Religions of the World and Ecology home

Joanna Handlin Smith

Abstract of paper given at Buddhism and Ecology conference:
Saving Animal Lives in Ming Ch'ing China: Buddhist Inspiration and Elite Imagination

The Chinese terms, "liberating animals" (fang-sheng) and "non-killing" (chieh-sha), can be traced back to the fifth century. but the arenas and methods for carrying out these ideas changed considerably over time. This paper will explore why later Ming scholar-officials attached importance to the saving of animals and how they shaped the practice to serve social needs. Examining the relationship between actual practice and textual sources, this paper will further suggest that the Chinese concern for animals had some life apart from Buddhism.