by Chadral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche
To the spiritual master, Buddha of Infinite Life, Amitayus,
And to his bodhisattva disciples, I bow.
I will now briefly explain the benefits
Of ransoming and releasing animals.
To ransom and release animals
Constitutes a flawless practice
To be done with pure motivation and applied
By all of Shakyamuni’s followers.
The benefits of this practice have been described extensively
In many sutras, tantras and treatises.
Oceanlike gatherings of learned and accomplished masters of India and Tibet
Have considered this an important way to aid beings.
For those of the Hinayana,
This practice represents the abandoning of harming others;
For those who have entered the mind of awakening of the Mahayana,
It represents the training itself;
And for practitioners of the Secret Mantra,
It represents the principal tantric commitment of the Jewel Buddha Family.
The reason for this is that in the world,
Nothing is more precious than life itself
And no negative act more serious than taking life.
Therefore, among composite forms of the roots of virtue,
None has greater benefit
Than the ransom and release of animals.
If you wish for happiness and good fortune,
Be diligent on this supreme path.
The authenticity of this practice is proven
By the authority of scripture and by logic.
It is a path without obstacle or error.
Thinking of your own body as an example,
Through this practice, give up harming others.
Don’t take life.
Instead, release birds, fish, wild animals,
Farm animals doomed to be slaughtered
And also small creatures such as ants and bees.
Be diligent in giving them refuge from fear.
The benefits of this are inconceivable:
It is the supreme practice for longevity,
And there is no higher practice for nurturing good health
Or for dedicating virtue to the dead.
It is my main practice to help beings.
It clears away misfortune that arises due to outer and inner obstacles
And creates harmonious circumstances effortlessly and spontaneously.
When it is guided by positive motivation
And concluded with pure dedication and aspirations,
Its effect is that you will reach perfect enlightenment
And accomplish the two goals—benefit for yourself and for others.
Have no doubt of this!
Those who are endowed with merit and a virtuous attitude
Should prevent the practice of hunting in mountains and valleys.
In particular, during autumn and spring,
When flocks of cranes and other birds
Are compelled by their karma to fly south or north,
They must move their wings with great effort
And soar through space.
Yet sometimes they must come to earth
With anxiety, fear and an uneasy mind.
Don’t hit such beings with stones or weapons.
Don’t kill or harm them.
Protect them and help them continue their migration in comfort.
“To help with loving-kindness
Destitute beings without protection
Has merit equal to that of
Meditating on the essence of compassion and emptiness.”
Thus said the glorious master Atisha.
Lamas, masters, monks, nuns and lay people, both women and men,
Should each in your own domain
Energetically perform as much ransom and release of animals as you are able.
And encourage others to do the same.
By doing so,
You will pacify sickness and disaster
Among humans and farm animals in your region.
Harvests will be plentiful, crops will increase, life will be long
And perfect happiness will dawn.
The time of death will be free of pain and confusion.
In the next life, you will attain an excellent body in a pleasant realm,
And eventually you will easily attain the supreme state of perfect awakening.
Have no doubt of this!
I, the one known as Chadral Sangye Dorje,
Am always devoted to the activity of ransoming and releasing life.
By the virtue of these words,
May all beings enter the way of the bodhisattvas.
Mama Koling Samanta.
Excerpted from Sacred Voices of the Nyingma Masters by Sandra Scales, © 2004