Show Your Love and Compassion to Animals
What is the real Bodhichitta? When it comes to the way human beings treat animals, to abuse, kill or eat animals for the sake of our own happiness or well-being in this lifetime, is actually cruel conduct and far away from the practice of Bodhicitta. As the real Bodhicitta is to provide all sentient beings with the greatest possible happiness, every follower of Mahayana Buddhism should reflect on his or her attitude toward animals and try to abstain from eating meat. In fact, every religious follower needs to pay attention to such a spirit of compassion and to have compassionate conduct.
For anyone who practices Bodhichitta, if he only has the idea of pursuing his own well-being during this lifetime, such an attitude is actually far away from Bodhichitta. The real Bodhichitta is to provide all sentient beings with the greatest possible happiness. That’s where the essence of the teachings of Bodhichitta lies.
Now look at the animals, they’re just like certain weak tribes or nations who existed hundreds of years ago and who were severely ravaged by nations of greater power. Similarly, animals are mistreated, abused, and even killed or deprived of their precious lives by human beings. This is happening every day around the world―incalculable animals are abused and killed. Indeed, this conduct is very cruel and heartrending from the perspective of Mahayana followers.
We Mahayana followers, whether Easterners or Westerners, should take time to think about the protection of animals. Why? Many followers of Tibetan Buddhism and other traditions in Western countries have the habit of eating meat and in fact, we human beings love eating meat; however, such behavior directly or indirectly harms the lives of other sentient beings.
So, if we find being a strict vegetarian to be too challenging, we should try to take vegetarian meals several days a month, or at least once a week. We can practice in this way and eventually change our habit of eating meat. According to Surangama Sutra and Nirvana Sutra, eating meat actually is no different to depriving sentient beings of their lives.
I really admire Han Buddhism, because it has been preserving a tradition of abstaining from eating meat for over 1000 years, and even until now the tradition is still very complete and pure. On this point, I encourage compassionate practitioners from all over the world to learn from them and reflect on it over and over again.