Atisha and her animal friends

- through Francois Leclercq

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Talking about compassion is good. Applying it is better. Scenario with our 50 million friends.

There are many Buddhists who, more or less regularly, save animals from imminent death and release them into the wild when possible. They do it all the more willingly as this practice is reputed to be beneficial to their health and longevity. It's easy to do, and it can pay off big. Depending on your means, you can set up a shelter, welcome old or sick animals into your home, or quite simply gently put snails or earthworms that have strayed on the roadway back into the grass after a shower. If your heart tells you to try, you will see that there are plenty of opportunities.

The man who whispered in the ears of animals

Some time after his arrival in Tibet, in 1042, the Indian master Atisha, invited to the Land of the Snows to reestablish Buddhism after a very troubled period, was – but yes – lectured by his disciple Koutön, in whom humility did not is not the dominant virtue. The haughty lord reproaches the great pundit no more or less for stooping to caress the animals that he or other people save from the butcher. “With all due respect, these are not things that are done among noble Tibetans”, he told her in essence. Amused, Atisha politely but firmly replies that he is not a noble Tibetan.

In the perspective of successive lives, giving love to animals allows us to weave lasting bonds with… future disciples.

Until the end of his life in 1054, Atisha continues to affectionately caress his proteges and talk to all the animals he meets. He says sweet words to them, calls them tenderly "his old mothers" and ask each of them: "But what did you do to find yourself in such a state?" ». He never leaves them without having whispered prayers in their ear, so that their next births will be more favorable.

Contrary to what Koutön thinks, Atisha does not behave like an eccentric wacky! Moved by compassion and wisdom, he simply implements the means recommended in the bodhisattva way. In the perspective of successive lives, giving love to animals or others makes it possible to forge friendly ties with… future disciples. It ends up in other places and other times, in other forms, but no matter how long it takes. The main thing is to create relationships of trust with others, so that one day we can guide them towards enlightenment.

photo of author

Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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