Veganism & Buddhism

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Veganism is about non-violence: non-violence towards other sentient beings; to yourself; to the earth.” ~Gary L. Francione

Woman in prayer

Today, I want to talk about how I see Veganism and Buddhism  as being related. I plan to share a bit about my personal journey into SGI (Soka Gakki International) Buddhism as well. Having been born and raised in Denmark, I typically feel that beliefs and religion are private matters. In Denmark, you definitely wouldn’t discuss this and I can almost guarantee – 99.9% of the time – that you’d never get asked, “So, what do you believe in?” No, beliefs and religion are, for the most part private matters. Just like what type of toilet paper someone prefers! Well, I am going to go there anyway because this is a practice that’s extremely important to me and have had a significant impact on my life! Most significantly how I see Buddhism related to being a plant-based vegan. First, however, I will share the story of how I discovered SGI Buddhism. If you just want to skip that part – just scroll down to my main point about how I see Veganism and Buddhism as being related.

 

home-group-setting2Group meetings are held once a month in a member’s home.

In the summer of 2009, my friend Tanya invited me to a Buddhist meeting. I had no idea what type of Buddhism she practiced, knowing there are many different kinds, but thought that it sounded interesting. I was bitten almost immediately! What I love about SGI buddhism is that it’s peace promoting. President Daisaku Ikeda is known all over the world for his humanitarian efforts and strong opposition of nuclear weapons. Further, this practice wishes for everyone to attain peace, happiness, and success in their personal lives, which will then positively impact the lives of others! 

Ikeda & Rosa ParksPresident Ikeda and Rosa Parks

Further, there’s no church (although, I love the feel of churches, but not when it’s turned into a business) nor is there a priest involved. There’s no one above you, so to speak! Yes, we do have President Daisaku Ikeda in Japan. A fantastic human being who is like a mentor to all of us! (Links will be provided at the end for more information on the SGI & President Ikeda). The fact that most of the practice takes place in one’s own home really appealed to me! I enjoy the monthly meetings in someone’s home and my new “family”, plus being able to join with other members at the community center. Finally, chanting “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” deeply resonated with me. 

 

World Peace Supporter

About a month after getting into the practice, I flew to London, where I had been invited to share four short stories in a story telling event, which turned out to be an amazing experience! I flew in on Sunday for the rehearsal. The show was Monday evening and the following morning, on Tuesday, I flew on to Spain for a month long “siesta” so I could further practice my Spanish. I was going to rent an apartment, but then I came across an ad for a room for rent. One of my colleagues said to me, when I told her about the two options, “Oh, go for the rented room! Sounds like so much more of an adventure!” So that’s what I did.

 

View of City

On the flight, however, I realized that I knew the building number, but not the apartment number. I was a bit worried, so I ended up chanting “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” all the way from London to Barcelona (inside my head of course). Plus thoughts like, “What if these guys are not who they say they are?” My backup plan had failed the previous day, when my lawyer friend had texted me, saying that the man she had met in Madrid was not whom she had expected, so she was upset and heading back home. I had been looking forward to four days of “girl-friend-time” in Barcelona together, but she had to go home and mend her heart, which I understood. 

 

Street & FeetTypical street stones in Barcelona

Well, I arrived and was greeted by the sweet woman whom I had made all the arrangements through. She introduced me to my new room mates. (To respect the owner’s privacy, I’ll call him Art). Art and his partner, whom I would be sharing the apartment with, were very friendly. They spoke some English. After getting my things put in my room, I went into the living room and saw a wooden box standing with a lotus flower painted on the front. (Later learned that Art had created his own Butsudan out of a wooden wine box.) There was also a bell and a few other items. So I asked my Art if he was a buddhist. He said, “Yes, I’m an SGI member!” I couldn’t believe my ears! I said, “Hang on a second!” Ran back to my room and pulled out the “Buddha in Your Mirror” from my carry-on bag.

buddha in your mirror

Art showed me the goosebumps on his arms when I told him I’d just been introduced to the practice. He said, “I know you have come to remind me to practice!” The next evening, Art picked me up on his scooter and we drove to the community center together. This was my first experience chanting for a full hour and also my first of many on the back of a scooter in Barcelona. Chanting at the SGI community center was an incredible experience! He and I did chant together a few mornings, when he and his partner were in town.

 

Aldo y NinaHere we are at the SGI in Barcelona! (Not great photo quality)

How does Buddhism relate to Veganism?  

In SGI buddhism, we chant “gongyo” and recite the lotus sutra twice a day (morning and evening). Plus we also do “daimoku” – chanting – “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” for a little or a long time. At the end there are three silent prayers. The very last prayer, “Fourth Silent Prayer”, says, I pray for peace throughout the world and the happiness of all living beings”.

Piglet

Here’s my point: If this is truly what we are praying for and believe, then we must recognize and acknowledge ALL living beings, especially the animals who are living tortured, miserable lives in Factory Farms or who are being used for entertainment in Circuses, at the Zoo, or who are being used for unnecessary lab experiments. Therefore, I ask you to at least consider the thought that although you may be creating great causes for yourself and others, you can have an even greater global and environmental impact by going plant-based vegan. The biggest and most significant spiritual impact, in my opinion, is to no longer participate in the unnecessary suffering and torture of these sentient living beings! Trust me, there are plenty of other, much healthier things to eat and ways to get your protein than through eating dead animal carcasses or drinking another species milk! They, in return, like “instant karma”, cause us unintended harm. Eating their bodies is not only unhealthy, but completely unnecessary! 

 

Veganism:Buddhism

“All beings tremble before violence. All fear death, all love life. See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt?” ~Buddha

Moi - Barcelona 2009Moi en Barcelona

I pray daily for other people. At the moment, I’m chanting for a few people whom I have issues with (yes, we all have these people in our lives) and some that I know who are going through a hard time. None of them know that I am chanting for them. I chant and pray for each of them to become truly HAPPY! I have started to include the people who work in factory farms or in the other scenarios that I described earlier. I pray that they will become enlightened, happy, and move away from their current situations, realizing that causing pain and suffering to others has severe negative consequences not only to ones psyche, but also adds to “negative causes” that one then will have to deal with and “pay for” later.

Hands

Will you join me? Thank you in advance!  

Abundant Health & Happiness to you in 2013!

Roaring lion

“The powerful may appear great, but in reality they are not. Greatest of all are the ordinary people. If those in power lead lives of idle luxury it is because the people are silent. We have to speak out. With impassioned words, we need to resolutely attack abuses of power that cause people suffering. This is fighting on the side of justice. It is wrong to remain silent when confronted with injustice. Doing so is tantamount to supporting and condoning evil.” ~President Ikeda

Famous SGI members include: Tina Turner, Herbie Hancock, Orlando Bloom and Mariane Pearl. Check out Tina Turner’s interview with Larry King on her Buddhist practice on YouTube!

My favorite book on Buddhism is this one…

BND_200…A collection of extraordinary short stories…even if you’re not Buddhist!

Links to SGI Buddhism:

http://www.sgi-usa.org/

YouTube Links to Starting to Chant:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDOlGqqCb2Y

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lx2kZjPoc2o

Articles on President Daisaku Ikeda:

http://www.daisakuikeda.org/main/profile/bio/bio-01.html

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/22967/buddhist-leader-calls-for-2015-nuclear-abolition-summit

IMG_0117This is my special corner where I practice! Butsudan is inside.

 

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About urbanveganchic

I'm an urban chic woman, who is passionate about educating others about the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based vegan diet, cancer prevention & survival, as well as art & life. I love adventures and travel. As an artist and a teacher, I care deeply about healthy living, being a conscious steward of our planet, and being kind & respectful towards animals. Learning about a vegan plant-based diet has been like discovering a new country and falling in love with it, so if I sound like I'm enamored you now know why! As a world traveler, I truly wish I had discovered this beautiful new country twenty years ago! Better late than never, as they say, cause there's no going back now! Born and raised in Scandinavia. Proud owner of a tripod cat & a foxy little pup. Speak four languages...some better than others. Working on the fifth one. We are all either part of the problem or the solution! Health & Happiness to you! ~UrbanVeganChic

15 responses »

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  4. Hi! Thank you! I loved visiting your culture center when I was there. I hope to come back one day! What an amazing city and I’m looking forward to seeing my new friends there again! Nina

  5. Hi,

    I stumbled across, and enjoyed, your post via scanning the internet; I’ve recently given some thought to investigating the strange disconnect between Buddhist groups in the US and veganism (to the extent that a number of spokespeople for those groups get rather defensive and have a difficult time even just openly discussing this issue). As a first pass I just googled Buddhism and veganism and your post came up first. I certainly have no intention of passing judgement on anyone but this disconnect is a very troubling issue to me. Whether or not historical Buddhist sanghas have been vegan or vegetarian (probably not many), advocating veganism today seems like such a straightforward way to greatly decrease the suffering of sentient beings and is so consistent with the Buddha’s basic teachings that I’m a bit mystified by the resistance I see. In my more cynical moments, I retreat to the view of the great T’ang Buddhist hermit Han Shan, who chided many of the monks in the temples for their lack of creativity and blind adherence to autocratic rules they had little interest in trying to understand.

    Anyway, thanks for the post; the first waypoint on my exploration of this topic !

    • Hi Karl,
      Yes, you’re absolutely right! Hence my post on this subject! It makes sense to me that if this is what we believe in and even pray for then why would we want to cause harm or partake in the horrific harm that is done towards sentient beings on a daily basis? I just don’t get it! A friend pointed out to me this list of Historical Vegetarians & Advocates of Vegetarianism: (Thought you might find this interesting!) Thanks again for making your comment! Love to hear what people have to say! 🙂 Nina
      ” Annie Besant
      ” William Blake
      ” General William Booth
      ” Fenner Brockway
      ” Charlotte Bronte
      ” Rupert Brooke
      ” Buddha
      ” St John Chrysostom
      ” Clement of Alexandria
      ” Sir Stafford Cripps
      ” Leonardo Da Vinci
      ” Diogenes
      ” Thomas Edison
      ” Albert Einstein
      ” Ralph Waldo Emmerson (American lecturer, essayist, and poet)
      ” Benjamin Franklin
      ” Mahatma Gandhi
      ” Goldsmith
      ” Dr John Harvey Kellog (brother of W K Kellog who founded the Kellog Company) (vegan)
      ” Jiddu Krishnamurti (Spiritual teacher) Source: Krishnamurtis Notebook
      ” Lamartine
      ” Martin Luther
      ” Mahavira
      ” Eustace Miles
      ” Milton
      ” Montaigne
      ” Barbara Moore
      ” Sir Isaac Pitman
      ” Origen
      ” Ovid
      ” Plato
      ” Plotinus
      ” Plutarch
      ” Pope
      ” Porphyry
      ” Pythagorus
      ” Sir C. V. Raman (Nobel prize-winning physicist – 1930s?)
      ” Anthony Robbins (Success Motivational Coach) (vegan)
      ” Richard St Barbe Baker
      ” Henry Salt
      ” Schopenhauer
      ” Seneca
      ” George Bernard Shaw (writer)
      ” Shelley
      ” Socrates
      ” Chandrashekar Subrahmanyam (Nobel prize-winning astrophysicist – 1983)
      ” Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772)
      ” Nikola Tesla (Inventor; too many to list, including AC Current) Source: Any decent biography of Nickola Tesla
      ” Henry David Thoreau
      ” Leo Tolstoy
      ” Voltaire
      ” Dr Barnes Wallis
      ” Mary Webb
      ” John Wesley
      ” Ellen .G. PR Department SDA church White (Founder Seventh Day Adventists Church) Source: Review and Herald 1-1996
      ” Wordsworth
      ” Zoroaster

  6. Dear fellow Buddhists in Barcelona,

    My husband and I are in the city and would love to visit the center and meet with the local members. Could someone please tell us what time can we go in today?..

    Really appreciate your help!

  7. Hi I love your post. I am a Nichiren Buddhist and have become vegan. Like you, I’ve been asking why Nichren Buddhism does not encourage us in this area. I did an Internet search as I wanted to know what has already been said on this and what I should do from now. Basically, if we can encourage Sensei to get this message out we’ll encourage so many more people. I wondered if you would please email my personal address as I’d love to talk more to you on this and discuss perhaps a joint letter or how we can encourage, our districts, members and the wider world further. I feel equally as strong that we should care about the suffering of all beings.
    Hope to hear from you soon
    Ness x

    • Hi Ness,
      Thank you for your reply to my post! I think about this a lot! Just finished morning gongyo and as always, when I get to that last prayer…”I pray for peace throughout the world and the happiness of all living beings.” I can’t help but think of the miserable and torturous lives of non-human animals in factory farms. I got your email address and will send you a note. Let’s communicate via gmail! I’d love to compose a joint letter to President Ikeda! Thanks again, Nina x

  8. Ashby McGowan
    Email: AMcGowan@cleveden-sec.glasgow.sch.uk

    Hi All,
    I am a vegan, Buddhist, and an animal rights activist. I write human and animal rights performance poetry. I am glad to perform for free at any Buddhist or animal rights event. My poetry blog is at:
    https://humanrightspoetryashbymcgowan.wordpress.com/
    STREET THEATRE (OR GIGS): I have a poetry set of animal rights poems that can be used by animal friendly groups for free. Suitable for brave people, or actors and poets. Just email me for them.
    One of my performances: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVbvcKjGZIo
    I used to be the organiser for, Buddhist Animal Rights Group. I have helped organise many Buddhist events in Glasgow.
    Ashby McGowan
    PS I also have some Buddhist material on my multi-voice site: https://multivoicepoetry.wordpress.com/

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