HBC regularly engages in the practice of purchasing animals due for slaughter and releasing them into a safe environment. Sheep, crayfish, crabs and a variety of other animals have all been the subject of this beautiful Buddhist practice.
HBC has been especially fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in the creation of an animal sanctuary at the Wambyn Olive Farm located near York. As well as producing magnificent organic olive oil, the owners of the farm have come together with HBC to create grazing paddocks where sheep bound for the live export trade can be purchased and released to live out their days. Our animal liberation and fence building days at the Wambyn Olive Farm are a wonderful opportunity to breath the fresh country air, bring and share a fantastic vegetarian meal as well as doing something positive for other beings.
Why Practice Animal Liberation?
Underlying all Buddhist practice is the fundamental principle of non violence. In the Tibetan Mahayana Tradition, emphasis is also placed upon the aspiration to develop great compassion and to dedicate one’s spiritual life for the welfare of all beings. Saving animals from imminent death is a wonderful expression of such an aspiration.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama captures beautifully the reasons for such practice:
"Today, together with a growing appreciation of the importance of human rights there is a greater awareness worldwide of the need for the protection not only of the environment, but also of animals and their rights. Where there is a mind, there are feelings such as pain, pleasure and joy. No sentient being wants pain, instead all want happiness. Since we all share these feelings at some basic level, we as rational human beings have an obligation to contribute in whatever way we can to the happiness of other species and try our best to relieve their fears and sufferings."
Whilst for most of us, simply being able to save the life of a helpless creature is motivation enough to do this practice, releasing animals is also said to be of great benefit to those who participate. Tibetan lamas regularly prescribe animal liberation practice for those with serious illness. Just as violent actions are believed to create the cause to experience harm and illness oneself, altruistic actions such as saving the lives of animals are said to create the cause to experience good health and long life.
To make this a Buddhist practice, the animals are blessed and many prayers and auspicious mantra are recited in their presence. This is said to create further positivity in the mind of the animal and increase the likelihood of a future rebirth where they too can engage in spiritual practice and ultimately purify and perfect their minds.
Participation in Animal Liberation
Whilst care has to be taken to deal with potential pitfalls such as encouraging the capture of such animals to be sold for release and releasing animals into unsuitable environments where they will perish or cause environmental harm, the opportunities to carry out animal liberation practice can arise almost anywhere. Even removing an insect that is in danger of being crushed in one’s house can be done with a conscious motivation to protect its life and to wish it well for the future. Blessing the animal can be as simple or elaborate as one cares to make it.
HBC’s spiritual director, Lama Zopa Rinpoche is currently constructing an animal sanctuary near his home monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal. This will perhaps relieve the pressure on the monastery itself which is currently the home of a number of cows, sheep and goats that Rinpoche has spotted bound for slaughter whilst travelling to and from Kopan. You can read more about the animal sanctuary at http://www.fpmt.org/projects/alp/
HBC also maintains a special Animal Liberation Fund that it uses to purchase animals and supplies for animals that it has liberated. Donations can be made by contacting the Centre on 9367 4817 or by sending an email from our contact page.