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2017 Autumn-Winter Group Practice of Animal Life-Release

The yearly autumn-winter animal life-release has started on September 21st this year. It is a worldwide daily practice among Khenchen Sherab Zangpo Rinpoche’s followers, Buddhists and even people who have other beliefs. The daily life-release will be performed consecutively for 100 days.

Khenchen has been making great effort to promote and perform animal life-release in recent years. His commitment was inspired by His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche, who, as Khenchen once recalled, “was always sad to see animals suffering or being slaughtered, and would use every means to save them.”  Inspired by His Holiness, Khenchen and His Holiness’ other students are active in animal release that brings freedom, joy, and fearlessness to animals being saved, while at the same time instilling compassion, warmth, and confidence in those who help the release.

In 1997, His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche led the monastic members at the Larung Buddhist Institute to practice on Yamantaka, a wrathful deity of Manjushri. Early one morning during the period, His Holiness had a dream about his root teacher Thubga Rinpoche. In the dream, Thubga Rinpoche said to him, “This group practice has extraordinary merit and will greatly benefit sentient beings. What a large-scale life-release it is.” Then Thubga Rinpoche talked about various merits and virtues of life-release. Knowing that life-release would delight his teacher, His Holiness told Thubga Rinpoche that he had saved at least 100m animal lives through the practice since his return from Singapore. Thubga Rinpoche was full of praise for what he did.

His Holiness later taught that among various virtuous deeds animal life-release is the one that pleases buddhas, bodhisattvas and root teachers the most. Therefore, His Holiness encouraged both monastic practitioners and lay disciples to devote time to animal life-release. At one stage, His Holiness even gave Khenchen and several other disciples 20,000 yuan (about $2,400 at the time) every day for them to perform animal life-release in non-Tibetan regions of China. This heralded a growing practice by His Holiness’ followers.

Over the following 20 years, Khenchen has been leading monastic practitioners and lay disciples to perform animal life-release in China and other parts of the world. As autumn and winter are the peak seasons when yaks and sheep are slaughtered, Khenchen and his followers tend to devote more time to save animals in this time of the year. Gradually, group practice of animal life-release in the autumn-winter period has become a tradition.

Below is a teaching given by Khenchen on the benefits of group practice of animal life-release.

According to the sutras, one who joins in a group practice of animal life-release will benefit from the entire merit and virtue accumulated collectively rather than sharing only a portion of them. For example, if a group has saved 100m animal lives together, each participant will accrue the same amount of merit as the entire collective merit of saving these animals. Therefore, this kind of group practice yields inconceivable merit, which would grow even greater if participants have the right motivation and dedicate the merit compassionately. Such group practice helps us to swiftly purify karmic obscurations and accumulate vast amount of merit.

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