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In Vinaya, there is this rule (copied from Buddhist Monastic Code II):

"One should not knowingly consume meat killed on purpose (for a bhikkhu). Whoever should consume it: an offense of wrong doing. I allow fish and meat that is pure in three respects: One has not seen, heard, or suspected (that it was killed on purpose for a bhikkhu)." — Mv.VI.31.14

How should we interpret "heard"? I can think of some possibilities:

  1. Heard from someone that it was killed for me, i.e., someone told me that it was killed for me.
  2. Heard the sound of killing, e.g. sound of the animal or action of killing
  3. Both of the above.
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This translation says,

If a bhikkhu sees, hears or suspects that it has been killed for him, he may not eat it.

This commentary says,

Furthermore, even cooked fish or meat of an allowable kind is unallowable if the bhikkhu sees, hears, or suspects that the animal was killed specifically for the purpose of feeding bhikkhus.

Both of these imply only the first of your two possibilities.

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I would say hear = hear the sound of the animal being killed/ screaming (not for fish or course)

This is based on the interpretation of Dhammavvuddho Thero, he has written a book that contains this subject and also he has given many Dhamma Talks about meat eating. You can google it maybe you will find more details.

He says you should not eat if you see the animal being killed, hear it or suspect it was killed intentionally killed for you, of course you cannot kill or ask someone to do it as well.

There's also another detail: Not all types of meats are allowed, some animals and human flesh should not be consumed for many reasons.

More details here (from Theravada monk Dhammavvuddho Thero):

http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2010/07/the-buddha’s-real-views-on-meat-eating/

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    The hyperlinked reference you gave says, No Direct Kamma of Killing: The Buddha said: “Fish and meat are completely pure (parisuddha) of killing if the animal was not seen, heard, or suspected to have been killed specifically for oneself. Without these three conditions, unwholesome kamma is involved and, therefore, that type of meat is not allowable. IMO the punctuation would be different if it had the meaning you ascribe: it would say, "if the animal was not seen or heard, and not suspected to have been killed specifically for oneself." – ChrisW Oct 23 '14 at 12:59
  • Hi, my answer was based on his Dhamma talk, the link was just additional info I have just found, but I don't think the link contradicts it, in the way I understand it, by "hear" he means hear the sound of the animal and not "hear someone telling that the animal was killed", that would go with the suspect part in my opinion – konrad01 Oct 23 '14 at 13:22
  • In this PDF he writes, However, if you do not want to become a vegetarian, you should know when meat cannot be eaten. The type of meat allowed to be eaten has three conditions: when you do not (1) see, (2) hear, and (3) suspect, that the animal was specifically killed for you. The specific example at the end of a paragraph is that you can buy already-slaughtered meat at a market, but not select a specific live animal for slaughter. – ChrisW Oct 23 '14 at 13:39
  • Yes and this is why I think you should not hear (the sound), hearing it is just liking seeing it but using other door, that is why in some Buddhist Countries all the slaughters house are far away from the cities, they dont wanna see or hear it. Suspecting can be thought hearing someone telling you or by using your perception. Again, this is my interpretation. – konrad01 Oct 23 '14 at 13:52
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He is saying that you can only eat meat if someone happens to just put it in your alms bowl randomly from their own food and you have no reason to suspect that the animal was killed specifically for you or monks in general. Remember that these rules were for mendicant monks. They should not be used to justify modern day lay person behaviours. He did not want the monks to encourage or condone the killing of sentient beings but he also did not want to jeopardise the opportunities for giving the teachings by alienating donors by rejecting their food outright.

To bring it up to date and current - if you buy meat or fish in a shop as a customer you can be sure that those animals were killed in order to be sold to customers, therefore you should not buy and eat the meat as this encourages more killing of animals. Nobody cares about alienating butchers and fishmongers by refusing to buy their wares - if anything, say enough people refused to buy their wares then that would be a good teaching for them and they might find a more "right livelihood" and improve their karma.

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