DiscussionsAn Open Letter to the Dalai Lama - Comments by Katy - 13 Dec 2008
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I have just read your letter to His Holiness. I would like to share my experience with you if I may. I have huge respect for people who can be vegetarian I believe it is the most pure and compassionate way. I also know from my own experience that not all people can manage it. I wish this was not so but it is something that I have had to face as a very religious and committed Buddhist.

I have been a Buddhist for a very long time. In my younger days I was a strict vegan. I did take B12 supplements. Unfortunately I became very ill, I developed pernicious anaemia, it turned out I have a condition whereby 'intrinsic factor' is missing that one needs to absorb B12. I had to have regular injections of B12 as I refused to change my diet. One doctor was really upset and practically begged me please at least eat some eggs. Finally I did give in and began eating some eggs but stayed vegetarian and stopped needing the injections.

However, by the age of 26 I began to weigh only 6 1/2 stone and became so weak I could not even walk anymore, or get out of bed. I had to be supported to even go to the loo. I had developed such a severe digestive disorder that I could no longer digest anything, I had constant stomach upsets everyday. I lived on porridge and remained very weak for years, in fact I became registered as disabled. One day I realised that I could die, people and health care practitioners had been telling me to eat meat for years. I finally begged my father to cook me some salmon. I sat there with it on my bed for ages saying 'well little fish it's either you or me'. I made the decision to live, I ate the little fish and gave a big thank you to it for giving it's life.

Since that day 20 years ago I have become a meat eater. I am still physically weak but have been able to regain a good quality of life. I see a genius acupuncturist who has explained that I simply cannot be a vegetarian. I have a serious condition of the blood with almost no fire energy to digest food. Meat has the quality of heat so it aids my digestive process and makes me strong. I now no longer have any digestive problems. Sometimes I do lapse back into vegetarianism (it is my natural inclination to be this way) within days I begin to be ill again.

I hope you can hear what I am telling you, some people are just born with a body type that is omnivorous. I do my utmost best to have only local or wild meat, particularly from animals that have not even been to an abattoir and that have had a good quality of life. I always say thank you to each animals spirit and use every part of it. For years not being vegetarian has been very upsetting and worrying as I have taken the precept not to kill or harm living beings. I then found out that His Holiness also cannot be a vegetarian for medical reasons. If it is good enough for him then it is certainly good enough for me. Alot of Tibetans cannot be vegetarian. Their bodies are made to survive an extremely harsh climate where hardly anything grows. It is also a very cold climate and they need as much warming food and strong protein as they can get to survive.

His Holiness probably works harder than any human being on this planet. It is his duty to keep strong and well. The condition of his health affects millions of Tibetans. Infact HH has said that when he dies many may lose hope and die or commit suicide. He has huge committments. It is a very big responsibility. He has been vegetarian and found it doesn't suit him. His duty is first and foremost to his role as spiritual leader to Tibet and also now it would seem to the whole world. He just cannot afford to make himself physically weak.

He also as a monk cannot start questioning people when they offer him food. He must accept whatever he is given. However, I do agree that he could speak out about the cruelty in farming and animal experiments and his advisors could request that his hosts only give HH ethically produced meat before he attends a function.

It is good that you can be vegetarian and I wish you luck with it. You will certainly have alot of opportunity to avoid creating more karmic knots for yourself by not eating meat. I also made the mistake when I was vegan of feeling righteous and above others because I was so pure. However, I would never have gone so far as to criticise his HH in this way. I think it is good to discuss these issues, I understand that you are upset, but also you must develop a more flexible and compassionate attitude to diverse experience. I nearly died from being vegetarian, there are others like me. It doesn't mean we are any less compassionate, we are just all having to exist in samsara where unfortunately nothing is perfect. maybe those who can be vegetarian will be able to leave the wheel of becoming quicker than us omnivores. But I don't know about you I am coming back until all suffering is ended in this realm.

With brightest blessings


Go on to comments: Comments by Anna - 9 Nov 2009
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