Many animals cannot hear mantras, but all they have to do to liberate themselves is circumambulate a holy object, even without the motivation—that is all. Stupas and, specifically, the four Dharmakaya Relic mantras, have so many benefits. Just by seeing, hearing, touching, or thinking about any holy object that has the four Dharmakaya Relic mantras inside it, one can be liberated from all negative karma and suffering. This means that as we circumambulate with the insects, we are offering them the body of a happy transmigrator in their next life, and a happy rebirth. Not only that, but we are giving them the opportunity to practice Dharma in their next life, which is the most important thing: to have a better rebirth to be able to accomplish the path, eliminate defilements, and achieve enlightenment.
This is an incredible gift. It repays their kindness. They have been our mother numberless times, and because of their kindness we have been able to practice Dharma. As our mothers, they protected our lives from hardships and dangers every day, and bore so many hardships for us. These insects are the source of all our present happiness, as well as all our previous and future happiness, and all the realizations of the path up to enlightenment.
I asked for a stupa to be built at my house in California (Kachoe Dechen Ling) because we got a dog who was in danger of being put down. Our dog is called Om Mani Padme Hum. I thought that if we had a dog, then we needed a stupa so that the dog could circumambulate it every day. Now, there is an extremely beautiful stupa there, covered with tsa-tsas and filled with the four Dharmakaya Relic mantras. These mantras are the most powerful for purification and for collecting merit. Now that we have a stupa, we perform animal liberation practices several times a month, on the 8th, 15th and 30th of the Tibetan calendar and on all Wheel Turning days. We buy worms and insects, and circumambulate them around the stupa as many times as possible. We chant mantras and blow on water, which we then sprinkle on them. Then we liberate them: those from the water into water, those from the ground into the ground.
As there are many copies of the four Dharmakaya Relic mantras inside the stupa, just one circumambulation purifies the negative karma to be reincarnated in the eight hot hells. In each successive hell the suffering is heavier. With one circumambulation, all the heavy, negative karma is completely purified and the insects’ lives are directed toward enlightenment.
If you have a thousand insects and worms and you circumambulate them around the stupa three times, not only will you liberate them from the lower realms, but they will also create the cause for enlightenment. Those circumambulations become the cause of their enlightenment, for them to achieve liberation from samsara, and to have a good rebirth in their next life. Each time you circumambulate with them, you are giving all those thousands of insects and worms enlightenment, liberation, and a good rebirth. However many mantras and stupas are present, with each circumambulation you are giving the insects that many causes of enlightenment, liberation from samsara, and happiness in future lives. You are creating the cause for their purification and for them to collect merit. Along the way, you also create these things for yourself, no question.