•      设为首页     联系我们
  • [美]释瑞法:从盲目放生到慈悲护生

     

      放生是大乘佛教众生平等,爱护一切众生的菩薩行。行者看到被杀的畜生类众生出钱买下来把它们放回大自然, 使牠们恢复生命而免于被杀的痛苦。这本身是大乘行者自利利他,积聚福德资粮,实行菩萨慈悲精神的一种修行,得到历代高僧大德所推崇和提倡,广大信众所奉行。这在农耕社会贸易不发达时代,被放生动物从本地被捕捉,在本地出售,行者买来放回本地的自然环境里,对动物本身没有伤害,对当地的生态环境不会有破坏,这是积功累德的善行,值得提倡的菩薩修行。

      但是,在当今世界,特别是在近二十多年来,由于世界贸易的飞速发展,动物也变成世界贸易的物品,在世界的任何一个地方可以买到任何一种动物,放生也因此逐步形成一种贸易。而且,因为规模过大,定时定量,以及对被放动物的生存环境不了解。所以使放生变成,伤害被放生命,破坏生态环境,甚至扰乱平民的没有功德且有过失的行为。引起环保部门、动物保护单位、媒体、及教外人士的关注与投诉。

      有鉴于此,本文想从探讨放生的起源,放生的现状,及从盲目放生到理性放生(护生)来呼吁各地有关部门制定有关法规,使慈悲的放生既有智慧的引导又合符科学理性。

      放生的起源

      佛教放生一词出于中国佛教大乘经典,放生的活动乃基于佛弟子“众生平等”的慈悲精神,以及生死轮回的因果观念。所依经典有《梵网菩萨戒经》,《金光明经》,《法华经》《楞伽经》等。从戒杀,不吃众生肉,到行放生业等都能从这些经典里找到根据。

      如《梵网菩萨戒经》十重戒的杀戒第一:“若佛子,若自杀,教人杀,方便杀,赞叹杀,见作随喜,乃至咒杀, 杀因,杀缘,杀法,杀业。乃至一切有命者不得故杀。是菩萨应起常住慈悲心,孝顺心,方便救护一切众生。而反自恣心快意杀生者,是菩萨波罗夷罪”。

      四十八輕戒第三的不吃众生肉戒:“若佛子,故食肉,一切众生肉不得食,夫食肉者断大慈悲佛性种子,一切众生见而舍去,是故一切菩萨不得食一切众生肉,食肉得无量罪,若故食者,犯輕垢罪”。

      还有四十八輕戒第二十的不行放救戒:“若佛子,以慈心故,行放生业。一切男子是我父,一切女人是我母,我生生无不从之受生。故六道众生,皆是我父母,而杀而食者,即杀我父母,亦杀我故身。一切地水是我先身,一切火风是我本体。故常行放生,生生受生,常住之法,教人放生。若见世人杀畜生时,应方便救护,解其苦难。。。。若不尔者犯輕垢罪”。

      这部《梵网菩萨戒经》从不杀生,不吃众生肉,到放救众生,都是受大乘菩萨戒者所要行持的。

      再加上诸经赞叹放生的功德,如《金光明经-流水长者品》叙述流水长者救鱼的故事,经中记载:“在天自在光王国,有一长者名 流水长者子,是一位医术精湛的大医王,他治好了这个国家所有人民的疾病后,带着俩个儿子去遊方。路上看到一群群的飞禽野兽朝着一个方向奔走而去,长者子感到奇怪,就跟着这些禽兽去看到底发生了什么事,后来看到了一个大水池数以万计的鱼因水干枯而遭到众兽競想逐食,濒临死亡。为了赈救这些鱼,长者子于是想,我为这个国家治好了所有人民的疾病,去求国王想办法救鱼,应该可得国王的帮助,于是去见国王叙说救鱼之事。国王答应借出二十头大象和好多的储水皮囊,他们以最快的速度运水来救鱼,池中的鱼因而得救。之后,长者子于水池四周漫步遊行,这些被救的鱼亦跟着长者子循岸而行。长者子认为这些鱼为饥火所恼而向他求索饮食,于是便对身边的俩个儿子说,你们赶快找一头力气最大的大象快速到家里搬运食物来给鱼吃。这时俩个儿子依父所教,找乘大象回到家中,把家中可食之物全部搬来,分给众鱼吃。鱼吃饱喝足后,长者子又为众鱼说十二因缘法,众鱼闻法后,不久即同日命终而上生忉利天”。

      又如《杂宝藏经》卷四说:“昔者,有一罗汉道人,畜一沙弥,知沙弥却后七日,必当命终,与假回家,至七日头,敇速还来。沙弥辞师,即便归去,于其道中,见众蚁子,随水漂流,命将欲绝,生慈悲心,自脱袈裟,盛土堰水,而取蚁子,置高燥处,遂悉得活。至七日头,还归师所,师甚怪之,寻即入定,以天眼观,知其更无余福得尔,以救蚁因缘之故,七日不死,得延命长”经中叙述沙弥因救起漂流水中的蚂蚁,而得到长命的果报。

      以这些经典为依据,于是以天台智者大师为实行放生的倡导者之始,智者大师在天台隐居期间,曾讲《金光明经-流水长者品》度化渔民,并立放生池。天台地处现在的浙中沿海,民众多以捕鱼为生,渔民设网筑坝捕鱼,鱼场绵延几百里。智者大师深感渔民这样彼此相害,罪业深重。为度化这些渔民,亲自化缘,买下这些鱼场做为天然放生池。如《续高僧传-隋国师智者天台山国清寺释智顗传》中说: “往居临海,民以簄鱼为业,罾网相连四百余里,江簄溪梁六十余所。顗恻隐观心,彼此相害,劝舍罪业,教化福缘,所得金帛,乃成山聚,即以买斯海曲为放生之池,又遣沙门慧拔表闻于上。陈宣(帝)下敇:严禁此池,不得采捕,永为放生之池。国立为碑” 。《国清百录》http://www.ebaifo.com/fojiao-157725.html此为最早的将整个椒江水系作为天然放生池。且得到帝王敇令,此敇令一直保持到唐朝。至唐末武宗的 “会昌法难”, 随着佛教本身的被毁,该放生池才遭到废止。到宋朝,在复兴天台宗的遵式,知礼等大师和地方官王钦若,王随等的大力鼓动下,“宋真宗天禧元年(公元1017年),敇令天下重修放生池。天禧三年,遵式大师奏请以杭州西湖为放生池。并自制《放生慈济法门》,于每年四月初八举行放生法会,为天子祝圣。宋天真三年(公元1025年),天台四明知礼大师亦奏请永久成立南湖放生之佛誕日放生会,并撰《放生文》以定其仪規。”《国清百录》http://www.ebaifo.com/fojiao-157725.html Christmas。至此,在中国已逐步形成在佛菩萨圣誕日的放生法会,乃至现在的定时定日放生的风气。

      放生的现状

      由于佛经及历代高僧的提倡,使放生活动盛行于全世界,当今世界有中国人的地方,就有中国大乘佛教的寺庙,有中国寺庙的地方,就有放生活动。  这在中国及东南亚国家尤为突出。根据北京某护生组织对北京某某放生团体为期两个半月的放生调查结果显示:

      “1. 这个团体是由众多信仰佛教的居士组成的放生团体,两个多月来,参加到该放生团体来放生的人数约1000人以上。

      2. 这是一个定时放生的团体,每个星期天在位于北京北三环大钟寺桥下集合,上车后随组织者安排,到达放生地。

      3. 这是一个不是专业放生的专业放生团体。说其非专业,是每个人都有自己的工作,不是专门从事这份职业;说其是专业,他们是在每个星期天都定时去放生。其中买生,运输,租用车船,现场拍摄,后勤保障,善款募集,财务收支都有分工的团体。

      4. 这是一个对动物习性缺乏了解的团体。比如他们将海南省的海洋动物放到渤海;在江苏等地收购来的蛇放在安徽。在放生中由于缺乏对动物的保护措施致使有些动物在放生前就死亡。

      5. 据经常参与放生的居士讲,这个放生组织每年的放生善款在1000万以上”。他们所放的动物包括鱼类,龟类,鸟类,甚至蛇类等等。

       象这样的放生团体在中国大陆,台湾,香港,乃至其他国家还有很多。这样的放生等于是商业化放生,美国佛教联合会负责人认为:“现代化的商业化放生创造了一个繁荣的产业,这个产业专门从事捕捉,交易与贩卖野生动物,就只是为了供应放生所用。这是唯利是图的商人在利用佛教徒对动物的怜悯之心而从中谋利”。

      当今世界放生的团体,放生的规模以及放生的数量都超出我们这个地球所能承受的境地。根据國際人道对待动物协会(Humane Society International, HSI. www.hsi.org/mercyrelease. )提供的有关信息: “目前,全世界每年有数以亿计的野生动物因放生习俗的需要而被捕捉。研究显示仅于台湾,每年就有两亿只野生动物因这种(放生)仪式被放生。这个放生的习俗遍布全球包括中国,台湾,香港,新加坡,尼泊尔,美国,加拿大等地。许多动物在被捕过程中因被困在陷阱或網子内受到致命伤害,也有的在运输过程中因被关在拥挤的箱子或笼子中而死亡。即使能幸存至放生的时候,也经常因疲惫,受伤,疾病,或其他动物捕食而即刻死亡。有些在被放生后,又因同样的习俗被再次捕捉以出售。象这样盲目放生也会破坏生态环境。动物可能在他们的原生栖息地之外的地方被释放,而且数量多到足以建立繁殖族群。造成当地生态系统的浩劫,一些具侵略性的物种可能威胁本土物种的生存甚至灭绝”。

      早在2004年在纽约即有媒体报导指出,发现具侵略性的北方蛇头鱼(snakehead fish)的外来物种动物在纽约中央公园的哈林湖。

      后来陆陆续续在新泽西州的内陆河流和水池也发现不同物种的象黄鳝,泥鳅等的外来动物入侵,致使当地的一些生物物种遭到侵害甚至消失。这些被外界定为是因为佛教徒放生活动带来的。(www.hsi.org/mercyrelease)現在的放生者,由于缺乏指导及对被放动物基本生存条件的不认识,对动物的生态环境不了解,一味地追求形式,追求功德,甚至追求热闹。很慈悲的放生变成残酷的杀生,放死,造成对生态环境的破坏,甚至造成对当地民众的恐慌。例如,2012年6月1日,北京一放生团体在河北兴隆农村放生上千条蛇,引起村民恐慌,造成大量蛇被打死尴尬局面 (新京报2012年6月9日)。

      理性放生与护生

      放生本来是自利利他的行动,是佛教徒践行慈悲,积聚福德资粮的方式,得到历代高僧大德的推崇和倡导,也得到广大佛教徒的响应。现在,随着佛教信众的日益增多,放生,特别是有组织的放生活动,已经成为越来越多的佛教徒的修行方式。如果不加以正确引导,規范,辅以法律限定,盲目泛滥的放生会造成对被放动物的伤害甚至死亡,对生态环境的破坏乃至对地球造成损害。为了体现放生的真实意义,平等爱护一切众生,爱护生命,放生必须溶智慧和慈悲为一体。

      为此,中国佛教协会于2014年7月30日发布了《关于“慈悲护生,合理放生”的倡仪书》,倡仪佛教四众弟子做到:

      一,慈悲为怀,随缘放生。

      二,讲究科学,合理规划。

      三,精心规划,如法进行。

      美国佛教联合会与国际人道对待动物协会于2012年5月16日共同携手对媒体公布 “推广积极慈悲护生取代盲目放生”。鼓励佛教团体和广大信众以支持动物福利,积极护生取代盲目放生的习俗。两个团体的共同合作声明特选于浴佛节前宣布,以呼应佛法所強调对所有生命的热爱与尊重。

      实际上,从2010年开始美国佛教联合会就与国际人道对待动物协会携手合作,协助倡导寺庙和信众了解盲目放生造成对动物的伤害,以及对生态环境的严重破坏。特别安排信众前往纽约上州的Catskill 和Safe Havens 两个农场的动物救助中心参观和为被保护的动物祈福加持的慈悲护生活动。就是为了让信众认识到,在当今社会,如果要帮助和救助动物,最好也是最符合佛教慈悲而不伤生命和不破壞環境的方式。便是透过支持专业动物保护团体,和他们合作,积极保护需要救护的动物的生命,以慈悲护生取代盲目放生。

      2013年5月22日,美国佛教联合会与国际人道对待动物协会再次携手共同呼吁佛教团体和广大信众“勿参加不当与违法的放生活动”。因为纽约州环境保育法里有一章关于野生动物释放的禁令,我们还把相关条文译成中文,在华人佛教社团分发。

      译文:纽约州环境保育法第11-0507条,‘在没有相关部门许可之下,任何人不可随意释放鱼或者鱼卵在纽约州内的任何水域。在没有相关部们许可下,任何人不可在纽约州内释放任何野生动物’ 。第71-0923以及71-0925条文则是处罚条款,‘违反者可被拘禁高达十五天,并被罚款至少一百或是二百美元以上,以及额外每只鱼,鸟,或其他动物罚一百美元,贝类及蟹,龙虾等壳类动物则每桶罚款一百美元或等市价金额,视两者中金额最高者而定’。

      有了纽约州环保法,加上美国佛教联合会对各佛教团体和广大信众进行宣传教育。近几年來,根据美国佛教联合会收集的轶事,基本看不到大纽约区盲目放生的活动,而看到的是佛教团体和信众在专业野生动物保护单位的动物康复师如:纽约乌龟和鳖协会,纽约市野生鸟基金会等 ,一起释放受伤而康复好的乌龟和鸟类动物。广大信众同样感受到佛教慈悲爱护一切众生的感召力。

      结语

      要实现“慈悲放生,合理护生”的理念,先要教育广大信众明白盲目放生对被放动物带来的伤害,对生态环境造成的破坏,以及对社会造成的消极影响。和专业野生动物保护团体和康復師合作,保护需要保护的动物,转盲目放生为理性,慈悲,科学的护生。呼吁有关部门制定相关法律,禁止盲目泛滥放生。佛教团体加强对信众宣传教育。这样就能转盲目泛滥的放生为慈悲合理的护生。

     

      From Misinformed Mercy Release To Compassionate Release

      Shi, Refa

     

      Traditional Mercy Release is a Mahayana bodhisattva practice based upon the belief that all sentient beings are equal, and should be loved and protected. When Buddhist practitioners come across an animal that is about to be slaughtered, they buy the animal and release it back into the wild. This saves the animal and helps it avoid the suffering of being killed. This Mahayana practice of benefitting oneself and others accumulates of blessings and merit for the practitioner through the bodhisattva spirit of compassion. The practice was praised and promoted by eminent Buddhist masters throughout the ages in China and it has an ever increasing number of devotees worldwide.

      During the age of agricultural societies before commerce was highly developed, the animals released were captured and sold locally. Practitioners would buy them and return them to the natural environment of that locale. Thus, there would be neither harm to the animals nor damage to the ecological environment. These were true acts of kindness that accumulated merit and virtue. This bodhisattva practice is worth promoting.

      But, in today’s world, especially in the past 20 years, as the world economy develops at full speed, animals have become a product in the world market. Any kind of animal can be bought anywhere in the world. Because of this, Mercy Release has also transformed into a business. Moreover, their size increase exponentially, and releases are performed on a regular basis with a predetermined number of animals. Furthermore, those releasing the animals do not know which environment is best suitable for them. Therefore Mercy Release has become an environmental catastrophe. It harms the animals that are released, credits no merit, and is actually a crime.  Mercy Release has led to a more watchful eye on these events and even to complaints from departments of environmental protection, animal rights organizations, the media and non-Buddhists.

      This paper is an appeal to related authorities to formulate laws and regulations that are guided by wisdom and directed by rational science. These will bring about genuine compassionate animal release. The paper will probe the origin of traditional Mercy Release, the current, misinformed release practices. This paper will also discuss rational Compassionate Release (animal welfare).

      The Origin of Traditional Mercy Release

      The term “mercy release” comes from the Chinese Mahayana sutras. Mercy release activities were founded upon the disciples’ compassion towards all living creatures in the belief that all creatures are equal.  It is also founded on the concept of cause and effect that leads to endless rebirth in samsara.  The term is found in the Brahma Net Bodhisattva Precept Sutra, Golden Light Sutra (Suvarna-prabhasa-uttama), Lotus Sutra, and the Lankavatara Sutra, among others.  The precepts of not killing, not eating the flesh of living beings, and Mercy Release can be found in these sutras.

      The Brahma Net Bodhisattva Precept Sutra states that the first precept is not to kill: A disciple of the Buddha shall not himself kill, encourage others to kill, kill by expedient means, praise killing, rejoice at witnessing killing, or kill through incantation or mantras. A disciple must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of killing, nor shall he intentionally kill any living creature. A Buddhist disciple should nurture a mind of compassion and filial piety, and should always devise expedient means to rescue and protect all beings. If instead, he fails to restrain himself and kills sentient beings, he commits a Parajika (major) offense.

      The third article of the 48th secondary precept of this sutra, to not eat the flesh of living beings states: A disciple of the Buddha must not deliberately eat meat. He should not eat the flesh of any sentient being. The meat-eater forfeits the seed of Great Compassion, severs the seed of Buddha Nature and causes sentient beings to avoid him. Bodhisattvas should not eat the flesh of any sentient being whatsoever. Eating meat brings about countless offenses. One who deliberately eats meat commits secondary offenses of impurity.

      Likewise, the 20th article of the 48th secondary precept to practice mercy release states: A disciple of the Buddha should have a mind of compassion and cultivate the practice of liberating sentient beings. All male sentient beings have been my father; all female sentient beings my mother. I was born of them.  If I now slaughter beings of the six realms, it would be as if I were slaughtering my parents as well as eating flesh that was once my own. This is so because all elemental earth, water, fire and air have previously been part of my body, part of my substance. I must therefore always cultivate the practice of liberating sentient beings and encourage others to do likewise. If I see someone on the verge of killing an animal, I should devise a way to rescue and protect that animal, helping it to escape suffering…. If I do not, I will be committing secondary offenses of impurity.

      The Mahayana Bodhisattva Precepts are found in the Brahma Net Bodhisattva Precept Sutra. They are not killing, not eating the flesh of living beings, and rescuing and releasing animals. Anyone who receives Mahayana Bodhisattva Ordination needs to practice and uphold all of these precepts. Added to this, all sutras praise the merit of Mercy Release. The Golden Light Sutra – the Elder Liushui Chapter is a narration of Elder Liushui rescuing fish. It records that in the Kingdom of Celestial Ease and Light there was an elder by the name of Liushui, who was a superb physician. After healing all the people of their illnesses, he went with his two sons on a trip around the kingdom. On the road he came across flocks of birds and herds of animals all rushing in the same direction. Liushui thought this was very strange and decided to follow them to find out what was happening. After a while, he discovered a lake that was drying up. Tens of thousands of fish were on the verge of dying because these birds and animals were going to eat them.  Liushui wanted to save the fish. He thought, “Since I have healed every sick person in his kingdom, the king may now be willing to think of a way to help me rescue all of these fish.” So, he went to see the king and told him about saving the fish. The king agreed to lend him 20 elephants and numerous leather water sacks. As quickly as possible they carried water over to the lake to rescue the fish. The fish in the lake were saved because of his compassionate actions. After this, Liushui took a walk around the lake and he saw that the fish were following him in the water. Liushui believed that the fish were starving to death and were begging him for food. Therefore, he told his sons, who were with him, to quickly choose the strongest of the elephants and ride it home to bring all the food they had to feed the fish. His sons followed their father’s instructions, rode the elephant home returning with all the food they could find to feed the fish. After the fish had eaten and drunk their full, Liushui explained the Dharma of the Twelve Links of the Chain of Dependent Origination to them. After the fish heard the Dharma, they were now able to be reborn into Trayastrimsa Celestial Realm after they pass away in the future.

      The fourth chapter of the Saṃyukta-ratna-piṭaka-sūtra states:  A long time ago, there was an Arhat who was raising a novice monk. With his psychic abilities this Arhat knew that the novice would die in seven days. He told the novice that he should go home for a visit but definitely had to quickly return before the seventh day. The novice obeyed his master and set out for home. On the way he saw a nest of ants that was being flooded. They were about to die. In his compassion, the novice took off his robe and collected soil, which he put into the water. This made an escape route from the nest to higher, dry ground saving the lives of the ants.  The novice later returned to his master, who was surprised to see that he was still alive on the seventh day. The Arhat immediately meditated. With his psychic abilities he observed that the novice had accumulated blessings (good karma) by saving the ants. Not only did he not die on the seventh day but also was able to live a long life.

      The sutra explains how the novice created the karmic result of a long life by rescuing the ants that were about to drown. Drawing on these sutras, Grand Master Zhizhe of the Tiantai School began the promotion of the Mercy Release practice.  While Grand Master Zhizhe was a hermit in Tiantai, he lectured on the Golden Light Sutra – the Elder Liushui Chapter to liberate and transform the fishermen through the Dharma. He also began the practice of constructing Mercy Release ponds.

      Most people of the Tiantai area, which is the present coast of central Zhejiang Province, earn their livelihood by fishing. As The Continuing Stories of Eminent Buddhist Masters – The Biography of the Sui Dynasty Imperial Teacher Master Zhizhe (Shi Zhiyi) of Taintai Mountain Guoqing Monastery states: “The people of Tiantai live near the sea and earn their livelihood from fishing. One after another their nets cover the ocean for an area of 400 square li (Chinese miles). The river leading to the ocean has 60 dams built in order to catch fish. Grand Master Zhizhe was concerned about this. He saw the harm it caused for both people and fish. He urged the people not to create such a harmful industry. He collected a mountain of donations and used it to buy the 400 li and 60 dams transforming it into a Mercy Release Area (wildlife conservation area).  He then sent the monk Huiba to report this to the Emperor. This Emperor Xuan of the Chen Dynasty made the following Imperial Edict: An Imperial Plaque will be erected stipulating that collecting fish in these waters is strictly forbidden and henceforth these areas will be Mercy Release pools forever.”  The One Hundred Records of Guoqing Monastery   http://www.ebaifo.com/fojiao-157725.html This is the earliest recording of the Tiantai water system becoming a natural Mercy Release pool.

      Moreover, it was by Imperial order that this edict continued on till the Tang Dynasty. The edict was abolished by Emperor Wuzong at the end of the Tang Dynasty’s “Huichang Abolition of Buddhism” when Buddhism itself was being destroyed. They were not restored until the Song Dynasty, when the Tiantai School was reestablished. With the encouragement of Grand Masters Zunshi, Zhili and other masters, along with the power and promotion of many local officials including Wang Qinruo, and Wang Sui, the emperor made the following proclamation, “In the first year of the Tianxi period of the Song Dynasty (1017), all Mercy Release pools will be restored by Imperial Edict.   “In the third year of Tianxi, Grand Master Zunshi asked the Emperor to decree that the West Lake of Hangzhou be made into a Mercy Release Pool. (wildlife conservation area)

      In addition, The Mercy Release Aid and Compassion Practice by Grand Master Zunshi made every eighth day of the fourth month on the lunar calendar a Mercy Release Day transferring blessings to the Emperor. In the third year of Tianzhen of the Song Dynasty (1025), the Tiantai Grand Master Zhili of Siming asked the emperor to establish the Nan Lake as the place for a Mercy Release ceremony on the Buddha’s birthday. Moreover, Master Zhili wrote the Mercy Release Liturgy. The One Hundred Records of Guoqing Monastery   http://www.ebaifo.com/fojiao-157725.html

      From this, there arose in China the establishment of Mercy Release Ceremonies on the birthdays of buddhas and bodhisattvas. This made it popular for recurring, calendar-set Mercy Releases today.

      The Current

      Mercy Release Situation

      Mercy Release activities now prevail throughout the world because of their promotion in the Buddhist sutras and by eminent Buddhist masters over the ages.  Today, wherever there are Chinese people, there are Chinese Mahayana Buddhist monasteries and temples. And wherever there are monasteries and temples there are Mercy Release activities.

      This is especially prominent in China and countries of Southeast Asia. The results of a two and a half month investigation of the activities of a Mercy Release group in Beijing conducted by the wild animal conservation organization Green Ark shows:

      1. The Mercy Release group was made up of mostly Buddhist laity. During a period of more than two months, more than 1,000 people came to the Mercy Release sites.

      2. This is a group with set release schedules. They would congregate every Sunday under the bridge at Beijing’s North Sanhuai Great Bell Monastery. They would then board vehicles to a pre-arranged release site.

      3. This was not a professional Mercy Release group specializing in releases. In a nonprofessional group everyone has their own jobs and does not specifically work in the Mercy Release Industry. In a professional group they would regularly attend scheduled Sunday releases. There is a division of labor to buy the animals, transport them, rent the vehicles and boats, take photos, ensure logistics, collect donations, and manage finances.

      4. This group had no concept of the animals’ needs. For example, they released sea creatures from the (southern China) Hainan Province into the (northern China) Bohai Sea; Snakes bought from Jiangsu Province (in eastern China) were released in Anhui Province (northwest of Jiangsu).  The lack of measures to protect the animals’ welfare resulted in animals dying before the Mercy Release ceremony.

      5. According to those attending the release activities, this Mercy Release organization spends over 10 million Yuan (about, $1, 560, 000) each year on Mercy Release activities. The animals they released included fish, turtles, birds, and even snakes. There is a huge number of such Mercy Release organizations in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other places.

      This is the state of the modern Mercy Release Industry. The President of the American Buddhist Confederation believes, “Modern commercial Mercy Release has created a prosperous industry. This industry specializes in the capture, transportation, and sale of wild animals to supply to Mercy Release activities. “These business people who out to make a profit by taking advantage of Buddhists’ compassion for animals.” The scale of the Mercy Release groups and the numbers of animals released worldwide is far greater than what this planet can endure. According to information provided by Humane Society International, (HSI) (www.hsi.org/mercyrelease):

      “Presently hundreds of millions of wild animals are captured each year to accommodate the Mercy Release activities.

      Research has shown that in Taiwan alone two hundred million wild animals are released every year. This Mercy Release tradition has spread throughout the planet including China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Nepal, the USA, and Canada among other places. Many animals in the process of being captured die or are injured when trapped in snares or nets. Others die in shipping when confined to crowded boxes or cages. Those animals fortunate enough to be released, die because they are exhausted, injured, sick, or eaten by other animals. Some are recaptured and resold after they are released because of this continuing tradition.

      Misinformed Mercy Releases like this also damage the ecological environment. Animals released outside of their native habitat may possibly be in sufficiently large numbers might establish their own breeding populations in the new location. This wreaks havoc upon local ecology. Some invasive species may threaten the survival of indigenous animals or even exterminate them.

      As early as 2004, New York City’s media reported that the invasive northern snakehead fish, a foreign specie, was discovered in New York City’s Central Park Harlem Meer (lake).  Later, various other invasive foreign animals, such as rice-field eels, mud fish, etc., gradually appeared in central New Jersey’s rivers and ponds encroaching upon and even wiping out local animal species. Those outside the Buddhist community determined that this happened because of Buddhists’ Mercy Release activities. Those who participate in Mercy Release lack guidance and knowledge of the basic survival conditions necessary for the animals released. Participants lack understanding of the ecosystem. Many care only about ritual, merit, or they just want to have fun.

      Thus, compassionate Mercy Release turns into brutal killing or “Mercy Murder,” creating damage to the ecosystem, and even frightening the residents at the release sites. Here is one particular example of this which occurred on June 1st, 2012, when a Beijing Mercy Release Group released over 1,000 snakes in Xinlong Village, Hebei Province. This caused the villagers to panic, resulting in the slaughter of countless snakes not to mention the ensuing chaos. (The Beijing News, 2012 June 9th)

      Rational Compassionate Release

      And Animal Welfare

      Originally Mercy Release was an act of benefitting others and self. It was Buddhists practicing compassion and a means of accumulating a store of blessings and merit.  It was initiated and highly praised by eminent Buddhist masters throughout the ages. The vast majority of Buddhists have an affinity for Mercy Release.   Now, with Buddhist devotees increasing daily, Mercy Release, especially organized releases as a means of Buddhist practice, are on the rise. Mercy Release without proper guidance or scope, laws and regulations, enables a flood of misinformed releases resulting in the harm and even death of the animals released. It damages the environment and even harms the entire planet. Mercy Release must be carried out melding wisdom with compassion.  It will then become the manifestation of the protection of life. It will then manifest its true meaning of equality, love and protection of all living beings.

      On July 30, 2014, the Buddhist Association of China issued its The Compassionate Animal Welfare and Rational Release Initiative. It initiates that monks, nuns, male and female devotees must:

      1. Cherish compassion and rescue animals in danger.

      2. Strive for scientific and rational planning.

      3. Plan meticulously and proceed legally.

      On May 16, 2012, the American Buddhist Confederation and the Humane Society International jointly announced to the media, “We will aggressively promote the replacement of the usual, misinformed Mercy Releases with Compassionate Release Life practices.” We will encourage Buddhist groups and all lay Buddhists to support animal welfare, and insistently replace misinformed, conventional releases with conscious animal welfare activities. We will tenaciously replace uninformed, conventional releases with animal welfare activities. The announcement that our two organizations are in full cooperation was made before Vesak Day (the Buddha’s birthday) celebrations. This was to stress the importance of embodying the Buddha’s teachings of love and respect.

      Actually, in 2010 the American Buddhist Confederation had begun cooperating hand in hand with Humane Society International. This was to support and promote temples and monasteries, as well as to educate Buddhists about the harm to animals and environment that misinformed Mercy Release causes. We especially arranged compassionate animal welfare activities by bringing Buddhist devotees to the Catskill and Safe Havens Animal Sanctuaries in upstate New York. These are farms providing animal welfare. There we toured the facilities and prayed for the animals. The purpose was to have the devotees understand that in today’s society, if we want to help or rescue animals it is important to avoid methods that could harm them or damage the environment. This way, the practice is done with Buddhist compassion.

      By cooperating with professional animal welfare organizations and persistently protecting the lives of those animals that need protection, we will replace misinformed Mercy Release with Compassionate Release Life activities. On May 22, 2013, the American Buddhist Confederation in cooperation with Humane Society International again appealed to Buddhist organizations and a vast number of devotees to “Not participate in illegal, inappropriate Mercy Release activities.”

      Since the state of New York Environmental Conservation Law has a Section prohibiting the liberation of wildlife, we had this section translated into Chinese and distributed to Chinese Buddhist groups. Section 11-0507 states: (Liberation of Fish, Shellfish and Wildlife) “that fish or fish eggs shall not be placed in any waters of the state unless a permit is first obtained from the department. No person shall willfully liberate within the state any wildlife except under permit from the department.”  Section 71-0923: (Violations) and Section 71-0925: (Civil Penalties) “Any offense shall be a violation, punishable by imprisonment for not more than fifteen days, or by a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars, or by both such fine and imprisonment. And an additional penalty of one hundred dollars for each fish, bird or animal or part thereof.

      An additional penalty of one hundred dollars for each bushel of shellfish, or each crustacean, including lobster, or part thereof, plus an amount equal to the market value or actual price paid, whichever is greater.” With the New York State Environmental Conservation Law in hand, the American Buddhist Confederation is able to enhance its education work with Buddhist groups.

      Over the past few years, according to anecdotal evidence collected by the American Buddhist Confederation misinformed Mercy Release activities in the greater New York City area have declined dramatically. We now see Buddhist groups and devotees releasing rehabilitated turtles and birds that have been injured. These activities take place hand in hand with animal rehabilitators from organizations such as the New York Turtle and Tortoise Society and Wild Bird Fund of New York City.  Devotees are once again able to feel the emotional appeal of the Buddha’s teaching to compassionately love and protect all living beings.

      Conclusion

      To implement the ideals of “compassionate release and rational animal welfare” we must first educate all of our Buddhist devotees to help them understand the harm that misinformed Mercy Release has on the animals released. We must educate them about the damage misinformed release causes the environment and the negative impact it has on society. By cooperating with certified animal conservation groups and rehabilitators and by protecting the animals that need protection, misinformed Mercy Release can be transformed into rational, compassionate releases. We appeal to the related authorities to enact laws and regulations to prohibit this flood of animal releases.  This legislation will transform the proliferation of misinformed Mercy Releases into Rational Compassionate Animal Welfare.

    作者:   来源: