The below pictures are from Hanoi. We are in Thailand at this moment.
I had listened to a talk last night by Stephen Fry
where he spoke about his boredom with people whose focus on being was about what they wanted, what they liked, and what they preferred, etc. That he found people more interesting if they were outward focused on others or their environment.
So I am jogging down the street today in SE Asia taking in the sights, sounds, and smells, and there before me was a line of Buddhist monks all dressed in orange robes, as would be expected. It is about 6am or so, possibly. The monks each have what appears to be a bowl in their hands and each is waiting their turn quietly for restaurant street-carts to give them breakfast.
Monks eat only if the surrounding town’s people feed them. From what I am told, they don’t feed themselves, but depend on the kindness of strangers. They have no worldly possessions but books, sandals, and a robe, and no money.
Though most people believe Buddha was a vegetarian, Thai Monks eat whatever they are given. Thai Buddhist monks, unlike other Buddhist monks,
tell us that refusing meat judges the giver thereby reducing the giver’s chance at enlightenment as compared to the choice of teaching the giver that Monks are vegetarian. So rather than judge people, Thai monks eat meat almost every day, if their giver is uneducated.
So it seems that these Thai monks are vegetarians, and are likely wondering whether their donor knows this or not and will feed them what Buddha was said to prefer, a plant based diet, or whether they must eat meat so the giver is not judged.
Buddha’s first sermon was in a village called Sarnoff in India, the site of a deer park, just outside Varanasi. There I was told by a Chinese woman that Thai monks are the lowest on the spiritual totem pole because they eat meat. It was only later that I learned they do this so the giver is not judged. I suppose that means Chinese monks can refuse meat?
As I jogged along I realized that one of the difficulties of travel is finding a delicious plant based diet. Further, that by choosing to eat every meal as a vegetarian, I am judging others, who are cooking,
selling and eating meat, just by choosing what and where to eat. I am comfortable making that choice and will continue to do so.
I suppose Stephen Fry would think I am a bit of a bore for thinking about what I want, what I like, what I prefer. I also suppose I am limiting my travel experience by being inwardly focused instead of allowing the favorite foods of the locals in each destination influence my diet more broadly.
I think he has a valid point. But this is a lesson I choose not to learn yet. I prefer to judge the people in this case and leave the animals alone.
I’ll leave it to you to judge me if you like. Happy trails.
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