Saving a life always gives us a great feeling of happiness and relief. Do you know the truth behind this? The practice of life release performed by Monks and Buddhists of Ba Vang Pagoda will provide you great insights into the hidden messages behind this practice.
Every year at Halong Bay, Quang Ninh, Vietnam, numerous captive animals such as saltwater fish and crabs are released into the sea by the Sangha and Buddhists of Ba Vang Pagoda. This life release activity is to promote compassion and create good conditions for sentient beings in Buddhism.
Life Release – a pragmatic method to prolong lifespan
Before releasing the animals into the sea, Monks perform rituals for them to repent and take refuge in the Three Jewels in the hope that they will be in favorable connection with the Three Jewels.
Releasing an animal into the wild brings huge benefits that not many people truly know. While scientists are trying their best to find ways to prolong the lifespan of humans, the Buddha already explained a simple, yet profound approach to this problem over 2,500 years ago. According to the Cause and Effect Sutra, freeing captive ones is a wonderful cause leading to longevity and health, which are the wishes of any beings in any realms—“Your longevity is due to your setting free sentient beings in your past life.”
Strengthening the mind of compassion by releasing captive animals
Do Buddhists perform the practice of life release only for the purpose of prolonging their lifetime? Or is there another meaning behind this? The Buddha taught all beings are equal and have Buddha nature. Freeing captive animals is highly encouraged because it creates a great opportunity to understand this truth. Moreover, it helps nurture the mind of compassion to the lives of all beings. When you raise a thought of freeing an animal to its natural habitat and hope to rescue an unlucky life, your mind of compassion and thus your merit grow. That is when you take one step closer to Buddhahood. It is the ultimate purpose of releasing captive animals.
Conducting life release in the righteous way is truly a humane action. It exhibits the beauty of compassion in Buddhism. We hope that the message of life release will widely spread so as to contribute to the awakening of the mind of compassion inside each person.