A Powerful Message by a Powerful Yogi
Kyabje Chatral Sangye Dorjee Rinpoche is one of the most accomplished Tibetan Buddhist Yogis alive today. He was born in June, 1913 in Kham, Tibet. He rescues millions of animals each year and has been a strict vegetarian for over forty five years. Now in his 90's, he is as active as ever, helping humans and animals alike with an unfathomably deep compassion. TVA had an exclusive interview with the Yogi himself on 29th May, 2005 in Nepal. Ven Khenpo Dorjee Tsering and Jamphel Rabten transcribed the Rinpoche's speech and Chonyid Zangmo translated it.
I was the first to become vegetarian since we came to India. The first year of the Nyingma Monlam in Bodh Gaya was non-vegetarian. In the second year I came there and spoke at a meeting of all the high Nyingma Lamas. I told them that Bodh Gaya is a very special place which is holy to all Buddhists, and if we say we are gathered here for the Nyingma Monlam and yet eat meat, this is a disgrace and the greatest insult to Buddhism. I said they should all give up meat from now on, during the Nyingma Monlam. Even the Tibetan lamas and monks eat meat! What a shame if even the lamas can't give up meat! First the lamas should commit themselves to being life-long vegetarians. If the Lamas become vegetarian, and then you can address the lay people. Then also you should urge the monks to become vegetarian. Otherwise if knowledgeable religious people eat meat, how can one expect the ignorant public, who follow along just like sheep, to become vegetarian?
Earlier in the Sakyapas, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo abstained from meat and alcohol. From then on gradually in the Nyingmapas there was Ngari Pandita Pema Wangyal, an emanation of King Trisong Detsen. He was a vegetarian all his life. Also the non-sectarian Lama Zhabkar Tsogdrug Rangdrol: he was born in Amdo and was a heavy meat-eater, but when he went to Lhasa and saw the many animals being slaughtered in the butchers' district of Lhasa, he became vegetarian for the rest of his life. Many of his disciples also became vegetarian. Many others - Sakyapas, Gelugpas, Kagyudpas and Nyingmapas - have done like this and become vegetarian.
In Kongpo, Gotsang Natsog Rangdrol told his monks to abstain from meat and alcohol. Because the Kongpo Tsele Gon monks wouldn't obey his orders, he became angry with them and went to Gotsang Phug in lower Kongpo, and stayed there in isolated retreat for 20-30 years. Abstaining from non-virtuous actions such as eating meat and drinking alcohol, he attained realization and became known as Gotsang Natsog Rangdrol, a highly qualified teacher. Similarly, Nyagla Pema Dudul abstained from meat and alcohol. He meditated in isolated hermitages for 20-30 years, not relying on people's food but rather nourishing himself on the essence of rocks and earth, and attained rainbow body. He is known as "Pema Dudul who attained rainbow body." He lived at the time of Nyagke Gonpo Namgyal. It happened like that.
When I was in Bhutan, sometimes meat would be served during big ceremonies or pujas for dead people. This killing of animals for the dead person is an obstacle for the spiritual evolution of the dead and an impediment on the path to liberation. It is of no benefit to the dead person.
If I consider my own family, there is no one else who has lived beyond 60; all my relatives are dead. But because I left my homeland and abstain from meat and smoking, I am now 93 years old. I can still walk, sit and get around everywhere by car and plane. A few days ago I went to Lhakhang Gon in Helambu, where they are building a new Sherpa monastery.
There is a need for this message and the reasoning to be publicized; there is nothing in this message that should be withheld.