How to help the suffering creatures being driven to slaughter?

Jul 3, 2023

 

QUESTION

Dear Venerable Robina, I am wondering if you can direct me to some practices for animals. 

 

Recently I passed a tractor trailer full of pigs (most likely going to slaughter) and another tractor trailer full of turkeys – same thing. They were so jam-packed they couldn’t move and were sitting on top of each other. 

 

I’m not writing in judgment of others’ choices (vegetarian/not vegetarian) or animal liberation. I am writing because, since I was a small child, cruelty to animals has deeply deeply disturbed me. (Cruelty to people too – but just referring to the animals right now). 

 

I know I cannot help them; I cannot ease their suffering or “save them.” 

 

Just wondering if you have any thoughts re any practices that may help them or any that may help me when my emotions are triggered like this, which they were today on the road. 

 

Thanks so much. I appreciate any input.

 

Love,

A

 

ANSWER

Dearest A,

 

Yes, the suffering is just awful. In fact, their entire life must be awful.

 

There are various ways to think when we see such things — and this is simply applying the various Buddhist interpretations of life, which is what we are attempting to do being Buddhists.

 

1. First thing is to remember karma: due to their own past actions, these dear sentient beings have got a life in which every minute is leading to their death so others can have food. It is so so sad.

 

2. Then, from this view of karma, immediately renew your own wish to not ever harm sentient beings, especially kill any, because no way do you want this kind of suffering yourself. It becomes a real wake-up call.

 

3. Then have incredible compassion for the dear pigs and turkeys, not just for this suffering that we can see but because they, like all of us, out of ignorance in the past have harmed others and thus created this present suffering. This is the basis of such compassion for all sentient beings.

 

4. Then have even more compassion for all the people involved in doing this harm to the pigs and turkeys: the owners of the companies, the drivers of the trucks, the killers of the creatures. Why even more compassion? Because the pigs and turkeys are just finishing their karma and the harmers are creating countless causes for so much future suffering. This is how the bodhisattvas think.

 

5. Then renew your wish to never give up practicing becoming a buddha so that you can effortlessly benefit sentient beings; and short term renew your wish to do whatever you can to help suffering beings day by day.

 

6. And, of course, you can do practices like Medicine Buddha, sending light to the suffering creatures, to all suffering beings. 

 

7. Also, a marvelous practice in general is to save sentient beings from harm whenever we can. This is so beneficial: the insects, fish, bigger creatures.

 

Or you could offer money to a place that saves animals. That’s pretty special too.

 

Much love,

Robina

 

 

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