On the Slaughter of Cattle and the Saving of Lives
Posted on July 31st, 2013

R Chandrasoma

It is the conventional belief that if a poor animal is ‘rescued’ from a slaughterhouse, a life is saved and great karmic merit accrues to the doer of this compassionate deed. Things are not so simple – as with most issues involving life and death.

In the first instance, no life can be truly saved – death conquers all. (Religious concepts of “ƒ”¹…”Final Release’ and “ƒ”¹…”Salvation’ are ignored here). Thus ‘saving a life’ is no more than ‘the postponement of death’ which is not unambiguously a good thing. A being in great suffering may welcome death – this is epitomized in the Neo-Hippocratic maxim – ‘Though shall not kill but needst not officiously strive to keep alive’.

A religious aura clouds thinking on these matters but let us be ‘down to Earth’. In the wild most animals terminate their lives by being killed and eaten by predators or by succumbing to the ravages of sickness and injury. Their bodies are ‘recycled’ by an efficient force of scavengers and decomposing micro-organisms.

Problems arose after the domestication of wild animals which resulted is the production of ‘spent stock’ – that is animals , old and decrepit, that cannot be maintained for any reason other than the sentimental. In Africa, where hearding of stock is an ancient way of life for people such as the Massai, there is no problem as they slaughter and eat those unfit or incapacitated in some way.

The contrast is with India (a spiritually muddled nation that is not renowned for public compassion) where the spent stock is abandoned to die miserably in public highways and temple -grounds. Since man is omnivorous, there has always been a demand for viands that are meat-based but (understandably) hemmed in by taboos and restrictions rooted in culture and religion.

Except for faddists and the ultra-orthodox, Buddhists (unlike Hindus) eat beef but they have a ‘meat supply problem’ which – untl recently – was solved by surreptious sales of spent stock to those who made a business of killing animals for the market and supplying dressed meat to eateries and to those who ate gluttonously without asking pesky questions about the trials and tribulations of the beast from which the flesh was harvested.

In future, most of the killed animals will be from well-managed farms and techniques of humane slaughter will replace the horrors that condemned animals are exposed to in their final hours. A “ƒ”¹…”Good Death’ and departure from this sorry world may actually be good for most living things. Suffering is the ineluctable consequence of being alive and to die is arguably a welcome release from the curse of life. To exploit this existential misfortune to “ƒ”¹…”score marks’ or “ƒ”¹…”karmic credits’ is (arguably) a great betrayal of our highest values.

Thus when a monk burns himself to death he is more concerned with his salvific future than with the pain of the dying creature. It should be otherwise “”…” our prime concern should be to promote well-being and reduce suffering in all.

This has little to do with religion – as the empathy which sensitive individuals feel for their fellow-beings (animals included) is truely innate . It is only remotely linked to “ƒ”¹…”peregrinations of the soul’. Joy at the well-being of all (eudaimonia) and the revulsion felt at the needless suffering fellow-creatures are pre-religious traits.

The aim, then, of all sensitive individuals must be to foster well-being in all living things “”…” not to defy death. Cattle (and other animals in our care) must live well and die peacefully without pain or trauma. After death the flesh can be eaten with a clear conscience “”…” knowing well that this violates no definable moral law.

6 Responses to “On the Slaughter of Cattle and the Saving of Lives”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    Mr Chandrasoma has addressed a difficult topic with logic, for which we thank him.

    Use of animals for human needs has been the practice from eons ago. This is the ground reality. In the present times, to do so with care for health of the animals concerned as well as humans, and in as compassionate ways as possible is the challenge for us all.

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    Meantime, to reduce use of animals for food purposes, organic Soy ought to be grown in Sri Lanka. I suggested earlier that some of the Buddhist Temple lands be used for such purposes with the the aid of Dayakayas from the area. Soy can almost replace meat for nutrition and milk (Soy milk & cheeses, even yoghurt type desserts), from animal sources.

    As most people know by now, apart from the well known tvp (textured vegetable protein), there are delicious soy protein based burghers in many different flavors now available in western countries. Soy products (Tofu, Tempeh) have been used as a tasty alternative in the East for many centuries. We hope McDonalds will use this need for vegetable protein in the East and produce a delicious Soy McBurgher with an equally delicious Soy McShake – all done with locally grown organic Soy !

  3. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    FRAN ! I have been drinking Soy Milk for about the last fifteen years. It is available here in USA, in three flavours, Organic, Vanilla, and Chocolate. It is a high protein drink. Sri Lanka should, as you say, go in for large scale plantation of Soy, and produce the much needed end products, Milk and TVP.

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    Thank you for more info, Susantha !
    May our tribe increase ! Best of health to you and your family.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    Buddhist Sri Lanka is concerned with slaughter of Cattle (and rightly so), while our Economic issues are not looked into. The crude Oil off Lanka shores goes unnoticed ! Lanka Economics must make note of the Oil off Lanka shores and let the Public know the issues. For the Economy to succeed, all Lankans must prepare the ground work to use some of the crude oil to produce plastic and goods locally. It will generate jobs & money ensuring Economic success. I was amazed to learn that there are 6,000 uses from Crude Oil mostly through Plastics. Here are some uses of Crude Oil via different types of plastic :

    A partial list of products made from Petroleum (144 of 6000 items)

    One 42-gallon barrel of oil creates 19.4 gallons of gasoline. The rest (over half) is used to make things like:

    Solvents
    Diesel fuel
    Motor Oil
    Bearing Grease
    Ink
    Floor Wax
    Ballpoint Pens
    Football Cleats
    Upholstery
    Sweaters
    Boats
    Insecticides
    Bicycle Tires
    Sports Car Bodies
    Nail Polish
    Fishing lures
    Dresses
    Tires
    Golf Bags
    Perfumes
    Cassettes
    Dishwasher parts
    Tool Boxes
    Shoe Polish
    Motorcycle Helmet
    Caulking
    Petroleum Jelly
    Transparent Tape
    CD Player
    Faucet Washers
    Antiseptics
    Clothesline
    Curtains
    Food Preservatives
    Basketballs
    Soap
    Vitamin Capsules
    Antihistamines
    Purses
    Shoes
    Dashboards
    Cortisone
    Deodorant
    Footballs
    Putty
    Dyes
    Panty Hose
    Refrigerant
    Percolators
    Life Jackets
    Rubbing Alcohol
    Linings
    Skis
    TV Cabinets
    Shag Rugs
    Electrician’s Tape
    Tool Racks
    Car Battery Cases
    Epoxy
    Paint
    Mops
    Slacks
    Insect Repellent
    Oil Filters
    Umbrellas
    Yarn
    Fertilizers
    Hair Coloring
    Roofing
    Toilet Seats
    Fishing Rods
    Lipstick
    Denture Adhesive
    Linoleum
    Ice Cube Trays
    Synthetic Rubber
    Speakers
    Plastic Wood
    Electric Blankets
    Glycerin
    Tennis Rackets
    Rubber Cement
    Fishing Boots
    Dice
    Nylon Rope
    Candles
    Trash Bags
    House Paint
    Water Pipes
    Hand Lotion
    Roller Skates
    Surf Boards
    Shampoo
    Wheels
    Paint Rollers
    Shower Curtains
    Guitar Strings
    Luggage
    Aspirin
    Safety Glasses
    Antifreeze
    Football Helmets
    Awnings
    Eyeglasses
    Clothes
    Toothbrushes
    Ice Chests
    Footballs
    Combs
    CD’s & DVD’s
    Paint Brushes
    Detergents
    Vaporizers
    Balloons
    Sun Glasses
    Tents
    Heart Valves
    Crayons
    Parachutes
    Telephones
    Enamel
    Pillows
    Dishes
    Cameras
    Anesthetics
    Artificial Turf
    Artificial limbs
    Bandages
    Dentures
    Model Cars
    Folding Doors
    Hair Curlers
    Cold cream
    Movie film
    Soft Contact lenses
    Drinking Cups
    Fan Belts
    Car Enamel
    Shaving Cream
    Ammonia
    Refrigerators
    Golf Balls
    Toothpaste
    Gasoline
    Americans consume petroleum products at a rate of three-and-a-half gallons of oil and more than
    250 cubic feet of natural gas per day each! But, as shown here petroleum is not just used for fuel.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    Read as “Lanka Economists …”

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