So, that is the sunrise here the other day. Lately, the planet Venus is appearing low on the eastern horizon, about three o'clock in the morning, which is when the day usually begins for me. It is amusing to whack the drum, and ring the bell, while the planet's reflected light disappears in the daylight. Life on earth can be so beautiful.
Life on earth can be so trying.
You may recall that in our annual astrological prognostications for this wild year of the Iron Tiger, we said, "This year may witness terrible cruelty to animals, so it is important to see to animal welfare as much as possible."
Alas, as a glance at the news will confirm, it seems that we were right. There have been numerous, notable incidents of animal cruelty this year -- and of course, this week, we bear witness to the annual, mass foulness to fowl known as "Thanksgiving." Quite candidly, I do not find a year in recent memory when I have seen so many, terrible reports of wickedness done to wild creatures. Even domestic pets have suffered, to the extent that one suspects collective madness -- or, more to the point, growing cultural insensitivity.
So, what to do? Where to begin?
This is a purely personal opinion, but I think the best way to begin is to set up a boundary, and to declare everything within that boundary a cruelty-free zone for the critters. This does not take very much in the way of materials or logistics, and is a measure well within almost everyone's reach. This boundary can encompass your house and grounds, or even your apartment.
The important thing is, you are designating a particular space where you are willing to take responsibility.
Last year, we ran an item entitled Certifying Buddhist Wildlife Habitats, and I would again like to bring this resource to your attention. Also, last November, we ran an item entitled Signs and Wonders, that discusses Buddhism and environmentalism in philosophical terms. We actually received quite a satisfying response to those items, and some others like them, and were pleased to learn that we inspired some concrete action.
One of the best online resources I have seen on this general subject is a piece by Jamyang Norbu, that discusses wildlife and nature conservancy in old Tibet. We linked to this piece in our item For the Birds, published last December, and also -- in a somewhat different context -- in our item Cuckoo for Commentary, published this past summer.
I want to encourage you to follow some of these links, and investigate what might be involved with commencing your own efforts. Once such measures are underway, you will begin to notice tangible results almost immediately. Members of the de facto "focus group" that supports Digital Tibetan Buddhist Altar will readily attest to this. For the past couple of years, I have been documenting the changes we have seen in the immediate environment, using dated photographs of animals, birds, insects, plants, and weather.
Since we designated boundaries, protected populations have gone up, the critters have mostly stopped trying to eat each other, there has been increased diversity in population, and we are getting more than our fair share of rainbows.
If you choose to go this route, I believe you will find that the "wave effect" extends into every corner of your life, and more importantly -- all life around you.