Translations

What Is the Value Of Liberating Lives? 放生有何价值?

放生一事,原为感发同人戒杀护生之心,实行自己恻隐不忍之念而已。

[This] one matter [of] liberating lives, originally [is] for] moving [and] inspiring similar people, [to give rise to the] mind of abstaining [from] killing, [and to] protect lives, [to] truly practise [the] thought of empathy, [from] not [being] able to bear [suffering] only.

世人多矣,心行各异,纵不能全皆感动,即感动一人,彼一人一生,即少杀若干生命,况不止一人乎。

Common people, [being] many, [have] changing minds, [with] each [being] different. Even if not able [to] completely touch all, even if touching one person, [in] that one person’s one lifetime, [he or she will] then lessen killing, [of] a certain number [of] lives. Moreover, [this is] not limited [to that] one person [only].

至谓小鱼被大鱼所食,即放之长江,亦难免不遭网罟。

Most [common people] say [that] small fish [will be] by big fish as eaten, [that] even if liberated in long rivers, [will] also [be] difficult [to] avoid nets [and] snares, [to] not encounter [them].

此种计虑,似乎有理,实则为阻人善念,助人杀业。

This kind [of] consideration, seems [to] have ‘reason’, [but] truly thus, [is] with opposing [of] people’s good thoughts, [while] supporting [common] people’s karma [of] killing, [as connected to the cycle of supply of killed animals for demand of their flesh].

其人幸得为人,或不至身受杀戮,故作此无理之理,以显己之智,能折伏放生者。

Those people [are] fortunate [to] attain [rebirths] as humans [now], or at least [with] bodies [not] receiving slaughter, thus saying this ‘reason’ of non-reason, with revealing of their ‘wisdom’, [to be] able [to] ‘subdue’ those [who] liberate lives.  

使彼为鱼,及诸生命,当受杀时,断断不肯起此种想念。

If they [are reborn] as fish [later], and [as] many [other kinds of] lives, when about [to] receive killing, [they will be] absolutely unwilling [to] give rise [to] this kind [of] thought.

唯冀有人救己之命,别无他种救亦恐或后来又被别物所食,别人所得,唯愿甘心受戮,免致后复遭殃等想。

[They will] only hope [there] are people [who will] save their lives, [being] without other kinds [of] thoughts, [of] after [being] saved, also fearing [of] perhaps also by other animals as eaten, [or by] other people as caught; [to thus] only wish to willingly receive slaughter [now, to] avoid causes [of] suffering again later. 

净土宗十三祖印光大师
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
复愚僧居士书
Reply Letter To Ignorant Monastics [And] Laypersons

Namo Amituofo : Translation by Shen Shi’an

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