Compassion for the Animals

Compassion for the Animals

Date of Advice:
July 2017
Date Posted:
August 2023

A student wrote that she lived on a farm where she tried to protect the animals and treat them with respect and love. She had abandoned butchering animals but sometimes found it necessary to kill small animals, such as intestinal worms, to save the lives of the larger animals. She also requested Rinpoche to be her guru.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche blessing horses at Ippoasi, an animal sanctuary in Pisa, Italy, June 2014. Photo: Ven. Roger Kunsang.

My most dear, most kind, most precious. wish-fulfilling one,
Thank you very much for your kind letter. I’m very sorry, but I’m not a qualified teacher, as you think. I will check your questions, what is beneficial, so you try and I try.

You can do the practice of Medicine Buddha sadhana daily. It is very good doing the Medicine Buddha practice for the success of all our wishes for happiness, and also to help the sentient beings and to actualize the teachings of Buddha, and particularly to be able to benefit sentient beings, to free them from suffering and for them to achieve all the happiness up to enlightenment. It is so good to do this practice every day.

Practice lamrim with bodhicitta motivation. Even the training at the very beginning, correctly following the virtuous friend, should always begin with bodhicitta. Every lamrim meditation should be done with bodhicitta. Also living the life—eating, talking, sitting, doing our job—do it all with bodhicitta, as much as possible. There is a book about that called Bodhisattva Attitude, so if you can, read that.

However, not only in meditation, even living the life, doing the work, we should do everything with bodhicitta. That way all the actions of our body, speech and mind as much as possible become the cause of enlightenment. Our actions become most beneficial for every sentient being, for the numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, so that means numberless ants, not only in this universe but in numberless universes, for numberless chickens, goats, buffalos that people eat, numberless pigs, numberless slugs, numberless mosquitos, so every tiny insect, like that.

So for every sentient being—those living in the ocean, large like a mountain and the smallest that we can only see with microscope, all the worms living in the ground, every single insect, those living in the grass, on the trees, all the birds in the sky and so forth, numberless human beings in numberless universes, numberless suras, numberless asuras and numberless intermediate state beings—for the happiness of everyone. For them to be free from samsara, free from the oceans of sufferings and for them to achieve happiness, especially enlightenment.

Thank you very much.

Every day, if you can, try reciting OM MANI PADME HUM three thousand times. I would like to send you a mala if you can email back your postal address. Reciting OM MANI PADME HUM is incredibly good and it is a quick way to purify. It is an extremely powerful way to purify defilements and negative karma, the cause of the lower realms. It is so powerful for collecting extensive merits and even if we recite the mantra without bodhicitta we collect merits.

Reciting OM MANI PADME HUM even without bodhicitta, the benefit is more than the drops of water in the ocean, more than the number of sand grains in the Pacific Ocean, more the drops of rain that come when it rains. So, like that, there are unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable benefits.

If we recite OM MANI PADME HUM with bodhicitta even one time, we collect more than skies of merit. It is a quick way to be born in a pure land and it is a quick way to generate compassion for all sentient beings. This is the particular benefit, so that means it’s quicker to achieve enlightenment—the total cessation of obscurations and completion of realizations—buddhahood. It’s really fantastic.

I am hoping to produce a book soon with different prayers to Chenrezig so that students can use a different prayer each day when reciting OM MANI PADME HUM.

So, this is your main practice.

A zillion, trillion, numberless thanks from my heart for not butchering the animals. We can understand [their suffering] well if we put ourselves in the same situation as the animals being taken to be butchered, how we would feel. So we can understand from that situation, without thinking about the sufferings of the lower realms, what we are creating the cause to experience. [We can understand] the constant endless sufferings in samsara by thinking of the suffering of even that one animal.

I am sending you some Namgyalma mantras and you can also print out more. You can put them in your rooms and in the animals’ place, where they sleep or spend time. You can stick the mantra to the ceiling inside the room, with the mantra facing down toward the animals, so then the animals’ negative karma always gets purified and when they die they never get reborn in the lower realms.

I’m so happy that at least you have some feeling of compassion for the intestinal worms, because they are sentient beings living in the body of the other animals. There are some students and some very old friends who did not think well, so they keep pets and then feed their pets worms and live animals, such as mice, crickets, etc. They have attachment to the pets and no compassion at all for the insects that they are feeding to their pets. All the time they are feeding insects to the pets, even living insects, things like that, so they are always creating so much negative karma, so much negative karma, and also causing so much suffering for the other beings. The compassion that you have, the feeling of compassion for those intestinal worms and all the animals, I appreciate so much that you have compassion for them. Thank you very much.

What you have already done, giving medicine that killed the worms, I’m not giving particular advice to kill them, but you must do constant prayers for them. So recite the King of Prayers for them; for them to be like what the prayer says, for them to be like that. So every day if you can, recite that prayer in the evening time before going to bed or whenever it’s a suitable time for you. That’s very good, even by the way, for you to be born in the pure land. Of course it has that benefit, but here I am saying the main benefit is for others.

Thank you very much.

With much love and prayers ...