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Saving Lives and Creating Merit

for the Benefit of those who are

Suffering, Ill, Dying, and Deceased.

baitfish image.jpg

An age-old tradition in all the schools of Buddhism is to release animals in captivity that are destined for slaughter. In western culture this may seem foreign. The idea of donating money to sponsor this cause may seem questionable to some. Helping to save a flock of sheep or goats from becoming lamp chops and pet food, or fish, crabs, even worms that will be used to catch bigger fish that will be added to restaurant menus and home cooked dinners, may seem absurd. In Tibet, yaks were saved from becoming Tibetan cuisine.  Beings that we can actually save from untimely death, such as bait worms, fish and crabs, crickets, and other forms of life are routinely used by humans to benefit our needs and desires. 


Why would we want to do this? The concept of creating and accumulating merit may seem fairly new to the western world. Yet, Jesus certainly taught the importance of practicing compassion to benefit others, and the foundation of all major world religions arises from the basis of compassion. Prayer and an understanding of the importance of positive intention are universal, and even "karma" is now becoming a household word. Positive activity reaps positive effects. We can easily understand saving lives, especially our own. Creating merit and dedicating this action to benefit others is something we can easily do, and the results can be accumulated to benefit others and ourselves. 

When someone, or a group of people, or a nation is suffering due to the results of wrong action, violence, illness, epidemics - when people are actively dying, and following their deaths, we can help them by releasing beings who will unnecessarily die without our intervention. Any merit caused by our efforts to do this can be dedicated to benefit others. However, it's essential to remember that we need to do this with reverence, skill, and foresight. 


  • Worms used for bait can be bought at bait and tackle shops but be sure to refrigerate them up until the time they can be released in good soil where they can thrive.

  • Traditional Buddhist practice is always preceded by contemplating "right intention", refuge prayers, and the aspiration to benefit all beings, and followed by a "Dedication of Merit", intended to offer all the resulting positive karma to sentient beings. See this website's 'Aspirational Prayers' page for suggestions.

  • Specific to fish release, see 'Thangtong Gyalpo's Aspiration Prayer for Fish Release' by Chatrul Rinpoche (scroll down.)

  • Read here about "life release" and the precautions we must take not to cause harm in the process of freeing beings. For instance, only release aquatic animals into their own natural habitats in order not to cause disruption and damage by introducing them into the wrong  ecological environment.

  • Contact goat and sheep farms about their policies regarding keeping animals for grazing.

Here are Buddhist centers where you can help to sponsor these wonderful practices:

  • Dechen Rang Dharma Center / Monthly fish release with Lama Drimed Rinpoche [see their website for more information.]

  • Vajrayana Foundation - Pema Osel Ling / Animal release overseen by Lama Sonam Tsering Rinpoche & Tulku Thadral Rinpoche [see their website for more information.]

  • Kathok Shedrup Ling / Goat release with Venerable Lingtrul Rinpoche and Isis Hao. You may donate in various ways:

  1. PayPal: from a bank account "send money to friends and family" to: Using this method, PayPal will not deduct fees from your donation (best for large donations.)

  2. PayPal by credit card to  - Using this method, PayPal will deduct a fee from your donation

  3. PayPal donation button - Using this method, PayPal will deduct a fee from your donation. In Canada: / In the USA:

  4. Mail a check written to "Kathok Shedrup Ling" with the memo: "goat release" to: Kathok Shedrup Ling / 2664 Simas Ave. / Pinole, CA 94564-1214 / *mailing a check is also good for large donations / Bank wire transfer.

  5. Please email for instructions. ​Kathok Shedrup Ling, Venerable Lingtrul Rinpoche’s non-profit organization, is a California 501(c)(3) religious non-profit so all donations from the United States are tax-deductible.

TLC has no other info about donating to these organizations for life release .
Please contact them directly for
additional information.



"To The Spiritual Master, Buddha of Infinite Life, Amitayus,

And to his bodhisattva disciples, I bow.

I will now briefly explain the benefits

Of ransoming and releasing animals.


"To ransom and release animals
Constitutes a flawless practice
To be done with pure motivation and applied
By all of Shakyamuni's followers.


"The benefits of this practice have been described extensively
In many sutras, tantras and treatises.
Oceanlike gatherings of learned and accomplished masters of India and Tibet
Have considered this an important way to aid beings.


"For those of the Hinayana,
This practice represents the abandoning of harming others;
For those who have entered the mind of awakening of the Mahayana,
It represents the training itself;
And for pracitioners of the Secret Mantra,
It represents the principal tantric commitment of the Jewel buddha family.


"The reason for this is that in the world,

Nothing is more precious than life itself

And no negative act more serious than taking life.

Therefore, among composite forms of the roots of virtue,

None has greater benefit

Than the ransom and release of animals.

If you wish for happiness and good fortune,

Be diligent on this supreme path..."

- Chatral Rinpoche

Thank you for considering how to save lives and benefit others in whatever ways you're able to. 

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