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Nicholas Ribush, a long-time FPMT student and director of Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive writes on how he eventually became vegan:
“After my first Kopan meditation course (October-November 1972), I decided to stay on at the monastery and became a vegetarian by default, since meat was not on the general menu. Lama Zopa Rinpoche was a vegetarian and didn’t even eat eggs (“the seed of desire”). Lama Yeshe sometimes ate meat to sustain his body.
“In January 1974, most of Kopan went to Bodhgaya for the Kalachakra initiation and the ordination of 10 of us Westerners. Despite the bliss of it all, the physical conditions were far from ideal and I finished up with worms, ascaris lumbricoides, the giant roundworm. Yes. Giant.
“I lost a lot of weight and was pretty grumpy, but as a new monk, I didn’t want to kill the worms. ‘Rubbish,’ said Lama Yeshe. ‘Your life more benefit sentient beings than worms. Take medicine.’ So I did. He also told me to eat meat to regain my health and ordered the Kopan cooks to prepare it for me.
“Over the next two or three decades, I had an on-again-off-again relationship with vegetarianism, convincing myself with the usual arguments that eating meat was OK. The Buddha didn’t expressly forbid it; there were just three types of meat you should definitely not eat. Most Tibetan lamas ate meat; most of my many gurus did. You can bless and benefit the dead animal by reciting certain mantras over the meat. Even if you eat rice, dal and vegetables, many sentient beings die in the production of those foods. If you eat only large animals, where one can feed many people, it’s better than one person eating many small ones, like shrimp or poultry. …”
From Mandala July-September 2013
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About Mandala Publications
Mandala Publications is the official publication of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), an international charitable organization founded by two Tibetan Buddhist masters, Lama Thubten Yeshe (1935-1984) and Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche. FPMT is a vibrant international community, with a network of 160 affiliate centers, projects and services, and members in more than 30 countries.
Mandala print magazine is published in January, April, July and October. Mandala is available via the Friends of FPMT program.