Here are some Buddhist perspectives on animals. If you like these articles and think they may help, please take a moment to share them with others so we can all keep raising awareness.
A Buddhist perspective on animals
The Humane Society is not going to solve problems permanently for animals, but just because we can’t free others’ permanently doesn’t mean we don’t have to do anything at all. Bodhisattvas are committed to doing two things: (i) training their minds to get into a position to free everyone permanently and (ii) in the meantime helping others practically.
How we treat the world’s animals—whether coldly or compassionately, selfishly or justly—is a measure of who we are. It defines our character, our moral progress, and our ability to look beyond self-interest.
What do we owe animals and insects?
We are all equal in that we wish to be free from suffering all the time and always want to be happy. We never wake up and think, “Hey, I’d love a whole bunch of suffering today”, and nor do animals.
A Buddhist take on Factory Farming
The facts in this book, if digested, will lead most people (a) to become vegetarian or vegan, (b) to eat less meat, or (c) to be far more careful about choosing meat from animals that have not been tortured their entire lives ….
It is not unkind to dissolve people away into emptiness. When I saw Ralph’s chest rising and falling so fast, and J and I timed it to discover he was breathing at a rate of 91 breaths per minute instead of the normal 30, we knew I had to get going fast to the ER. I felt sick to the stomach, but J calmed me with three magic words: ‘Don’t freak out.’
Here is a conundrum for you to solve. So my friend asks me: ‘If you had the choice to save 100 little Pomeranian bears from cruelty, torture and life in a cage or develop spontaneous bodhichitta, which would you choose?’
I wrote a few things down about Frodo at the time, so here are a few random snippet memories of getting to know a dog, and a sometimes challenging but beautiful retreat.
Buddha and the Hidden Universe
Everything about Buddhism speaks to animals and for animals. Most obviously, as many people with even a passing understanding of Buddhism are aware, Buddhists are aiming at enlightenment, part and parcel of which is universal compassion — the mind that wishes to protect each and every living being from suffering and its causes.
Rousseau is clearly thinking something… to develop a delusion he has to have inappropriate attention, exaggerating something, and that is a process of thought. Animals think. Animals feel. Animals have thoughts and emotions. It is hard to insist that they don’t, though plenty of people try.
There is meaning in those eyes …
Spending over an hour in the company of chimps in this movie helps us see how similar to us they are in many ways – in terms of their wishes and fears, their maternal love, their cleverness at using tools to prepare food, the importance of teamwork to survival, their cultivated social relationships, their rivalry and violence, and their bodies. And Freddy’s unexpected reaction to Oscar, in particular, shows a remarkable, selfless love.
There are hundreds of thousands of poor human beings being paid to maim and kill. Yeah, you can say it is a job like any other, you have to put food on the table, but still ….
Of course we homo sapiens are not inherently monkeys, much less evil monkeys; but there is some validity in saying we are hairless primates rather than some superior life form, and that as a species we have managed to couple our creative imaginations with increasing greed and selfishness to entrap, torture, and exterminate millions of fellow living beings (including previous varieties of human).
More on animals …
We have all this powerful internet and social media technology and what do we do with it? Mainly cat videos 🙂 People love their pets. That is a good start. Buddha’s teachings give many clear reasons for us to love and respect animals and not look down on them. If people come to know these reasons, I think they have the power to improve human beings’ relationship with all animals (who after all are no different to our pets). As Mahatma Gandhi said:
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Have some tissues handy when you watch this elephant video:
Prayer for the Liberation of Brother and Sister Animals
And if I ever feel a little sorry for myself and want to generate compassion instead, this video is going to help (words below):
May all sentient beings in the animal realm subject to unbearable pain in labs throughout the world be free from suffering. May alternatives to animal experimentation and testing be used immediately. May bodhicitta fill the hearts of those who imprison them. May all sentient beings from the animal realm who suffer endless days, months, years locked in tiny cages unable to move, be filled with peace and calm. May the many billions waiting in slaughterhouse lines be free of fear. May the hearts of those who work in abattoirs be filled with bodhicitta so the very thought of harm is purified. May they never kill again and may the slaughterhouse lines become immediately empty. May no animal be afraid or depressed. May their bodies be free of injuries, disease and illness. May those who need homes, or who have been driven from them, find shelter, plentiful food & water. May there be liberation for those tortured for fur, entertainment or who are hunted.
May those who believe they are superior to our brother & sister animals develop perfect equanimity. And may they realise in their hearts that all sentient beings possess Buddha nature and they are not ours to kill or exploit.
May the many billions of land and sea dwelling sentient beings who are abused, exploited and killed due to greed, hatred and ignorance be free of suffering. May they experience complete and perfect enlightenment, through the virtue of my efforts and prayers. May I be a voice for the voiceless. In short, may all human and non-human sentient beings live together in harmony, peace and equanimity and achieve perfect enlightenment quickly.
Composed Feb 14, 2007 by Liberation of Brother & Sister Animals.