Dear Editor: Regarding Rick Bogle and Zorba Paster’s Opinion and Commentary on the Dalai Lama, I would like to point out that meditation has another prominent spokesperson as well. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace activist and author who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King Jr., is best known for teaching mindfulness meditation. An ethical vegan, Hanh has said, “Buddhist practitioners have practiced vegetarianism over the last 2,000 years with the intention to nourish our compassion towards the animals. Compassion is our most important practice. Understanding brings compassion. Understanding the suffering that living beings undergo helps liberate the energy of compassion. And with that energy you know what to do.”
The concept and practice of nonviolence are central to Buddhism, and mean not causing pain to any being by thoughts, words or actions. Perfection is neither possible nor the point. The essential practice of nonviolence is veganism, minimizing harm to the environment and to all beings affected by humans’ choices. This includes the millions of animals who are hurting, suffering and dying needlessly.
As a longtime meditator, I try to practice nonviolence: I am determined not to support any act of killing in the world. As for the Dalai Lama, I hope that eventually, like Thich Nhat Hanh, he will “know what to do,” and find the understanding to take the basic Buddhist precept of compassion off his meditation cushion and onto his dinner plate.