Monday, May 14, 2012

Do Not Ban Animal Liberation in Taiwan

Referring to this and other similar news ...

...splashed across the globe and the internet, I have to reiterate what I have written in my previous blog posts before. I feel that such news is happening is due to 2 things:

1. The Buddhists (in this case, especially those in Taiwan) are probably not doing a good job in explaining the significance of animal liberation and its meaning;
2. The media, and especially non-Buddhists, are exploiting the issue for their own benefits. But I suspect that out of these 2 possibilities, it is really our own Buddhist ignorance that contribute to this issue arising. Why do I say so? Well, I have heard of Buddhists supporting the stop of these animal liberation activities. And some of these Buddhists who fail to understand the true significance of animal liberation are Buddhist monks and nuns. What a shame!

The fact that the animals are dying is in fact a sign that the prayers done during animal liberation ceremony is working. This is something non-Buddhists and I believe even Buddhists do not understand. This is because the reason for doing this animal release is not simply to perpetuate its animal life span. On the contrary, the Buddhists intend to help these animals leave or discard their animal lives and get reborn as a human on Earth or angel in heaven, which is better than to remain as an animal. Being animals, they are considered as one of the 3 lower types of rebirth, according to Buddhist teachings. Hence, the intention to help them attain a higher rebirth. And a natural process before they could attain a better rebirth, is to entail them having to die first in their current status as animals.

Unfortunately, our friends in the Animal Welfare or Environmentalist, do not understand this at all. While there are merits for protecting the animals in their present state, what they fail to understand if they ever try to ban animal releases in Taiwan, is that these animals will never be able to get an opportunity to attain a higher rebirth in the next life. They will probably stay as animals for a long, long time. And probably many lifetimes as animals. Those chantings of Sutras and mantras done for animal releases help these animals purify their bad karma and hasten their bondage to the animal kingdom. In this sense, what the Buddhists are doing is indeed a noble act of compassion. And it is far more compassionate than to preserve their habitat and present lives.

But I believe that the Buddhists could do a few things to improve the situation:-

i. Many such animal releases nowadays involve purchasing them outright from wholesalers (e.g. fishmongers, bird sellers). While I do think that it is acceptable even if we have to purchase these animals, a better way would be to liberate them in their natural habitat. It means, we have to go to their habitat to perform these ceremonies, and not bring the animals to us. There was once I even attempted to stop the pig abattoir from working for a day and thus save those pigs meant to be slaughtered by another day. I failed, but my intention of relating to you this story is to tell you that even such attempts is animal liberation. Of course, not to forget cutting down on our meat intake is also animal liberation.

ii. And if it is necessary to bring the animals to us, do make sure you release the animals back to their natural habitat. If possible, release it back to the place where it was originally caught.

iii. If you need to purchase animals for animal liberation, try to purchase them direct from the place where their lives in in danger. In other words, purchase fish from the seafood restaurant, and not the fishmonger. Even though you think the fish from the fishmonger will eventually go to the restaurant, it is different. If you tell the fishmonger you will be buying it from him on such and such a day, he will just catch more fish prior to that. Therefore, it is still better to buy it from the seafood restaurant. But it will mean buying the fish and other sea creatures at dinner meal prices, which will be a lot more expensive. Nevertheless, whether buying it from restaurant or the fishmonger, I still believe the final intention is that an animal liberation done is better than not doing it.

When I first did an animal liberation at an FPMT center, I was told off by one of the center members for catching animals to the ceremony. You see, I told the member that I spend some time to catch some ants at my garden to bring them to the ceremony. I wanted to benefit animals in my natural surrroundings, without having to purchase any of them. Even though I was new to the center then, but I understood the dharma very quickly. The senior member said that the purchase of animal liberation is to release animals and did not understand why I had to catch them. It is a pity that it was him who failed to understand the purpose of animal liberation. After the ceremony, I took the ants back to my garden and released them back to their natural home. That is how animal liberation should be done, and I understood it perfectly well even before I had understood the chapter on animal liberation in The Golden Light Sutra. People should listen to my advice, but since they think they know better, I just kept quiet.

The conclusion of what I have to say is that Buddhists should continue doing the animal liberation chantings but to release it properly back to their original habitat. And not to simply release it anywhere convenient or anywhere they like.  If they are not sure, consult an environmentalists. For the environmentalists, animal lovers and animal protectors, my advice is that they try to understand better what Buddhists are doing in these "animal releases". Do not simply jump to wrong conclusions. And also not to misplace your love for animals and the environment, until these animals have to stay forever as animals. Just imagine yourself trapped in an animal body and unable to free yourself, because no one gets you near a holy object or chant mantras for you. But whatever it is, please do not stop Buddhists from doing the animal releases. It is actually for the good of these animals, even though you see many millions die. For non-Buddhists who do not believe in rebirth and karma, they will say this is rubbish belief. But for Buddhists, it is a blessing to hear the dharma even if it is just for a few seconds. It also does not matter  if we do not understand what we are hearing. Because of the good karma of hearing the dharma, it immediately caused you to be reborn into a better place amongst the humans and angels. So, that's why your animal body has to die. But I caution too that not all animal deaths are due to their good karma. Indeed, it could be releasing the animals into the wrong habitat. That is human carelessness and Buddhists have no excuse whatsoever not to do it right. Hence Buddhists must do it right and everybody gets to benefit from it - i.e. the humans who arranges and performs the chanting get good karma, the environment gets preserved as well as the animals that gets to be reborn into a better place when the time comes. Hence, Buddhists all over the world, and especially those in Taiwan, have a duty to explain to the press media and to their Taiwan Government, the right message about animal liberation ceremonies.   


lotus said...

Hi to blogger

I agree with your article, unless to be sure there is no harm on animals, if there were any hurts in animals, then it become a demonic ceremony, and its not the Lord Buddha teaching...any way I have comment may be not related to article, I see above your blog for Non-muslim only!!! why?? muslim is not human?? we spread truth, love, compassion for nonmuslim??? they need to know the nature of humans is kindess toward animals, and not food as they think, so, muslim especialy need to know that...thanks

Mahabodhiyana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mahabodhiyana said...

You see, if the animal liberation ceremony or chanting is done properly, it will result in the animal getting good karma almost soon after that or immediately. Then it will lose its animal body and take rebirth in a higher realm. And we ignorant humans will probably cry after its dead animal body, and start condemning the animal liberation practices. How pitiful! These animal liberation critics just want the animals to stay as animals forever. Wait till they themselves are reborn as animals and then we will see how long they want to stay as animals. Huh.

Mahabodhiyana said...

Yes, while doing animal liberation, you must release it in a place that is safe. But it could still end up dead due to many factors unrelated to your ceremony.

As for your other question, I have mentioned in another blogpost before, that muslims are free to come and read the blog. But because I live in a country where Islam is the official religion and there are laws that outlaws proselysing to Muslims, so usually non-muslim people (who are aware of this implication) put that tag "for muslims only" on all their public posters, blogs, banners, etc. Even Christians and others put this tag on their public posters/banners. Thank you for asking.