The core ideology of Mahayana Buddhism is based upon the Three Dharma Seals:
1. All action is impermanent
2. All phenomenon is interdependent
3. Nirvana is ultimate tranquility
The core of the Three Dharma Seals includes the wisdom and compassion taught by the Buddha:
1. All action is impermanent
Clearly understanding that all action arises and declines according to conditions, and that everything is in constant flux and change, will keep us from developing enduring attachments because of our ignorance, anger, and greed.
2. All phenomenon is interdependent
Knowing that all phenomenon depends upon conditions to arise and decline and depends on conditions to be achieved;
And that one thing brings about something else, and the destruction of one brings about the destrution of another;
And that understanding these Three Dharma Seals will bring about the perceptive of karma and consequence, and that from a seed of reconciliation and integration as the cause， the effect of harmony can be achieved.
3. Nirvana is ultimate tranquility
It is only by understanding that all action is impermanent and that all phenomenon is interdependent, that we can thoroughly walk out of the darkness of unawareness caused by our ignorance, anger and greed and turn our selfish desire into universal love, and transform hostility into harmony.
People in this world of the Five Turbidities face different kinds of difficulties and ordeals.
The wise and compassionate Buddha unselfishly disclosed to sentient beings the truth that he became enlightened of , in the hopes that we will make the best use of this wisdom and take it as wonderful medicine to resolve all kinds of torment and distress that arise from our ignorance. The Buddha disclosed his awareness also in the hopes that we may walk out of the entanglement of our negative karma and finally attain pure liberation.
The Two Crises that People are Facing Today
In both 2007 and 2008 the United Nations held summit conferences to discuss the two huge crises that humankind is presently facing:
1. Climate Change (The Global Warming Crisis)
2. Emerging infectious diseases such as: SARS and Avian Flu (H5N1)
The development of these two huge crises did not just happen overnight. They are both the ugly results of people neglecting the mass consequences of mass karma over a very long period of time.
It is because of people’s ignorance, short sightedness, and only focusing on short term benefits, and, like the Chinese saying goes, “Caring only about the snow in front of our door and not about the snow on the neighbor’s roof,”
and not realizing that the survival of humans, and all things, are entirely interrelated, existing in commune and flourishing in commune, and if there is one, there is another, and that as goes one so goes the other, as close as tongue and teeth,
that we now have the crisis of today’s global warming.
It has brought about many, many, emerging infectious diseases that threaten human life and they exist because we have neglected the truth of the harmony of conditions.
Avidly and greedily abusing the earth’s resources, such as massive chopping down of woodland and rain forests:
Polluting ocean water, damaging the natural ecology of the environment, savagely trampling upon animal rights of survival, arbitrarily slaughtering animals for food, etc,…have brought about these two deeply serious threats to humanity that seem to be the Apacolypse.
And among these, the karma of killing by wantonly slaughtering animals for food is the stalwart crime of a disaster. I will explain in detail below:
1. The crisis of global warming
Global warming brings about the greenhouse effect and the greenhouse effect brings about abnormal climate change, causing floods, droughts, tsunamis, storms, earthquakes and other problems.
The Hong Kong Environmental pioneer, Joyce, Lee Lok See, author of The Poles Declaration had been to the antarctic, north-pole and the Everest mountain range – the highest peaks in the world.
When the Hong Kong Buddhist journal, Buddhist Compassion （1） interviewed her, she said,
“If the ice of the southern and northern poles should melt, ocean water levels would rise flooding all coastal cities…
“Melting of the Himalaya snow in China would flood low-lying basin areas such as Sichuan Province, etc. and after the deluge, drought would follow…
“Ocean water heats up, [and the weight on the] seabeds changes, so that the tectonic plates tremble, resulting in tsunamis and earthquakes. The South Asian Tsunami of 2004 came about by a condition like this…
“Scientists have already discovered the corpses of polar bears in the north pole. Global warming has caused the ice shelfs to decrease to the extent that the bears can find no place [to rest upon] as they swim, causing them to die of exhaustion;..
“In the antarctic a huge number of penquins have died…..”
Global warming, the melting of the north pole glaciers , tsunamis and earthquakes are all reaking havoc and are our planet’s warnings to us.
And where are the global warming greenhouse effect gases coming from?
The greenhouse gases include methane emissions and CO2, etc.
The amount of these gases is so high that it has already surpassed the earths load limit, thickly enveloping the surface of the earth and making the heat projected by the sun unable to be released normally back into outer space, causing global warming and the greenhouse effect.
Modes of transportation that burn fossil fuels such as airplanes, cars, trains, trucks, and ships, discharges a great amount of CO2 into the earth’s atmosphere, but according to a report by the United Nations FAO,
Greenhouse gases produced by the farm animal industry greatly surpass the total amount of the world’s transportation emissions.
From this we can see that modern industrialized farming is really the most evil hand behind the manufacture of greenhouse gases!
Pamela Rice, the author of 101 Reasons Why I’m a Vegetarian
（2）published in the USA, stated,
“Approximately 22% of the methane gas emmissions produced by human kind is expelled by 2 billion 400 million stock animals and besides this the farming industry also results in 80 million tons of CO2 yearly.
Her book also states,
“At the same time, the increase in ranchers and feed farmers causes huge tracks of Amazon Rain Forests to be wiped out for land to produce animal feed grain.”
This is to say, that in order for us to massively feed the animals that we eat, we need to expand the animal farm industry and develop their feed grain farmland. On the one hand we unscrupulously produce methane emissions, CO2, and on the other hand discharge greenhouse emissions into the earth’s atmosphere.
另一方面又毫不留情地把本来是地球肺部 -- 把二氧化碳吸入，呼出氧气的热带雨林 -- 狠狠割切，这就无怪乎全球变暖，温室效应的情况越来越严重，造成了当今气候异常变迁，地球生态濒临崩溃的危机了！
We also mercilessly and callously cut down what was originally the earth’s lungs – the tropical rain forests that take in CO2 and breathe out oxygen. No wonder that the entire planet is becoming warmer, and the greenhouse effect is becoming more and more serious, bringing about today’s erratic weather and the crisis of the collapse of the earth’s eco-endangered life forms.
It was discovered by the United Nations Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC)’s award-winning report, which mobilized 2500 scientists to do six years of research, that human lifestyle is the main cause of global warming. In 2007, the panel shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
Chairman of the Climate Change Committee, Dr. Pachouri said:
"Please eat as little meat as possible; meat products produce a great deal of greenhouse gases.
"Bicycle or walk more, and do not just drive everywhere at the drop of a hat."
"Only buy what you need, and do not buy everything you see."
The three lifestyle changes that Dr. Pachouri proposed:
Vegetarianism, saving energy, living simply are all very constructive, of which vegetarianism has always been advocated by Chinese Mahayana Buddhism. Looking at it from the perspective of compassion, vegetarianism is the ardent non-killing of sentient beings (the first of the five basic Buddhist Precepts), the love and protection of sentient beings;
Looking at it from a wise point of view, vegetarianism is in line with natural law; to not commit the evil act of harming living things is the only way we can achieve the positive effects of transforming hostility into harmony.
The State President of the Central European country of Slovenia, Dr. Janez Drnovsek, as early as fifteen years ago openly supported everyone being vegetarian, he said,
“How long can humankind’s challenge to nature go unpunished? （3）”
The havoc of global warming - melting glaciers, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods and drought following one after another are hard at heel ... the earth mother is already screaming. We should quickly let go of our attachment to flavor and change our meat eating habits and choose a vegetarian lifestyle. With all our might we should end this global warming crisis!
2． The Threat of Emerging Infectious Diseases
The new breed of emerging infectious diseases including AIDS which surfaced in 1981, SARS which became known in Asia in 2003, mad cow disease which appeared in Europe and America in the beginning of the twentieth century, the swine streptococcus epidemic which broke out in 2003, and avian flu which is currently of grave concern, especially now with avian flu evolving into a bird-to-man variant called H5N1.
The mass destruction of these newly emerging infectious diseases is enormous!
Dr. Michael Greger, M.D., the United States bird flu expert stated (4) that in June 1981 information was provided to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcing that 5 people in Los Angeles had died from a strange syndrome. What was, at that time, unremarkable AIDS has now caused 25 million deaths worldwide.
Furthermore, the SARS virus caused the medical world to feel helpless, with isolation being the only option for cutting off a channel of infection.
Bird flu turns people pale at its mention. In 1918, a quarter of Americans infected with Spanish flu, 50 to 100 million people died with their piles of bones being cremated.
In 25 weeks the Spanish flu virus brought killed more people than the AIDS virus has killed in 25 years. (4)
A variant of avian influenza, H5N1, is even more frightening. The deadliness of this ferocious virus is ten times more virulent than the worst flu virus!
At present, although this virus is not easily transmitted person to person, (up to now, only a few hundred individuals have been infected with this disease), but since the outbreak of H5N1 in 1997, another four chicken influenza viruses spread to humans. Experts believe that if this trend continues, H5N1 can develop into an effective human killer!
How have these emerging infectious disease viruses been transmitted into human society?
First let’s talk about AIDS. International timber companies have been entering the tropical rain forests of Africa for development and logging. The transient logging laborers shoot and slaughter the soon to be extinct rainforest apes, gorillas, and chimpanzees to eat them. This has included green monkeys thereby the laborers infected themselves with SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus)from the green monkey’s blood and body fluids, which thus transformed into HIV.
Presently, in many African countries, the spread of AIDS among the adult population is more than 25 percent, leaving behind millions of orphans. Just think, a few decades ago a person killed a green monkey in order to eat its meat and now, there are 25 million people dead!
As for the SARS virus, the medical community has traced its source to people’s slaughter of wild civet cats to eat.
Civet cats are the culprit for SARS. Hungry gluttons desire to taste the wild flavor of game resulted in over 8000 people being infected and nearly a thousand people dead worldwide!
From just these two examples mentioned above, we can see that by encroaching them out of rain forests, jungles, and killing them to eat their meat and by the destruction of these animal’s living environment, and by trampling upon these wild animal’s right to life, green monkeys and civet cats have brought a virus against humanity!
Let us take a look at the viruses of swine streptococcus and avian flu which both came from domesticated pigs and poultry that are used for human consumption.
Pigs and poultry historically have been food for humans for over ten thousand years. So why have more and more rapid torrents of infectious viruses emerged from them now?
This is attributed to excessive human greed, neglect of animal ecology and animal’s right to life!
In the United States alone, every year there are approximately 10 billion animals slaughtered for food, of which the largest number are pigs and poultry.
If we take the chickens, slaughtered daily, and place them wing to wing, they would encircle the Earth's equator more than two times!
To cope with humankind’s strong demand for animals as food we have forgotten that poultry, cattle, pigs and other domesticated animals are living beings with sensory organs. Some business people are only profit motivated and treat animals as if they were general merchandise. Let’s look factory farms in the face through documentary films. (5)
Tens of thousands of chickens are crowded into a large chicken sheds, imprisoned in small cages for their entire lives, without even the space to spread their wings.
About half of the world’s egg layer poultry is raised in battery cages. These undemanding tiny and narrow cages are without windows, and the barracks of large chicken sheds never see the sky or the sun. The droppings of the chickens in cages above flows directly down to the row below and there is no means of maintaining sanitation.
Dense, crowded, intense, and unsanitary, an environment without sun light or ventilation provides a perfect environment for viruses to evolve.
In addition, in order to make the "merchandise" grow at high speed, ensuring that before the sale it does not die of disease the “manufacturers” feed the chickens large quantities of highly effective antibiotics making the virus evolve into drug-resistance. And this makes the once effective antibiotics become quite helpless.
The situation for pigs is no better. About half the world's pigs are crowded into airtight pigsties. Sows are incessantly forced into artificial pregnancy and they can only remain on their sides breastfeeding. Not yet grown, the piglets are forcibly separated from their mothers by butchers to be slaughtered and sold as suckling pigs.
The pigs endure so much suffering from this densely crowded, intense and unsanitary treatment that their bodies become hot beds for breeding newly emerging viruses.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has explained:
All streptococcus, at first, are natural, harmless, organisms of the large intestine but stress caused by overcrowding and poor ventilation suppresses the immune response making the bacteria become aggressive, resulting in brain, blood, lung, and chest infections and even death.
In other words, the newly emerging viruses that are spreading and are a threat to human life are all from our increasing and expanding greedy demand for meat. To wantonly change animal's lives and their living environment, and trampling upon the life styles that animals should have, results in harmless bacteria transitioning into deadly diseases.
Now viruses have undergone transformation and produced, in particular, a very explosive and dangerous form of H5N1. It is not very possible to eradicate it, and the only, most fundamental thing we are able to do, is stop consuming poultry and livestock. Or at least, eating only vegetarian (including not eating eggs or dairy), on the first and fifteenth of the lunar calendar. That is widely implementing the Chinese Mahayana Buddhist spirit of vegetarianism. In this way we can promote gradually popularizing vegetarianism. By severely placing restrictions on the amount of their consumption, we can prevent avian flu and newly emerging infections which are caused by factory farming and slaughtering animals for food.!
As I quoted the Three Dharma Seals which are the core ideas of Buddhism in the foreword:
All phenomenon in the world arise and decline because of conditions. And are all mutual causes and effects as close as tongue and teeth.
The acts of killing and harming living beings will definitely lead to acts of hatred, fear, stress and all sorts of undesirable consequences, resulting in, “that which you sow, so shall you reap.”
Conversely, if we can change conditions at the cause, by not killing but instead loving animals, and by having harmonious relationships with all things and letting go of the tongue’s desire sense of taste, what we will reap in return are health and harmony. Why don’t we just do it!
This article contains a few thousand words, quoting many examples from around the world to explain that people’s present “head in the sand” policy, chooses to ignore that the slaughter of animals for meat is the cause of disasters directed at human beings and the Earth, and it can be summed up in the words of the topic of my paper:
Mass Karma Causes Mass Consequence：
Vegetarianism Brings About Concord
1. Hong Kong Buddhist magazine “Buddhist Compassion” issue 211, published on Sept. 20, 2007
2. 101 Reasons Why I’m a vegetarian(by Pamela Rice) Lantern Books, 2006 edition
3. Devour the Earth, DVD, presented by the Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom on 1995
4. Pandemic Prevention: Bird Flue and Emerging Infectious Diseases, A presentation by Michael Greger, M.D., produced by the Humane Society of the United States, 2008
5. Unimaginable Cruelty, produced by Green Compassion, USA, 2008