Wildlife and Animals
Venerable Master Hsuan Hua:
All the creatures here at the City are speaking the Dharma. Black crows caw and white cranes call, each with its own sound. Black crows and white cranes—isn’t that a matched couplet? Then there are the blue jays, who are the thieves of the group. They’re real bullies. Wherever there is something to eat, they just glare so no other birds dare make the first move. They all have to wait until the blue jays make off with the best of the food and only then are they allowed to pick over the remains. This is speaking the dharma of the “survival of the fittest”—those that are weak are eaten by the powerful ones. Is that taking life? Yes, they are speaking the dharma of taking life. The deer speak the dharma of deer, the rabbits speak the dharma of rabbits, the foxes speak the dharma of foxes…
Living on a high mountain peak,
I seek the true mind through bitter practices.
Daily, I sweep away the deer’s tracks,
So that, come morning, hunters will not find them.
________________ —Táng poet Lu Pu Wang
…The question is not,
Can they reason?
nor Can they talk?
but, Can they suffer?
Venerable Master Hsuan Hua:
The Dharma Realm of Animals
Eager animals feed on greed,
Never sated by a lot.
They take what's black as white
And can't distinguish wrong from right.
Universal Worthy Bodhisattva’s Verse of Exhortation says,
This day has passed, and our lives decrease accordingly.
We are like fish in an evaporating pond, what joy is there in this?
Great Assembly! Be diligent and vigorous,
As if saving your very heads.
Be ever mindful of impermanence,
And make sure not to be lax!
Cherishing Life, Volume Two:
Even when you brush your teeth and rinse your mouth,
Be sure to not throw the water on ants and bugs, or they’ll drown.
This helps you grow in great compassion,
And brings joy to your every action.
Cherishing Life, Volume One:
Your Own Choice
To set down your foot and squash it flat is so easy.
To step aside and leave it in peace is also very easy.
All men, birds, and beasts,
In the beginning are much the same,
Although we have different names,
Each has his own share of joy and pain...
Until he extends his circle of compassion to all living things, man himself will not find peace.
Meat-eating cuts off the seeds of great compassion.
I have extended my pacifism to include non-harming of creatures
as well as non-harming of human beings.
Therefore for many years I have not eaten flesh—not meat, fowl, or fish.
I refuse to eat animals because I cannot nourish myself
by the sufferings and by the death of other creatures.
Kindness is universal. It is a most precious part of existence
and by choosing to exercise it or not, we make life
heaven or hell for ourselves and our fellow creatures.
The people of God in the Old Testament times offered animals
for their sins—lambs, goats, bulls, and pigeons.
Jesus offered himself as a perfect, final sacrifice so that
the animal sacrifices would not have to be repeated.
Verse of Dedication
May those born from wombs, from eggs,
from moisture, or by transformation,
Who for aeons have sunk in confusion,
Bring forth the Bodhi resolve,
Take refuge with the Three Jewels,
And avoid capture in cages or nets.
May they be free on land, in the seas or in the sky,
And follow the Buddha to be reborn
in the Heaven of the Thirty-three.