The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights

Front Cover
Lantern Books, 2004 - Nature - 208 pages
2 Reviews
Buddhism ought to be an animal rights religion par excellence. It has long held that all life forms are sacred and considers kindness and compassion the highest virtues. Moreover, Buddhism explicitly includes animals in its moral universe. Buddhist rules of conduct--including the first precept, "Do not kill"--apply to our treatment of animals as well as to our treatment of other human beings.

Consequently, we would expect Buddhism to oppose all forms of animal exploitation, and there is, in fact, wide agreement that most forms of animal exploitation are contrary to Buddhist teaching. Yet many Buddhists eat meat--although many do not--and monks, priests, and scholars sometimes defend meat-eating as consistent with Buddhist teaching.

The Great Compassion studies the various strains of Buddhism and the sutras that command respect for all life. Norm Phelps, a longtime student of Buddhism and an acquaintance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, answers the central questions of whether Buddhism demands vegetarianism and whether the Buddha ate meat. He is not afraid to examine anti-animal statements in Buddhist lore--particularly the issues of whether Buddhists in non-historically Buddhist countries need to keep or to jettison the practices of their historical homelands.

 

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Contents

The Rosary of Death
1
Life on the Farm
7
Mother Beings
25
Reason and Rights
35
The Great Compassion
42
Thus Have I Heard
55
The Last Supper
73
A Branch of Sorrow
85
The Western Seduction
135
The Diamond Vehicle and the Dalai Lama
147
The Rosary of Life
160
Notes
171
Glossary of AnimalRelated Terms
183
Glossary of Buddhist Terms
187
Suggestions for Further Reading
193
WebsitesResources
199

Precious Human Birth
95
The Cabbage and the Cow
109
More Mind Games
120

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Page v - BEFORE DANGER, ALL FEAR DEATh. WHEN A MAN CONSIDERS ThIS, HE DOES NOT KILL OR CAUSE TO KILL. ALL BEINGS FEAR BEFORE DANGER, LIFE IS DEAR TO ALL. WHEN A

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About the author (2004)

Norm Phelps has a bachelor¿s degree in history with a minor in philosophy from the University of Maryland, College Park. He is currently the spiritual outreach director of The Fund for Animals and has been a practicing Tibetan Buddhist for the past twenty years. He studied for twelve years with the Venerable Lama Kalsang Gyaltsen at the Sakya Phuntsok Ling Buddhist meditation center in Silver Spring, Maryland. He has received teachings and initations from His Eminence Luding Khen Rinpoche, Her Eminence Jetsunma Kushogla, His Holiness Sakya Trizin, head of the Sakya order of Tibetan Buddhism, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is the author of The Dominion of Love: Animal Rights According to the Bible (Lantern Books, 2002).

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