Indirect Guilt by Indirect Association

Came across this online – ‘Buddhists generally respect the three condition rule where it’s a neutral act if the meat is not seen, heard or suspected to have been killed for you. I’ve also heard a three hand rule where if the meat is slaughtered by one person, sold to another, and cooked by another before it reaches you, your karma is not directly related to the death of the animal.’ Now, let’s see if either ‘law of three’ holds any water when applied by many Buddhists.

Where can you find meat that is not seen, heard or suspected to be killed for you? Most modern consumers never hear or see animals being killed. But how can any meat-eater not suspect animals to be killed for themselves as meat-eaters? Well, they are not killed for non-meat-eaters (veg*ns), while they are definitely killed for meat-buyers. Unless one does not buy meat personally or eat meat bought by others for one, and instead consume random alms (like early monastics) or discarded food, one cannot avoid ‘suspicion’. What about the idea of disassociation from the murders of animals by at least three degrees of separation (e.g. killer, seller and cooker) being a way to rationalise meat-eating being neutral? This too doesn’t hold much water because any group of four people can easily kill, sell, cook and eat animals by shifting the blame to one another in turn. For example –

Person 1 kills animals for Persons 2,3,4
Person 2 sells meat for Persons 1,3,4
Person 3 cooks meat for Persons 1,2,4
Person 4 eats meat.

For Persons 1,2,3 to eat meat, they just have to rearrange their inter-relationships. Obviously, this is bad faith, as they know they are doing the above for one another. Note that this three hand rule was not advocated by the Buddha, while the three condition rule was. Let’s now test the three hand rule against the three condition rule. Person 4 never sees or hears any animal killed for him. But does he not suspect that some Person killed for him due to his demand for meat? Yes, of course. This means the three hand rule fails under the three condition rule. The two rules above are unfortunately often (ab)used to get away with association with murder, but the truth remains that any conscious demander of meat is an accomplice in murder, even if slightly karmically more distant by a few degrees, as in not being murder in the first degree.

Related Articles:

Abuse of the Three Hand Rule
Abuse of the Three Condition Rule (1)
Abuse of the Three Condition Rule (2)

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