―A brief address by Tashi Nyima to the Richardson Interfaith Alliance (TX) during the Thanksgiving Observance
There is a quote that reads: “Having abandoned
the taking of life, refraining from the taking of life, we dwell without
violence, with the knife laid down —scrupulous, full of mercy—
trembling with compassion for all sentient beings.” ―Buddha Shakyamuni
When people think of Buddhist monks, if they think of us at all, they
imagine that we dwell in clouds of incense, smiling serenely,
unperturbed, meditating on nothing. But, as you just read, we are not
called to drift placidly in emptiness, but to “tremble with compassion
for all sentient beings”.
Not all abuse happens in dark alleys. Much unspeakable cruelty
takes place in the brightly lit aisles where we purchase the flesh of
animals, their eggs, their milk, their skin, their wool, their feathers,
and their fur. Those brightly lit aisles conceal the horrible darkness
where animals are confined, enslaved, tortured, and slaughtered for our
pleasure. I will not share with you the gory details, but the awful
truth is there for you to see, as plain as day.
What makes some beings worthy of compassion, while others seem to
merit only our disdain? Is it intelligence? Is it the ability to speak?
Is it the actions we perform? No. Are we not called to feel compassion
for the dull, the dumb, the infirm, and the disabled? Beings are worthy
of compassion because they are sentient —they suffer, they feel pain.
To desire only to reduce the suffering of human beings is nothing but
I come to you not to judge you, but to implore you to look
upon ALL our fellow sentient beings, human and non-human, with
compassion. If we cannot prevent the cruelty they suffer, at least let
harm not be inflicted for our pleasure, paid with our money, and
executed in our name.
We cannot speak sincerely of compassion while confining, abusing, and
slaughtering our fellow sentient beings. Compassion begins in our
shopping carts, in our closets, in our kitchens, on our plates.
If I have made you uncomfortable, I apologize. I am not here to
fight, but to get in the way. I humbly stand before you, as the Buddha
instructed, trembling with compassion …for you and for all beings. May
all attain the union of wisdom and compassion!