Saving Lives

Benefits of Saving the Lives of Other Living Beings

–His Holiness Chatral Sange Dorje Rinpoche  

Glory to the Buddha Amitayus, Buddha of Eternal life, and the Bodhisattvas! 

The unimaginable benefits saving the lives of other living beings are described in different Sutras and Tantras taught by the Buddha. The practice of such noble acts has been recommended by all the Siddhas in various scriptures. Compassion being one of the main tenets of the Mahayana, it also forms the foundation of Hinayana path, which sets great store by abstaining from killing, or even harming any living being. The Tantrayana, on the other hand, has one additional facet: it lays great emphasis on maintaining a moral relationship, Samaya, between the savior and the saved. 

Behind all these teachings there is one single fact of cardinal importance: that on this earth a human being can commit no greater sin than taking the life of another living being. By implication, there is no greater source of accumulating merit than saving life. 

To obtain real peace and happiness in this world, one has simply to follow the path of ahimsa (non-harming), which is common to all the religions of the world. If we do not like to experience pain or suffering of any kind, how can we expect other creature, where big or small, to feel otherwise? 

There is no better prayer or worship we can offer to the Lord than by being thoughtful, kind, compassionate, and abstaining from taking the life of any fellow human being, mammal, bird, fish, or insect. Trying to save any life from imminent danger or trying to mitigate their pain and suffering is one more step further in the active practice of loving other living beings. 

The next logical step in this regard is saying prayers for those who die owing to some other person’s thoughtless cruelty. Following this path automatically puts an end to conflicts, or obstacles, if any, within our inner self, generates spontaneous happiness and bestows absolute inner peace. If your deeds flow from a genuine purity of heart and are imbued with selflessness, they will enable you to attain enlightenment. 

Conscious abstention from hunting and killing living beings, besides inspiring others to do the same, are actions behooving the kind hearted and pious. For instance, the milk of human kindness requires us not to harm migratory birds in any way, such as casting stones or nets or shooting them while they are resting for brief moments in the course of their long journey from one country or continent to another. On the contrary, we should provide help to them in all possible ways before they reach their final destination. 

A renowned Buddhist Scholar from Bengal, pandita Atisha Dipankara, said that giving compassionate love to the helpless and the poor is as important as meditating on shunyata, or emptiness. This virtue of compassion is the principal foundation of Mahayana Buddhism. 

Hence, I passionately appeal to humanity at large, irrespective of nationality, caste or religion to practice this most simple, but profound, virtue of compassionate love. We can praise and please our Lord in no better way than by doing all we can to save the lives of innocent, mute and defenseless mammals, birds, fish, and insects and thereby grant them the precious gift of life. 

Moral values abjure us from taking anything that we cannot give to others. We cannot give life to anybody; it is the sole discretion of the Lord. So it will be the shameless arrogance and heinous sinfulness on our part if we snatch life from others. 

It is my firm belief that if people adopt this practice by universal consensus, everlasting peace and all around happiness will descend on this earth, and human suffering in all its forms will become a thing of the past. All of us will become privileged enjoyers of peace, prosperity, good health and increased longevity. In such an ideal situation, human beings will experience peace of mind and contentment of heart even at death. Bereft of any disturbing thoughts or hallucinations, but aware of the essence of Dharma, he or she will leave for their heavenly abode imperfect serenity and in due course, will be born in higher spheres. Continuous practice of this noble path will ultimately lead to the attainment of Nirvana, or Buddhahood. 

May one and all follow this most meritorious path and benefit all living beings besides accumulating meritorious riches for themselves in the process. 


About Tashi Nyima

I am a Dharma student, and aspire to be a companion on the path. I trust that these texts can offer a general approach and basic tools for practicing the Buddha's way to enlightenment. ||| Soy un estudiante del Dharma, y aspiro a ser un compañero en el sendero. Espero que estos textos ofrezcan a algunos un mapa general y herramientas básicas para la práctica del sendero a la iluminación que nos ofrece el Buda.
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2 Responses to Saving Lives

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