Venerable Guan Cheng and Team Rescue Cattle in Thailand


Written by Wong Ching Kin

Translated by Tara Lau

Cattle are considered sacred in Buddhism. They often carry special meanings and are used as a metaphor. In the “Lion’s Roar of Queen Śrīmālā Sutra”, “Nirvana Sutra”, ” Immeasurable Life Sutra”, and “Saṃyukta-āgama Sutra”,
cattle are used as a kind of metaphor. The Chinese Zen Master Kuo’an, who wrote a book called “The Ten Oxherding pictures”, also used cattle as a metaphor for “heart”.

From ancient times to the present, Buddhism has been closely related to cattle. However, the attitude of the world towards cattle is not quite the same. In the eyes of some, in addition to their use in farming, cattle are consumed as a source of food for humans. Cattle have contributed a lot to humans for thousands of years, but do we understand them? Do we know that they are also one of the sentient beings? Even more disturbing is that cattle have been slaughtered on a large scale throughout history.

About ten years ago, a monk and his friend went to Bangkok. They heard that the local cattle had been helping humans for ten decades but when they became old and were no longer able to work on the farm, they would all be slaughtered. The two of them could not bear this, so they looked around for a way to save them.

They asked the local monasteries but the response was negative. Some people want to do something for the old cattle, but they encounter many problems, and one of the main obstacle is that there is no place to house them.

This monk who travelled tirelessly all over the world to save the cattle is Venerable Guan Cheng, who was born in Hong Kong and founded the International Buddhist Temple in Vancouver, Canada.

Master Guan Cheng returned to the farm to perform a purification ritual for the elderly cattle.
Master Guan Cheng has tirelessly traveled far and wide for many years to care for the elderly cattle.

A large number of old cattle need to be rescued. In addition to local issues, other facilities must also be considered. Seeing this, the Venerable planned to build a farm, hoping that these old cattle could live there for the remaining of their lives.

In the blink of an eye, the wish the Venerable had made many years ago had now come true. This year, Venerable Guan Cheng returned to the farm again to perform the purifying ceremony to the old cattle, hoping that they could go to the pure land after they die.

Master Guan Cheng openly stated that the purification rituals help the cattle rebuild their trust in humans, emphasizing that animals also have the right to live.

The Venerable said frankly that when he performed the purifying ceremony for the cattle, at first they were very scared. It seemed like they were afraid that they would face the fate of being slaughtered. But after many years, they now know that they won’t be slaughtered, but rather being blessed. They have rebuilt trust with humans.

The Buddha taught us all living beings are equal. Cattle and humans are all living beings. Why should we exploit their right to live? Animals have emotions, just like humans. When looking in their eyes, you can sense a kind of compassion and affection. Over the years, the cattle have regained their trust towards humans and they are now no longer afraid of us. In the process of sprinkling the purifying water, the venerable felt that the cattle were relaxed, peaceful and happy.

The farm owner noted that seeing the elderly cattle live out their twilight years in this safe and peaceful place brings joy to everyone.

The Venerable has not been back to the farm since the pandemic. When he came back this time, he felt that the environment had changed a lot. There’s more space now and the surrounding area is equipped with better facilities. There is a pool where the old cattle can swim freely. Looking back before this cattle rescue farm was built, the cruel reality that these cattle faced still saddens the Venerable. He said: “These cattle have served us for ten years, some even for fifteen years. We should not take their lives when they are no longer able to work and contribute to us. People slaughtered them for food just like they had no values anymore.” The Venerable felt that was too inhumane, so he vowed to save these old cattle and build a farm specifically for them so that they could have a place to stay after they were retired.

There are currently more than dozens of people participating in the entire farm, including volunteers and staff. They all work very hard and selflessly for the well being of the cattle. In the process of taking care of the cattle, they realized what compassion, equality and love truly mean.

Mrs. Choi, who has rallied her entire family to support the farm, has vowed to continue caring for the elderly cattle for the rest of her life.

For example, one of Venerable Guan Cheng’s disciples mobilized his whole family to support Mrs. Choi on the farm. Although Mr. Choi has passed away and Mrs Choi is getting old, she vowed to continue to take care of the cattle in her lifetime. If she passes away, her daughter will take up the responsibility of taking care of the cattle.

The farm manager told us that some people used to buy cattle from the farm and took them to an unknown location. But now many people come to donate money, they would not take the cattle away but let them stay on the farm, so that the old cattle can spend every day in peace until the end of their lives. He saw these changes happen to the cattle. The local people began to respect the cattle and lives of the animals.

The company manager observed the positive changes in people’s attitudes toward the elderly cattle. The local community has begun to understand the importance of respecting the elderly cattle and valuing all life.

This is not just a farm, it is a place that can change people’s hearts. Therefore, the Venerable hopes to expand this project so more cattle can be benefited.

According to the farm owner, although taking care of the buffaloes is hard work, everyone is happy to see the old cattle enjoying their old age in this safe and peaceful place.

When it comes to the future of the farm, the farm owner, manager and Venerable Guan Cheng all agree that they wanted to continue expanding the farm and add more services and facilities for the well-being of the cattle. The Venerable said if they’re fortunate to get the plan proceeded as scheduled, he would like to expand to rescue more buffaloes as well as extend to dairy cows. Undoubtedly this is a very long journey, but they are confident that they will be able to carry out their hopes for the project in the future.

Reprinted from, Author: Wong Ching Kin, “Let Them Live Their Remaining Years in Peace — Master Guancheng and His Team Adopt Cows in Thailand and Change People’s Hearts,” April 2, 2024

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