Lobsters – more so than a lot of edible creatures – seem to have a tough lot in life. Who as a child wasn’t simultaneously delighted and horrified to stare into a restaurant’s lobster tank only to realize that those funny looking crustaceans were about to become someone’s dinner? What other animals are subject to living in equal parts aquarium and buffet?
Well, for those empathetic young diners out there, it’s Buddhists to the rescue! (I’m not sure how many times in my life I’ll get to use that phrase.) This past weekend, the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society based on Canada’s Price Edward Island, released over 600 pounds of lobsters they bought from local sellers back into the wild.
“This whole purpose for us is to cultivate this compassion toward others. It doesn't have to be lobsters, it can be worms, flies, any animals, drive slower so we don't run over little critters on the street,” one of the monks, Venerable Dan, said according to CBC News.
The monks took a boat offshore and held a 20-minute ceremony, including a prayer and a chant to the Buddha of compassion, which coincided with the freeing of the lobsters. According to Venerable Dan, the local lobster trappers were even on board with the project. “Fishermen actually found us a better place to release lobsters so they won't be captured again,” he said. Paying for lobsters and then releasing them back into the wild: That sounds as beneficial to fishermen as it does enlightening for all of mankind.
And don’t worry if you’re amped for lobster roll season: These Buddhist stressed their mission was about highlighting compassion and not trying to shove a lobster-free diet down anyone’s throat. “We respect everyone's dietary choice, so we're not doing this to convert everybody to be vegetarians or vegans,” Venerable Dan also stated.