Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

WeiHan
Posts: 324
Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2011 5:50 pm

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by WeiHan » Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:56 am

Ayu wrote:
WeiHan wrote:I don't see how garlic agitates the mind. When the body feels more healthy, the mind concentrates better with power and sharp focus, not the other way round.
As far as I understood it is on a more subtle level. In Indian philosophy garlic is on the list of "tamasic" food since ages. Tamasic means it leads to a cruder mind. It is no issue of health or happiness but of subtleness. (But Tibetan Highest Yogatantra is an exception.)
But the Buddha taught that you don't accept thing on surface value or based on tradition, or based on hearsay etc...one needs to test with one's own experience to check if it is true.

My own statement above is just a general statement. I find that "subtleness" without specific qualification is just an excuse at most to gloss thing over. Subtle means what? Certainly it got to be stuff that can be measured or personally experienced. My experience is that inner heat from Tummo practice arise more easily and it cures a mysterious chronic pain at my lower spine which no other medication or herbs helps. I didn't use the raw form of garlic but the fermented black color form which taste sweet and is supposed to be 10X more potent than the raw form of garlic.

It will be nice if we can open a new thread to talk about the specific benefits of garlic pertaining to annutarayogatantra. I do not know it but to stumble into it accidenttally.

User avatar
Ayu
Former staff member
Posts: 6779
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:25 am
Location: Europe

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by Ayu » Fri Jun 12, 2015 10:32 am

"Subtle" means helpful for certain circumstances or meditation methods. In other situations "more subtle" can be a neutral aspect or even a hindrance. It depends, this is what I wanted to say.
I'm not talking about blindly following hearsay.
It is a thing, everybody can try out. The results will be individually different.
If my teacher, who knows my practice and my living, would recommend "no garlic", I would try to follow. But he didn't.
It was Hsuan Hua who recommended it for his students. He did not say "every buddhist has to", or am I mistaken?

Edit: this is a problem of our new small world of communication and the old sayings/scriptures from former times: I believe, he said it to his students and he couldn't imagine it would be a worldwide personal offense against any other buddhist.
This means: we do not have to either reject it or have to follow it otherwise. We can also just say: "Ah, interesting."
:namaste:
It will be nice if we can open a new thread to talk about the specific benefits of garlic pertaining to annutarayogatantra. I do not know it but to stumble into it accidenttally.
Yes, feel free to do it. "Wellness, Diet, Fitness" would be an appropriate section.
I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

WeiHan
Posts: 324
Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2011 5:50 pm

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by WeiHan » Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:33 pm

Ayu wrote: It was Hsuan Hua who recommended it for his students. He did not say "every buddhist has to", or am I mistaken?
Every perspective that people want to write about him regarding this issue has already been made and I having nothing much to say further. However, browsing through this thread, I find it disturbing that some people can been so keen to advance their cultural view on certain food, which nonetheless millions and millions have been eating without the said negative said effect, that they are willing to fund problematic scientist which has an agenda to advocates results which is untrue-garlic is toxic and harm the brain cells. I cannot find it published in a respectable peer reviewed paper and no reproducible confirmation results have been published. So, the conclusion, some people are willing sacrifice others of potential health benefits of certain food (in this case garlic) just for the ego that their traditional religious view is correct.

jmlee369
Posts: 310
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:22 am

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by jmlee369 » Sat Jun 20, 2015 12:59 am

I'll just throw in my 2 cents way late in the game, but I find it strange to see certain people finding the concept of Buddhas and bodhisattvas being repelled by garlic and onion stench to be strange, considering that in kriya tantra practices, the siddhis cannot be obtained if one does not bathe properly. There is the story of the yogi who been working meticulously on the approximation practice for a long time but failed to get results. Consulting his guru and trying to see what he was doing wrong, they eventually discovered that he was not bathing enough. Once he did the proper ablutions, he quickly gained siddhis. The commentators clearly point out that this ritual purity is not for the sake of the deity, though it certainly looks like the deity is being repelled by impurity. I think the same can be said of the prohibitions against garlic and onion (which is common to both the Shurangama Sutra and kriya tantra, because the Shurangama is in fact a kriya tantra practice).

goldenlight
Posts: 31
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2015 6:23 pm

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by goldenlight » Thu Jul 02, 2015 9:02 am

TheSynergist wrote:I recently stumbled across Master Hsuan's commentary on the Shurangama Sutra, which contained this gem:
People who eat pungent plants and also cultivate samadhi will not be protected by the Bodhisattvas, gods, immortals, or good spirits of the ten directions. Who is referred to here? Whoever eats the five pungent plants. If you eat them, it's referring to you. If I eat them, it's referring to me. The text leaves the matter open. Why don't dharma protectors and good spirits guard such people? Because they smell too bad.
He goes on...
When their lives end, these people will join the retinue of demon kings. This refers to people who eat the five pungent plants. Because they eat such things, the gods, immortals, Bodhisattvas, and good spirits do not protect them. Therefore, the demon kings who possess great power can have their way with them. The demon king appears as a Buddha and speaks demonic dharma to them, praising sexual desire, anger, and stupidity. Having been confused by the demons, these people lose their proper knowledge and proper views and any real wisdom. Instead, they harbor deviant knowledge and deviant views.
And also...
Ananda, have you been listening? Those who cultivate for Bodhi, anybody on the path to Bodhi, should never eat the five pungent plants. You definitely must stop eating onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, and chives. If you eat these things, you can end up in the company of the demon kings. If you don't eat these things, you can join the Buddha's retinue. This is the first of the gradual stages of cultivation. This is the first step of progress for a cultivator of the Way.

In cultivation, one must get rid of the causes which aid in the creation of bad karma. The five pungent plants are one cause which aids the demon kings. You should not regard them as unimportant. The five pungent plants make you turbid and confused. They make you impure, and your impurity puts you together with the retinue of demon kings, for the more impure one is, the better they like it.
This is all from:http://www.cttbusa.org/shurangama7/shurangama7.asp

Now I respect the good work that the Master has done to teach/popularize Buddhism in the USA and the world. I just cannot help but find these statement in the commentary about the 5 pungent plants so preposterous that they're hard to take seriously. I also realize that Master Hsuan Hua has also made some controversial statements about homosexuality, divorce, and Tibetans that have been discussed elsewhere on this forum. All things considered, I cannot help but think that Master Hsuan Hua was excessively preoccupied with literalism and traditionalism, although he probably was motivated by genuine compassion and meant well.

Two questions:
1) Do you think it's a good idea to abstain from the five pungent plants?
2) To what extent do you find it possible to respect a Master while still strongly disagreeing with him on some points?

Peace,
The Synergist

The shunning of Onions & Garlic find their Origins in Orthodox Hinduism and Jainism.To this day Numerous Hindus avoid them,While most Buddhists do not avoid them.It goes without saying that Onions & Garlic do have a strong odor which many find unpleasant.Secondly It is Scientifically proved that Both these are aphrodisiacs,they cause an increase in Metabolism and aggravate the dormant carnal desires. For serious religious practitioners this is a serious impediment.

The Lankavatara is prominent in its denouncement of both the ingredients,in its early passage - " Anaarya Jushta durgandha " - Non- Aryan,leftovers,malodorous.

However,they are nonetheless " Vegetables" by all means,and one needn't be very stringent in avoiding them.Orthodox Hindus also avoid Mushrooms Calling them as Non vegetarian, however the truth is contrary. Furthermore,Some Indian Brahmins eschew Radishes and Drumsticks too, as these possess aphrodisiacal properties.

As long as one is a Vegetarian is more than enough. If one desires going on a path to perfection, one may be more finicky.

Lastly, Don’t harbor any ill feelings about Ven. Master Hsuan Hua.He was among the very few who propagated the Orthodox and Pure teachings. No offense but when the so called incarnations of Avalokiteshvara- HH the Dalai Lama eat meat and justify it.We are fortunate to have had a Dharma Guru like Ven. Hsuan Hua who followed and preached only the purest Dharma.

jmlee369
Posts: 310
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:22 am

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by jmlee369 » Sat Jul 04, 2015 4:17 am

goldenlight wrote: Lastly, Don’t harbor any ill feelings about Ven. Master Hsuan Hua.He was among the very few who propagated the Orthodox and Pure teachings. No offense but when the so called incarnations of Avalokiteshvara- HH the Dalai Lama eat meat and justify it.We are fortunate to have had a Dharma Guru like Ven. Hsuan Hua who followed and preached only the purest Dharma.
HH Dalai Lama only justifies his meat consumption on health reasons, though if he is offered meat and it is pure in the three ways, he will not reject it. This is in accordance with the Vinaya. He has minimised his meat consumption significantly. Furthermore, following the instructions of HHDL, the major Gelug monasteries which house some 15 000 monks serve only vegetarian food. That's a massive reduction in meat consumption. It's not like HHDL proclaims himself as the manifestation of Avalokitesvara; that claim is made by students and Tibetans, much like what people say regarding Master Hua. It is worth remembering that Master Hsuan Hua welcomed HHDL in person when HHDL came to the US, while Master Hua failed to extend that courtesy to certain vegetarian individuals.

User avatar
Sara H
Posts: 573
Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 11:51 pm
Location: On Hiatus from Dharmawheel.

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by Sara H » Wed Jan 27, 2016 12:15 am

I would personally say that I disagree with Master Hsuan on that.

He does not speak for Guardian beings or Devas or other such beings. They are sentient beings in their own right, and can decide for themselves who they will or will not protect, and that is up to them.

I've run across guardian beings before, and I've never run across one that would refuse to protect someone who was worthy of protection simply because they had eaten garlic for their last meal.

The prohibition against the five pungent roots comes from the 48 Less Grave Precepts in the Sutra of Bramha's Net.

But nowhere in that, does the Buddha say that guardian beings will refuse to help someone just because they've eaten them, and in the Shurangama Sutra, the Buddha clearly explains that it has to do with the smell, and bad breath and body odor.

The monks at Shasta Abbey, avoid strong wild onions, (and the other four pungent roots) but they do eat the milder, large commercial onions in onion soup and such things occasionally, and they have a guardian spirit who watches their temple, as do many monks at many temples.

I remember asking the monks about this, and they pointed out that the purpose of this Less Grave Precept, was two parts: first, back in the day, people didn't have showers, plumbing, and the ability to bathe and wash clothes on a daily basis. Nor did they have toothbrushes and modern oral care. This meant monks would often have to bathe irregularly, and didn't brush their teeth, and so a lot of this prohibition was very practical:

If you can imagine, a monastery in the middle of summer, filled with mostly men, and they all are sweating because it's hot, and they all smell like body odor and garlic, and their breath stinks...

Yeah, that would be kind of miserable, and also, you wouldn't want to present to laypeople that way, because you'd want to give a respectable presentation of Buddhism. When giving voice to the Dharma, you wouldn't want people cringing away because of the atrocious smell of your body and breath. Like a dirty hippie!

Eww..

The second reason, is because those roots function as stimulants. And because of that, they can have a mild aphrodisiac effect, that was (and is) unhelpful to people trying to be celibate. Since they are also trying to calm down their passion in general, they refrain from such foods.

The monks at Shasta, for example, refrain from garlic, leeks, scallions, ginger, and the strong wild onions.

Nowadays, we have much milder onions cultivated for general use, but back in the day, people simply gathered onions in the wild, and if you've ever had a wild onion, they are incredibly potent. Also, as the translator's note points out in the Sutra of Brahma's Net, that in the original texts, the texts themselves referred to highly specific plants, not general varieties.

Here's the actual Sutra:
FOURTH LESS GRAVE PRECEPT

On using the five pungent roots.

"Disciples of the Buddha, you should not eat of
the five types of pungent roots.* Pray, do not use any
of these roots in your food. Should you eat of
these roots willingly and knowingly, you are thereby
defiling yourself by acting contrary to this less grave
Precept."

Translator's note:
* The Chinese text names five highly specific types
of pungent roots, apparently considered by Kūmarajīva as
the equivalents of specific plants found in India. Japanese
Buddhists have traditionally identified them in more generic
terms as garlic, leeks, large onions, scallions, and ginger (or
horseradish), even though the text names only specific types.
Explanations for their interdiction include their giving an
offensive odor to the breath and their 'heating the blood'
(that is, having some aphrodesiacal effect).



References:

Nearman, H., Jiyu-Kennett, P. T., & MacPhillamy, D. (1998). Buddhist writings on meditation and daily practice: The serene reflection meditation tradition : including the complete scripture of Brahma's net. Mt. Shasta, Calif: Shasta Abbey Press.
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil Singer

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy

Simon E.
Posts: 4555
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by Simon E. » Wed Jan 27, 2016 1:02 pm

I think the important thing is to be consistent to the school and teacher you have committed to.

The tradition I have taken Refuge in has nothing to say about the use of alliums at all. ( apart from their medicinal use )

If it did I would do my best to comply .

These issues are only problematic if viewed as primary.
I would suggest that in actuality they are largely cultural..which does not mean that a western born follower of a Chinese tradition would feel no dissonance if they ignored the dietary requirements of the tradition that they follow..they probably would.

As I said it's about being consistent to one's tradition/teacher.
"Any major dude with half a heart
Will surely tell you my friend,
Any minor world that breaks apart
Can fall together again.
Any major dude will tell you."

Steely Dan.

User avatar
Zhen Li
Posts: 1498
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Canada

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by Zhen Li » Wed Jan 27, 2016 2:12 pm

I personally find the constant dismissal of aspects of the Dharma as "cultural" on this board to be problematic. Culture and religion are not two distinct entities, they live and breathe off each other, and encompass one another. Cultures, likewise, does not decide to have arbitrary differences just for the sake of it, there are often deep seated reasons for them, which are often the same reasons that religions have. If we're going to partition off everything that we disagree with, dietary restrictions, sexual mores, purelands, etc., as cultural, you're playing a very haughty game.

Simon E.
Posts: 4555
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by Simon E. » Wed Jan 27, 2016 2:19 pm

So are you saying that the eating or not eating of onions is a matter which is of the essence of Buddhadharma ?

And that it is therefore binding on all those who profess to follow Buddhadharma ?

Because if you are NOT saying that then it is a secondary issue..and cultural.
"Any major dude with half a heart
Will surely tell you my friend,
Any minor world that breaks apart
Can fall together again.
Any major dude will tell you."

Steely Dan.

DGA
Former staff member
Posts: 8776
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm
Contact:

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by DGA » Wed Jan 27, 2016 2:24 pm

In a sense, Dharma methods are strictly cultural. This is because anything can be a Dharma method if it is oriented toward a Dharma objective, in a Dharma context. Even the banal act of holding up a flower, or getting touched on the head with a vase, &c.

What happens though when those practices cease functioning as methods, and simply become the de rigeur activities of temple life? i.e. this is how we eat because that's how it's done, not because it serves the purpose of bringing beings to awakening?

I think this hits at the distinction Simon E was trying to make. Unless I've misread him. I don't think he's in the stephen Batchelor set that dismisses the best parts of Buddhism as bronze-age "cultural trappings."

Related discussion that needs to happen here:

http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f= ... ad#p322028

User avatar
Zhen Li
Posts: 1498
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Canada

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by Zhen Li » Wed Jan 27, 2016 2:38 pm

I agree with you, DGA, on the point that Dharma methods are essentially cultural, because if they're going to be conventional and hence conditional, there's no getting around it.

If we're talking about whether a method is still useful or not, abstaining from the five pungent vegetables is not something that has become less effective. As a meditator, I can tell it arouses desire and makes one less alert, as well as stinky, hence why devas won't enjoy your company.

Simon E.
Posts: 4555
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by Simon E. » Wed Jan 27, 2016 2:49 pm

Quite so DGA..I would argue that what one eats in general , not just concerning alliums ,are later accretions picked up along the way.

The only other alternative it seems to me is the position that the non-eating of alliums is absolutely essential to the practice of Buddhadharma and therefore that the Vajrayana, Japanese Zen, and Korean Song, many of whose practitioners make free use of garlic and onions may not be ' Buddhist ' at all.
It seems to me that the best course is to follow the teachings of one's own school and leave the other chaps to follow theirs.
"Any major dude with half a heart
Will surely tell you my friend,
Any minor world that breaks apart
Can fall together again.
Any major dude will tell you."

Steely Dan.

Simon E.
Posts: 4555
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by Simon E. » Wed Jan 27, 2016 2:57 pm

[quote="Zhen Li"]I agree with you, DGA, on the point that Dharma methods are essentially cultural, because if they're going to be conventional and hence conditional, there's no getting around it.

If we're talking about whether a method is still useful or not, abstaining from the five pungent vegetables is not something that has become less effective. As a meditator, I can tell it arouses desire and makes one less alert, as well as stinky, hence why devas won't enjoy your company.[/quote

No argument with any of that ...until your last sentence.

The fact is there are many accounts of Vajrayana teachers having positive encounters with Devas..and whose diet did not exclude onions and garlic.

As tohaving less desire that is not seen as being necessarily per se a good thing in the Vajrayana.
"Any major dude with half a heart
Will surely tell you my friend,
Any minor world that breaks apart
Can fall together again.
Any major dude will tell you."

Steely Dan.

User avatar
seeker242
Posts: 1228
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:50 pm
Location: South Florida, USA

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by seeker242 » Wed Jan 27, 2016 7:42 pm

I personally don't see the relevance of Vajrayana views, in the Chan forum, about a Chan teacher.
Ayu wrote:"Subtle" means helpful for certain circumstances or meditation methods.
:good:

I would also add that if one is just starting out, they may not even be able to notice the subtleties involved. I know several people, including myself, that could not really notice the subtle effect of caffeine. But after practicing for a while, now it's readily noticeable.

:meditate:
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

Simon E.
Posts: 4555
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by Simon E. » Wed Jan 27, 2016 8:01 pm

seeker242 wrote:I personally don't see the relevance of Vajrayana views, in the Chan forum, about a Chan teacher.
Ayu wrote:"Subtle" means helpful for certain circumstances or meditation methods.
:good:

I would also add that if one is just starting out, they may not even be able to notice the subtleties involved. I know several people, including myself, that could not really notice the subtle effect of caffeine. But after practicing for a while, now it's readily noticeable.

:meditate:
You are missing the point. There is no pan- Buddhist view of the eating of onions and garlic. My remarks were to reinforce that point .
Such foodstuffs have no bearing at all on the practice of Vajrayana sadhanas unless prescribed.
"Any major dude with half a heart
Will surely tell you my friend,
Any minor world that breaks apart
Can fall together again.
Any major dude will tell you."

Steely Dan.

User avatar
seeker242
Posts: 1228
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:50 pm
Location: South Florida, USA

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by seeker242 » Wed Jan 27, 2016 8:08 pm

Simon E. wrote:
seeker242 wrote:I personally don't see the relevance of Vajrayana views, in the Chan forum, about a Chan teacher.
Ayu wrote:"Subtle" means helpful for certain circumstances or meditation methods.
:good:

I would also add that if one is just starting out, they may not even be able to notice the subtleties involved. I know several people, including myself, that could not really notice the subtle effect of caffeine. But after practicing for a while, now it's readily noticeable.

:meditate:
You are missing the point. There is no pan- Buddhist view of the eating of onions and garlic. My remarks were to reinforce that point .
Such foodstuffs have no bearing at all on the practice of Vajrayana sadhanas unless prescribed.
I think you are missing the point which is that pan- Buddhist view or Vajrayana view, is irrelevant in the Chan forum talking about a chan teacher. It makes no difference at all if such foodstuffs have no bearing at all on the practice of Vajrayana. This is not a Vajrayana forum. Vajrayana is completely irrelevant to the whole issue.
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

Simon E.
Posts: 4555
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by Simon E. » Wed Jan 27, 2016 8:44 pm

I agree.
That WAS my point.
At some stage of the thread the fact that it was a teacher talking to people who had signed up to his particular kind of approach to Dharma had got lost.

Vajra students can quite happily leave the followers of Chinese traditions to worry about onions.. :smile:
"Any major dude with half a heart
Will surely tell you my friend,
Any minor world that breaks apart
Can fall together again.
Any major dude will tell you."

Steely Dan.

User avatar
seeker242
Posts: 1228
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:50 pm
Location: South Florida, USA

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by seeker242 » Wed Jan 27, 2016 9:02 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Vajra students can quite happily leave the followers of Chinese traditions to worry about onions.. :smile:
If they can, then they should. :smile:
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

Simon E.
Posts: 4555
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

Post by Simon E. » Wed Jan 27, 2016 9:23 pm

Well said.. :namaste:
"Any major dude with half a heart
Will surely tell you my friend,
Any minor world that breaks apart
Can fall together again.
Any major dude will tell you."

Steely Dan.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests