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Buddhist Animal Release Practices: Historic, Environmental, Public Health And Economic Concerns

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Animal release has long been a component of Buddhist practice, although it is little studied contemporarily. This paper examines the historical roots of these rituals, arguing that they may ultimately have been adopted into Chinese Buddhist practices. A short survey of contemporary Buddhist practice in various traditions is given, including references to important scriptural authority. Practices involving large-scale, ritualized animal release is then argued to have a number of unintended negative environmental repercussions, resulting in potential new, non-native invasive species. These practices are also considered from contemporary economic and public health perspectives, culminating in the argument that their compassionate intentions are often lost in the act.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2008

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