On a sunny morning
in late April, Lama Zopa Rinpoche was looking out through his dining room window
and saw a red-tailed hawk gliding low over the hill. "It's looking for birds,"
he said. An attendant mentioned to Rinpoche that he often had the wish to chase
the hawks away when he saw them hunting but was concerned that by doing so he
would be depriving the hawks of their food. Rinpoche replied to his comment as
If you protect one bird from the hawk you protect the hawk from
hundreds of thousands of eons of creating negative karma and experiencing birth
in the lower realms. Negative karma can result in suffering. One karma leads to
many negative karmas and hundreds of thousands of eons of lower births, because
karma is expandable. Even birth in the human realm is a cause to experience the
three sufferings of aging, sickness, and death.
All actions have a result.
When you harm, you receive harm back. With the experience being similar to the
cause, you harm again, and so you receive again the four suffering results and
birth in the lower realms. And so it goes on and on like this with no end.
chasing the hawk away from a bird, the bird gets so much happiness for many lifetimes
and freedom from the four suffering results and endless suffering. In addition,
the bird gets saved. You cause it long life and protect it from death.
went on to explain how to offer food to birds and other animals in the best way.
we give food to birds we should chant the Mitrugpa, Medicine Buddha, Chenrezig
and Five Powerful Mantras and then blow over the food. Giving food to birds protects
them from hunger and thirst. The most important benefit is that it purifies negative
karma and defilements. It helps them to not be born in the lower realms, by purifying
them. It blesses their minds. By giving food in this way, it becomes a practice
of loving kindness, of giving material things, and of giving fearlessness and
purifying negative karma. There is so much suffering and fear in the lower realms
and this is a way to protect them from it.
There are different types of charity.
There is charity of materials, charity of loving-kindness, charity of Dharma,
and charity of fearlessness. Benefiting sentient beings is a samaya of Vairocana.
When you take Highest Tantra Yoga initiation you take the vows of the Five Buddhas.
attendant mentioned that at a nearby Dharma center there were many bird feeders.
At one feeder was a small box which plays the mantra of Chenrezig for the birds
to hear as they eat. When the food is gone and the batteries have run low, the
birds sit on the fence near the feeder and wait patiently for someone to come
and fill the feeder, and, presumably, to change the batteries in the mantra machine.
Feeding the birds and the other animals doesn't have to
be done for one's own pleasure but can instead be a sincere practice of giving.
The paramita of charity is the Ratnasambhava samaya in Highest Yoga Tantra and
is also part of the three times morality samaya of Vairocana - integrating virtue.
are offering fearlessness by saying mantras and then blowing on the food or water.
This is morality working for sentient beings - giving sentient beings what they
need. Giving food and water is material generosity. When the mantras are said
and blown upon the food and water it becomes the charity of fearlessness, and
when you play the mantras so that the animals can hear them it becomes the charity