Animal Friends – Birds of Prey

Ryan Reynolds asked 3 years ago

At 44, I have recently discovered Buddhism and found it to be the spiritual path I have been looking for.  Never being religious, or spiritual, I am enthused to begin learning and practicing.  Unfortunately, I feel something near and dear to my heart seems prohibited, or against the general philosophy.  A better part of my life, I have been a falconer, working with birds of prey, and providing hunting opportunities for them in the wild.  I want to know if I am violating the tradition by posseting birds of prey.  Typically, birds of prey have an extremely high mortality in the wild.  I take adolescents and train them thru the winter to become effective hunters, and release them in the spring prior to mating season.  This gives them better odds at survival which hopefully perpetuates to their offspring.  I see this as a compassionate act and am hoping it will reinforce my practice, and not denigrate it.  I’ve googled, and found a little on pet ownership, but these are definitely not pets.  I was hoping to get an “official” answer from a practitioner. Thanks!

1 Answers
Bhante Pemaratana Staff answered 3 years ago

Dear Ryan

I appreciate that you reached out to us. I admire your concern and compassion towards birds of prey. It is also nice that you like to be with the nature. However, our compassion should be directed to all living beings. When we think in terms of species, we may feel like protecting endangered species. But in Buddhist practice we think in terms of sentient beings. It is not appropriate to denigrate one sentient being for the benefit of another irrespective of their species. It would be better if we let the nature to take its course. There can be a reason why birds of prey have a higher mortality rate. You can find other ways to help birds of prey like providing them more spaces to build nests etc. We may have preferences toward certain animals. But when it comes to the practice of lovingkindness, we should not limit it to certain animals. I truly hope that you can find other ways to help your favorite animals while developing lovingkindness to all animals.

with Metta

Bhante Pemaratana

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