Saturday, February 6, 2010

Meat or no meat

Bemji people thought it was not a wise idea to serve meat during the Loechoe this year.

It was a good example for every one.

Some years ago, the tsip of Chokho geog urged the people not to use meat during the Chokue and death ceremony.

Occasions when death and promotion take place are important ones. There is always a big gathering. Yes the the occsion is as matter of rejoicing, but death is as different matter.

Now if every family in a village holds it, which is the custom, we are talking in terms of the amount of met that we will consume. Yes, in the earlier days there might have been only a few houses in a village. But consider the cluster of houses that have sprung up with the rise in population. So when we talk of the annual puja, we are taking of a lot of meat that is being consumed.

When we invite our guests and serve different varieties of meat dishes, the host feels proud and happy, and of course the guests enjoy them with gusto. And when the guests enjoy, it is a symbol that that every thing is fine.

Even during the death ceremony, meat is considered an important part. Of course, it is not important. When the guests come and enjoy, it reflects a sense of satisfaction. And that satisfaction makes the host feel good that the annual loechoe had been successful.

Of course it is the feeling that we should do better than the next house. But does it ultimately makes us serve what we want to do?

That is where the question begins. Nowhere in the Buddhist text has t been said that we have to use meat and alcohol as part of the religious ceremony, be it on death or a normal occasion.

Killing is against the Buddhist precepts and the most abhorred, yet the tradition of eating meat is not uncommon among the Himalayan Buddhists. Perhaps, there might be some reason. It might be the high mountains and cold temperatures or the lack of vegetables, but let’s leave it to the masters to decide on that.

So, does it mean that when we feed some people and they are happy at the end of the evening mean that some one who had died finds his/her way through the foggy afterlife, in accordance to the belief.

In some ways, it has been noticed that the use of meat is only among the Himalayan Buddhists, with the exception of some high lamas. How the Himalayan people, including the Tibetans, Bhutanese, Sikkimese, even Lhadhakis, Sherpas and Tamangs in Nepal, ended up eating meat as Buddhists, is something that really needs a little bit of study.

It is embarrassing to say that you are a Buddhist and you eat meat. It is equally presumptuous to pay for the animals about to be slaughtered and save them for a day or two.

It is a good step that the present Je Khenpo banned the use of meat and wine in the cremation ground and it is a good thing for the poor people. At one time, we always felt that having a good party where every one was happy with food and booze would ensure a safe passage for the dead.

What we all fail to understand, no matter which religion follow, is that we all are compounded things. Ultimately, we are just atoms that make up this world.

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