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Digging Ponds For Liberating Lives

Taken from the book "The Stories of Refraining from Killing & Liberating Lives".

During the Sui Tang Dynasty, the Patriarch of the Tian-tai sect was Venerable Master Zhi-zhe. He was also know as Zhi-yi. Emperor Sui-yang who was very respectful towards his virtuous conduct bestowed upon him the name of Zhi-zhe (The Wise One). The Great Master was always worried for those who killed animals cruelly for food. As he wished to change the mindset of the people, he asked his lay disciples to contribute towards the building of a pond meant for liberating lives. He used the money to buy sixty plots of lowlands in Zhejiang. The land was located next to the sea and its length measured more than four hundred miles. A large liberating pond was constructed on the land. Then, he would advise people to liberate lives and refrain from killing. Besides, he also managed to convince the Imperial Court to erect stone tablets with engraved wordings to prohibit people from catching fish. These tablets were still around until the year of Zhe-guan in the Tang Dynasty.

Later, many wise emperors and Sanghas also set good examples towards liberating lives. In the reign of Tang Xu-zong, in the second year of Rian-yuan, the Emperor ordered all Counties to dig ponds meant for liberations. Also, in the reign of Song Zhen-zong in the year of Tian-xi, the Emperor also widely encouraged his people to dig liberation ponds. The Lake Xi-hu in Hang-zhou was originally a liberation pond. It was dug during the Song Dynasty. It has now become a famous place of interest. During the Ming Dynasty, a Sangha, named Lian-chi also dug ponds for liberating lives at Shang-fang and Chang-Shou. Besides, he even wrote on the merits of liberating lives and abstaining from killing. He circulated his writings widely throughout the country to encourage people to be kind and humane and to abstain from killing. As you can-see, in ancient times, there were countless followers who had brought forth the mind to liberate lives.

However, times have changed since then, all the good practices advocated by our ancestors are diluting. We can see lighted fishing boats everywhere. At every midnight, the fishermen would be out at sea. Besides this, there are also different forms of fishing competitions and cruel sports which encourage the killing of animals for pleasure. It is indeed sad.

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