Happiness of Liberating Lives

by Douglas Liu (4th Grade)

I was born in a Buddhist religious family and adopted a vegetarian diet even before I was born. When I was about one month old, my dad held me in his arms to take refuge for me. I often go to the Avatamsaka Vihara with my family on Sundays. I also study in the temple’s Sunday school, and I get reward of perfect attendance every year. Venerable Master Hua was the founder of the temple. His teaching of Buddha dharma guides us not to kill but instead cherish lives. From my understanding, being vegetarian is one of the practices for no killing. In addition, each year we have three times of life liberation in Avatamsaka Vihara from late spring to late summer.

Venerable Master Hua wanted all people who took refuge with him to follow the Six Great Principles: no fighting, not being greedy, no seeking, not being selfish, no pursuing personal advantage, and no lying. I try to think how the Six Great Principles relate to life liberation. No fighting is related to no killing so we don’t kill. Not being greedy helps us to eat vegetables and grains so that we don’t kill animals to satisfy our own tasting buds. No seeking free us from worries so that we don’t get addicted to fame or profit and we can gain true happiness. Not being selfish and no pursuing personal advantages both help us to get rid of our bad ego and to benefit others. For example, we free fish rather than think about how delicious they are. No lying helps us to speak frankly and straightforwardly and to only tell and follow the truth so that we become a reliable resource and nobody will cheat us. If we follow these six principals, in the future, we can become a bodhisattva.

All living creatures want to be free and not to be captured, human beings and animals alike. However, we humans do not understand animals’ feelings. We keep them in cages and don’t let them roam free, or even kill them. For example: chickens are kept in tight cages for their eggs primarily and later killed for their meat; cows are collected for their milk first and slaughtered for their meat when they cannot supply milk anymore; fishes are killed to satisfy people’s appetites that only last a few seconds before they get swallowed down.

Instead of eating fish, in our temple we release them into the river. When the fish are happy, we are happy because we are all connected. When we release fish we often buy a lot, about three thousand fishes. First we transport them to the Potomac riverside by truck. People all carpool to follow. After arrival, we get in lines and pass the buckets of fish down to the river bank. Taking off my shoes and socks, I go into the water in order to pour the fish into the water. I feel very happy when I watch fish swim away freely and happily. Occasionally some western people stop by to watch us. Once we explain the purpose of liberating fish, most of western people admire and say, ‘‘How nice!’’ Sometimes, policemen come to verify our permit for life liberation. They also seem to be very friendly and happy and allow us to perform our liberation activities.

When we release fishes, we are happy because they are free. It also helps us to become much more compassionate. Liberating lives brings peace and harmony to the universe. According to Venerable Master Hua’s teaching, liberating lives reduces illness and increase our life span. I hope every animal is treated as human beings and can be released from all cages so everybody can be happy. Let’s liberate lives and make this world a better place to live in for everybody.


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