Vancouver Buddhists offer sanctuary ceremony for their pets

- through Henry Oudin

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The Lingyen Mountain Temple in Richmond, British Columbia, a city in Metro Vancouver, is hosting a pet shelter ceremony on May 11. This practice began after the COVID-19 pandemic to expand shelter availability for non-human animals.

Explaining that the practice is akin to baptism, Master Shiu Fong emphasized that the ceremony was the first step for individuals embracing Buddhism: “Many families have their pets. . . . So they also want their animals to be blessed,” Master Shiu Fong added that all sentient beings, whether human or animal, were believed to possess Buddha nature. (Richmond News)

The temple previously held shelter-in-place ceremonies for humans five to six times a year. However, in response to the pandemic, they have extended this practice to pets. All kinds of pets, from dogs and cats to rabbits, birds and insects, as long as they are in a cage or other secure enclosure, are welcome to participate.

During the ceremony, which takes place in the temple's Eightfold Path Garden and can be followed online, Buddhist masters perform rituals involving chanting, soil purification and prayer. It is believed that by participating, the animals establish a connection with the Buddha.

Master Shiu Fong noted that the ritual had observable benefits for pets, often leading to improved behavior. “Sometimes afterwards (the animals) take refuge, even if they don't understand what we are doing in the ritual. . . they behave better,” she said. (Richmond News)

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Lingyen Mountain Temple was founded in 1999 by Venerable Master Miao Lien. Fri. Master Miao Lien was born in China in 1922 and became a monk at Mount Baohua Temple in Nanjing before moving to Mount Lingyen Temple in Suzhou. He then spent time on Lantau Island in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where he initiated the construction of the Lingyen Mountain Temple in Taiwan in 1986.

Many Buddhist traditions have undertaken to provide shelter and other blessings to companion animals. Tania Duratovic and Phil Hunt, writing for the Tibetan organization Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), note that:

Although Buddhists believe that the karmic benefits of these practices will be permanent and perhaps have a greater effect in future lives, the welfare of animals in this life is also essential. Animals should be handled and cared for as the “kind mothers of sentient beings” that we are taught they are, and as fragile living creatures who share our planet and suffer physically, mentally and emotionally.


In Japanese Pure Land Buddhist traditions, the possibility of animals reaching the Pure Land has become a subject of intense debate. Historically, it was believed that animals could only reach the Pure Land after rebirth as a human, where practices could be undertaken to ensure such future rebirth. However, Hayashida Kojun of Taisho University recently argued that this interpretation was wrong: "Honen also taught that animals can be reborn in the Pure Land through the transfer of merit. » (Nippon) He believed that humans could transfer enough merit to animals to ensure rebirth directly in the Pure Land.


Pet owners wishing to register for the ceremony at Mount Lingyen Temple can find more information on the temple's event page.

See more

All pets are allowed at the Richmond Buddhist Blessing Ceremony (Richmond News)
Considerations for Animal Blessings and Animal Liberations (FPMT)
Can dogs be reborn in heaven? Buddhist Pet Funerals in Japan (Nippon)

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The article Vancouver Buddhists offer sanctuary ceremony for their pets appeared first on Buddhadoor Global.

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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