The contents of this lecture are difficult and challenging to many if not all of us. The point of this article is not to shame people for eating meat, nor to make people become vegan, but to offer encouragement to lessen meat consumption – even by one meal a week or month – and to draw awareness to the intimate connection between the humane treatment of animals and the humane treatment of human beings.
With the rise of recent hate crimes targeting the Asian American community I feel it necessary to share my love, appreciation and dedication to the people that have fed me spiritually for the last 30 years. American Zen is indebted to countless Japanese Americans, Chinese-Americans, Korean-Americans, Tibetan-Americans and Indian-Americans who have over the past two centuries brought with them the spiritual teachings from their lands of origin.
Today, we see and hear the searing pain and anger of Black people, who have endured centuries of oppression in the United States and who, as a community, continue to suffer acts of violence and discrimination, including at the hands of law enforcement. We grieve the disproportionate number of people of color who have died of the coronavirus, and see that many people of color performing essential functions of society are undervalued and oppressed economically.
Not every teaching the Buddha gave had universal application. Some of it was meant only for certain people, and in certain times. The Buddha was primarily concerned with helping others to wake up to the reality of suffering and in providing practitioners with the means to liberate themselves from suffering. All of the stories in the Pali Cannon were offered on specific occasions and at specific times and were in response to the needs of individuals or the community at that time.