Animals contribute to human survival, as sources of food; add to human knowledge as subjects for research; and educate and entertain visitors to zoos, aquariums, and circuses. Many people enjoy the companionship of pets. Animals nurture us, giving us pleasure and purpose, and contribute to scientific progress, as in medicine. Some of us wear fur coats or leather jackets without a qualm.
People of various backgrounds, however, have recently criticized the relationship between human beings and animals, which dates back to prehistoric hunting and animal husbandry. Since the nineteenth century, concerns for animal welfare have prompted measures to prevent human beings from inflicting pain and distress on animals. The animal rights movement, which began in the 1970s, advocates that animals have the same rights as human beings to be free of suffering and exploitation.
The world’s religions have specific beliefs about the relations between human beings and animals. Judaism and Christianity believe that while humans have dominion over animals, humans are the caretakers of animals and must not exploit them. Hinduism and Buddhism teach that animals can be reborn as humans, and humans as animals, in an endless cycle of rebirth and suffering. Islam teaches respect for animals as God’s creatures, while Jainism teaches that it is wrong to harm to any living thing.
Numerous cases of abuse or suspected abuse of animals are being reported around the world. These include keeping them in small cages for industrial livestock production, animal testing of cosmetics, and in Japan, euthanizing many dogs and cats abandoned by their owners.
For religion to teach the sanctity of life, it may need to address more actively issues of the life and well-being of animals, which many people are so concerned about. How does religion see the current treatment of animals in many areas of society? Does not belief in the sanctity of life require religion to provide ethical grounds to prevent the mistreatment of animals and impart the wisdom to improve human relationships with them? With these questions in mind, we will examine how religion views animals today and how it approaches the issues of their life and well-being.
Religion and Nonhuman Animals (Paul Waldau)
Japanese Ethical Attitudes to Animals (Katsuhiro Kohara)
Islam and Animals (Magfirah Dahlan)
Religion and Animals in the City (Dave Aftandilian)
Gratitude and Treasuring Lives: Eating Animals in Contemporary Japan (Barbara Ambros)
Miracle Stories of the Horse-Headed Bodhisattva of Compassion, Batō Kannon (Benedetta Lomi)
Nikkyo Niwano’s Vision for World Peace: Interview with Dr. Gene Reeves, an International Advisor to Rissho Kosei-kai
Bodhisattvas in Action: Living the Lotus Sutra in Text, Image, and History (Thomas Newhall)
The Vow on Mount Tiantai (Nikkyo Niwano)
Look Up to the Heavens, Feel No Shame in Doing So (Nichiko Niwano)
THE THREEFOLD LOTUS SUTRA: A MODERN COMMENTARY
The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law
Chapter 25: Th e All-Sidedness of the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World (6)
Published semiannually, Dharma World is a magazine that presents Buddhism as a practical living religion and promotes interreligious dialogue for world peace. It espouses views that emphasise the dignity of life, seeks to rediscover our inner nature and bring our lives more in accord with it, and investigates causes of human suffering. It tries to show how religious principles help solve problems in daily life and how the least application of such principles has wholesome effects on the world around us. It seeks to demonstrate truths that are fundamental to all religions, truths on which all people can act.
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