Transformative Vision After Reciting
Leads One Student to Become Vegetarian
An American doctor recounts his recent experiences with the Sanghāta
My friend and I have to travel four hours to receive Dharma teachings, and on the drive we usually discuss the Dharma, read out loud, recite mantras, or otherwise focus on the Dharma as we head down for teachings. Because of a request by Lama Zopa Rinpoche that the students recite it, we read the Sanghāta Sūtra out loud during one of those trips.
While reading the sutra, a butterfly smashed into the windshield, and that made us sad. There are places in the Sanghāta Sūtra that were so vivid that we both felt we were in front of the Blessed One. It did not seem like a four-hour drive and we completed the reading of the Sanghāta just as we were nearing the Dharma center.
Before going to the center, we stopped at the Outback Steakhouse for a meal. We were discussing the Sanghāta Sūtra, and talking about the examples in the sutra and how we should apply this teaching. Our trip had started from the health care facility where we worked, and we had earlier been discussing how to pacify the staff. We have been having some stressful changes, and my friend was saying that she would like to sit everyone down for a three-hour period to listen to the sutra! In the course of the discussion we ordered the steak salad for our meal. The meal arrived and we each took a helping. I cut and ate a piece of the meat. When the meat touched my tongue, I shuddered and stared. My friend reached over to me, because she could see I was visibly shaken and overwhelmed. This most sudden and abrupt change in me caused her to fear that I was having a heart attack.
In that moment, without any other thought, I was this very cow, white faced, horn on the right turned, surrounded by other cattle, jammed together, standing in a shadowed area of a pen. Multiple pens extending to my left, into a bright sun. Harsh bellows, the clop of hoofs up ramps. Wild eyed, this poor beast that I now had become, prodded into a place where my forehead was slammed with a force that released such pain, I collapsed upon the floor, hoofs gathered by heavy chains – the suffering so profound that I was deeply moved to tears and still am, even in this simple recollection that cannot capture the depth or profound nature of the experience.
In that instant, I vowed to eat no being ever again. The choices I make for all nourishment are now very closely guarded. The torment and suffering recollected in that moment continues to bury more deeply into me.
The sufferings truly are all too unimaginable and extremely unbearable. This is a most powerful sutra.
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