The offering of compassion and wisdom
before offering any other item
is already the making of a great offering.
Recently, a Buddhist centre emailed me its annual White Tara retreat notice for dissemination. The retreat is dedicated to world peace, prosperity, longevity and well-being of all beings. Noticing that the event involved the use of cow milk as an offering, this prompted me to send a suggestion, ‘Is it possible to use soy milk as one of the auspicious offering items instead of cow milk for the retreat? I’m making this request due to the plight of many ‘factory-industrialised’ milk cows these days – “Cattle reared for milk production are exploited and made to suffer, just like animals reared for meat. They suffer from lameness, mastitis (inflammation of the udders) and other illnesses and – worst of all – they are forcibly separated from their calves just days after they are born so that humans can drink their milk. Cows are not some kind of special animal that produces milk automatically: just like every other animal, including us, they only produce milk to nurse their young. Male dairy calves, meanwhile, are useless to the dairy industry and are usually shot at birth.” (From http://viva.org.uk/goingvegan)
‘Am sure that Tara, who stands for great and universal compassion will understand. The use of kinder milk will more greatly align with her compassion. It would be a more truly auspicious offering too, including for the cows spared.’ To my delight, I received this reply, ‘Hi, I have forwarded your enquiry to our President… Thanks for being concerned about the mummy cows and their babies. Om Mani Padme Hung!’ To that, I replied thus, ‘Great thanks! The TDE-Weekly newsletter team, which is vegan, is quite uneasy with publicising animal-unfriendly activities.’ A few days later, I received another reply, ‘I have forwarded your request to our President, Resident Lama and Event Director. Upon considering the sufferings endured by the cows and their calves to fulfill the wants of humans, we have decided to replace cow milk with soya milk in the coming retreat. Thank You. Om Mani Padme Hung!’ With greater rejoice, I replied, ‘This is great news! Thank you so much, on the behalf of mother sentient beings [as all must have been our loving mothers many times in our many past lives]! Amituofo.’
From the notice, ‘White Tara (Arya Tara) offers abundant qualities such as peace, happiness, wisdom, prosperity, health, longevity, as well as the elimination of obstacles and dangers through her enlightened activities. She is depicted with a female body that is the brilliant white of a thousand autumn moons. Her third eye in her forehead symbolises her vision of the unity of ultimate reality while she simultaneously sees the relative and dualistic world with her other two eyes. Her hands and feet also have eyes, showing that all her actions are governed by her ultimate wisdom and compassion. She is the protective, helpful and comforting mother who shows limitless kindness, generosity and protection towards those who are tossed in the ocean of suffering, and if we recite her mantra and make a connection to her, we draw closer to developing her enlightened qualities in ourselves.’ I sincerely believe she will be smiling kindly over this blessed retreat, rejoicing that a traditional offering is not stuck to blindly but replaced with a kinder one. Om Tare Tuttare Ture Mama Ayur Jana Punye Puntrim Kuru Soha!
It is difficult for an offering to bring peace
if the offering did not come with peace.
An offering that sacrifices others’ well-being
cannot bring oneself true well-being.
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