Episode 78

March 24, 2024


The Buddhist Attitude to Animal Abuse | Ajahn Brahm

The Buddhist Attitude to Animal Abuse | Ajahn Brahm
Ajahn Brahm Podcast
The Buddhist Attitude to Animal Abuse | Ajahn Brahm

Mar 24 2024 | 01:00:19


Show Notes

From the very beginning Buddhism extended its moral ethics not only to humans, but also to animals (and all sentient beings). Ajahn Brahm explains how Buddhism thinks about ethics when it comes to how we treat animals.

This dhamma talk was originally recorded using a low quality MP3 to save on file size (because internet connections were slow back then – remember dialup?) on 2nd July 2004. It has now been remastered and published by the Everyday Dhamma Network, and will be of interest to his many fans.

These talks by Ajahn Brahm have been recorded and made available for free distribution by the Buddhist Society of Western Australia under the Creative Commons licence. You can support the Buddhist Society of Western Australia by pledging your support via their Patreon page.


View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Buddhist Attitude to Animal Abuse (NOTE: AI generated transcript – expect errors) Once again, I've had a request for this evening's talk. It was actually a request which someone gave me in Singapore about a month ago, but I forgot it. So they sent another email reminding me. And the topic of the talk this evening is what is the Buddhist perspective, uh, concerning animal abuse in our society? The Buddhist perspective on animal abuse. Uh, I certainly know the Buddhist perspective on monk abuse. Oh, you might be working so hard. That I enjoy it. But, uh, Buddhism does have something to say about this. The way we treat the animals of our society, the other living beings of our society. This is not just a modern thing in Buddhism, because from the very start, the to the compassion of Buddhism from the start went to all sentient beings, not just my own tribe, not just my own gender, not not just my own religion, but to all human beings and more than that, to all other sentient beings, all beings, and certainly including animals in that. And there is a good reason for that is a fundamental reason why our compassion goes even to the animal realm. And that is a twofold reason. One is that Buddhism is recognized from the start. There's not that much difference between the animal world and human beings. The summit which we have in common, which is the human mind or not the human mind is the mind. For number two because we have that common part we call our mind. That's why the human beings can get reborn as animals. Animals can get reborn as human beings. There is that coming and going between those two realms and between other realms as well. But recognizing that you have to be kind and compassionate to the animals. Otherwise the animal that might be your father, that might be your mum, your dear sister, or whatever else it is, it just passed away. So you don't want to mistreat them. But more important, and more importantly than the fact that that happens from one to the other, there's many cases of that. More important than that is the understand the realization. There is something common between the animal realm and the human realm. I think in many other countries and many other countries, many other sort of philosophies or religions, we make this big distinction between the human beings and the animals, as if we're so superior and so different than the animals. And I used to. We make ourselves special. And that specialness is always like conceit. Just in history, you know, we had certain races were supposed to be special and superior than other races. Unfortunately, we got rid of most of that racism. But then recently, the real reason we only recently we've started getting rid of gender ism where, you know, men were supposed to be so superior than women. We're trying to address that issue now and make it, uh, see through the fallacy of that idea. But then we've also got some even like a sexual preference ism, as if like, um, heterosexuals are much better and superior than the homosexuals. These are all things which we should get rid of as soon as possible, because they create so much suffering and hurt in our society. It's always thinking that, you know, we're superior. And those other group, those people are somehow inferior to us. We've put a lot of energy and effort and understanding in that equality towards those, you know, uh, sexual preferences to the genders, to races. But the one thing we haven't really started on yet in our modern society is what is called speciesism. Because if we think that our human being is so superior, so far advanced on the animal realm that we can do whatever we like to them do, they don't really count. They're not the same as us. I remember my dear old grandmother where she was a bit of a racist. An English person lived in London for most of her life. When the first Asians, you know came to live in her street. I remember as a kid, it's one of my memories, you know, turning round to me and say, you know, they're not the same as us. They eat cat food. That's what my granny said for three years. But of course, I didn't believe her. But you can actually see where that was coming from. It was a sense of they are different than I am. Therefore we don't have to treat them the same way. And I always watched that with myself, just the way that we separate ourselves. You know that whether it's those people of the different religion and not the same as us, you know, and they feel like we're somehow superior. That superiority, that conceit, that making differences where those differences shouldn't be made is where we get the problem of. Uh, I'm not looking after exploitation. Uh, even, like, hurting and abuse. And so here this evening we can look at the animal realm. Are they so different? Do they really deserve just the way that they're treated? Or are they much closer to human beings? And we really would admit. And of course, as far as Buddhism was concerned, they are so close to human beings, they should be given pretty much the same source of rights, especially the right to life. We're talking here about a declaration of animal rights, not just human rights for the rights of all beings. Extending the very concept of human rights to those beings who are presently excluded. Just look at it, even through science. I remember reading about, I think the fellow was called Linnaeus. I don't know if I pronounce that correctly, but this was a scientist who was responsible for the very idea of species. Where he made some sort of template, some sort of a means of ordering all the different beings which existed in nature. To actually to group them together according to their characteristics. And if the characteristics were close enough, he called them. That was a species. And he used that criteria as a good scientist should do without any bias to all the different beings in nature. Until he came across these three beings the chimpanzees, the gorillas, and the human beings according to his criteria, according to all the science and reason and logic. He came to the conclusion that this was one and the same species. When it comes to species, human beings, gorillas. Chimpanzees are one and the same. But he was in a Western society, a society which was basically Christian. And he realized that his whole work would not be accepted if he lumped human beings along with gorillas and chimpanzees. And because of that, he for once he dropped his science. And it was politically correct at the time by splitting off human beings as a separate species, Homo sapiens, and separating those other two primates as a different species. The point was that science was telling him. Reason was pointing out there is no difference. As far as species is concerned. And that's why that many of us, when we have children, call them little monkeys. Why? There are some people standing at the doors of the nightclubs in North Beach who looked like a witness. We are the same. We are the we are the same species. Now you see that it's making a, uh, a connection there. A bridge between the human beings and other animals. Why don't you start making it with one group of animals? It becomes very easy to make it with other animals. It was fascinating, actually, to see that modern research has been able to allow animals to talk. The two, which I remember because I saw documentaries of these two. One was, say, a gorilla in, I think, the zoo in New York called Koko, who was taught sign language, just as we have sign language for those people who cannot speak. And the ability to teach, um, young children who are born disabled, to teach them to speak with sign language. That ability to teach has been so well refined that they applied the same techniques to a gorilla to see what would happen. And this gorilla learned certain very well and could communicate with its owners or with the psychologists in very clear sign language. And what really shocked the psychologists who do this little experiment was to see Koko. When he saw it, it was by himself talking to himself, not communicating with anyone else, but communicating with himself, which was actually showing there was a verbal intelligence there with their animal, which was completely unexpected. He was behaving like a human being. The other was a parrot, a gray African parrot called Alex. I saw this in an article, and when I heard that there was going to be a documentary about Alex, a parrot on the TV, I got someone to videotape it for me. And I saw the video, and it's a sort of video which says, like the hairs on the back of your head, if you had any as a monk, it would send them sort of up because it was very, very spooky. Because there they taught Alex a parrot. You know that African grey African parrots can actually. They can actually, um, vocalize words. You've probably seen that in the zoo. Things like minor birds and parrots and cockatoos. So when I say you can say words which sound exactly like human words. They can vocalize. But this particular graphic compiler didn't just teach him like 1 or 2 words. They taught this parrot a whole vocabulary. And then they wanted to see whether this parrot could use their vocabulary intelligently. And the parrot could could recognize things and could actually even work out sort of new words. And I saw this documentary, this parrot, talking to these psychologists, having a conversation. This wasn't sort of no special effects done by no dream. Well, with Dreamworks instead of in the US. This was like a real power talking. It was only a limited conversation. I doubt that we can invite that parrot to Dominica, but he said to give an hour long talk on Buddhism, but nevertheless they could give a reasonably intelligent conversation. And what really convinced me that this was an intelligent parrot was when it threw a small tantrum. He was on his little perch and it sort of said, I'm bored and stalked off. You know, those are cases where you see there is something which is intelligence, which we can recognize as the same trait as, as human beings, where we can recognize those same traits, those intelligence, even like speech. It means that that distinction between human beings and animals is broken. We see what we have in common and the same way. Eventually my granny, because I think a Pakistani couple took over the corner shop and she became friendly with them and she realized, hey, they are the same as us. Hey, animals are the same as us. Here were no cats to eat cat food. They are the same as us. They deserve the same rights, the same respects and not abuse. In the same way that we had made slaves. Although other the Western world made a slave of African American Africans. Now we look back upon that as one of our great abuses. We shouldn't have done that. Now we make slaves of animals. In future times, we realize we shouldn't have done that. Animals have emotions. Animals have intelligence. For those of you who don't remember that story, if we have a cat at our monastery, we called it kitty cat. We're not very imaginative as monks. We? Now that cat was born in a monastery in serpentine. He was born as little kitten. Another in a log. This was the feral cats, uh, daughter. And as soon as it was born, it was such a friendly cat. And the monks need a bit of emotional support with a little cat around. And so it became part of our community very quickly. But unfortunately, as many of you know, cats in the Australian forest in the bush are not in the right place because cats eat birds. They're a danger to the local wildlife. So even though we decided to actually what we called an our monastery to monastery size our female cat so it didn't have kittens. So you all know what that means to monastic size it. Hey. You know. That was the only time he left the monastery just to go to the vet in Byford. Anyone who knows that part of town. Byford, is not yet in the metropolitan area. The southern tip of Perth and the Armadale and Bath. It's about ten kilometres south of there. So we took it to be minus the size. That's the only time it left the monastery. But after a year or two that cat was killing too many birds. It was in the wrong place. So we decided the only thing to do was actually to give it to someone in town to look after cats in the bush. We were in the wrong place. So there's one of our members who lived in Waterman's, and you all know where Waterman's is about maybe 8 or 10km to the north west of here. By the ocean. It was a very sad day when I had to catch Kit-Kat, the cakes. I like that cat and put it in a bag and put that back in the ladies car, in the back seat where your feet go. So no way you can look out the window. And she drove all the way from Serpentine to Waterman's. She took the bag into her house and let the cat out in the house, and kept it in her house for three days. After three days, when she thought the cat was used to its new surroundings, she really go out in the garden for the first time. That cat made a run for the gate. The woman ran after it. The cat was too fast. It was a Saturday and I was on duty here at night, and she rang me right afterwards. I'm terribly sorry. The cat has escaped. I thought that that texture was a cat would find its way back to serpentine. It never did find its way back a certain time. It found its way back to Nulla Mara. It had never been in the metropolitan area ever before. It made its way from Waterman's to the front wooden door of that building over there in two hours. I heard a mewing at the door about 230. I was getting ready for the afternoon meditation. I opened the door and I couldn't believe that was Kika. That cat had found me and the whole of Paris. The only sort of person in you, in this whole big city. He made it from Waterman's to another mile in two hours across the freeway. His poor little paws were sort of red hot. He was a hot day in the summertime. How can a cat fight his way to. Not even many of you get lost trying to find a place. And you've got the Uber. You've got mobile phones. You got the RAC to come and help you. That Cat was not a member of the RAC. It couldn't use a phone, but it could look in a UPD. It found his face in two hours eight km run and it closed as soon as it did that we realized that that cat. We can't sort of get rid of it. It belongs. So it's you know, it's still in our monastery at the serpentine. Now that is intelligence. It's not an altar. I washed my robe that weekend. It kind of smell. I can't smell a month from eight kilometers away. And. How on earth can that happen? And many other stories where that happens. There is great intelligence in those animals. And when you realize that, you realize there's not that much difference between us, even like animals talking. I was always fascinated, not just with Buddhism, but there was some of the mystic tradition of Christianity. And of course, you all know of a person called Saint Francis of Assisi. I was always inside of all of the the monks in Christianity. That was the one which was closest to being a Buddhist monk. Just the way that he left would always beg for the food, would never have any money, would live out in nature. Very similar to a Buddhist monk. And what was even more similar was this, uh, person was reputed in history to be able to talk with animals. The animals were able to talk with him. And of course, when I first read that, I thought, that's just myths. Just making up stories to saying something to inspire people to be Christians. But then I read another story concerning Saint Francis in those days in Europe. I think it was a 13th century, if I'm not mistaken. There were huge forests in Europe who never had tigers, like in the Asian forests. They had wolves, and those walls were just as dangerous. They'll actually kill people, and they certainly they would eat children. And as he walked into one of these walled towns in Europe, I think somewhere in Italy or Germany, the people there were actually quite surprised he'd made it, because there was this huge wolf in the neighborhood had already killed many children. And they said, you're very lucky to have made it into this town. We've lost so many. We try to hunt that wolf. We haven't been able to find it yet. And according to the story. The conferences out of compassion for animals, said, well, where is it? I don't try and solve the problem. And so he went out again, looking for the wolf. According to the story, he found that wolf and asked the wolf, why are you eating so many children? And the wolf replied, according to the tale. Because I'm hungry. It's been a very hard year in the forest. There's nothing to eat, so I have to eat the children because that's all there is. So if I can get you other food, will you stop eating children? Of course, said the wolf. And according to the story, Saint Francis led the wolf into the town. And there was. They saw this huge wolf following meekly behind. This little monk. And we said from that time on. The townspeople made sure that Wolf had something to eat and became almost like a pet of the town. So such was the story, which, you know, I thought when I first read it, they'd made up, but. About 60 years ago in that very town in the local cathedral. They were doing some renovations. Even if you go into the cathedrals in Perth, you see many of the walls are these little plaques. Saying who died, and their ashes are actually behind those plaques as they were non-monetary and serpentine on our front wall. We pour the ashes of the dead in that wall and put a plaque on the outside. It's common to bury the ashes of dead people in churches or monasteries. The reason why we do it in serpentine is because eventually we want to put a wall all the way around, and how the ashes all the way around the monastery. So we're protected by the ghosts of the departed. So now I will dare to come in because we've got ghosts all around. But anyway, they had this. They're doing renovations, and they open one of these niches and in the niche. Was not the bones of a human being, but as the bones of a huge wolf. Evidence, hard evidence that maybe that story was true. And I think it is true. You can talk to animals, and animals can talk to you. If you are sensitive enough. One of our old caretakers. Those of you who've been here long enough. You remember Jasper when he was staying here? He worked at a monastery doing some just, uh, gardening work. And he would come every morning and go back again and come back for another mother. He told me one day at the corner of the road, the junction between the Southwest Highway and Kingsbury Drive. He went up there one morning you saw there was a parrot on the ground lying dead. He'd been hit by a car, but what took his attention was on the branch of a tree. Looking down with another parrot, was looking down at the parrot lying dead on the ground. When he left work at a monastery that afternoon, the dead parrot was still down there, and so was a parrot on the tree. No parrots mate for life. He thought maybe those parents were partners. Husband or wife? One of them being killed. The other was up on the tree, looking down. He was surprised. The following morning he expected to see the parrot on the ground. We never expected to see the power on the tree. Hadn't moved. Was still looking down. That afternoon there was still there, he said for three days. The power up on a tree didn't move. What does that sound like to you? To me, it sounds like grief. Her parrot was grieving for his partner who had been killed. Animals cry. I've seen animals cry. The one of the great stories which I have about the compassion to. To animals, occurred in a kind of prison farm. How many of you know that? Before I became abbot, I used to go there to teach meditation regularly. And this story was told to me by one of the prisoners. When I turned up at the session, there was somebody waiting for me. This big Irish prisoner. It was strange. I must have been. Well, it is my character, I suppose. But when I saw this huge guy with big bushy hair and a beard and scars all over him straight away, I said, sir, you come to the wrong place. This is meditation. I thought you don't expect to see a guy like that in my meditation group. But I was just my conceit. I was wrong because he said, yeah, I'm here for the meditation. But first of all, he wanted to tell me something. Which had happened a few days before, which had changed his whole life. He told me that for those of you who know kind of person from. It's a prison farm. It's supposed to be. Uh. To for prisoners who are about to be released at the end of their sentence or with short sentences, and they have a form there because they want to, number one, try and give some of the prisoners a job after they leave in the farming industry, and also by having a farm where they can cut their costs, they can actually grow vegetables, but not just vegetables, meat, which they can actually ship around the prisons in Western Australia. When we call us. Farms have animals. The one thing about a prison farm. They have their own slaughterhouse on site. They kill the animals. And one of the jobs that physicists have. He's working in the slaughterhouse, up to their knees in blood. And when I heard that, I thought, what a stupid idea, actually, to actually to breed violence amongst people who've already gone into jail for violent crimes might have made sense to me. But this prisoner was telling me that those jobs in the slaughterhouse were some of the most sought after and the most sought after job of all. He said you had to fight for that one with the job of the slaughter. Only the toughest prisoner could be the one who killed those animals. If you look me in the eye and said, I am the slaughter in this town, I fall for this job. I am the one who kills the animals. But he went back and told me his background, how he'd come to prison, how he came to that job. He spoke with a very thick Irish accent. He'd come from Belfast. I think many of you know just what had happened in Belfast over the last 30 years. The troubles, as they call it. And he told me to give me some background. Remember the story very clearly. He said just to let you know how I was brought up. I was starved for the first time when I was seven years of age. In the school playground, he said. One of the tougher kids in the school came out to me and demanded the money I had for my lunch. He said, I said no. The older boy drew out a long, sharp knife. If you don't give me your money, I will stab you, he said. The Irishman talking to me said. I thought he was bluffing. So I said no. He never asked a third time. He just plunged the knife into my arm and drew it out slowly and walked away. He said with blood streaming down my arm in shock. More than in pain. He ran out of the schoolyard. His father's house was just around the corner. He ran in, his father unemployed, at home. What's wrong? I've just been stabbed. His father took him into the kitchen straight away, but not to put anything on the wound. His father opened the drawer, took out another knife, gave it to his son, and ordered him to go back to school and stabbed the boy back. He said. That's how I was brought up. That's why he'd been in many jails. You could see from the scars. He wasn't such a big man. He probably wouldn't have survived that long. Nose incarnate. Yeah. He'd fall for the job of the Slaughterer. He told me that what he did in that slaughterhouse, there was strong stainless steel rails wide at the entrance, which narrowed down to a passage such that one animal at a time could eventually walk past the passage. Walk through the passage next to the passage on a platforms where he stood with an electric gun. He said the charge in that gun was strong enough to kill even the huge bulls. But he also said that no animal would ever stand strong enough to aim properly. So he said his routine was one shot to stand to keep the animals still enough. The second shot was where he would aim at the right place and kill the animal. Whether it was pigs, sheep, cows, whatever. He's been doing this for a long time, he said. Those animals had to be forced into that funnel with electric prods or more usually, dogs. They'd all be screaming, trying to escape the screaming in their own way. Police said what shook him was a couple of days ago. He said they was killing cows and this is where he started to swear. I won't say what he said, but it was very thick swearing because he started to get excited. He said It's God's own something truce. This actually happened, he said. It was confirmed later by the prisoners. This wasn't a lie. This actually happened. He said it was killing cows. One shot to stun. Second to kill. When? Her cow came into that passage like no cow had ever seen before. It had his head down, making no sound, making no effort to try and escape. It is what? What is a Buddhist meditate with so mindfully into place beneath his platform? Wittingly. Quietly. And then when it was positioned itself voluntarily, knowing it was about knowing it was about to be slaughtered. He lifted his head, turned round at this Irish executioner, and stared him in the eye. He said. At this point, he lost it. He never seen any animal behavior like this. Making no noise. Not sort of agitated. Not trying to escape. He said even though he had the opportunity to aim the gun in the right place and kill the animal with one shot. He just couldn't do it. The car was looking right through him, had eye contact, and he didn't know what was going on because he'd never seen this ever before. Now you all know you've all seen cows. How big the eye of a cow is. The car was looking right into him and he couldn't move his eyes away from the cows eyes. He noticed something strange happening in the left eye of the cow. Water started to build up above the lower eyelid. He saw it grow and grow and grow until it was too much for the eyelids to hold back. He saw a trickle of water riding down the left cheek of the car. That threw him into timelessness, he told me. He didn't know how many minutes or hours or seconds. Then he saw the same happening. The other eye. Water growing and growing about the right eyelid, the lower eyelid of the right eye. Until that water two was more than the eyelid could hold. And another trickle of tears was coming down the cheek of that car. The cow was crying. That is where he completely changed the long closed doors to his heart opened. He threw down the gun. He swore again. He said that something ain't dying. You can do whatever you like to me. When he came to see him, he said, he's a vegetarian now. This is a very violent man who was converted by the tears of a cow. A cow that cried. Cows have emotions. They have feelings. They are not that much different than you or I. Each one of you have probably had animals as pets. When you get to know those animals, you get a feeling that these aren't that different than human beings. When you realize that when you realize that animals do have emotions, they do have speech, they do have intelligence. They do have feelings. Why on earth would you abuse them? Why would he go fishing and put that horrible hook in a fish's mouth? Sometimes Buddhists tell me, they say, oh, they go fishing for peace and quiet. So I tell them, okay, then, if that's the reason, then you can go fishing. I advise them, go. Go fishing. But when you go fishing, make sure you don't put the hook on the end of your line. You can tangle because no one will know. No gas because they can't see. You've got nothing on the bottom there of your line. And then it's even more peaceful. You don't get disturbed by having all these fish sort of disturb you, by putting the line every now and again, so the Buddhist fishermen can always go there. As long as they don't put a hook, they just go there with a nice rod dangling in the water. And then it's so peaceful all afternoon. Of course, I don't catch anything, but I thought you were going to go fishing for peace and quiet. So that's the answer to the Buddhist fissure. But. Because sometimes people aren't honest. This is what I heard in Thailand. The only Thais here. You should be embarrassed about this because I asked the villagers, are you supposed to be Buddhist? Why are you going catching fish and killing them? They told me, oh, we don't kill the fish. We don't kill the fish. We just take them out of the water and they die by themselves. But. That's the talk about spin doctors. They're really great. But you do cause them to cause some deaths. So when you know that animals have feelings like that, then we don't want to abuse them anymore. We don't want to hurt them. We respect them. It's amazing. Thing happens when you respect animals. Her animals respect you. And so I was a forest monk. I lived in those jungles. You saw very, very dangerous animals, especially those snakes. And I've told you here that not only it's not about you just stepped on a snake. I peed on a snake once. We just got up early one morning and just went out to the forest to urinate, and I thought it was a stick. You allow anybody a bit sort of dozy. And it started weekly. That was very, very lucky. It didn't sort of bite me, especially as, you know, what was most exposed at the time. But. What is this now? You probably thought it was holy water. That's. Okay. For the bug. But the most important thing was that you felt so at ease with those animals. They're all dangerous because you really respected them. I don't mean respect to be afraid of them. And are you sharing their habitat? You respected them as beings. You spread loving kindness to them as beings that not as something separate from you to exploit and get rid of. Especially they abused you, they had their place and you're welcome them hoping they would welcome you when you actually live like that. With respect to animals, animals don't harm you. It's amazing just that one of the biggest snakes I've seen in Australia, there was this 2.5m tiger snake. I know it's 2.5m. That's when I was doing my long six months retreat. This huge thing came and the kangaroos were feeding close by. They ran out of the way very quickly, cutting very, very huge straight towards me as I was finishing my meal and it lay straight out under the shade of my heart as I was washing my bow only a couple of feet away. And because it was stretched out, I could count it by the bricks snug because a bricklayer laid bricks before one brick is now 240mm long with a mortar joint, and I can't deal with the 11 bricks or ten and a half bricks long has 2.5m. It's quite a long one is stronger than you. And it was just looking at me. And I was looking at it, said, hello, can I wash my bowl? When I next turned around, it could have struck me very easily without any problem. When I looked around, it actually changed its direction and its tail was pointed towards me and his head was pointing completely opposite direction. And it was amazing. Um, what I knew was, uh, a gesture of fearlessness and respect. It was almost like it was guarding me. You felt no danger at all as it put its most vulnerable, most vulnerable point this tail straight in my direction. So many stories like that of animals. Being your friends because you're the friends of animals. You respect them and they respect you. You can live at peace and you could enjoy their company. Now, when you respect those animals, the last thing you'd ever do would be to abuse them. To exploit them. You actually share your space with them and you enjoy their company. This is actually where we find the animals have their place in this world. Just like human beings have their place in this world. I think I said a couple of weeks ago, looking at the forest and every tree in that forest has its place. There are some trees which are falling over. There are some trees which are bent. There are some trees which are dead. But even the dead trees have their place. We don't cut down those dead trees, because those dead trees are the places where the the bird's nest. Every tree has its use in a forest. Every animal being has its place. Every person in this room has your place. You're all important. Sure, there are some trees which are tall and others? There are some trees which look beautiful. But that's not the point. Every tree is important in its own way. Has its place as welcome in the forest. Every person in this room is welcome here. It is. No, I am better than the person sitting next to me. There is no best tree in the forest. He's got their value in different ways. Every animal has got his value. That's why we respect them. Learn to be at peace with them. Then the animals can help us. When we realize just how much we have in common, and also how much we can learn, how much we can be friends, how much we can share, who will stop this terrible speciesism of our planet where we think our animals don't have feelings? Therefore we can go and kill them. Slaughter them? You know how these terrible animal experiments. I was actually disgusted once. Not once, many times. But this particular time I read in a newspaper that I think some American company were testing. They were testing American football helmets. You know, these American people play American football, wear these protective helmets. They were testing these helmets by putting, um. Our test models on chimpanzees and herding these chimpanzees are a bit wall. Just to test which which helmet sort of gave less brain damage. And what a stupid thing to do. Okay, maybe if it was for medical research. This may be an argument, but I don't agree with that argument myself. But just for football helmets, killing these monkeys again and again, I don't know how people can do that. I think they can only do that if it's like my grabby when they think somehow that, you know, they're not the same as us. They don't really feel, you know, they haven't got emotions, they don't feel pain. They're just like robots. But of course they're not. They feel this, their feelings. When you see Adam was suffer, they make you suffer as well. If you ever see one of those great ships coming out of Fremantle just packed with sheep. I don't know what you feel, but I was. My heart always drops. The poor beings. Why do we do that to those animals? Packed so tightly on the way up here. Every now and again, you pass these sheep trucks, and these sheep trucks are packed so tightly can hardly move. Sometimes their legs get trapped between the the small slits and you see it. And anyone with any compassion would feel so terrible. Why are we doing that to people? The shape of people. Are beings the same as us. Where we hurting animals being slightly like causing so much pain and suffering. Kind of way. Not less than that. I foresee in this life we can abolish it completely, in the same way that we cannot abolish, um, human suffering. But at least out of compassion, we should try to limit it, lessen needless suffering with our animals. Because animals are beings when you respect those animals. Then you have, for example, this common question which Buddhist asked me. Sometimes I have an animal like a pet dog or a cat and it gets very sick. Should you take it to the vet or should you not take it to the vet? Remember? Sort of. Jasper. Lord, you mentioned him telling me about this person who took their their Labrador to the vet. And the vet. Actually, he had a bad eye. Something wrong with it. So the the vet picked it up, so looked underneath it and up to this back at its head and told the owner, I'm sorry, gonna have to put it down. What do you mean, put it down? It's only got a bad. I said I gotta put it down because it's heavy. That was a joke. But sometimes. Sometimes you do have an animal with a problem. What do you do? And a lot of times my answer is actually ask the animal. Ask your cat or your dog. Withers had enough whether he wants to go to the vet and be killed. Be honest with it. You know you can give it euthanasia. Just like Doctor Nietzsche, Nietzsche saw your euthanasia by taking it to the vet. And sometimes you can ask that dog or that cat and the dog wants to go. It has had enough. By asking it, I mean, if you're the owner of an animal, although not the owner, but a friend who should really say it properly, a partner sharing the same house together. It doesn't take that much. Takes you to feel what the animal wants. And that's what I'd always advise. Ask the animal if it's a cat or a dog. Make it a question and feel what the answer is. And if you're at all sensitive to the animal who shares your house, you will probably know straight away you've lived with that animal for so long. You are partners. You know each other, you can feel what the animal wants. And sometimes you look at the animal and you know it's had enough. It wants to go to the vet. You know it wants to end its suffering, but its ending, its suffering. People these days say we put the animal out of its suffering. They don't. They put it out of your own suffering because people don't like they're afraid of seeing another person suffer. Who reminds us of our own suffering? You are certain animals. Sometimes they'll say, no, I don't want to. I'd rather be like this for a bit longer. Let your animal decide. Respect the animal. In our most kangaroos, which I've seen. I don't want to go to the fair. They don't want to be shot. If anyone to hit by a car. And sometimes we see the animals hit by a car on the side of the road. I just want to crawl under a bush and see what happens. To die in their own way. That's why it's a couple of times that's happened. I think recently one of our characters had a kangaroo. You know, we try and go as slow as possible on that road. Sometimes it does jump out from nowhere. I knew where it was and asked me, should we call events or the major rather. And we talked about it. We knew exactly what happened. The range which has come and shoot that kangaroo straight away. Can I say? I know I'm sensitive enough to know those kangaroos. They don't want to be sure. They want to die in their own way. Would you like to be shot if you're in hospital? If someone came along with a gun to bed, to bed, you had enough to want to be sure. He. So they free up lots of beds, I suppose, for. Maybe we should address the health crisis and not enough beds. Maybe we should suggest that to our local state government. Of course. It's a stupid suggestion. So why do we do that to animals? What are the animal decide? This is actually respect and sensitivity to our animals. And we have these terrible things like the bird flu. I've just killed so many animals and only there was a few injections. When you get a flu. Do you get killed when we have a flu going through? Sort of. Do we get all the people who've got flu and put them all together and kill them all and bury them in one big mound, just to make sure the flu epidemic doesn't go further and doesn't go to Adelaide or Sydney. That is, one rule for animals is another room for human beings. And I think Buddhism say no. The same rules should apply to both. The only reason they cure so many birds was economics. They'll Donna for money. I think our society shouldn't just go according to money. Surely we should have things like compassion, the quality of life, rather than the amount of power we have. So as a Buddhist, we've always, in the very beginning, had this respect for animals. This was a whole list of stories called Attica Tales. Before Walt Disney started anthropomorphizing sort of animals with Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, the Buddha was doing that 2500 years before Walt Disney even thought of it. With the jar ticker. Tales of animal stories. Beautiful animal stories. Animals who could speak. Animals who had compassion. Animals who sometimes sacrificed their life for somebody else. And they're very beautiful stories to read. Because they touch our heart. They make everybody who exists. Have a place. Have respect. So we overcome that speciesism with respect for our world. That's part of ecology. As part of being sensitive to our environment. He even actually recently someone came to our mother. She said, what about like the feral animals? Should we ask? What should we do with those? Because they're destroying so many other other beings. Should we actually catch and close? As sometimes I remember as a as a monk, seeing these little worms would come out of the ground when the first rains come and his black hands would attack them. Like, sometimes we'd be walking through the forest and the black ants would think your toe was a big fat worm and start attacking it. And just one. And they would sting. Used like a bullet. They're called mottling, and it makes you jump. They stung so much. And you saw this little worm with maybe 10 or 20. And the first time you saw this, you try and save the worm. You knew how much it must hurt and sort of, you know, get all the little, um, and software and release it. But then, was that being compassionate to the ants? Taking away their dinner. And after a while you realize that respect for nature is actually leaving it alone, not trying to control it. Not exploiting it. But respecting it. So I was actually saying to this lady, those feral animals, if we really want to destroy the feral animals who actually created so much problem in our natural environment, we should start with killing us. Where the worst of the feral animals have come to Australia. Human beings. Now you never think of actually putting poison out for all the people who actually visit the state forests. But that's not what we're doing with the cats, with the rabbits, with everything else. Somehow this just this is a change which always happens. The change of the environment is certain. Trees move south. Some other flora moves north. Animals come and animals go. This is part of the whole. We respect nature. We respect life. We respect species. We become a piece. With sort of nature the way that life is. Instead of always trying to be these great controllers. Exploiters abuses. We become these people with more respect and gratitude. In the same way that you respect and are grateful for the people you live with, for your husband, your wife. You don't want to call the pest controller in to exterminate your husband. I'm sure that if you had sort of not just termite exterminators, but husband exterminators, I'm sure they'd do great business improvements. But it's against the law. Thank goodness. But it's not just against the law, but it's against the idea of learning to live with things rather than learning to to exterminate things which we don't agree with or we don't sort of find harmful or difficult to bear. So in the same way, from the feral animals. We respect them to hang out with them to be. Stop controlling nature will find its way. We had this problem with the monastery in Chitose some years ago. This is a monastery which our sister monastery in Sussex. They had all these rabbits. Living in the ground, which was fine. And I know rabbits are quite cute and animals, but the problem was they would actually stay in the monastery all day, and at nighttime they'd go into the neighbor's fields, eat all their crops, and come back to the monastery for sanctuary. They're very clever. And of course, all the neighbours, they said, well, you know, you're Buddhist and all that, but, but you've got to be reasonable. This is our livelihood, you know that. They're eating all of our crops. You've got to exterminate them. So the monks were actually taught about it. It's true that we can't just be compassionate to the the rabbits and not be compassionate to our neighbors. They count to. Just did some lateral thinking. We don't need to exterminate them. Let's put a rabbit fence around the monastery to keep the rabbits in. So they went to a huge amount of expense because the rabid fans, you've got to actually dig it into the ground about a meter or something, because otherwise the rabbits would actually tunnel underneath it. So you go into this huge expense to put a rabbit fence around the monastery to keep the rabbits in. So the rabbits were happy, the farmers were happy, and the monks were happy. What a wonderful solution. But the farmers thought, you're crazy. Those rabbits will just keep on, um, growing and growing until they just swarm all over the monastery. But that never happened. Maybe it's because the rabbits took the example from the monks and kept the eight precepts. Oh, I don't know what it was. But certainly they actually got the gist right. Population. I stated that population and every increased above that. I don't know how they do it, but nature knows how to balance. That's enough. We don't need society to control, to exploit. Because controlling. Exploiting. That's what abuse really means. As Buddhists, we respect all living beings. Like all living beings, be happy and well. We don't need to control them or abusive. In the same way, we don't control the abuse the people we live with. We don't control or abuse the people we work with. We don't control or abuse ourselves. You have loving kindness, peace, acceptance, freedom from desire. To ourselves, to the animals. The same attitude goes to our meditation, goes to the beings we share this planet with, goes to the thoughts which share our mind goes to all beings said human beings and immaterial beings goes the heat and cold of the world. We learn to live with these things, to be with them, to appreciate them. We'd never become exterminators. And that's actually the Buddhist attitude to sort of animal abuse had no parts in early Buddhism, still has no part any animal abuse, human abuse, child abuse, wife abuse, husband abuse, and certainly what we really against his bank abuse. And if I go on talking any longer, you'll be abusing me. So thank you for listening to this evening's talk. So does anyone got any questions or comments on this evening's talk? Any questions? What about you? Haha. That's really a great story. Did you all hear that? Now, okay? She's saying she's got a big black cat in her house. And one day she bought one of these toy mouse like, which you wind up and runs along the floor for her cat. And when she first brought it, she actually wounded up, put it in front of her cat. And the cat just looked at her as if she was stupid, and thus calmly walked out of the house and came back in three minutes later with the life mouse and just dropped it at the floor and the mouse was still alive. The mouse was still alive and just looked at the owner, saying, you know what? You take me to be a fool or something. It's a great story. It's not the smart cat. And the animals know what's going on. And I think it's you could put one over on your cat or your dog. That's very nice. Very nice. Thank you for that one. Not just animals. Not just like cats and dogs, but other animals. They know what's happening. And if you're really kind to them, they know what's going on. Okay, I think that's probably enough for now. So we now have, uh, president.

Other Episodes