Master Hsuan Hua on garlic, onions, etc.

User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
Posts: 6619
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

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

Post by Astus » Fri Mar 20, 2015 7:31 pm

Malcolm wrote:not even in your Brahmajala Sutra.
Brahma Net Sutra, Secondary Precepts:
3. On Eating Meat

A disciple of the Buddha must not deliberately eat meat. He should not eat the flesh of any sentient being. The meat-eater forfeits the seed of Great Compassion, severs the seed of the Buddha Nature and causes [animals and transcendental] beings to avoid him. Those who do so are guilty of countless offenses. Therefore, Bodhisattvas should not eat the flesh of any sentient beings whatsoever. If instead, he deliberately eats meat, he commits a secondary offense.

4. On Five Pungent Herbs

A disciple of the Buddha should not eat the five pungent herbs -- garlic, chives, leeks, onions, and asafoetida. (44) This is so even if they are added as flavoring to other main dishes. Hence, if he deliberately does so, he commits a secondary offense.
The Baizhang Zen Monastic Regulations, ch 7, p 219, BDK edition:
One must not partake of improper food (buyingshi). (There are three kinds: 1) alcohol, 2) spicy vegetables, and 3) animal flesh. Onions, leeks, garlic, scallions, coriander, and so on, are classified as the second spicy food, whereas various meats are classified as the last one. One should not partake of these kinds of food.)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

User avatar
Malcolm
Posts: 24501
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

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

Post by Malcolm » Fri Mar 20, 2015 7:42 pm

Astus wrote:
Malcolm wrote:not even in your Brahmajala Sutra.
Brahma Net Sutra, Secondary Precepts:
3. On Eating Meat

Ok, my error.

But it is definitely not part of the bodhisattva vow traditions of Mañjuśrī or Maitreya.

Your source does contain one inaccuracy, the Brahmajala Sūtra in the Tibetan canon is from the Agamas and is more or less that same text found in the Digha Nikāya.
Atikosha
Tibetan Medicine Blog
Sudarsana Mandala, Tibetan Medicine and Herbs
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


Free of hope and fear, relax.
Human life spent in
a state of great spaciousness is enjoyable.


— Kunzang Dechen Lingpa

User avatar
TheSynergist
Posts: 59
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2014 3:34 am

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

Post by TheSynergist » Fri Mar 20, 2015 8:37 pm

Astus wrote:Mentioning that this is the Chan section of the forum, since when has Chan come to mean diet?

"In India, the twenty-seven patriarchs only transmitted the imprint of the mind. And the only reason I've come to China is to transmit the instantaneous teaching of the Mahayana: This mind is the buddha. I don't talk about precepts, devotions or ascetic practices such as immersing yourself in water and fire, treading a wheel of knives, eating one meal a day, or never lying down. These are fanatical, provisional teachings."
(Bloodstream Sermon in "The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma", p 41)

The Governor of Hung-chou asked, "Master, should I eat meat and drink wine or should I not?"
The Master replied, "To eat and drink is your blessing. Not to do it is also a blessing."

(Mazu Daoyi, in "Original Teachings of Chan Buddhism", p 152)

"There are people in every quarter who assert that the ten thousand practices and the six pāramitās constitute the buddhadharma. But I say to you that they are merely means of adornment, expedients for carrying out the buddha’s work; they are not buddhadharma [itself]. Even those who keep the rules regarding food and conduct with the care of a man carrying a bowl of oil so as not to spill a drop, if their dharma-eye is not clear they’ll have to pay their debts, and the day will come when the cost of their food will be exacted from them."
(Record of Linji, tr. Sasaki, p 28)
:good:

User avatar
Loren
Posts: 177
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2014 3:02 pm

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

Post by Loren » Fri Mar 20, 2015 10:49 pm

A coworker of mine had cancer so he would eat 2 cloves of garlic and a shot of red wine X times a day. He did that for 2 years and the cancer went into remission so he stopped. He died of the disease a few/some years later.

Seems like common sense would rule.
Thank You and Ok!

aka Lorem

User avatar
Dan74
Founding Member
Posts: 2137
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:59 pm
Location: Lyss, Switzerland

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

Post by Dan74 » Sat Mar 21, 2015 12:32 am

I don't think it is appropriate here to reject scholarship on the provenance of Mahayana sutras which have been accepted by Tibetan tradition and then assert that Surangama Sutra which has been accepted by the Chan tradition, is inauthentic. This takes Tibetan tradition as the standard, which is fine, but not when you are in the Chan forum.

Perhaps it is more reasonable to suppose that the Sutra takes a skillful approach to overstate its case in order to impress upon the readers that they should not consume these herbs, as other sutras also assert?

jmlee369
Posts: 299
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:22 am

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

Post by jmlee369 » Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:50 am

Simon E. wrote:' Well known ' to whom ?
Well I know that you will not consider Master Hua to be a master based on other people's opinion of him, but since you asked. There are the thousands upon thousands of people who support the 20 or so monasteries associated with the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, the people who were able to draw near to him (I find Tim Testu's writing particularly interesting), Luang Por Sumedho who has connections with Master Hua not just in this life but also past lives, Elder Master Hsu Yun (perhaps the most influential Chinese Buddhist master in modern Chinese history) who conferred recognition and transmission to Master Hua, and so on.

Regardless of Master Hua's eccentricities, I think it would be a loss for people to dismiss the great body of his commentaries and teachings which have been published based on small, trivial matters. Things such as the translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra with commentary into English are part of his amazing legacy. No highly respected teacher out there is perfectly aligned with everyone's sensibilities, and it is not difficult to dig up strange or problematic statements made by them. Nevertheless, to turn our back on them as a teacher based on such minor things is to miss a great opportunity.

More generally, there is a strong link between Buddhism in East Asia and a vegetarian diet that excludes the five pungent vegetables and eggs. The development of a distinct Buddhist cuisine occurred in China (素食, 齋菜), Korea (사찰음식), Japan (精進料理) and Vietnam based not only in monastic but also lay communities. Pure vegetarianism was so strongly associated with Buddhism in China that Christian missionaries would consider meat-eating as a sign of conversion. In Chinese culture, vegetarianism is inextricably linked to Buddhism (or Buddhist offshoots). It is almost assumed that if you are Buddhist, you are vegetarian (though this is not actually the case) and that if you are vegetarian, you are Buddhist. My own Korean grandmother, while not a full-time vegetarian, would abstain from meat and the five pungent vegetables for three days prior to going to a temple (and this is despite Korean Buddhism's lax adherence to the precepts on all levels). Even the term vegetarian in Chinese implies that you do not eat garlic or onions.

As for the Shurangama's standing in East Asia, it is not simply the domain of a few Chan masters, it is considered orthodox in the mainstream Buddhist culture. The verses and mantra of the Shurangama Sutra are recited every morning in almost all major Chinese monastic communities (Master Jing Kong's Pure Land centers, and Fo Guang Shan's use of simplified morning ceremony are prominent exceptions). Even those communities which do not recite the Shurangama mantra on a daily basis accept its authenticity (interestingly enough, the Shurangama mantra is actually the long Sitatapatra mantra which is recited in translation for most sections in the Tibetan tradition). The Shurangama Sutra is part of the basic monastic curriculum of the Jogye order (the one to which the majority of Korean Buddhists belong). Despite the rhetoric of the Chan masters, their monastic institutions have continued to follow the vegetarian diets.

User avatar
Malcolm
Posts: 24501
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

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

Post by Malcolm » Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:56 am

Dan74 wrote:I don't think it is appropriate here to reject scholarship on the provenance of Mahayana sutras which have been accepted by Tibetan tradition and then assert that Surangama Sutra which has been accepted by the Chan tradition, is inauthentic. This takes Tibetan tradition as the standard, which is fine, but not when you are in the Chan forum.

Perhaps it is more reasonable to suppose that the Sutra takes a skillful approach to overstate its case in order to impress upon the readers that they should not consume these herbs, as other sutras also assert?
The standard is actually the Indian tradition, not the derivative Tibetan and Chinese traditions.

As to the second point, I have already shown how the text in question contradicts other Mahāyāna sūtra which all accept as authoritative. It is also well known that this text, the Śūranagama Sūtra, has experienced a long and contentious history in China over the question of its authenticity.
Atikosha
Tibetan Medicine Blog
Sudarsana Mandala, Tibetan Medicine and Herbs
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


Free of hope and fear, relax.
Human life spent in
a state of great spaciousness is enjoyable.


— Kunzang Dechen Lingpa

User avatar
Dan74
Founding Member
Posts: 2137
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:59 pm
Location: Lyss, Switzerland

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

Post by Dan74 » Sat Mar 21, 2015 2:02 am

jmlee369 wrote:
Simon E. wrote:' Well known ' to whom ?
Well I know that you will not consider Master Hua to be a master based on other people's opinion of him, but since you asked. There are the thousands upon thousands of people who support the 20 or so monasteries associated with the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, the people who were able to draw near to him (I find Tim Testu's writing particularly interesting), Luang Por Sumedho who has connections with Master Hua not just in this life but also past lives, Elder Master Hsu Yun (perhaps the most influential Chinese Buddhist master in modern Chinese history) who conferred recognition and transmission to Master Hua, and so on.

Regardless of Master Hua's eccentricities, I think it would be a loss for people to dismiss the great body of his commentaries and teachings which have been published based on small, trivial matters. Things such as the translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra with commentary into English are part of his amazing legacy. No highly respected teacher out there is perfectly aligned with everyone's sensibilities, and it is not difficult to dig up strange or problematic statements made by them. Nevertheless, to turn our back on them as a teacher based on such minor things is to miss a

.....
:good:

User avatar
Dan74
Founding Member
Posts: 2137
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:59 pm
Location: Lyss, Switzerland

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

Post by Dan74 » Sat Mar 21, 2015 5:41 am

Malcolm wrote:
Dan74 wrote:I don't think it is appropriate here to reject scholarship on the provenance of Mahayana sutras which have been accepted by Tibetan tradition and then assert that Surangama Sutra which has been accepted by the Chan tradition, is inauthentic. This takes Tibetan tradition as the standard, which is fine, but not when you are in the Chan forum.

Perhaps it is more reasonable to suppose that the Sutra takes a skillful approach to overstate its case in order to impress upon the readers that they should not consume these herbs, as other sutras also assert?
The standard is actually the Indian tradition, not the derivative Tibetan and Chinese traditions.

As to the second point, I have already shown how the text in question contradicts other Mahāyāna sūtra which all accept as authoritative. It is also well known that this text, the Śūranagama Sūtra, has experienced a long and contentious history in China over the question of its authenticity.
Hi Malcolm,

I must've missed it, I will reread the thread when I have the time. However, misgivings from some people do not necessarily make a sutra inauthentic, it seems to me. What is the right test, do you think? As far as I can tell, it is venerated in the Chan tradition and it would be disrespectful (and unwise) to dismiss it due to a few minor passages.

Incidentally, I recall reading a Charles Muller translation of the Sutra of Complete Enlightenment with commentaries by Master Kihwa, a 14th Century monk, who queried parts of the Sutra as being correctly rendered. To my way of seeing it is quite possible that parts of a sutra may have been corrupted at some stage in transmission, but that is no reason to dismiss the whole.

As for the second point, don't see where it contradicts as you say. Other sutras proscribe eating the 5 pungent herbs. Surangama goes further. Whether this is indeed correct (as we generally find hard to believe), whether it is skillful means as I suggested above or a corruption of the original teaching, I cannot say, but it is no reason to dismiss the entire scripture. I also think it is inappropriate within Chan forum. Academic discussion would perhaps be a better venue. I doubt that a Chan practitioner would be welcome to come to Vajrayana forum and dismiss a scripture that is broadly venerated within Vajrayana. This isn't something that bothers me personally, you are welcome to your opinions and any scholarship you bring to the discussion is appreciated, but it is a question of respect and etiquette. In the Chan forum, the discussion should be framed by Chan teachings.

Fortyeightvows
Posts: 1525
Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2014 2:37 am

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

Post by Fortyeightvows » Sat Mar 21, 2015 5:51 am

While they can be used to cure illness, many people believe that the onions and garlic interfere with mediation.Often same act can be the cause of hell or the cause of bliss. emptiness.
One probably doesnt have to worry too much if we eat these. Maybe not on retreat. As far as karma goes that's the least of our worries.

The venerable master did so much to establish buddha dharma in america. The level of practice at cttb is inspiring. full lotus. Several english translations done under his guidance have become the standard. Ksitigarbha. He insisted on perfect conduct, practice, study, recitation and meditation. He was a true master of buddha dharma and it shows in the level of practice at all his temples. 

As a pioneer of Buddha Dharma in America, he is not alone in having controversial opinions on matters between couples.
It goes without saying that one would do well to follow whatever their own teachers suggest on both matters. 

I am thankful for everything the venerable master has done to bring true buddha dharma to america.

I think the Shurangama is authentic, many schools teach it and even lama zopa reccommends the mantra.

User avatar
TheSynergist
Posts: 59
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2014 3:34 am

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

Post by TheSynergist » Sat Mar 21, 2015 6:42 am

jmlee369 wrote:
Simon E. wrote:' Well known ' to whom ?
Well I know that you will not consider Master Hua to be a master based on other people's opinion of him, but since you asked. There are the thousands upon thousands of people who support the 20 or so monasteries associated with the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, the people who were able to draw near to him (I find Tim Testu's writing particularly interesting), Luang Por Sumedho who has connections with Master Hua not just in this life but also past lives, Elder Master Hsu Yun (perhaps the most influential Chinese Buddhist master in modern Chinese history) who conferred recognition and transmission to Master Hua, and so on.

Regardless of Master Hua's eccentricities, I think it would be a loss for people to dismiss the great body of his commentaries and teachings which have been published based on small, trivial matters. Things such as the translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra with commentary into English are part of his amazing legacy. No highly respected teacher out there is perfectly aligned with everyone's sensibilities, and it is not difficult to dig up strange or problematic statements made by them. Nevertheless, to turn our back on them as a teacher based on such minor things is to miss a great opportunity.
Just a bit of background on why I brought this up: I actually now attend a Dharma Realm Buddhist Association-affiliated center right now, with portraits of Master Hua on the shrine, and I've certainly heard sermons referencing the Master approvingly. It does seem like he has done some good things and that some ppl have genuinely benefited from his teachings. That I do not deny. I just think it's kinda sad that he had such prejudice and cultural baggage and that some of his followers continue to propagate it. That Long Beach Monestary website has this reprehensible anti-homosexuality quote:
Q: Venerable Master, I, disciple, have a question regarding homosexuality. Homosexuals in contemporary American society can marry; a man can marry another man and a woman can marry another woman. They do not give birth to children so they adopt. They raise kids despite acting contrarily to universal principles. Venerable Master, what kind of impact will this have on the future of the society-at-large?

Venerable Master: This country will perish; the human race will end altogether. This is the stirring of monsters and demons, ghosts and goblins. They make people abnormal so that everyone dies in the end. When every country around the world condones homosexuality, the world is finished, destroyed.
That's not "eccentricity" or a "small trivial matter"; that's prejudice, tinged with superstition, much worse than the Dalai Lama's controversial comments about improper orifice use constituting sexual misconduct. So out of curiosity, I've tried reading more about Master Hua works, and it sounds like he had some insightful commentaries, but also stuff like the garlic/onions thing. It just makes me think he was overly gullible/defensive about the texts and traditions handed down to him, which is turn brought out his dark side instead of his compassionate/wise side.

I guess this brings out another question: to what extent should these Hua-affiliated organizations propagate/condone the Master's more controversial teachings on their websites?

Saoshun
Posts: 638
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2014 11:16 pm

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

Post by Saoshun » Sat Mar 21, 2015 8:11 am

One of the most common questions asked to me is this: "Why don't you eat garlic and onions?"

Here's my short answer: As a devotee of Krishna and a practicing Bhakti-yogi, I don't eat garlic and onions because they cannot be offered to Krishna.

Here's my longer answer:

You may know that onions and garlic are botanical members of the alliaceous family (alliums) - along with leeks, chives and shallots.

According to Ayurveda, India's classic medical science, foods are grouped into three categories - sattvic, rajasic and tamasic - foods in the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. Onions and garlic, and the other alliaceous plants are classified as rajasic and tamasic, which means that they increase passion and ignorance.

Those that subscribe to pure brahmana-style cooking of India, including myself, and Vaishnavas - followers of Lord Vishnu, Rama and Krishna - like to only cook with foods from the sattvic category. These foods include fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, dairy products, grains and legumes, and so on. Specifically, Vaisnavas do not like to cook with rajasic or tamasic foods because they are unfit to offer to the Deity.

Rajasic and tamasic foods are also not used because they are detrimental to meditation and devotions. "Garlic and onions are both rajasic and tamasic, and are forbidden to yogis because they root the consciousness more firmly in the body", says well-known authority on Ayurveda, Dr.Robert E.Svoboda.

Some branches of western medicine say that the Alliums have specific health benefits; garlic is respected, at least in allopathic medical circles, as a natural antibiotic. In recent years, while the apparent cardiovascular implications of vegetable Alliums has been studied in some detail, the clinical implications of onion and garlic consumption from this point of view are still not well understood.

Nevertheless, there are still many adverse things to say about garlic and onions. Not so well known is the fact that garlic in the raw state can carry harmful (potentially fatal) botulism bacteria. Perhaps it is with an awareness of this that the Roman poet Horace wrote of garlic that it is “more harmful than hemlock".

It should be pointed out that Garlic and onion are avoided by spiritual adherents because they stimulate the central nervous system, and can disturb vows of celibacy. Garlic is a natural aphrodisiac. Ayurveda suggests that it is a tonic for loss of sexual power from any cause, sexual debility, impotency from over-indulgence in sex and nervous exhaustion from dissipating sexual habits. It is said to be especially useful to old men of high nervous tension and diminishing sexual power.

The Taoists realized thousands of years ago that plants of the alliaceous family were detrimental to humans in their healthy state. In his writings, one sage Tsang-Tsze described the Alliums as the "five fragrant or spicy scented vegetables" - that each have a detrimental effect on one of the following five organs - liver, spleen, lungs, kidneys, and heart. Specifically, onions are harmful to the lungs, garlic to the heart, leeks to the spleen, chives to the liver and spring onions to the kidneys.

Tsang-Tsze said that these pungent vegetables contain five different kinds of enzymes which cause "reactions of repulsive breath, extra-foul odour from perspiration and bowel movements, and lead to lewd indulgences, enhance agitations, anxieties and aggressiveness," especially when eaten raw.

Similar things are described in Ayurveda. 'As well as producing offensive breath and body odour, these (alliaceous) plants induce aggravation, agitation, anxiety and aggression. Thus they are harmful physically, emotionally, mentally nd spiritually'.

Back in the 1980's, in his research on human brain function, Dr Robert [Bob] C. Beck, DSc. found that garlic has a detrimental effect on the brain. He found that in fact garlic is toxic to humans because its sulphone hydroxyl ions penetrate the blood-brain barrier and are poisonous to brain cells.

Dr Beck explained that as far back as the 1950s it was known that garlic reduced reaction time by two to three times when consumed by pilots taking flight tests. This is because the toxic effects of garlic desynchronize brain waves. "The flight surgeon would come around every month and remind all of us: "Don't you dare touch any garlic 72 hours before you fly one of our airplanes, because it'll double or triple your reaction time. You're three times slower than you would be if you'd [not] had a few drops of garlic."

For precisely the same reason the garlic family of plants has been widely recognized as being harmful to dogs.

Even when garlic is used as food in Chinese culture it is considered harmful to the stomach, liver and eyes, and a cause of dizziness and scattered energy when consumed in immoderate amounts.

Nor is garlic always seen as having entirely beneficial properties in Western cooking and medicine. It is widely accepted among health care professionals that, as well as killing harmful bacteria, garlic also destroys beneficial bacteria, which are essential to the proper functioning of the digestive system.

Reiki practitioners explain that garlic and onions are among the first substances to be expelled from a person’s system – along with tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical medications. This makes it apparent that alliaceous plants have a negative effect on the human body and should be avoided for health reasons.

Homeopathic medicine comes to the same conclusion when it recognizes that red onion produces a dry cough, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose and other familiar cold-related symptoms when consumed.

These are just some of the reasons I avoid leeks, chives, shallots, garlic and onions.
:sage:

User avatar
Admin_PC
Site Admin
Posts: 3798
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:17 pm
Location: Texas, USA

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

Post by Admin_PC » Sat Mar 21, 2015 8:24 am

Not being a Chan practitioner, I hope folks will excuse my conjecture on this thread, but I find a lot of value in some of the works of Ven Hsuan Hua.

Unfortunately, as many people in the US have to understand, Ven Hsuan Hua was a product of his generation. It's hard to contextualize the fact that he passed away in 1995. He passed away a couple years after Aurthur Ashe died from a tainted blood transfusion, a few years removed from Magic Johnson going public with his diagnosis of being HIV positive, and one more year still removed from Freddie Mercury dying of AIDS. In the 80s (and a few years after) there was an AIDS crisis in the US, especially in San Francisco, not too far from Ven Hsuan Hua's residence in Ukiah, CA. At the time, the disease was associated with a perceived hedonistic lifestyle of homosexuals, especially in the Bay Area. I'm not saying this perception was correct, but it probably jived with whatever cultural understanding he brought with him when he immigrated to this country, especially given the general cultural environment in place when he came here. Unlike the Dalai Lama, who was able to revise/amend/caveat certain statements he made about gays over time, Ven Hsuan Hua never got that chance, though I am fairly sure I've seen subsequent statements to the ones listed that weren't quite as harsh. To put it in context, he never saw Ellen DeGeneres come out on her show, he never saw Will & Grace, not that he watched any TV anyway - but he never got to see the cultural shift that took place as a result of these events. It's difficult to judge people of earlier decades based on accepted moors (sp?) of today.

I'm not trying to explain away his statements and certainly there are issues with accepting such statements in light of what we know now, but he was not privy to certain cultural awareness(es) that are common today. I'm not sure the statements he made back then should be advertised today. But keep in mind, he saw a country with a failing moral compass at the time he came here (the 60s), and only fell back to what he knew. I highly doubt he would've failed his bodhisattva vows and failed to help any homosexuals that were suffering.

If his (contextualized) opinions are enough to rule out his teachings altogether, surely that is unfortunate for all involved. Ajahn Chah said something to the effect that if Buddhism was to take effect in the west, then the teachings would have to stab at the heart. Maybe we can see some of those statements in this regard, causing us to take a serious look at our own relationships and see if they correspond to what is considered non-hedonistic behavior and based on unconditional love.

Furthermore, when it comes to other teachings based on the Shurangama Sutra, it's not only important to understand that the Chan tradition (certain lineages at least) is not only based on the Shurangama Sutra, but based on the idea that the extinction of the Dharma is contingent on the complete eradication of the Shurangama Sutra (which is foretold in another Chan-accepted sutra and in which Ven Hsuan Hua thoroughly believed).

Going back to an earlier statement that the Indian tradition is the only definitive tradition that all Mahayana schools should accept, I was hoping that Indrajala would comment as this seems not to be the case historically in regards to China. China was one of the most advanced civilizations Buddhism ever encountered, that seems to be lost in a lot of modern assessments. Bodhisattva Manjusri was long associated with Mount Wutai, Avalokitesvara bodhisattva was associated with Mt Putuo, and even Mahākāśyapa was associated with Mt Jizu-Shan (Kukkutapada) all of which are in China, and supposedly many Buddhist Indian pilgrims came to pay homage. I'm not the expert here (or anywhere) so I was hoping someone might chime in. In other words, instead of completely ruling something out as Chinese apocrypha, maybe the case could be made that China was a valuable source of Buddhist knowledge.
月影の いたらぬ里は なけれども 眺むる人の 心にぞすむ
法然上人

Simon E.
Posts: 4372
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

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

Post by Simon E. » Sat Mar 21, 2015 10:09 am

Saoshun wrote:
One of the most common questions asked to me is this: "Why don't you eat garlic and onions?"

Here's my short answer: As a devotee of Krishna and a practicing Bhakti-yogi, I don't eat garlic and onions because they cannot be offered to Krishna.

Here's my longer answer:

You may know that onions and garlic are botanical members of the alliaceous family (alliums) - along with leeks, chives and shallots.

According to Ayurveda, India's classic medical science, foods are grouped into three categories - sattvic, rajasic and tamasic - foods in the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. Onions and garlic, and the other alliaceous plants are classified as rajasic and tamasic, which means that they increase passion and ignorance.

Those that subscribe to pure brahmana-style cooking of India, including myself, and Vaishnavas - followers of Lord Vishnu, Rama and Krishna - like to only cook with foods from the sattvic category. These foods include fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, dairy products, grains and legumes, and so on. Specifically, Vaisnavas do not like to cook with rajasic or tamasic foods because they are unfit to offer to the Deity.

Rajasic and tamasic foods are also not used because they are detrimental to meditation and devotions. "Garlic and onions are both rajasic and tamasic, and are forbidden to yogis because they root the consciousness more firmly in the body", says well-known authority on Ayurveda, Dr.Robert E.Svoboda.

Some branches of western medicine say that the Alliums have specific health benefits; garlic is respected, at least in allopathic medical circles, as a natural antibiotic. In recent years, while the apparent cardiovascular implications of vegetable Alliums has been studied in some detail, the clinical implications of onion and garlic consumption from this point of view are still not well understood.

Nevertheless, there are still many adverse things to say about garlic and onions. Not so well known is the fact that garlic in the raw state can carry harmful (potentially fatal) botulism bacteria. Perhaps it is with an awareness of this that the Roman poet Horace wrote of garlic that it is “more harmful than hemlock".

It should be pointed out that Garlic and onion are avoided by spiritual adherents because they stimulate the central nervous system, and can disturb vows of celibacy. Garlic is a natural aphrodisiac. Ayurveda suggests that it is a tonic for loss of sexual power from any cause, sexual debility, impotency from over-indulgence in sex and nervous exhaustion from dissipating sexual habits. It is said to be especially useful to old men of high nervous tension and diminishing sexual power.

The Taoists realized thousands of years ago that plants of the alliaceous family were detrimental to humans in their healthy state. In his writings, one sage Tsang-Tsze described the Alliums as the "five fragrant or spicy scented vegetables" - that each have a detrimental effect on one of the following five organs - liver, spleen, lungs, kidneys, and heart. Specifically, onions are harmful to the lungs, garlic to the heart, leeks to the spleen, chives to the liver and spring onions to the kidneys.

Tsang-Tsze said that these pungent vegetables contain five different kinds of enzymes which cause "reactions of repulsive breath, extra-foul odour from perspiration and bowel movements, and lead to lewd indulgences, enhance agitations, anxieties and aggressiveness," especially when eaten raw.

Similar things are described in Ayurveda. 'As well as producing offensive breath and body odour, these (alliaceous) plants induce aggravation, agitation, anxiety and aggression. Thus they are harmful physically, emotionally, mentally nd spiritually'.

Back in the 1980's, in his research on human brain function, Dr Robert [Bob] C. Beck, DSc. found that garlic has a detrimental effect on the brain. He found that in fact garlic is toxic to humans because its sulphone hydroxyl ions penetrate the blood-brain barrier and are poisonous to brain cells.

Dr Beck explained that as far back as the 1950s it was known that garlic reduced reaction time by two to three times when consumed by pilots taking flight tests. This is because the toxic effects of garlic desynchronize brain waves. "The flight surgeon would come around every month and remind all of us: "Don't you dare touch any garlic 72 hours before you fly one of our airplanes, because it'll double or triple your reaction time. You're three times slower than you would be if you'd [not] had a few drops of garlic."

For precisely the same reason the garlic family of plants has been widely recognized as being harmful to dogs.

Even when garlic is used as food in Chinese culture it is considered harmful to the stomach, liver and eyes, and a cause of dizziness and scattered energy when consumed in immoderate amounts.

Nor is garlic always seen as having entirely beneficial properties in Western cooking and medicine. It is widely accepted among health care professionals that, as well as killing harmful bacteria, garlic also destroys beneficial bacteria, which are essential to the proper functioning of the digestive system.

Reiki practitioners explain that garlic and onions are among the first substances to be expelled from a person’s system – along with tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical medications. This makes it apparent that alliaceous plants have a negative effect on the human body and should be avoided for health reasons.

Homeopathic medicine comes to the same conclusion when it recognizes that red onion produces a dry cough, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose and other familiar cold-related symptoms when consumed.

These are just some of the reasons I avoid leeks, chives, shallots, garlic and onions.
:sage:
The 'science' here such as it is is unsound, and is likely to be the product of Confirmation Bias...for anyone interested enough the airline pilot studies and similar have not been found to be replicable by any neutral researcher..As to looking for confirmation from homeopathy or ( sigh ) Reiki I am afraid that is a certain way to have a conclusion rejected by anyone with any knowledge of the protocols of research.
The Allium family are valuable foodstuffs which supply a number of nutrients. For many they are an important source of affordable vitamin C. They can be demonstrated to lower blood pressure..and they boost the immune system.
Those countries which make heavy use of onions and garlic have a far higher average lifespan than those that do not. Check it out.
The concluding proof to me that the whole thing is simply cultural bias is the inclusion of asafeotida in the list of banned ingredients.
It is not an allium. It is powdered tree resin which when cooked imparts an onion like flavour to food. And is not banned in aryuveda. On the contrary it is widely used in Vaisnav and Brahmanic cuisine.
If you are among the practitioners of those schools which have this particular taboo ( and taboo is what it actually is ) then its probably best to be consistent to its practices, purely to minimise dissonance for yourself.
If you do not practice within those schools, then tuck in to your onions and make free with the garlic...it will do you good.
" My heart's in the Highlands
my heart is not here.
My heart's in the Highlands
chasing the deer."

Robert V.C. Burns.

User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
Posts: 6619
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

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

Post by Astus » Sat Mar 21, 2015 11:48 am

PorkChop wrote:Going back to an earlier statement that the Indian tradition is the only definitive tradition that all Mahayana schools should accept, ... In other words, instead of completely ruling something out as Chinese apocrypha, maybe the case could be made that China was a valuable source of Buddhist knowledge.
That is absolutely true. Chinese Buddhism gradually moved away from relying on Indian sources to stand on its own. Xuanzang (602–664) was probably the last monk who visited India and brought back new texts that had some level of impact on a larger scale, however, his Yogacara based Buddhism did not really gain followers and was put aside by the indigenous systems of Tiantai, Huayan and eventually Chan. It is telling that Chan itself, the dominant school during the second millennium, relies mostly on Tiantai and Huayan doctrines but not on Yogacara or Madhyamaka. Also, Chinese Buddhism did not rely much on Indian commentaries and they have started to favour their own scholars, like the disciple of Kumarajiva, Sengzhao (384–414), whose Zhaolun treatise is still quoted occasionally by Chan teachers. And the idea of Dharma transmission in Chan is another step in saying that Chinese teachers are very much the equals of Indians.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

User avatar
seeker242
Posts: 1210
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:50 pm
Location: South Florida, USA

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

Post by seeker242 » Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:22 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
How many lay East Asian Buddhists do you think obstain from pungent herbs based on this sort of thinking, or on reference to the Suragama sutra bits that mention it? For how many Chan influenced groups is it a common practice to abstain from onions, garlic etc. For lay people?
I would guess not that many percentage wise. Korean zen follows the same as Chan generally. No meat, no onions, etc. However, most of the korean people that attend the temple I go to are only abstaining from these foods when they are actually at the temple. They don't have a choice about that really. These foods are forbidden at the temple anyway. Most of them are not even vegetarian when they are outside the temple. I would imagine it's probably the same in Korea, perhaps, as most of them are Korean immigrants who grew up there. As far as Chinese and Vietnamese zen, I would bet it's probably near the same.
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!

User avatar
Malcolm
Posts: 24501
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

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

Post by Malcolm » Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:44 pm

Dan74 wrote: I must've missed it, I will reread the thread when I have the time. However, misgivings from some people do not necessarily make a sutra inauthentic, it seems to me. What is the right test, do you think? As far as I can tell, it is venerated in the Chan tradition and it would be disrespectful (and unwise) to dismiss it due to a few minor passages.
It is missing in the Tibetan canon [well, it was until the Qianlong Emperor sponsored its translation in Tibetan in the 18th century], for one thing. While this is not a definitive indication, it is an important one. Second, there is no mention of it or citations of it in any secondary Indian literature.
Incidentally, I recall reading a Charles Muller translation of the Sutra of Complete Enlightenment with commentaries by Master Kihwa, a 14th Century monk, who queried parts of the Sutra as being correctly rendered. To my way of seeing it is quite possible that parts of a sutra may have been corrupted at some stage in transmission, but that is no reason to dismiss the whole.
Likely another wholly Chinese pseudographia. I don't have problems with pseudographia as long as they are more or less in line with the Dharma as a whole, but when confronted with such a text, it should be evaluated in terms of how it corresponds with accepted teachings. When it states things that are wholly out of line with the Indian tradition, then I leave those things aside and ignore them.
The 5 pungent herbs.
This is a Chinese cultural and medical classification, not an Indian one. In the Vinaya, as well as Mahāyāna sūtras of verified origin, when garlic is mentioned in group, it is mentioned with onion and spring onions/leeks/wild garlic (the exact plant here is a little uncertain, but it belongs to the allium family), never in a group of "five pungent herbs." This classification is unknown in India.
This isn't something that bothers me personally, you are welcome to your opinions and any scholarship you bring to the discussion is appreciated, but it is a question of respect and etiquette. In the Chan forum, the discussion should be framed by Chan teachings.
May I suggest you move the thread then to a forum where it seems more appropriate since the OP was not really asking about Chan at all.
Atikosha
Tibetan Medicine Blog
Sudarsana Mandala, Tibetan Medicine and Herbs
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


Free of hope and fear, relax.
Human life spent in
a state of great spaciousness is enjoyable.


— Kunzang Dechen Lingpa

User avatar
yan kong
Posts: 254
Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:01 am

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

Post by yan kong » Sat Mar 21, 2015 5:09 pm

TheSynergist wrote:
jmlee369 wrote:
Simon E. wrote:' Well known ' to whom ?
Well I know that you will not consider Master Hua to be a master based on other people's opinion of him, but since you asked. There are the thousands upon thousands of people who support the 20 or so monasteries associated with the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, the people who were able to draw near to him (I find Tim Testu's writing particularly interesting), Luang Por Sumedho who has connections with Master Hua not just in this life but also past lives, Elder Master Hsu Yun (perhaps the most influential Chinese Buddhist master in modern Chinese history) who conferred recognition and transmission to Master Hua, and so on.

Regardless of Master Hua's eccentricities, I think it would be a loss for people to dismiss the great body of his commentaries and teachings which have been published based on small, trivial matters. Things such as the translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra with commentary into English are part of his amazing legacy. No highly respected teacher out there is perfectly aligned with everyone's sensibilities, and it is not difficult to dig up strange or problematic statements made by them. Nevertheless, to turn our back on them as a teacher based on such minor things is to miss a great opportunity.
Just a bit of background on why I brought this up: I actually now attend a Dharma Realm Buddhist Association-affiliated center right now, with portraits of Master Hua on the shrine, and I've certainly heard sermons referencing the Master approvingly. It does seem like he has done some good things and that some ppl have genuinely benefited from his teachings. That I do not deny. I just think it's kinda sad that he had such prejudice and cultural baggage and that some of his followers continue to propagate it. That Long Beach Monestary website has this reprehensible anti-homosexuality quote:
Q: Venerable Master, I, disciple, have a question regarding homosexuality. Homosexuals in contemporary American society can marry; a man can marry another man and a woman can marry another woman. They do not give birth to children so they adopt. They raise kids despite acting contrarily to universal principles. Venerable Master, what kind of impact will this have on the future of the society-at-large?

Venerable Master: This country will perish; the human race will end altogether. This is the stirring of monsters and demons, ghosts and goblins. They make people abnormal so that everyone dies in the end. When every country around the world condones homosexuality, the world is finished, destroyed.
That's not "eccentricity" or a "small trivial matter"; that's prejudice, tinged with superstition, much worse than the Dalai Lama's controversial comments about improper orifice use constituting sexual misconduct. So out of curiosity, I've tried reading more about Master Hua works, and it sounds like he had some insightful commentaries, but also stuff like the garlic/onions thing. It just makes me think he was overly gullible/defensive about the texts and traditions handed down to him, which is turn brought out his dark side instead of his compassionate/wise side.

I guess this brings out another question: to what extent should these Hua-affiliated organizations propagate/condone the Master'scommunitytroversial teachings on their websites?

You stack what the teacher says against the Dharma to see if it holds water. If you follow the Shurangama sutra then it seems as though the comments about the five pungent herbs hold water, whereas, for me at least, the comments about homosexuality don't.


What we can't do is control what the master's community chooses to translate our distribute. Surely Master Hua was caught up in his "cultural baggage" just as we all are.
"Meditation is a spiritual exercise, not a therapeutic regime... Our intention is to enter Nirvana, not to make life in Samsara more tolerable." Chan Master Hsu Yun

Simon E.
Posts: 4372
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

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

Post by Simon E. » Sat Mar 21, 2015 6:16 pm

jmlee369 wrote:
Simon E. wrote:' Well known ' to whom ?
Well I know that you will not consider Master Hua to be a master based on other people's opinion of him, but since you asked. There are the thousands upon thousands of people who support the 20 or so monasteries associated with the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, the people who were able to draw near to him (I find Tim Testu's writing particularly interesting), Luang Por Sumedho who has connections with Master Hua not just in this life but also past lives, Elder Master Hsu Yun (perhaps the most influential Chinese Buddhist master in modern Chinese history) who conferred recognition and transmission to Master Hua, and so on.

Regardless of Master Hua's eccentricities, I think it would be a loss for people to dismiss the great body of his commentaries and teachings which have been published based on small, trivial matters. Things such as the translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra with commentary into English are part of his amazing legacy. No highly respected teacher out there is perfectly aligned with everyone's sensibilities, and it is not difficult to dig up strange or problematic statements made by them. Nevertheless, to turn our back on them as a teacher based on such minor things is to miss a great opportunity.

More generally, there is a strong link between Buddhism in East Asia and a vegetarian diet that excludes the five pungent vegetables and eggs. The development of a distinct Buddhist cuisine occurred in China (素食, 齋菜), Korea (사찰음식), Japan (精進料理) and Vietnam based not only in monastic but also lay communities. Pure vegetarianism was so strongly associated with Buddhism in China that Christian missionaries would consider meat-eating as a sign of conversion. In Chinese culture, vegetarianism is inextricably linked to Buddhism (or Buddhist offshoots). It is almost assumed that if you are Buddhist, you are vegetarian (though this is not actually the case) and that if you are vegetarian, you are Buddhist. My own Korean grandmother, while not a full-time vegetarian, would abstain from meat and the five pungent vegetables for three days prior to going to a temple (and this is despite Korean Buddhism's lax adherence to the precepts on all levels). Even the term vegetarian in Chinese implies that you do not eat garlic or onions.

As for the Shurangama's standing in East Asia, it is not simply the domain of a few Chan masters, it is considered orthodox in the mainstream Buddhist culture. The verses and mantra of the Shurangama Sutra are recited every morning in almost all major Chinese monastic communities (Master Jing Kong's Pure Land centers, and Fo Guang Shan's use of simplified morning ceremony are prominent exceptions). Even those communities which do not recite the Shurangama mantra on a daily basis accept its authenticity (interestingly enough, the Shurangama mantra is actually the long Sitatapatra mantra which is recited in translation for most sections in the Tibetan tradition). The Shurangama Sutra is part of the basic monastic curriculum of the Jogye order (the one to which the majority of Korean Buddhists belong). Despite the rhetoric of the Chan masters, their monastic institutions have continued to follow the vegetarian diets.
Just seen this. I have not asked anyone to ' turn their backs on a teacher ' My remarks were in response to the OP, who I assume is not in relationship to the Sangha of this particular teacher. If my assumption is incorrect then we have a very different dynamic.
If however my assumption is correct then my remarks are simply a reminder that we do not have to trawl through the entire corpus of modern teachers in order to find areas of agreement ..or disagreement.
Life is short. The matter is urgent. Lets find teachers with whom WE can work..and get down to it.
" My heart's in the Highlands
my heart is not here.
My heart's in the Highlands
chasing the deer."

Robert V.C. Burns.

User avatar
TheSynergist
Posts: 59
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2014 3:34 am

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

Post by TheSynergist » Sat Mar 21, 2015 8:47 pm

PorkChop wrote:Not being a Chan practitioner, I hope folks will excuse my conjecture on this thread, but I find a lot of value in some of the works of Ven Hsuan Hua.

Unfortunately, as many people in the US have to understand, Ven Hsuan Hua was a product of his generation. It's hard to contextualize the fact that he passed away in 1995. He passed away a couple years after Aurthur Ashe died from a tainted blood transfusion, a few years removed from Magic Johnson going public with his diagnosis of being HIV positive, and one more year still removed from Freddie Mercury dying of AIDS. In the 80s (and a few years after) there was an AIDS crisis in the US, especially in San Francisco, not too far from Ven Hsuan Hua's residence in Ukiah, CA. At the time, the disease was associated with a perceived hedonistic lifestyle of homosexuals, especially in the Bay Area. I'm not saying this perception was correct, but it probably jived with whatever cultural understanding he brought with him when he immigrated to this country, especially given the general cultural environment in place when he came here. Unlike the Dalai Lama, who was able to revise/amend/caveat certain statements he made about gays over time, Ven Hsuan Hua never got that chance, though I am fairly sure I've seen subsequent statements to the ones listed that weren't quite as harsh. To put it in context, he never saw Ellen DeGeneres come out on her show, he never saw Will & Grace, not that he watched any TV anyway - but he never got to see the cultural shift that took place as a result of these events. It's difficult to judge people of earlier decades based on accepted moors (sp?) of today.

I'm not trying to explain away his statements and certainly there are issues with accepting such statements in light of what we know now, but he was not privy to certain cultural awareness(es) that are common today. I'm not sure the statements he made back then should be advertised today. But keep in mind, he saw a country with a failing moral compass at the time he came here (the 60s), and only fell back to what he knew. I highly doubt he would've failed his bodhisattva vows and failed to help any homosexuals that were suffering.
I think these are excellent points. Ven. Hua died just around the time that gay rights were beginning to be taken seriously as a civil rights issue. He probably linked homosexuality to sexual liberation, promiscuity, AIDS, and deviance. Who knows what he would say if he were alive today.

I still maintain, however, that cttb and other Hua-related places should be more clear/forthcoming about where they stand on this subject.
Simon E. wrote:Just seen this. I have not asked anyone to ' turn their backs on a teacher ' My remarks were in response to the OP, who I assume is not in relationship to the Sangha of this particular teacher. If my assumption is incorrect then we have a very different dynamic.
Like I said before, I'm currently attending a DRBA-affiliated center, but I'm not formally part of any Buddhist organization and I don't consider Hua my teacher.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests