Buddhist Ceremony Honors All Creatures Great and Small

June 22, 2008

Author: Mandy Locke

Source: The News and Observer


Hundreds of bait-shop crickets and earthworms escaped death by fishhook Saturday.

At an animal blessing and release ceremony in Cary, well-meaning Triangle Buddhists rescued them from a fate as bait for bass or bream.

One by one, crickets hopped out of a cage and into the cover of pine needles at Cary's Ritter Park. The earthworms squirmed in their styrofoam containers a bit longer, bound later in the day for the moist flower beds of those who came to set them free.

"I know it might look a little strange because it's a cricket, but we're saving lives," said Stephanie Smith, a Buddhist from the Kadampa Center in Raleigh and an organizer of the animal release. "But these aren't crickets from my basement that I'd never think to kill."

It was an unusual sight for a Saturday morning in Cary. Incense burned in the muggy summer air, and three robed monks chanted along with a tape of their Tibetan brethren. Just behind the gathering, two T-ball teams squared off for a game. As monks bestowed blessings, joggers rushed past in fancy sneakers and running pants.

Participants in the event said that for Buddhists, all life is sacred. All living things -- even squirmy earthworms packed in bait containers -- possess consciousness, Smith said.