Animal Rights : A History: Buddhism
This page is part of the section: Animal Rights: A History
Even as a mother
protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish
all living beings.
What do the teachings of Buddhism say about animal rights?
In Buddhism the highest and universal ideal is to continually work for a permanent end to the suffering of all creatures, not just the human animal, but all animals, all living beings without exception.
The inception of Buddhism occurred between the 6th and 7th century BC and its founding is attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, more generally known as the Buddha, which means the awakened one. Buddhism is both a religion and a philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices. Recognised by adherents as an awakened teacher Buddha shared insights to end all suffering for all sentient beings, achieve nirvana and escape what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth.
In Buddhism there are five precepts, codes of moral conduct, the first of which is an injunction against destroying life. Buddha laid great emphasis on the fact that the restriction on casing harm applied not only to human beings but to all creatures all "living beings."
Here is Buddha's response on an occasion when he came across a flock of sheep being driven towards the city of Rajagaha to be sacrificed.
Among the sheep a lamb was injured and Buddha feeling compassion for the poor creature picked him up, followed the shepherds into the city and prevented the sacrifice from taking place by asking King Bimbisara to stop animal sacrifices saying:
"All beings tremble before danger, all fear death. When a man considers this, he does not kill or cause to kill.
All beings fear before danger, life is dear to all. When a man considers this, he does not kill or cause to kill."
Because not killing or harming any living being is so important, Buddha inDhammapada repeatedly asks us not to do either:
"All living things fear being beaten with clubs.
All living things fear being put to death.
Putting oneself in the place of the other,
Let no one kill nor cause another to kill."
Dhammapada verse no. 129
"He who does violence to creatures seeking happiness like himself does not find happiness after death. He who does no violence to creatures seeking happiness like himself does find happiness after death"
Dhammapada 131, 132.
"The wise who hurt no living being, and who keep their body under self-control, they go to the immortal Nirvana, where once gone they sorrow no more."
Dhammapada Verse 225
"He who destroys life, who utters lies, who takes what is not given to him, who goes to the wife of another, who gets drunk with strong drinks -- he digs up the very roots of his life."
Read more in depth information in this website about Buddhist ideology concerning the treatment of animals:
Why Animals Matter:Buddhism
Why Animals Matter :Buddhist Quotations
Photograph: Happy New Year, February 14th, 2010, Year of the Tiger, Buddha, Wind Horse, Prayer Flags, Tibet by Flickr user Beverly & Pack
Original image and licensing details
Important please note:
I am not an animal expert of any kind just your average person who loves animals, all animals, and feels deeply about the plight of many of our fellow creatures. Neither am I a writer, or any other expert. Therefore please keep in mind that the information included in this website has been researched to the best of my ability and any misinformation is quite by accident but of course possible.
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