Of Compassion and Crustaceans

Saving a lost or stranded whale is great for the TV news and for making us all feel warm inside for a moment or two and kittens and puppies will never lack for advocates, for such are the advantages of being cute and fluffy. What then of the lowly lobster? Cursed with a face that even a mother couldn’t love and the serious drawback of being delicious with a little drawn butter, while many sing his praises, he is mostly admired after he has passed beyond this vale of tears.

Ah! But the great wheel turns even for the humble crustacean! On August 3, a group of 30 Tibetan Buddhists traveled to fishing port of Gloucester in Massachusetts and purchased approximately 600 pounds of live lobsters, not for a banquet, but for mutual liberation. August 3 is Wheel Turning Day on the Buddhist lunar calendar which marks the anniversary of the first sermon taught by the Buddha. On this day the merit of positive deeds is believed to be multiplied many times. Thus, the lobsters were taken out on a whale watching boat and, after having the bands removed from their claws, were sprinkled with blessed water and returned to the sea from whence they came. They believe that performing this act of compassion, by lengthening the life of the formerly doomed lobster, eases their own karmic burden.

In India sheep and goats are saved from slaughter by this practice. In Massachusetts they choose to release lobsters twice a year because it is a fishing community and also to remind themselves that these too are living things and as such are holy.

Be seeing you.




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