Friday, October 22, 2004

Eating meat

For those of us who don't feed our companion animals a vegetarian diet we can say this mantra over the food we feed them before we give it to them. Hopefully it'll help everyone involved!

om ahbirakay tsara hung

Recite this seven times over the meat to stop the fault of eating meat and to help the sentient beings whose flesh it was to be reborn in a happy realm.

Monday, October 11, 2004

What Christians and Buddhists should think and do about killing/liberating/saving sentient beings who aren't human

So another aim of this blog is to disseminate information that I've found elsewhere/log the crap that I've found so that I don't lose it. My mind is going - figuratively and literally, so I need to put this somewhere.

This is from "Meditate to Liberate - Buddhism and Animal Liberation" - it's a British organization, and the stuff they say is pretty good.

Their section on religion and animals is good because it covers some really basic ideas about God & Buddha very simply:

(Buddhist Idea)Duty to help animals
The bodhisattva vows chanted by many Mahayana Buddhists include the following: "Innumerable are sentient beings: we vow to save them all."
Therefore, just as it is wrong to kill or otherwise bring suffering upon a human being, it is also wrong to kill or bring suffering upon an animal. Furthermore, we cannot stand by when suffering is being inflicted: "Disciples of the Buddha, you should willingly and with compassion carry out the work of setting sentient beings free… Should you see a worldly person intent on killing an animal, attempt by appropriate means to rescue or protect it and to free it from its misery." (Brahmajala Sutra)

(Christian idea) A Gospel for Every Creature - Professor Andrew Linzey
I have been an advocate for the cause of animals for over twenty-five years. At first I did not believe that cruelty to animals, however important in itself, could ever become a big issue for Christians. An important but secondary matter, I once thought. Not now. In terms of pain, suffering and death, what we do to millions of animals constitutes, I believe, one of the major moral issues of all time.
Moreover, I now see that it goes to the heart of the gospel that Christians profess. This is a gospel of the invincible, unconquerable love of God - not just for human beings but for all creatures. The God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, and especially of Jesus, loves all creatures. Christians have to find a new heart - a big enough heart to be open to two great gospel truths.

The first is that animals are God's creatures: not human property, nor utilities, nor resources, nor commodities, but precious beings in God's sight. The second is the Christ-like suffering of animals. "Think then, my brethren", preached John Henry Newman at Oxford in 1842, "of your feelings at cruelty practised on brute animals, and you will gain one sort of feeling which the history of Christ's Cross and Passion ought to excite within you." Christians whose eyes are fixed on the awfulness of crucifixion are in a special position to understand the awfulness of innocent suffering. The Cross of Christ is God's absolute identification with the weak, the powerless and the vulnerable, but most of all with unprotected, undefended, innocent suffering.

I have spoken of how sensitivity to suffering should be a matter of obedience to the gospel. But, in truth, it is among Christians today that one will find the greatest betrayal of this gospel. In Spain not one Roman Catholic authority can be found which opposes bull-fighting. In Canada, Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops support seal hunting and fur trapping. In Norway clergy defend whaling. In Ireland, Roman Catholic priests go hare coursing. And in England the General Synod of the Church of England will not oppose hunting for sport on church-owned land. This betrayal has a long and unflattering history. From the ninth to the nineteenth century, thousands of animals were subject to criminal prosecution and sentenced to capital punishment by ecclesiastical courts, resulting in barbarous cruelty. As late as the middle of the nineteenth century, Pope Pius IX forbade the opening of an animal protection office in Rome on the grounds that animals have no intrinsic worth, and the idea that what we do to them need not be governed by fundamental moral considerations has become standard theology in Catholic countries.

A God who remains passionless in the face of innocent suffering simply cannot be the Christian God. No theology which desensitises us to suffering can be truly Christian theology.

It cannot be stressed enough that the picture of God exclusively concerned with human salvation and indifferent to the suffering of the non-human creation has become a source of moral despair. If Christians today care so little for animals, it is because the God they seem to believe in cares even less. For myself, I believe that if God is good and just and holy, it must follow that there will be redemption for each and every creature that suffers. Nothing less than that would make God a truly just God.

That's just super.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Refuge Ceremony For Dogs

Annie was a little poodle I brought home Christmas day 2003 Posted by Hello

Annie was dumped in a parking lot the Saturday before Christmas. It turned out she had a brain tumour and there was nothing I could do to save her and she was dying. It was one of the worst experiences of my life - I couldn't help but get seriously attached to her. But before she died I gave her refuge and called her "Prajna".

I can't remember now where I adapted it from, so if you recognize it, please let me know... but I think it's from somewhere that had something about ceremonies for liberating animals.

I sat Annie in front of me on my zabuton in front of my lit shrine and chanted the whole thing aloud - I wrote it in the context that she was in the process of dying (she died the next day) but it can be changed so that it can be given at any point in a dogs life I'd imagine.

At the end is my particular sect's Homage that is said at the end of all ceremonies - I love it.

Refuge Ceremony for Dogs

Homage to the Lord of Great Graciousness and Teaching, the Great Master Shakyamuni Buddha, Who from His great benevolence and great compassion has pity for all sentient beings.

Looking up in respect to the Lord of Great Graciousness and Teaching, Great Master Shakyamuni Buddha, I pray that his realization of the light of benevolence and compassion may guard and protect, care for and keep us. You are going to die soon, so in accordance with the Universal and Far-reaching Scriptures of Mahayana, I confer upon you the Three Refuges. It should proclaim the twelve links in the chain of dependent origination but, because as an animal you’ve been ignorant and unenlightened and, due to your creation of heavy karma, have received its retribution, your six senses are dull and deluded and have been unable to comprehend the profound Teachings of these Universal and Far-reaching Scriptures. I respectfully ask that the wondrous spiritual powers, awesome virtues, and profound unseen aid of the Three Treasures through Their compassion and pity open up the heart and liberate the mind of your wonderful sentient being so that you will be able to respond swiftly to the profoundly marvellous Dharma and thereby alter your karmic retribution and receive a rebirth that will help attain speedy liberation.

Explain the Three Refuges as follows:
O you sentient being, from beginningless time you have failed to hear of the Three Treasures and have not understood how to take refuge. For that reason you turn upon samsara's wheel of transmigration as it spins out existences in the three realms of sense desire, form, and beyond form. You have now fallen into the body of an animal which your past lives have earned you. For your sake we have now informed the Three Treasures of your piteous state and pray that you endeavour to protect Them and keep yourself ever mindful of Them. Open up the hearts of your companions and free their minds.

I will now bestow upon you the extremely profound and wondrous Dharma of the One Body which is the Three Treasures. The Three Treasures are called Buddha which signifies `realization', Dharma which signifies `the Teaching' and Sangha which signifies `the harmony of those united in their spiritual one-mindedness'. These Three are the One; this One is the Three. They do not form a hierarchy nor are They equally ranked nor are They lined up in a sequence nor are They separate and distinct from each other. We call That which goes beyond the grasp of the discriminatory mind the Treasure House of Profound Wisdom. Whatever in the world and in that which transcends the world is supreme and most valued is called a treasure. When Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha are considered to be Treasures, all things will never fail to take refuge in Them. This is why we call Them the Three Treasures. Although the underlying Principle may extend far and wide, nevertheless when It is your pure Original Nature, It returns and is never far from you. You should have the deepest faith and trust in this Principle and take refuge in It. Homage to those who take refuge in the Buddha.

Next, give the Three Refuges, repeating them three times:

I take refuge in the Buddha,
I take refuge in the Dharma,
I take refuge in the Sangha.

Then continue as follows:
From now henceforth, call upon the Buddha and make Him your teacher; do not take refuge in the pathways of Mara. Thus we pray

Offer incense and then recite the following:

And because you are now a Buddhist dog, your new name is –

You who are a sentient being related to land, because your hindrances from beginningless karma are very grave, be mindful that you have fallen into an animal existence. Accordingly, for your own sake, turn now and be face to face with the Three Treasures, lay bare all your mistakes and, with an imploring heart, repent your mistakes. I pray that the karma from your defilements will be eradicated in an instant so that you can then be reborn in a heaven where, being close to a Buddha, you may receive your prediction of Buddhahood. As someone of land now and in the past, repent your mistakes with utmost heart and mind. Since beginningless time you have not awakened to your Original Nature and have turned upon the wheel of birth and death within various states of existence. Now, having encountered these teachings of the Mahayana Dharma, we pray that you will now repent your defilements, however boundless and heavy they are, as though you saw what the Buddha, the World-honoured One, sees and as though you knew what He knows. We pray that you bring your defilements to an end. We pray that you bring your defilements to an end.

Next, recite the following concluding prayer :
From the beginning there is neither birth nor death. Because of the accumulation of bad karma you received the body of an animal; Discard this karmic body quickly and enter the world of purity. Desire the pure crown of Enlightenment and realize the mind of a Buddha quickly. At this ceremony we have heard this Dharma once again. As your heart awakens to the Unborn, you, equally and without the slightest difference, will personally receive the Buddha's prediction of Buddhahood just as the Blazing Lord of Awesome Virtue did. I earnestly wish this as I ordain you, the disciple [name of the animal].

By this merit may all attain omniscience
May it defeat the enemy, wrongdoing
from the stormy waves of birth old age sickness and death,
From the ocean of samsara, may I free all beings.
By the confidence of the golden sun of the great east,
May the lotus garden of the Rigden’s wisdom bloom.
May the dark ignorance of sentient beings be dispelled.
May all beings enjoy profound brilliant glory.

Beginnings and Stupas in Dog Parks

Well I figure I better shit or get off the pot with this thing. My idea is that our canine life companions - or at least my dogs - are part of every aspect of my life - and my spiritual life has also worked its way into every corner of my being.

I can't be the only person in the universe who's like that - so I wanted to make a space where information and ideas could be accumulated about how to help us and help our dogs.

It all started because I was looking for information on a "Buddhist funeral for animals" and I couldn't find anything anywhere - just snippets of things. It was tantalizing - there was one out there but I couldn't find the whole thing. It was like some terma that I wasn't ready for or something. I still haven't found it. But I've found a ton of other stuff. Which I'm going to post here.

I've also got a bunch of ideas - like dog parks that have stupas in the middle of them - the major dog park in my city is basically just a field that has a path that is a circle that people walk around - what if you put a stupa in the middle of it? So you could circumnabulate it? Acculumulate good karma while exercising your dogs at the same time?

Okay - I've got to go feed the dogs now...