Vegetarianism is not the case in the Buddha Sangha. Buddha did not teach vegetarianism. Buddha was not vegetarian.
It was the vegetarian bhikkhu Devadatta who preached, imposed, and forced vegetarianism to bhikkhus, by him converted to his vegetarian schism, nearly 2,600 years ago.
Since then, sometimes vegetarian bhikkhus appear preaching vegetarianism, following Devadatta foot-prints of error, and thus, holders of wrong views, wrong aims they hold.
This is now the case of the vegetarian bhikkhus Sujato, and Dhammika, who propagate in essence, respectively:
‘Bhikkhu Sujato is vegetarian, vegetarian is bhikkhu Sujato, not the Buddha. Therefore, non-vegetarians should be vegetarians.’
‘Vegetarian is bhikkhu Dhammika, bhikkhu Dhammika is vegetarian, not the Buddha. Therefore, non-vegetarians should be vegetarians.’
Consequently, in full knowledge of their falsity and in reckless disregard to what the Buddha taught, these two: vegetarian bhikkhu Sujato, and vegetarian bhikkhu Dhammika, misrepresent Tathagata.
The case in the Buddha Sangha is what the Buddha taught.
What the Buddha taught is the case in the Buddha Sangha.
In the Buddha Sangha, the Buddha taught that the intake of substantial food, together with the eating of lawful meat are allowed by Him, in the Buddha Sangha.
Therefore, the case in the Buddha Sangha is the eating of lawful meat, together with the intake of substantial food:
THE BUDDHA SUTRA TO JIVAKA
Lawful and Unlawful Meats
“Thus have I heard.
Once when the Lord was staying at Rajagaha in the mango-grove of Jivaka Komarabhacca, Jivaka came to the Lord and, after salutations, took his seat at one side, saying:
I hear it is being said, sir, that people slay animals expressly for you, the recluse Gautama, who wittingly eats meat expressly meant for him and deliberately provided for him. Now, in so saying, are people accurately quoting the Lord’s own words and not misrepresenting him? Are they stating what is congruent with the Doctrine? And is there no plausible version of your utterance which provokes criticism?
“Those who talk like that are not accurately quoting words of mine, Jivaka, but are wrongfully misrepresenting me in defiance of fact.
I forbid the eating of meat in three cases: if there is the evidence either of your eyes, or of your ears, or if there are grounds of suspicion.
And in three cases I allow it, if there is no evidence either of your eyes, or of your ears, and if there be no grounds of suspicion.
Take the case, Jivaka, of a Bhikkhu, supported by a village or a township, who dwells with radiant good-will pervading one quarter of the world, a second, a third, and then the fourth quarter, pervading the whole length and breadth of the world, above, below, around, everywhere, with radiant good-will all embracing, vast, boundless, wherein no hate or malice finds a place.
To this Bhikkhu comes a householder or his son with an invitation to tomorrow’s meal.
If he so desires, the Bhikkhu accepts, and next morning, when the night is over, duly robed and bowl in hand, he makes his way to the house, takes the seat set for him, and is served with an excellent meal.
No thought comes to him that he could have wished his host either to desist now, or to desist in future, from furnishing so excellent a meal; he eats his food without greed or blind desire but with a full consciousness of the dangers it involves and with full knowledge that it affords no refuge.
Do you think that at such a time that Bhikkhu’s thoughts are set on hurting himself, or others, or both ?”
“Is not that Bhikkhu then eating food to which no blame attaches?”
“In the truth-finder (Bhikkhu), all passion, all hatred, and all delusion that could breed hurtfulness have all been grubbed up by the roots, like the cleared site where once a palm-tree grew, a thing that once has been and now can be no more. If this was the purport of your remark, Jivaka, I agree.”
Yes, sir; that was what I meant.
“Take the case of a Bhikkhu, supported by a village or a township, who dwells with radiant pity, sympathy poised equanimity, pervading one quarter of the world, a second, a third, and then the fourth quarter, pervading the whole length and breadth of the world, above, below, around, everywhere, with radiant pity, sympathy poised equanimity all embracing, vast, boundless, wherein no hate or malice finds a place. Is not that Bhikkhu then eating food to which no blame attaches?”
“In the truth-finder (Bhikkhu) all passion, all hatred, and all delusion which could breed annoyance or dislikes or aversions have all been grubbed up by the roots, like the cleared site where once a palm-tree grew, a thing that once has been and now can be no more. If this was the purport of your remark, Jivaka, I agree.”
Yes, sir; that was what I meant.
“Who so takes life expressly for the truth-finder (Bhikkhu), or for a disciple of his, is storing up much demerit for himself in five respects. First, in that he orders a particular living creature to be fetched. Secondly, in that this living creature, by being fetched, experiences pain of mind and body. Thirdly, in that he orders it to be killed. Fourthly, in that, in being killed, that living creature experiences pain of mind and body. And fifthly, in that he offends the truth-finder (Bhikkhu), or a disciple of his by offering him what is improper.”
It is wonderful, sir; it is marvellous! Strictly correct is the Bhikkhu’s eating, strictly correct and blameless. Excellent, sir; excellent! Just as a man might set upright again what had been cast down, or reveal what was hidden away, or tell a man who had gone astray which was his way, or bring a lamp into darkness so that those with eyes to see might see the things about them, even so, in many a figure, has the Lord made his Doctrine clear. I come to the Lord as my refuge, and to his Dhamma, and to his Sangha. I ask the Lord to accept me as a follower who has found an abiding refuge from this day onward while life lasts.”(1)
THE BUDDHA TAUGHT SUBSTANTIAL FOOD
First, it is necessary to explain that here, the word food is employed with the same meaning of the Sanskrit terms ‘ahara’, and ‘aharam’, meaning solid food, food that we eat in order to sustain life in our ‘sthula sarira’ – the Sanskrit equivalent to ‘physical body’.
Second, there is need to say that the rare word ‘refutation’ means to ‘overthrow by argument or proof, that which is false and erroneous.’
And therefore, some sayings of the Buddha are now presented, in order to prove that in the Buddha Dharma-Vinaya, the discipline imparted by Him is substantial food in His Sangha.
SOME SAYINGS OF THE BUDDHA ON SUBSTANTIAL FOOD
The Saner Way
“Then, Aggivessana, I thought:
I call to mind how when the Sakyan my father was ploughing I sat in the cool shade of the rose-apple tree, remote from sensuall desires and ill conditions, and entered upon and abode in the First Trance, that is accompanied by thought directed and sustained, which is born of solitude, full of zestful ease.
And I said then:
Is this, I wonder, the Way to the Wisdom?
And on that occasion there came to me the consciousness that follows thought composed:
Yes, this is the Way to the Wisdom.
Then, Aggivessana, I thought:
Why am I afraid of that state of ease, that ease which is apart from sensual desires and ill conditions?
Then, I thought:
No. I am not afraid of that state of ease.
Then I said:
But it is not easy for one to reach that state of ease with a body thus utterly exhausted. Suppose now I take some substantial food, some rice gruel.
And so I did, Aggivessana.
Now at that time I had with me five brethren attending me, who thought: Whatever truth Gautama the recluse shall arrive at, that will he impart to us.
But as soon as I took to eating food substantial, those five brethren were disgusted and went away, saying: Luxurious is Gautama the recluse become! He wavers in his purpose; he has turned back to the life luxurious.
Then I, Aggivessana, after taking food substantial got back my strength; and remote from sensual desires, remote from ill conditions, I entered and abode in the First Trance… the Second Trance… the Third Trance… the Fourth Trance, but in each case the blissful feelings that arose failed to lay hold of and control my mind.
Then with thought steadied, perfectly purified, and made perfectly translucent, free from blemish, purged of taint, made supple and pliable, fit for wielding, established and immovable, I bent down my mind to the recalling of my former existences.
I recalled divers births… evolutions and involutions of aeons… conditions of births… and experiences in such… the rise and fall of beings and their characteristics in the different worlds with the eye divine.
Then I perceived the Four Ariyan Truths… the destruction of the asavas… and I knew this:
Destroyed is rebirth for me. Lived is the holy life. Done is my task. For life in these conditions there is no hereafter.
Thus on that night, in the last watch of the night, the Threefold Knowledge was attained by me: knowledge arose, darkness was overcome, light arose, as it does for him that abides earnest, ardent and of set purpose.”
(1) – ‘Further Dialogues of the Buddha’, translated from the Majjhima Nikaya in Pali, by Lord Chalmers, Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press, London, 1926. Pages 264 to 266.
(2) – ‘Some Sayings of the Buddha – According to the Pali Canon’, translated from the Pali by F.L.Woodward, Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press, London, 1925.