With regard to karma, it is said that of all negative ones,
killing other beings is the worst; and of all positive ones,
saving life is the best.
So some days ago, a grand life saving operation took place
in Guangzhou in which one million delicious seafood-would-be
creatures were set free to the sea. Among the lucky million,
there were 23 giant sea turtles with the oldest reportedly
Life Releasing (放生) undertaking, coupled with vegetarian
diet, has a long history in China. In 511 AD, Emperor Liang
Wudi (梁武帝), after reading Lankavatara Sutra (《楞伽经》)
that made him realise Buddha
nature is in every being and thus all forms of life are
of equal value, wrote Let’s Abstain from Alcohol
and Meat (《断酒肉文》), urging his people to abandon animal
sacrifice and the monks to stick to vegetable
dishes, and that practically started an unique tradition
of Han Chinese vegetarian
Buddhism. During his reign, from time to time a large
number of horned,
winged, furred and finned folks were saved from the butcher‘s
knife, and released to the sky the land or rivers, which
is considered as the beginning of the Life Releasing custom.
Before long, the practices became integral parts of the Buddhist
life in China, and the tells of the miraculous effects derived
from these exercises made entry into various historical documents.
Not everyone endorse the practices though. Some oppose the
ideas on the ground that we shall observe the natural order,
and others argue from the perspective of helping the animals
in their karmic debts repayment.
Yet the supporters dispute against these notions by reciting Surangama
Sutra (《楞严经》), in which the Buddha denounces the act
of killing other sentient beings, for it not just causing sufferings
on the slaughtered, generating unhappy karmas for the
slaughters, but planting negative seeds in the consciousness
of the perpetrators which would see them stuck deeper in
the karmic loop. Therefore, as the Life Releasing participants
believe, what have been released are not just those trapped
animals, but their own trapped hearts.
Thus we heard Chinese monk Xuanhua (宣化上人) once said: “Your
world is the reflection of your heart; you are what you want
Thus we hear Chinese monk Jiqun (济群法师) keep saying: “What
we once pursue will be what we repeatedly chase; and what
we keep chasing will be what we eventually attain.”
And thus we venture to anticipate that the Life Releasing
practice would continue, and would even become more popular.
And why wouldn’t it?
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