianism


1.   The most precious thing in the world is life itself. Without a healthy body and a long life, all the riches in the world hold no meaning for you. Conversely, if you could buy back life, you would pay a fortune to do so, for life is the most precious thing in this world. The most tragic thing in the world is to take a life. Therefore, as we recite the Buddha’s name to protect ourselves from calamities, to increase our blessings and extend our lives, we must also refrain from taking lives. We should strive to protect the lives of all sentient beings.

2.   The Mahayana Sutra of Previous Lives and Contemplation of the Mind Ground teaches us that all sentient beings cycle through the five realms over countless eons, sharing familial relationships as parents and children across many lifetimes. Therefore, all men were once like caring fathers to us, and all women like compassionate mothers. It further illustrates the endless cycle of transmigration through the six realms, likening it to the perpetual turning of wheels. We have been relatives to each other in various forms in past lives, and owe each other kindness and gratitude lifetime after lifetime. Considering all this, when we consume meat, if it were from our family from a previous life, are we not repaying their kindness with cruelty?

3.   Genuine compassion for all beings begins with adopting a vegetarian diet. In this day and age of Buddhist practice, if one has the convenience of choosing a vegetarian lifestyle but resists it, it may indicate a lack of compassion or a disbelief in the law of karma, i.e. the law of cause and effect. Otherwise, it might suggest a lack of the compassionate heart essential to Buddhist practice. The meat we consume may actually be our parents from past lives, a notion that may be difficult for many to accept. If one does not accept this idea, one may not truly be a practitioner of Buddhism. The law of karma is fundamental to Buddhist teachings and serves as its backbone. Therefore, those practicing the Buddhist Dharma must first deeply believe in karma, strive to avoid creating negative karma, and be mindful that consuming meat unknowingly contributes to creating negative causes.

4.   There's a saying: "Observing a vegetarian diet for a day means I play no part in the killing in the world on that day." Today, by hosting a vegetarian feast, we ensure that everyone refrains from eating fish and meat, thus avoiding direct or indirect involvement in causing harm to lives and creating bad karma. Isn't this a virtuous act?

5.   The most precious thing in life is life itself. When someone threatens our personal safety, we will be scared, distressed and resentful. Conversely, when we pose such a threat to others, similar emotions would be felt by them. Choosing a vegetarian lifestyle enables us to spare the lives of animals directly or indirectly, and even contribute to protecting their existence proactively. Such acts generate immense merit and virtue. The path to doing good begins with adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. Additionally, individuals who open vegetarian restaurants, regardless of their profitability, earn merit and virtue by making plant-based food more accessible to the public.

6.   Buddhist practitioners, particularly those practicing Amitabha-recitation, should consider having a vegetarian diet. Understanding the profound compassion of Amitabha for all sentient beings, we must realize that the meat we consume includes sentient beings whom Amitabha Buddha eagerly seeks to deliver. As a Buddhist practitioner, especially one who is devoted to reciting Amitabha’s name, we should learn from the Buddha’s compassion and manifest that compassion in our actions. If we are facing the parents of our countless past lives, why would we still want to eat their flesh?

7.   Eating meat or not eating meat is not a condition for rebirth. We all have different and unique karmic circumstances that influence our acts. If we can opt for a meatless diet, so much the better. If not, consuming meat is permissible. Nevertheless, when consuming meat, it’s crucial not to think that one can indulge without limit in the name of Amitabha salvation. Such an attitude is inappropriate. One should even feel a sense of remorse.
As Amitabha Buddha vows to deliver sentient beings across the ten directions, the meat on our tables may come from those very beings he seeks to rescue. At times, even with our best intentions, our circumstances may not allow us to be vegetarian. In such situations, we may find solace in earnestly reciting the Buddha’s name, wishing for their rebirth. 

8.   When compelled to slaughter an animal, or when witnessing the act of slaughtering, one should repent, recite the Buddha’s name and dedicate the merits of the recitation to the beings involved. Alternatively, we can solely focus on recitation without dedication.  

9.   Amitabha-recitation and the act of protecting lives are inseparable. Why do we recite Amitabha’s name? It is to receive the Buddha’s salvation, to break free from the cycle of birth and death, and to realize our wisdom Buddha nature. Simultaneously, we should also cherish and safeguard the lives of all sentient beings. Therefore, as we engage in Amitabha-recitation and embrace his salvation, it is essential for us to protect lives and dedicate the merit of our practice to all sentient beings. This is encapsulated in the Dedication Gatha: “May the resulting merit be distributed everywhere without discrimination. May we all aspire to perfect enlightenment for the sake of other beings, and be reborn in the Land of Peace and Joy.”


(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team;
edited by Householder Fojin)



Master Huijing

Master Huijing

Master Jingzong

Master Jingzong

Guiding Principles

Faith in, and acceptance of, Amitabha’s deliverance
Single-minded recitation of Amitabha’s name
Aspiration to rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land
Comprehensive deliverance of all sentient beings