I’ve been in the studio for the last three weeks, and haven’t gotten out much. So when an invitation to go fishing came this morning, I couldn’t resist. Being a vegetarian, I didn’t plan on fishing, but the ability to get out and see the mountain streams and forests was too much of a temptation.

It was beautiful, majestic really, and the painting gods were kind to me. As it happened, I got to help 3 fish as well. I noticed a fish that was in distress, and upon further examination, I noticed that it had a line stuck in its mouth and all the way down it’s throat. That line in turn was tangled around a rock. I caught it, clipped the line,  and let it swim away. A second fish was trapped in a small creek that was rapidly drying out. I was able to catch it, and release it back into the main stream. Happy to help my friends the fish.

The third fish was caught and released by one of my companions, but unfortunately it wasn’t able to recover and was slowly dying.. I was able to go into the stream and “fish” it out. Despite trying to help it swim away, it was more content to float belly up, it was suffering and barely still alive. To put it out of it’s misery, I pulled it’s head back and snapped its neck. It was the most compassionate thing I could think to do.

Sometimes, it seems that death is a more compassionate choice.

In a cavern of the mountain, the Buddha beheld a young tigress that could scarcely move from the place, her strength being exhausted by the labour of whelping. Her sunken eyes and her emaciated belly betokened her hunger, and she was regarding her own offspring as food, who thirsting for the milk of her udders, had come near her, trusting their mother and fearless; but she brawled at them, as if they were strange to her, with prolonged harsh roarings.

On seeing her, the Bodhisattva, though composed in mind, was shaken with compassion by the suffering of his fellow-creature. “My dear, my dear,” he exclaimed, “Behold the worthlessness of Saṁsāra! This animal seeks to feed on her very own young ones. Hunger causes her to transgress love’s law. Alas! Fie upon the ferocity of self-love, that makes a mother wish to make her meal with the bodies of her own offspring!”

“Why should I search after meat for her from the body of another animal, whilst the whole of my own body is available? Not only is the getting of the meat in itself a matter of chance, but I should also lose the opportunity of doing my duty.” And, with that, he cut his arm and let her lick the blood. When she became more revived, she began to nibble on his fingers. He then cut his arm off, and then his leg. Soon she regained enough strength, and ate him whole.

So then, even in the many reincarnations and former births, the Buddha showed his innate and immense love towards all creatures, and identified Himself with all creatures. Who am I to do less for those that I may help. Do I fear death so much and attempt to preserve my life at such a cost that I loose sight of love? Love is the very act by which we give life and offer our own.

 

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