One should not judge the purity or impurity of man simply by observing what he eats.
In the Amagandha Sutta, the Buddha said:
'Neither meat, nor fasting, nor nakedness,
Nor shaven heads, nor matted hair, nor dirt,
Nor rough skins, nor fire-worshipping,
Nor all the penances here in this world,
Nor hymns, nor oblation, nor sacrifice,
Nor feasts of the season,
Will purify a man overcome with doubt.'
Taking fish and meat by itself does not make a man become impure. A man makes himself impure by bigotry, deceit, envy, self-exaltation, disparagement and other evil intentions. Through his own evil thoughts and actions, man makes himself impure. There is no strict rule in Buddhism that the followers of the Buddha should not take fish and meat. The only advice given by the Buddha is that they should not be involved in killing intentionally or they should not ask others to kill any living being for them. However, those who take vegetable food and abstain from animal flesh are praiseworthy.
Though the Buddha did not advocate vegetarianism for the monks, He did advise the monks to avoid taking ten kinds of meat for their self respect and protection. They are: humans, elephants, horses, dogs, snakes, lions, tigers, leopards, bears hyenas. Some animals attack people when they smell the flesh of their own kind. (Vinaya Pitaka)
When the Buddha was asked to introduce vegetarianism amongst His disciples, the Buddha refused to do so. As Buddhism is a free religion, His advice was to leave the decision regarding vegetarianism to the individual disciple. It clearly shows that the Buddha had not considered this as a very important religious observance. The Buddha did not mention anything about vegetarianism for the lay Buddhists in His Teaching.
Jivaka Komarabhacca, the doctor, discussed this controversial issue with the Buddha: 'Lord, I have heard that animals are slaughtered on purpose for the recluse Gotama, and that the recluse Gotama knowingly eats the meat killed on purpose for him. Lord, do those who say animals are slaughtered on purpose for the recluse Gotama, and the recluse Gotama knowingly eats the meat killed on purpose for. Do they falsely accuse the Buddha? Or do they speak the truth? Are your declaration and supplementary declarations not thus subject to be ridiculed by others in any manner?'
'Jivaka, those who say: 'Animals are slaughtered on purpose for the recluse Gotama, and the recluse Gotama knowingly eats the meat killed on purpose for him', do not say according to what I have declared, and they falsely accuse me. Jivaka, I have declared that one should not make use of meat it is seen, heard or suspected to have been killed on purpose for a monk. I allow the monks meat that is quite pure in three respects: if it is not seen, heard or suspected to have been killed on purpose for a monk.' (Jivaka Sutta)
In certain countries, the followers of the Mahayana school of Buddhism are strict vegetarians. While appreciating their observance in the name of religion, we should like to point out that they should not condemn those who are not vegetarians. They must remember that there is no precept in the original Teachings of the Buddha that requires all Buddhists to be vegetarians. We must realize that Buddhism is known as the Middle Path. It is a liberal religion and the Buddha's advice was that it is not necessary to go to extremes to practise His Teachings.
Vegetarianism alone does not help a man to cultivate his humane qualities. There are kind, humble, polite and religious people amongst non-vegetarians. Therefore, one should not condone the statement that a pure, religious man must practise vegetarianism.
On the other hand, if anybody thinks that people cannot have a healthy life without taking fish and meat, it does not necessarily follow that they are correct since there are millions of pure vegetarians all over the world who are stronger and healthier than the meat-eaters.
People who criticize Buddhists who eat meat do not understand the Buddhist attitude towards food. A living being needs nourishment. We eat to live. As such a human being should supply his body with the food it needs to keep him healthy and to give him energy to work. However, as a result of increasing wealth, more and more people, especially in developed countries, eat simply to satisfy their palates. If one craves after any kind of food, or kills to satisfy his greed for meat, this is wrong. But if one eats without greed and without directly being involved in the act of killing but merely to sustain the physical body, he is practising self restraint.
Ven K Sri Dhammananda
阿育王是印度孔雀王朝的第三代君主，一生南征北討，統一了印度。據說，阿育王由於在征服羯陵伽國時親眼目睹了大量屠殺的場面，深感悔悟，於是停止武 力擴張，而採用佛法治國，國泰民安，開創了古代印度歷史上空前的一代盛世，他本人也因而深受臣民愛戴，擁有至高無上的權位。然而，到了阿育王晚年，臥病在 床，自知不久於人世，向監國太子三波提表達他最後的心願：施捨一些財物，積蓄功德，以求有一個好的來世。但眾臣對太子說： 「如果依照大王的心願施捨財物，國庫便會枯竭，今後你靠什麼來治理國家呢？」於是太子便禁止任何人替阿育王把宮中的財寶拿出去施捨。無奈之下，阿育王只能 把自己吃飯的金碗佈施給雞園寺；太子見狀，令伺者換用銀器給阿育王進餐，阿育王吃完飯，又將銀器佈施給寺院；太子又令人將阿育王吃飯的碗換成銅器，結果阿 育王又將之施捨出去；太子得知後，再令伺者將阿育王進餐的器具換成瓦器。到此時，傷心的阿育王把眾臣叫到跟前，拿着吃剩的半隻庵摩勒果問大家： 「你們說，誰是天下的主子？」眾臣齊聲回答： 「當然是你大王啦。」阿育王眼中噙淚、心中淌血。自嘲說： 「我現在恐怕僅剩下支配半隻水果的權力了。」然後令伺者將之佈施給雞園寺的僧眾。
以上兩則真實的人物故事讓我 的心情十分沉重。不少人辛苦了一輩子，只知埋頭積累身外之物，卻不知自己的健康才是最大的資源。皮之不存，毛將焉附。我們的健康如同「皮」，票子、位子、 孩子、房子、車子等身外之物如同皮上的毛。命都沒有了，身外之物對特定的人而言也隨之而失去了意義。臨命終時，眼看著自己辛苦掙來的錢卻無法享受，更來不 及善用自己的資源去做一些自己認為有意義的事，心有不甘，但又能如何？無論你現在積聚多少財富、官位有多高，臨命終時，一樣也帶不走。若能領悟到這一點， 就能正確對待自己的擁有，趁自己還有精力和權力時，善用自己的資產、才智乃至生命，才能為社會為人群多做有益的事。(http://www.buddhistdoor.com/MingPo/index.html)
上座部佛教強調物質發展必須與心靈及文化的發展配合。物質發展(attha)不應凌駕於心靈和文化的發展 (dhamma）。政府在推行經濟計劃時，必須配合文化和宗教的價值，因為這些元素不但影響人的整體生活，並對管治社會產生深遠的影響。社會的物質發展帶來愈來愈多的新產品。這些新產品漸漸成為生活的必 需品。於是，人心便會產生愈來愈多的欲望。如果這些無窮的欲望得不到滿足，人的生活便會變得苦痛。因此，上座部佛教認為，人應立志按自己的所需而節制無窮的欲望。在上座部佛教，這便叫「知足」(santosa)。但政府不這樣做，反而鼓勵大量生產，以達至提高生活質素的目標。問題是：隨物質的發展，人的壓力也愈來愈大。這些問題的根本就是無盡欲望所造成的不同陰暗面而已。(http://www.buddhistdoor.com/mainpage/index.html)
Buddha's Ancient Path, Venerable Piyadassi
當他面對生活中的事實，如老、病、死等等，衝突往 往在人的生活中生起，但只要他以勇敢精神有準備地面對事實，他就不會被挫折和失望所煩惱。這種生命觀，既不是悲觀，也不是樂觀，而是現實的看法。忽視事物 不穩定原則－－苦的內在性質的人，面臨生活多變時，他就會產生混亂，不知所措，因為他沒有經過如實看待事物的訓練。認為快樂是持久不變的人，當事物發生與 他的願望相反時，就會給他帶來許多煩惱。因此，對生活與生活有關的事情，要有一種超然的見解和修養。因為有了超脫的見解才不會給精神上帶來失望和痛苦，什 麼東西也不執著，而是任運自然。這確實是不容易做到的。但這雖然不是徹底拔掉苦根，卻也是控制苦的有把握的補救方法。
而佛教則認為，一個善良的人，不是身邊沒有令他困擾的人和事，而是取決於他面對困擾時的心態。一個人若能領悟到「境隨心轉」的境界，便會把別人的誤解看成 是磨練自己心智、昇華自己人格的契機，於一念之間，化煩惱為菩提；就能做到隨緣不變、不變隨緣，以平常心看淡世間的悲歡離合、炎涼冷熱和成敗得失，不以物 喜、不以己憂的心境自然生起。佛門的這種「境隨心轉」的人生智慧，使得我們能與佛同行，笑對煩惱，即一個人有麻煩時，也能擁有快樂的心境，這才是修行的真 功夫。
在暴風雨後的一個早晨，一位晨運客來到海濱散步。他一邊沿海灘走著，一邊注意到，在沙灘的淺水窪裏，有許多被昨夜的暴風雨捲上岸來的小魚，它們被困 在淺水窪裏。雖然近在咫尺，卻回不了大海。被困的小魚，也許有幾百條，甚至幾千條。用不了多久，淺水窪裏的水就會被沙粒吸乾，被太陽蒸乾，這些小魚都會乾 死的。
是 的，我們的能力著實有限，幫助不了全世界的人。可是，在日常生活中，我們總會遇上一些機緣，可以在自己能力範圍之內做點好事，幫助一些人，減輕他們的煩惱 和痛苦。自己也會在助人的過程中得到快樂。小小的一點善行，有時也會為別人帶來意想不到的良好效果。因此，勿以善小而不為；積小善終能成大善。
A man named Dighajanu once visited the Buddha and said, "Venerable Sir, we are ordinary layman, leading a family life with wife and children. Would the Blessed One teach us some doctrines which will be conducive to our happiness in this world and hereafter?
The Buddha told him that there are four things which are conducive to a man's happiness in this world. First: he should be skilled, efficient, earnest, and energetic in whatever profession he is engaged, and he should know it well (utthana-sampada); second: he should protect his income, which he has thus earned righteously, with the sweat of his brow (arakkha-sampada); third he should have good friends (kalyana-mitta) who are faithful, learned, virtuous, liberal and intelligent, who will help him along the right path away from evil; fourth: he should spend reasonably, in proportion to his income, neither too much nor too little, i.e., he should not hoard wealth avariciously nor should he be extravagant- in other words he should live within his means (sama-jivikata)
Then the Buddha expounds the four virtues conducive to a hayman's happiness hereafter: (1) Saddha: he should have faith and confidence in moral, spiritual and intellectual values; (2) Sila: he should abstain from destroying and harming life, from stealing and cheating, from adultery, from falsehood, and from intoxicating drinks: (3) Caga: he should practise charity, generosity, without attachment and craving for his wealth; (4) Panna: he should develop wisdom which leads to the complete destruction of suffering, to the realisation of Nibbana.
Some times the Buddha even went into details about saving money and spending it, as, for instances, when he told the young man Sigala that he should spend one fourth of his income on his daily expenses, invest half in his business and put aside one fourth for any emergency. Once the Buddha told Anathapindika, the great banker, one of His most devoted lay disciples who found for Him the celebnted Jetavana Monastery at Savatthi, that a layman who leads an ordinary family life has four kinds of happiness. The first happiness is to enjoy economic security or sufficient wealth acquired by just and righteous means (atthi-sukha): the second is spending that wealth liberally on himself, his family, his friends and relatives, and on meritorious deeds (bhoga-sukha): the third to be free from debts (anana-sukha): the fourth happiness is to live a faultless, and a pure life without committing evil in thought, word or deed. (anavajja - sukha)
It must be noted here that first three are economic and material happiness which is 'not worth part' of the spiritual happiness arising out of a faultless and good life.
From the few examples given above, one can see that the Buddha considered economic welfare as a requisite for human happiness, but that he did not recognize progress as real and true if it was only material, devoid of a spiritual and moral foundation. While encouraging material progress, Buddhism always lays great stress on the development of the moral and spiritual character for a happy, peaceful and contented society.
Many people think that to be a good Buddhist one must have absolutely nothing to do with the materialistic life. This is not correct. What the Buddha teaches is that while we can enjoy material comforts without going to extremes, we must also conscientiously develop the spiritual comforts without going to extremes, we must also conscientiously develop the spiritual aspects of our lives. While we can enjoy sensual pleasures as laymen, we should never be unduly attached to them to the extent that they hinder our spiritual progress. Buddhism emphasizes the need for man to follow the Middle Path.
Man's mind influences his body profoundly. The mind has just as much potential to be a medication as it has to be a poison. When the mind is vicious, it can kill a being but when it is steady and diligent it can benefit others. When the mind is concentrated on right thoughts, and supported by right effort and understanding, the effect it produces is immense. A mind with pure and wholesome thoughts leads to healthy relaxed living. Calmness is not weakness. A calm attitude at all times shows a man of culture. It is not too hard for one to be calm when things are favourable, but to be composed when things are wrong is hard indeed. It is this difficult quality that is worth achieving, for by exercing such calm and control, a man builds strength of character. (Problems and Responsibilities)
Ven. Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda
A Manual of Buddhism 出自上座部佛教Venerable Narada的手筆，如The Blueprint of Happiness一樣，亦是一本介紹佛教基本知識的書籍，但探討的內容則較深入和豐富。
Depend on oneself
The Buddha exhorts His disciples to depend on themselves for their salvation, for both defilement and purity depend on oneself. “You yourselves should make the exertion. The Tathagatas are only teachers,” says the Buddha. The Buddhas point out the path, and it is left for us to follow that path to save ourselves. “To depend on others for salvation is negative, but to depend on oneself is positive.” Dependence on others means a surrender of one’s effort.
時時觀察自己微細的念頭，不要被自己蒙蔽。煩惱來時、不要害怕、不要討厭、讓它煩去，自己不煩、久而久之、煩惱會愈來愈少。遇到煩惱、要面對它，接受它、 處理它、放下它，有煩惱的時候，不要把它當成困擾，就沒有煩惱。不論外在的境界如何變化，情緒都不會受到牽動，那麼，就可以斷除煩惱了。如感覺到有煩惱、 有問題、先檢討自己，不責怪他人、埋怨環境、煩惱是自己的。