Animals In Buddhism

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When my family first arrived in the dirty city of Bangkok, one of the first things my little sister asked me was “Why are there so many dogs everywhere?” Being the dog lover that she is, she was extremely disappointed to learn that these dogs were not only nobody’s pets, but that she also couldn’t pet them unless she wanted to get some weird fungus or sickness on the first couple days of her vacation. As I explained to them that the reason for all the dogs was because Thailand is mainly Buddhist and it is not in their fashion to kill these dogs, they still had a hard time accepting this fact seeing how miserable many of them look. I didn’t really feel like getting into the deeper reasons at the time mainly because they knew nothing about Buddhism and they had so many other questions about the wild city of Bangkok, so I just left the explanation at a “I know, it’s really sad.” What I didn’t further explain to them was that the main reasons for the allowance of these dogs was that it is against the first precept to harm them, as well as the basic idea of karma. Although Buddhism saves and protects many animals, it is also the reason millions of animals are suffering in Thailand as well as causing many ecological problems.

As one first starts learning about Buddhism, they will learn that the most fundamental guideline of living a meaningful life is to follow the 5 precepts. Fortunately you don’t have to go too deep into these precepts before you come across the first precept of ahimsa, which is the prohibition against the bringing of harm and/or death to any living being.

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