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Buddhists free lobsters to live another day

Tibetan Buddhists buy 534 lobsters from seafood wholesaler and release them into Atlantic

4 August 2011

Buddhist monks release a lobster back into the ocean during 'Chokhor Duchen', or the anniversary of Buddha's turning of the Dharma Wheel, from a boat in the waters off Gloucester, Massachusetts.

A group of Tibetan Buddhists released 534 lobsters into the Atlantic ocean on Wednesday, saving the creatures from certain death and earning themselves extra karma.

Instead of being plunged into a pot of boiling water, the lobsters were taken out to sea on a whale-watching boat before being sprayed with blessed water and released one by one into the deep.

A group of Tibetan Buddhists flanked the sides of a whale-watching boat at dusk on Wednesday, sprayed the lobsters with blessed water, clipped the bands binding their dangerous claws and The 30 Buddhists traveled to the northern Massachusetts fishing hub of Gloucester to buy 272 kgs of lobster from a seafood wholesaler on 3 August, which is wheel turning day on this year's Tibetan lunar calendar � the anniversary of the first sermon Buddha taught, when the merit for positive actions is multiplied many times.

"Even if they get captured again, they've had a longer life," said Wendy Cook, former director at the Kurukulla Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies in Medford, north of Boston. Buddhists from the centre liberate masses of lobsters a couple of times each year.

Cook, a yoga instructor, led a ceremony that included prayers, mantras and walking boxes of the lobsters in a circle around blessed objects. This develops a karmic connection for the animals' future lifetimes and help ease future suffering, she said.

Monk Geshe Tenley, the Kurukulla Center's resident teacher, who was wearing a saffron robe, released the first lobster.

In India, Geshe Tenley said, cows, sheep and even goats are bought and saved from slaughter. But in New England, saving the lobsters and extending their lives � even if just for an hour � is most practical and a real way the group can make a difference in the lobsters' existence and their own.

"It's rethinking the way you normally see these creatures," said Victoria Fan, a graduate student who participated in the ceremony steps away from a sign for $15.99 lobster dinners.

"You're supposed to view them equally. Their happiness is as important as your happiness, their suffering is as important as your suffering," Fan said.

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