Buddhist Monk urges audience to consider “Tofu-Turkey” at Thanksgiving

At the interfaith chapel service for the month of November, the UTS community heard the Tibetan Buddhism Monk Lama Wangdue talk turkey—specifically tofu turkey. In a message on “Gratitude and Thanksgiving in Buddhism”, Lama Wangdue shared of when he first came from India to the United States in 2002 he learned that millions of turkeys are killed every November in keeping with the American tradition of Thanksgiving. His response was shock and concern. Shock because his tradition of Tibetan Buddhism emphasizes the value of all sentient beings (including turkeys) and discourages unnecessary killing. Concern because Buddhism teaches to doctrine of “reincarnation”—the idea that those who create negative “karma” in this life, risk rebirth in a lower life form and Lama Wangdue was concerned that his students might eat turkey without the proper mind, and risk being reincarnated as turkeys in their next life.

Speaking just twenty four hours before most would sit down for the traditional turkey feast, Lama Wangdue urged the audience to spare a turkey by replacing “tofu-turkey” for the real thing. For those who opted for the real turkey, Lama Wangdue suggested a special mantra of gratitude, appreciating the life of the turkey, before commencing the feast. After the service, there were reports that certain UTS faculty, particularly Dr. Mark Isaacs, were seen roaming the 240 acres woods of the Barrytown campus, hunting in vain for a tofu-turkey.

Lama Wangdue, holds the venerable title “Geshe” from the Sera Jay Monastery in India, where he studied for seventeen years. He was appointed to the UTS faculty as Lecturer in Buddhism in the Fall 2007. The next Buddhism intensive course with Lama Wangdue is scheduled for the Spring of 2008. Contact the registrar for details.

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