Buddhism and animals

Buddhism and animals

Buddhism is the most animal-friendly religion on this planet. Buddha also put much emphasis on environment. However, kindness compassion and concepts such as reincarnation demands Buddhists to treat animals with love and care.

For an example, Christians for Christmas and Muslims for Ramazan & Haj prepare many dishes made out of meat. Certain denominations of Christians and most Muslims make it a habit to kill or sacrifice animals for food.  In Hindus traditions there are various rituals that demands animal sacrifices. Countries like India, Nepal & Sri Lanka are places where such traditions exist. These mass slaughters of animals in the name of sacrifices are very disturbing.

When it comes to Buddhists, the most important ceremony in their routine is the Wesak Full Moon Poya day. This day is considered a holly day as Buddhists and they refrain from killing any animal in the name of the Wesak Ceremony. Instead seeking good deeds they carry our various charity works that often include releasing of animals from slaughterhouses. It is therefore very clear that Buddhists are unique in terms of their love towards animals. Let’s see how Buddhists put emphasis on treating animals with respect.

The positive

Buddhism requires us to treat animals kindly:

  • Buddhists try to do no harm (or as little harm as possible) to animals
  • Buddhists try to show loving-kindness to all beings, including animals
  • The doctrine of right livelihood teaches Buddhists to avoid any work connected with the killing of animals
  • The doctrine of karma teaches that any wrong behaviour will have to be paid for in a future life – so cruel acts to animals should be avoided
  • Buddhists treat the lives of human and non-human animals with equal respect

Buddhists see human and non-human animals as closely related:

  • both have Buddha-nature
  • both have the possibility of becoming perfectly enlightened
  • a soul may be reborn either in a human body or in the body of a non-human animal

Buddhists believe that is wrong to hurt or kill animals, because all beings are afraid of injury and death:

 

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 129