To liberate the living means to respect the right of all living beings to live
and be free. Liberating living beings enables us to transform our hateful and
defiled thoughts into thoughts of kindness and purity, and obtain the benefits
of longevity, health, and peace.
"Liberate the living" is a traditional Buddhist ceremony which involves
purchasing birds and fish from slaughter houses, transporting them from the edge
of death to the ocean shore, and setting them free.
The elaborate ceremonies concentrate participants' thoughts on the Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas in repentance of all karmic obstacles to liberation. Then the animals
are released in a joyful burst of wings. The message: oppression, war, and killing
can be rooted out without violence if we respect the right of living beings to
live and to be free, and liberate them. We can do this by transforming our hostile,
aggresive, and jealous thoughts into thoughts of compassion and peace; in liberating
other creatures, we liberate ourselves.
In general we must all realize that our actions are usually motivated by other
than pure principle. We must all, young and old, leader and citizens, give birth
without cease to hearts of great compassion, break free from harmful habits, and
apply the true principles of human life to the community of all living beings.
We must renounce ourselves and rescue others, benefit ourselves by benefitting
others, respect all creatures, and see the universe of beings as one family. This
is the true meaning of the heart of liberation.
Vajra Bodhi Sea, June 1974