Dear compassionate, dedicated organizers of animal health care,
I'm very happy to get your letter. I'm also happy that you have one of my students to help you.
It's very important not only to have human rights, caring for and supporting humans, but also to be helping animals. It is unbelievable and terrifying that because one animal has a disease then millions of animals die. What will happen when animals have power and one human has a disease and millions of humans are killed. How terrifying for the human beings in this world—just like chopping vegetables or grass. But the animals are not like grass. They have a mind and are just like human beings. If this happened to human beings, they could go to the United Nations, announce it on television, demonstrate, and use so many methods to express their suffering and to fight. The chickens are totally powerless, as they can't express their suffering to the world. They are totally in the hands of the human beings, whatever they do. They are cut like vegetables and can't do anything, while at the same time, they have the same mind, desiring happiness and not wanting suffering. When we beat them they run away because they don't like it. When we give them food they don't run away because they are happy to be given food. When I was in the US at Thanksgiving, many turkeys were killed. That day we did an extensive Medicine Buddha puja and dedicated it to them. I was happy that I was able to do that.
We do many animal liberation ceremonies, liberating animals, especially in Singapore and Hong Kong, and also in Taiwan and Malaysia at the centers there. In Singapore, there is one dedicated member who has committed to liberate 100 million animals. He has already liberated around 70 million. The way we liberate animals is mostly for sea animals, such as fish and frogs, but also some birds. In Singapore they bring the animals in trucks with oxygen to the reservoir, river, ocean—wherever. When I am there, we bring relics—holy objects, pictures of Buddha, and tsa-tsas—which are arranged nicely on the table and then piled up around them are offerings—fruit juice, bread, and other things. We offer all the things on behalf of the animals, and after the animal liberation the people share and enjoy the food offerings. We have lunch together if the liberation is performed in the morning. All the people come, including children, and we liberate the animals, for example, by putting the fish in the ocean. It is a good practice, saving the animals from being killed in the market. People get a very good feeling from voluntarily helping a being, and it is nice for the older people, the parents.
The way we perform the liberation is to carry the animals around the holy objects—as many as we can arrange. We chant mantras in order to bless water for purifying them and also chant mantras loudly so that the animals can hear. When circumambulating the holy objects, if, for example, there are 1,000 statues, 1,000 stupas, and 1,000 scriptures, then taking one animal around the objects, in one circumambulation, creates 3,000 causes for a happy rebirth, 3,000 causes for liberation, and 3000 causes for enlightenment. If there are 100,000 objects, then it creates 100,000 causes for enlightenment, 100,000 causes for liberation, and 100,000 causes for not being reborn in the lower realms, with each circumambulation.
When obtaining animals from the market, one plastic bag may contain as many as 1,000 crickets, which are used to feed other animals. There are also other animals that are used to feed other beings. If there are 1,000 worms, then 1,000 causes for each—a happy rebirth, liberation, and enlightenment—are created for every holy object that is circumambulated. It's unbelievable what you can do. This is an unbelievable practice for saving animals’ lives. Usually this is what we do. In general, people liberate animals by buying them from the market and then putting them back in their natural habitat without circumambulating with them, blessing them with water, and reciting mantras for them. In the Chinese tradition they offer refuge to them, but do not do as much loud recitation so that they can hear it.
First is the circumambulation, taking them around the objects, so that they receive a high rebirth, meet the Dharma, are liberated from samsara, and achieve enlightenment. By blessing the water with powerful mantras, the negative karma is purified that would otherwise ripen as suffering in the lower realms. Hearing prayers and powerful mantras definitely brings them to enlightenment. This is the deepest benefit. This means they don't have to suffer in samsara forever. It is the way to bring them from happiness to happiness to enlightenment. I'm very happy with this way of practicing.
It is also done like this at the center in Singapore. There are many objects on the altar (as explained before), the animals are carried in a truck, and then the truck drives around the building where the center is located. Other places set up an altar at the beach and do the practice there. While liberating the animals, the people are also liberated. As they circumambulate, the animals are liberating the people. Generally, when birds are released in the forest they get eaten by another being and, in the ocean, animals can be eaten at any time by another being. But by doing these different practices, after death there is a happy rebirth and all the advantages, up to enlightenment.
I have also wanted to liberate large animals—buffaloes and cows especially, because they are killed by hitting a hammer against their head and thus don't die immediately. I received a lot of help with this from students, but unfortunately there is an obstacle. The land is not flat where we would keep them, it is steep, and the animals’ excrement would be washed into the river, and the water from this river is drunk by the monastery. So, now my plan is to buy land at Maitreya Project and build an animal sanctuary there. The idea is to build a stupa, or many small ones, keep them in the center, and then the animals receive sessions of circumambulations—four times per day. We will play the sounds of powerful mantras and teachings on bodhicitta and the Heart Sutra from speakers to purify their negative karma. There are many ideas in order to help, besides just giving food and shelter. I'm really looking forward to this, and already there are some animals there.
I'm very happy that you asked for tapes of prayers and mantras. My secretary will send these to you. If the animals' minds hear the Arya Sanghata Sutra, they are liberated from the uninterrupted karmas that cause the mind to be reborn in the hottest hell, having the most suffering, and being of the longest duration, from the heaviest karma of killing one’s mother or father, causing disunity amongst the Sangha, killing an arhat, and drawing blood from a Buddha. These are purified as well as the ten non-virtuous actions. Also, anyone who hears this sutra, whether in the house, in the street, or working nearby, is purified.
Please enjoy what I have sent. I can also make and send tapes of the five powerful mantras, such as Namgyalma, or whichever others you need, in order to help. Thank you very much for working for peace in the world and especially in the animal world.
Thank you very much!
Yours sincerely, and with my prayers to you.