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Tsethar, the Buddhist Practice of Saving Lives

Life release, or "tsethar" in Tibetan, is a Buddhist practice of saving lives within both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist tradition. By buying animals who are destined to be killed and releasing them in their native environments, life release puts compassion into action. Unfortunately, most of the time we hardly realize that as human beings we have this precious opportunity.

Although every life is precious, the process of living inevitably causes us to take the lives of other living beings. We cannot completely prevent this situation because as long as we walk, breathe, eat, and so forth, we cause the deaths of many creatures. However we can cultivate mindfulness, and try to reduce taking lives to the best of our ability. We can also offer a gift of life and protection through the practice of Life Release. No matter what our lifestyle is, we can do this practice. It benefits those who offer the gift of life as well as those who receive it. And regardless of the religion we practice, its results will be strengthened if the practice is conducted with an aspiration that all beings without exception enjoy happiness and a life free from any harm.
In Buddhism the practice has two aspects: 1. The act of saving lives, 2. The blessing of the prayers that accompany life release. Specific practice instructions can be found at Kagyu.org, source of the above text. For more information on tsethar, please see also the page on
Chatral Rinpoche.

Most recent Tsethar november 3 th, 2013.
Buying animals to save them from a violent death is not a very common undertaking in the West. Also while living in a city most times tsethar is not that easy to practice. Since 2008 Shabkar.Org bought and released native lobster, eel and crab per tradition at Sojong (full moon) and released them in their natural habitat in IJmuiden, near Amsterdam, where Shabkar.Org is based. However, starting december 2013, donations will be partly used for tsethar campains in Asia where more lives can be saved with the same amount of money. More details will follow January 2014 via the newsletter. November 3th a Tsehtar was be held in Friesland, in the North of Halland by Dongag Changchub Chöling (also known as Us Thús, connected to Tulku Pema Wangyal). Shabkar.org sponsored this tsethar with 150 Euro via donations received through PayPal via the button below.

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In case you do not have a PayPal account or credit card: in The Netherlands you can transfer money directly to the Shabkar.Org bankaccount solely used for Tsethar: #49.06.29.148 ABN-AMRO Amsterdam, t.n.v. A.A. Kalden inzake Tsethar.
International bank transfer requires the following additional details: BIC code ABNANL2A or IBAN NL96ABNA0 490629148.

Releasing animals

"To The Spiritual Master, Buddha of Infinite Life, Amitayus,
And to his bodhisattva disciples, I bow.
I will now briefly explain the benefits
Of ransoming and releasing animals.

To ransom and release animals
Constitutes a flawless practice
To be done with pure motivation and applied
By all of Shakyamuni's followers.

The benefits of this practice have been described extensively
In many sutras, tantras and treatises.
Oceanlike gatherings of learned and accomplished masters of India and Tibet
Have considered this an important way to aid beings.

For those of the Hinayana,
This practice represents the abandoning of harming others;
For those who have entered the mind of awakening of the Mahayana,
It represents the training itself;
And for pracitioners of the Secret Mantra,
It represents the principal tantric commitment of the Jewel buddha family.

The reason for this is that in the world,
Nothing is more precious than life itself
And no negative act more serious than taking life.
Therefore, among composite forms of the roots of virtue,
None has greater benefit
Than the ransom and release of animals.
If you wish for happiness and good fortune,
Be diligent on this supreme path..."


- Chadral Rinpoche