Saving Animals – Life Release – Tsethar
“Saving the lives of animals is a greatly meritorious practice. When we save a life, we expand our own lives.” So teaches Venerable Bhante Nanda Sadhu. Compassion for all beings and nonviolence are central to our practice and very important for our rebirth.
For centuries, Buddhists, Jains, and Hindus have had a tradition of purchasing an animal who is destined to be slaughtered and setting that animal free. Today, in the age of factory farms, high-speed “kill lines” in slaughterhouses, and many other modern cruelties, the practice of saving animals’ lives– especially those of farm animals– is more important than ever. However, as the times have changed, we have to modernize our approach to saving animals’ lives.
Sanctuaries versus Setting Free
These days, we cannot set an animal free. That animal will simply be caught by someone else and is likely to be harmed. And even if they are not caught and harmed by a human, today’s farm animals cannot survive in the wild. Once we save a life, we are responsible for seeing that the animal is cared for for the rest of the animal’s natural life. Therefore, we must ensure that the animal is cared for by a reputable, accredited sanctuary. Many sanctuaries are not accredited, and some are not able to provide as high-quality care for the animals as others. So, it is safest to find an accredited sanctuary to care for the animals.
Acquiring Animals without Purchase
We can no longer exchange money for the life of an animal, as we once did. This is because, in today’s modern economy, purchasing something creates demand for that thing. The natural response of farmers in this system is to increase supply. So for example, if we try to purchase one cow to save that cow from slaughter, that farmer will use those profits to purchase two more cows to raise for slaughter. In this way, purchasing an animal has the unintended consequence of increasing suffering. In fact, a few years ago in the midwest, seven cows escaped from a slaughterhouse. Many compassionate people came forward to buy the animals in order to spare their lives. Sadly, the slaughterhouse owner used this as an opportunity, creating a bidding war between would-be rescuers, and gaining a huge profit in the end. That profit was enough to purchase three times as many cows, which the slaughterhouse promptly killed. The money could have been used to save 21 cows, but instead, these well-intentioned would-be rescuers financed the slaughter of 21 cows while saving only seven.
Reputable sanctuaries have long waiting lists of animals that have escaped from slaughterhouses, live markets, and factory farms, have been seized by police in cruelty or hoarding cases, have fallen off of transport trucks on the way to slaughter, etcetera. The vast majority of these animals cannot be saved because they do not have financial sponsorship. Sanctuaries cannot save and care for animals without proper support from compassionate people. This provides us with an opportunity to gain merits through saving lives while supporting sanctuaries instead of financing suffering.
The Best Way to Save an Animal
Long Island Buddhist Meditation Center has a partnership with Indraloka Animal Sanctuary, based near Scranton, PA. Indraloka Sanctuary is accredited by both the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the American Sanctuary Association, and they have attained Guidestar’s coveted Platinum Seal for their dedication to financial integrity and transparency.
When you wish to save an animal’s life, you can contact a reputable, accredited sanctuary like Indraloka and let them know. To contact Indraloka, you can email the founder email@example.com or you can call their main office (570) 763-2908 and ask for Indra. Indra and her team will tell you all about the animals who need sponsors, and you can choose one to support on a monthly basis. Indraloka will send you a photo and updates on that animal. We encourage you to visit your sponsored animal and to include the animal in your prayers on a regular basis. By sponsoring that animal’s life, you are gaining many merits, and expanding your own life. You are encouraged to sponsor an animal in the name of a departed loved one in order to share merits with your ancestors.
You do not need a lot of money to save an animal’s life through sponsorship. What is important is that you give generously from your heart, with a compassionate dedication to saving that life. Indraloka will work with you to save the life of an animal on any budget.
Right Diet: Vegetarianism and Veganism
We can save many, many lives by simply changing our diets. Did you know that the average vegetarian saves 50 lives per year, simply by leaving animals (including fish) off of their plate? And when we give up dairy and eggs as well as meat, eating a vegan diet, we each save 100 lives per year! Why harm animals and impact our karma negatively when we can instead save them (by not eating them) and gain merits?
It is not as difficult to give up meat, eggs, or dairy as you might think, and by doing so you can improve your own health, save many lives, and protect the environment, Here are some resources to help you consider changing your diet as a way of saving lives: