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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Helping Animals in Buddhism

James: I have read some information on being able to help animals have a good rebirth. Such as whispering mantras in their ears and capturing insects and releasing them outside.

Other things we can do is to live a vegetarian lifestyle and not pursue harmful vocations such being a butcher. Or engaging in harmful activities such as hunting animals. As Buddhists we realize that animals have been our mothers, fathers, children, lovers, friend, etc. to us in past lives so hurting them is really like hurting ourselves.

Another thing we can do is to adopt an animal as a pet from the animals shelters and care for them with great compassion and love.

The following is a beautiful example of Buddhists protecting wildlife:

Wat Phai Lom is a Buddhist temple not far from Bangkok which welcomes thousands of visitors from afar every year. The visitors are birds, open-billed storks. When residing at Wat Phai Lom during autumn and winter months, their droppings white-wash trees and temple buildings.

The monks do not mind, and bird-lovers celebrate the sight. Open-billed storks would be extinct in Thailand but for the fact their last remaining breeding ground is within the sanctuary of this temple.

James: One of the things that we do here at our house as well is that we have Tibetan prayer flags hanging above our front window. They face the bird feeder and it is our hope that the birds (and squirrels) will see the waving flags and absorb the good karma to help them suffer less and maybe have a good rebirth.

What do you think of doing things like this for animals? Does it help them? Perhaps is helps us more then the animals but I think it has some positive effects on them.

-Peace to all beings-

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Buddhist_philosopher said...

Help them? Helps us? Sunyata. help is help :) sadhu.

gratefulbear said...

This is a great post, and I love the picture of the moose! This reminds me of an article I wrote a while back, called "Ministers in Fur" -- written from a Christian perspective, about how our relationship with animals is sacred. It's online at

buddhist_philosopher wrote: "Help them? Helps us?" It truly is a reciprocal relationship.

Johnny Newt said...

Hmm, Very interesting, I believe that kindness in any form cannot do harm. After reading this post a little inner voice asked Why would kindness to a tiny insect be good karma? hmmm... Why wouldn't it be?

"James" said...

Buddhist Phil:


Grateful Bear:

Thanks! I love Moose, they are such majestic animals. Also, thanks for the link to the article. I'll check it out.

Johnny Newt:

Yeah, exactly. It certainly does not hurt. I also think that any act of kindness can only help the karma of the giver and the givee.

pam said...

I understood that when any human helped or undertook the care of animals it elevated their lives and started them on the next higher path at their next rebirth.

The moose are beautiful. I also love the picture of the prayerflags. Where I am living I have not flown them for about a year and seeing that picture made me realize how much I have missed them. Seems I have had fewer birds also.

Zen Unbound said...

As I say, somewhere, at my website, I am crackers* for scrub jays.

My scrubby friends have distinct personalities and quite full, funny and dramatic lives.

I tend to think that if leading a good life is rewarded, we have hope of coming back as a jay.

I give my friends peanuts. They are crackers for peanuts, my wily pals.

* a Wallace and Gromit word

Amadeus said...

They (Tibetan prayer flags) face the bird feeder and it is our hope that the birds (and squirrels) will see the waving flags and absorb the good karma to help them suffer less and maybe have a good rebirth.

Great idea! I believe that with the encroachment of humans more and more on wilderness areas, it is important for us Humans to do as much as we can. I would like to borrow your idea as I have some prayer flags that I can hang on my patio.

As for whether it helps them or not, one can hope. I guess if we have Right Mindedness and Right Action regarding it, what harm can it do? I believe at the very least it can remind ourselves to be more conscience of our non-human friends around us.

Great post!


Lans said...

Condsidering that my wife and I live in a zoo of rescue animals, this post hits close to home. My wife had an incident just today where a small rattlesnake was roaming around with the neighbors horses. My wife captured him (I took pix) and then we released him somewhere more approprate. You would be amazed at the flack she caught on her horse board for not killing it. The feeling on her horse board was that they should all be killed. It amazes me how many animals we will kill just on general principals.

Metta y'all

xoxo ChLoE xoxo said...

it's really a nice article. very enlightening. a big sadhu to you. well done

"James" said...


I really find peace in my prayer flags. Everytime I look out the window and see them waving I breath deeply realizing how much love really is present in the world.


Jays are cool birds for sure and I too like Wallace and Gromet!


Great point!! And yes you may borrow my idea. :)


Yes, it amazes me too that so many people will just kill animals on general principle. It is this mentality that somehow we are superior and seperate from animals.


Thank-you very much.

I bow to the Buddha within you.

Nacho said...

James, thanks for those acts of kindness. I don't know if animals can read the flags, but I believe they can read your intent and attitude toward them. Here's a neat experiment: they might not be able to read (who knows), but they might very well be able to express themselves artistically. Order some blank peace flags from Westwind, and place them outside on some flat surface. Sprinkle some bird seed on them, and maybe some leaves, or something else, and see if after a couple of days we have a neat work of art! The leaf might leave an impression on the flag, maybe their tiny feet will also. That would be pretty cool. : )

All the best James, all acts of compassion are acts of compassion for all beings,


"James" said...


I love the art idea!! Thanx!!!

The Adventuress said...

I was impressed with your post, James. I sometimes call my cat "my little Buddha". He is very quiet and respectful during my meditation times, and other similar times, so I truly believe they know. I truly love animals and especially birds, and was impressed with your prayer flag idea!

andre said...

yes this is lovely, but i think being the vegetarian is not the certain think of being have a good rebirt in next life.
because if one be a veg. and then has a good rebirth, that a significant for cows and goats would have a good life in next rebirth.
i really disaggree with this.
holly things are not came from food or something you consume.

there are so many good people out there who are not vegetarian.
and "i believe in Karma what you did and what you get return" said Savage Garden in affirmation album.
and i aggree with this,
it is what you did, not what you eat.
likewise, it's the same think with once jesus said "'s not what you get into your mouth, but what is out from your mouth"
that's already answer the Heart of Buddhism actually.

and yes, indeed, sometimes when we think it is better to them it doesn't really means that it really good for them.
it's like our parents with their perception of bringing us up with their ok let's say "some superstitious" things. like you cannot do any "things" in some "certain times"(i mean it occur in Asia particularly)
and they think it is already a good deed to their children. but certainly, it is just blind perception. and much children really do not like this. (except the educational and reasonable things like our teachers in school teach us)

so may be it's so personal of idea on helping animals principles in Buddhism.
most people who learning Buddhism, will find some articles about this topic: helping animal.
but they just let the animal such as fish or bird that way without considering the circumstance or environment where they let those animals go.
this is really unresponsible things that Buddhists do.
and harmful to the animal. and the, i prefer to say "dilapidated minds or perception" that owned by much people that learn Buddhism, is they think they have done a noble think.
this is crazy! :)

yes i love animal, i love our human life, i love my life, and mostly i really put big respect on Lord (The Buddha).
this is a good tiding in Buddhism that write about noble thinks of helping animals. but most people just do any harmful without thinking any consequencies that those animal get later.
this is so pity.


Blow'n in the wind said...

I think the help we can provide is only going to come through increased awareness of our Selves.

The animals are doing fine, why distract oneself away from the real issue, and cause of suffering, thinking ourselves to be separate from each other or any creature?

"James" said...

Blow'n in the Wind:

I think that helping animals is indeed focusing on our Selves as animals are exactly not different then ourselves. So helping animals is like helping ourselves.

Often society does NOT see animals as ourselves and therefore cause them great harm and suffering. Which in turn has caused humans great suffering because everything is so interconnected.

"James" said...


I think I agree with most of what you are saying. However, I do believe that eating is doing therefore not eating animal flesh is helpful to ourselves as well as animals.

Of course there are good non-veggies, however, I believe that vegetarianism creates less suffering for all beings and less suffering is one of the basic tenets of Buddhism.

Also, I agree with you that the people who release animals in harmful environments are causing more suffering despite their good intentions.

"James" said...

The Adventuress:

I have always thought cats are very aware of spiritual energy. It made me smile to hear that your cat is so relaxed while you meditate. I am glad that I was an inspiration with the prayer flag idea!!

A lotus to you.

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