Performing Tsethar

How To Perform An Animal Liberation Ceremony

palzang-pigeonThe best way to perform animal liberation as a novice is by liberating creatures that are easy to release without worry for their future safety.  Worms, leeches grubs and other live bait used for fishing are good examples of life that can easily be spared and freed safely. These critters may be dismissed as “just” lower life forms that are even “yucky,” but even the “lowest” form of life wants to preserve itself in comfort, and wants to be safe and free of suffering.

We encounter insects and other critters in danger in everyday situations. You might see a common housefly trying to get outside but all it can seem to do is buzz incessantly along your window. Open the screen, say a prayer for its long life, and let it fly free! Maybe you are walking in the park and discover a ladybug stuck on her back. Set her upright and let her walk or fly away! Rescuing a dog or a cat from the local pound or rescue mission is another good way to practice tsethar.

Buddhists believe that sparing the life of any being in imminent danger of death is the highest of all virtuous activity. When animal liberation is performed with the motivation for the benefit and happiness of all sentient beings, it brings powerful healing benefits to the animal, the releasor(s), and all beings.  It removes obstacles to liberation and enlightenment, improves karma, helps overcome disease and sickness, promotes health and the long life of the animal and its releasors, creates favorable circumstances for liberation from samsara, or suffering, and creates prosperity and abundance.  The animal liberation ceremony ensures that all of these benefits materialize.

Anyone can perform a release ceremony.

1. First, bring the animals you are liberating together for anywhere between 15 minutes to 2 hours.

2. Then, recite one or more mantras. You can find a list of mantras here.

3. Give the animals mandrup, or blessing pills.  Mandrup is a mixture of herbs that have been blessed by as many as thousands of monks during a 7 day ceremony.

4. After the ceremony, spend some time in meditation and reflection on the importance of the act you just undertook.  Finally, dedicate the merit of the liberation to all sentient beings:

“Though this merit, may all sentient beings attain the omniscient state of enlightenment.  May they be liberated from this ocean of samsara, and its pounding waves of birth, old age, sickness and death.”

Try to sense the feeling of liberation itself, and how it felt to the animal(s) you just released.

Guidelines for the Safe Release of Birds and Fish

The most critical consideration during the release of a bird or fish is to make sure you release the animal into its natural habitat. The main concern here is that you do not unwittingly introduce an incompatible species into a habitat that will create imbalance and problems for itself and other species.
Be sure to release the animal during a time of year that will best insure its survival. For example, you do not want to release an bird during the winter if it migrates to your area only for the warmer weather.
If the animal was raised in captivity, its release may mean sure death rather than a long life because it has not learned survival skills in the wild.  Check with a local fish or bird store, your local Fish and Game Management Office, a local aviary or zoo or other expert to ascertain specific instructions on releasing particular fish and birds.
Once you have ascertained that the animal can be safely released into the environment you have chosen, inspect it to make sure the area is free of obvious predators and other dangers.