Can gays and lesbians become Buddhists?
Sexual orientation is of no great importance in Buddhism. The Buddha would ask, who is better - a morally upright gay or a crooked and dishonest heterosexual? To the Buddha, what counts is the morality and virtue of a person, and whether or not that person is on the Path towards enlightenment.
Therefore, gays and lesbians who lead virtuous lives can most certainly become Buddhists.
Is smoking against Buddhism?
Strictly speaking, Buddhism would not consider smoking to be morally incorrect.
However, serious practitioners of Buddhism who are already on this habit usually attempt to give it up. This is because smoking is a severe form of craving and attachment as it is extremely addictive. Also, smoking is harmful to oneself, as well as to others via the effects of second hand smoke. Thus if something is harmful to oneself and also to others, it cannot be viewed positively in Buddhism.
Is being vegetarian a must for Buddhists?
In Buddhism, being vegetarian or not depends entirely on the individual. What is emphasized in Buddhism is not the purity of the diet, but the purity of the mind.
Of course, many Buddhists eventually realize the cruelty involved in eating meat, which is nothing more than the flesh of helpless animals. Many succeed in eliminating the craving and attachment to eating meat, and eventually become vegetarian on their own accord.
However, if becoming vegetarian is not convenient or too difficult, then take the path you are comfortable with. Nonetheless, being vegetarian at least once or twice a month is a good way of practicing compassion for all living beings, by consciously abstaining from meat for that day at least.
A book which deals extremely well with the Buddhist perspective on vegetarianism is Philip Kapleau's "To Cherish All Life".
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Why do some monks eat meat?
The Buddha refused to prohibit the eating of meat among his followers. He had very practical reasons for this because sufficient vegetable food may not be available in some areas, or could be very scarce in times of drought. For example, vegetable food is extremely limited in places like Tibet.
Monks survive on alms and if alms were restricted to only vegetarian food, then this could be a great burden on the lay people supporting the monks. Thus monks eat whatever they are given, even if it is meat, as long as the animals were not specially killed for them.
Nowadays though, many monks and temples do have a preference for vegetarian food. However, it should be noted that most monks in the Mahayana tradition are strict vegetarians.
Aren't Buddhist vegetarians who eat mock meat hypocritical? Why have mock meat at all?
Mock meat is a popular vegetarian food made from gluten, soybeans or mushrooms which simulate the appearance and taste of real meat. Buddhist vegetarians are sometimes accused of being hypocritical as they profess to avoid meat and yet eat all kinds of such mock meat. Vegetarians generally do not wish to eat anything which involves the suffering and killing of helpless animals. Thus, they do not view mock meat as 'meat', but only as something giving variety to their diet.
Mock meat was originally produced to attract non-vegetarians to vegetarian food. For example, it can be taken by meat eaters wanting to become vegetarian, as such dishes make the transition to being fully vegetarian easier.
In any case, eating mock meat is still infinitely better than eating the actual flesh of animals.
Are stories of miracles and psychic powers in the Buddha's life true?
According to Buddhism, anything may be possible. Some say that the power of the mind may allow for feats or miracles unexplainable by our current level of knowledge. However, it could also be the case that such stories may have been exaggerations by monks to boost up the Buddha's image so as to compete with other mystics and popular figures of the time.
Buddhism does not encourage blind faith, even in its own stories. It is up to each individual to exercise their own discernment and believe in such stories or not.
The Buddha himself said that any psychic powers, if they exist, are unimportant. What is of far more importance is the practice of His Teachings.
T Y Lee
Foreword by Ajahn Brahm
copied from http://www.justbegood.net
මෙය බොහෝ දෙනා දැක ඇති පොතක් සහ වෙබ් අඩවියක් වෙන්නට පුලුවන්. මේ මා ඉදිරිපත් කල ගැටලු කහිපය සහ වැදගත් භාවිතාවන් රාශියක් මේ වෙබ් අඩවිය තුල අන්තර්ගතයි. සරල ඉංග්රීසියෙන් ලියවී ඇති නිසා පහසුවෙන් තේරුම් ගැනීමත් කල හැකියි. මෙවන් ගැටලු අපි අතර සමහර අවස්ථාවන්හිදී පැනනගින බැවින් බහුජන සුබසිද්ධිය තකා මාගේ බ්ලෝග පෝස්ටුවක් ලෙස මෙය පල කලෙමි. මේ පොත සොයාදුන් ගලායන ජීවිතය බ්ලොග් කරුවාට මාගේ ස්තූතිය හිමි වෙයි. මෙයින් අත්වෙන ඉතා කුඩා පිනක් හෝ වෙයිනම් එයින් කොටසක් ඒ බ්ලොග් කරුටත් හිමිය.