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What is Animal Liberation?

What is animal liberation?

Animal liberation in the Buddhist tradition is a practice to save an animal from impending death, such as an animal soon to be killed for human consumption, and doing prayers and practices to help that being. It is also a practice that benefits those who do the liberating. It brings them much merit (good karma) and it can be helpful in removing life obstacles due to such things as serious illness. It is also a way to generate compassion.

Rescuing sheep from the butcher

What animals need is a get-out-of-jail card not just for this life, but also for the lower realms and ultimately from cyclic existence altogether. The Buddha explained how difficult it is to get out of the lower realms, where beings continually create more negative karma and the causes for more and more animal and lower realm rebirths. To really help our animal brothers and sisters, we need to help them create the causes for higher rebirth and enlightenment.

Lama Zopa blesses a rescued goat

It is also very important to ensure that the animals have the best possible care after they have been ‘saved’ from death. Good animal liberation practice combines compassion (the wish to free beings from suffering) with wisdom (a recognition of cause and effect and the interconnectedness of things). Releasing animals where they will immediately be under threat is not ideal, nor is releasing animals where they will cause harm to others, such as animals from a different ecological niche that become an environmental problem. It is therefore an important part of the animal liberation practice to look carefully at the suitability of liberating animals in your area.

See Prayers and Practices for more information.