Friday, July 13, 2007

Quote From a Reader

From a Reader:

By the way, I read the entry about fishing on your blog. I entirely agree. Where I live, fishing and hunting are all too common. It's a pity that the notion that "real" men do things like fish and hunt is so prevalent in our society today. In my opinion, "real" men protect those weaker and smaller than themselves.


  1. Elmo Buffin9:43 PM

    Dear Ven Yuttadhammo
    One must agree with your reader, especially with the last sentence. What we are really discussing is not only fishing or hunting but the way a person should interact with creatures who by their very nature are weaker or less fortunate, physically or mentally, than ourselves. I remember many years ago a letter to the old Dhamma-List by Bhikkhu Dhammapiyo, who at that time was a monk in Kathmandu and also as a medical doctor helped treat the poor at a clinic in the city. His letter was a response to a query about how Buddhists should treat animals. It was written to an open forum so I'm sure he wouldn't mind me repeating it here - I found it moving and helpful.

    >Dear Friend,
    The animals you give refuge to, help you, right? Their affection is often untainted. While they do not hear and listen to the Dharma, are they outside of it? The Buddha was often meeting up with animals who showed him great respect, and being very compassionate he was always kind to animals. I recommend this book: Roshi Philip Kapleau's *To Cherish All Life* Your question is not goofy at all. I think pigs are even more intelligent than dogs, and I have heard a few accounts of this. Is it so? As a bhikkhu, I cannot keep animals, but I feed some street dogs every evening from scraps I collect from the local shops that sell bread and biscuits. They offer the older and stale stuff. I also leave the crumbs for the birds. Some old rice I found the other day has the birds coming to the window where I reside here. They are lovely creatures. Feeding a group of street dogs here, even a few stale pieces of bread, biscuits, scraps they come to know not only the compassion shown, but they show it themselves. They are simply grateful. Greeted everyday upon leaving and returning, these friends never forget to make greetings. One sneaks in now and then and scratches on the door to the room where this communication is coming from. The relationship has also involved treating them when they are ill. Fortunately, this winter was not hard on them. Last summer one was laid out by the monastery doors, bleeding from the nose and mouth and in severe respiratory distress. On the way to a clinic to see sick people, how does one ignore this suffering? Is the suffering somehow less important? After some medicating and begging food and water, for this one little and devoted friend, "Spots" recovered. Spots knows. Spots remembers... Spots just does not listen to Dharma talks very well. But he literally prostrates at the feet of this bhikkhu every time there is going and returning from the monastery. Actually, it is the silence that is so lovely. No criticisms. No complaints. No demands. What is spoken comes from hearts. And though very different from human ones, the silent conversing of these two kinds of hearts, is silence breaking silence. Don't underestimate that a creature not human might be capable of its own respect and worship --- of nothing more than the understanding it has according to its nature, limited or not, of things just the way they are.

    Bhikkhu Dhammapiyo

  2. Dear Elmo,

    Thanks for sharing, that's a nice quote. Tangentially, it's sad that nowadays people take advantage of monks' kindness to animals by depositing their unwanted pets at the door of the monastery; silent dogs, of course, are in the minority :D

    Best wishes,