The Fourth Chung Hwa International Conference on Buddhism: The Role of Buddhism in the 21st Century=第四屆中華國際佛學會議 -- 「佛教與廿一世紀」
中華佛學研究所=The Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies
臺北縣, 臺灣 [Taipei hsien, Taiwan]
The Fourth Chung Hwa International Conference on Buddhism：The Role of Buddhism in the 21st Century, Organized by Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies, DDMBA; January 18-20, 2002, Auditorium of Acemic Activity Center, Acemia Sinica. 第四屆中華國際佛學會議 -- 「佛教與廿一世紀」, 法鼓山中華佛學研究所主辦, 2002年1月18-20日, 中央研究院學術活動中心.
Buddhism in 21st Century; 佛教與廿一世紀
In the wake of the alarming degradation of the environment and destruction of large number of species of animals it has become imperative for humankind to reevaluate its attitude towards environment and animals. The Buddha fervently argued the importance of making ethical treatment of all sentient beings a theological priority. He opposed animal sacrifices (yajna) and paid special attention to the important task of building up an ethical system in which justice for animals is regarded as the norm rather than the exception. The Buddha's frequent reference to the migration of samskaras and rebirth across species lines reduces the psychic space between humans and other beings. In this paper，an attempt is made to show on the basis of early Buddhist literature that animals in Buddhism are not simply driven about by impulses beyond their control and that they are capable of both passion and voluntary motion. As the Animal Rights / Welfare Movement is growing stronger by the day，through this paper it is shown that Buddhism has many importance lessons to offer in this field. From Buddhist point of view，there is no creator god，only a continuation of what has been：time is beginningless, as is life itself. Each life state is interrelated and interchangeable，constantly taking new birth after the death of each particular form. The human condition is the highest，most desirable form of life，but is viewed in context as relating to and dependent upon virtually all other life forms. There is a continuity of substance between one's old body and a future embodiment. Given that all life forms are part of the same continuum，the consequences of one's actions require great consideration. The Law of Karma states that as you have done to others, so will be done to you. Karma in the present will make its presence felt in the future. Through accumulation of merits, one can avoid painful experience in the future. The most obvious painful act is one of violence; by abstaining from violent acts, one can avoid incurring a karmic deposit，which will require retribution in the future.
Buddhism upholds the notion that life must be protected. The treatment of animals is included in the first Buddhist precept：not to injure living things (panatipata). In the Vinaya Pitaka, the Buddha proclaims："a monk who has received ordination ought not intentionally to destroy the life of any living being down to a worm or an ant." This concern for animal and plant life. In the early days of the Samgha, the monks travelled during all three seasons, winter，summer，and the rainy season. The public，however，protested that "they crush the green herbs, they hurt vegetable life，they destroy the life of many small living beings, " particularly when travelling during the rainy season. Subsequently，the Buddha required that all the monks enter retreats and stop wandering during the monsoons. This public protest clearly indicates that the practice of ahimsa had by that time exerted broad influence，sufficient for people to advocate the adoption of this ethic by members of a religious order. One indicator of the Buddhist commitment to the ethic of not injuring life forms is found in the abundant references to animals in the teachings of both the Buddha and the later Buddhists.
The drive toward active animal compassion and vegetarianism was promoted especially by the Mahayana school. The viewpoint that all life is interrelated was used to promote the abstention from meat，and within a Buddhist context serves as a basis for protesting all maltreatment of animals. The Lankavatara Sutra also includes stories to emphasize the need for vegetarianism. The text states that "even Indra who had obtained sovereignty over the gods had once to assume the form of a hawk owing to his habit-energy of eating meat for food in a previous existence."
Buddhism views animals as sentient beings who have feelings and emotions. And they are able to improve themselves, at least in some of the variou