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Vegetarianism in Nichiren Buddhism

"One who kills a mere ant will fall into hell, to say nothing of those who kill fish or birds." - Letter to Akimoto (WND V1 P1019).

"The first of the five precepts is not to take life, and the first of the six paramitas is that of almsgiving. The ten good precepts, the two hundred and fifty precepts, the ten major precepts, and all the other rules of conduct begin with the prohibition against the taking of life.

Every being, from the highest sage on down to the smallest mosquito or gnat, holds life to be its most precious possession. To deprive a being of life is to commit the gravest kind of sin.

When the Thus Come One [Buddha] appeared in this world, he made compassion for living things his basis. And as an expression of compassion for life, to refrain from taking life and to provide sustenance for living beings are the most important precepts." - The Blessings of the Lotus Sutra (WND V1 P667).

There are other passages, but these are the main two. In Nichiren's time, because Buddhism was so dominant [in Japan], very few people ate meat, and those who did were looked down upon.

There are stories of the Buddha's past lives which Nichiren often quoted, they are recorded in 'The Garland of Birth Stories':

"A dove was being chased by a hawk, and the dove flew into King Shibi�s robe for protection. King Shibi gave his own body to the hawk, so that the dove could escape. King Shibi was Shakyamuni Buddha in a past life."

"In a past life, Shakyamuni Buddha was a prince, he came across a tigress who had just given birth and was too weak to feed herself or her cubs. Shakyamuni then gave his own body to her so that her and her babies would survive."

The Lotus Sutra, the Buddha's greatest teaching, states that the Buddha's followers should not associate with those who hunt, fish or engage in other 'evil occupations'. Ch 14 states:

"A bodhisattva-mahasattva is not intimate with... hunters, fishermen, and [those engaged in] these evil pursuits."

The Nirvana Sutra, the Buddha's final teaching, states:

"One who eats meat kills the seed of great compassion... O Kasyapa! I, from now on, tell my disciples to refrain from eating any kind of meat. O Kasyapa! When one eats meat, this gives out the smell of meat while one is walking, standing, sitting or reclining. People smell this and become fearful. This is as when one comes near a lion. One sees and smells the lion, and fear arises. O good man! When one eats garlic, the dirty smell is unbearable. Other people notice it. They smell the bad smell. They leave that person and go away. Even from far off, people hate to see such a person. They will not come near him. It is the same with one who eats meat. It is a similar situation with all people who, on smelling the meat, become afraid and entertain the thought of death. All living things in the water, on land and in the sky desert such a person and run away. They say that this person is their enemy. Hence the Bodhisattva does not eat meat." - Ch 7

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