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The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights Paperback – July 30, 2004


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The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights + Creatures of the Same God: Explorations in Animal Theology + Animals and World Religions
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Lantern Books (July 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590560698
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590560693
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #814,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Norm Phelps is spiritual outreach director of The Fund for Animals, where he works to encourage faith communities of all traditions to include animals within the scope of their compassionate ministries. He lives in Funkstown, Maryland.

More About the Author

Norm Phelps is the former spiritual outreach director of The Fund for Animals, as well as a founding member of the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV) and a contributing writer for Satya. His goal is for faith communities of all traditions to include animals within the scope of their compassionate ministries. Norm Phelps is author of The Dominion of Love, The Great Compassion and The Longest Struggle. Norm lives in Funkstown, Maryland with his wife, Patti Rogers, and their family of rescued cats.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
Find peace through action.
gizmo
He makes a good argument and tells it like it is.
L. Whitman
It is well thought out and written.
Jennifer Wilmoth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Gabe K on August 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
The Great Compassion: Buddhism & Animal Rights joins Roshi Philip Kapleau's To Cherish All Life and Bodhipaksa's Vegetarianism as the only readily available books on this subject matter. However, the breadth and scope of The Great Compassion mark it as a truly groundbreaking work in this field, indeed, in western Buddhism.

Compassion author Norm Phelps leaves no stone - or excuse - unturned. His book takes us through moving and horrific descriptions of the treatment of animals in factory farms, and the biological foundations of pain and pleasure - evidence of pain perception, including fish and amphibians - and on to the inseparable link between vegetarianism and compassion. He compares the compassion of Buddhism as it stands against other religions and philosophies and offers concise descriptions of compassion, loving-kindness, and the Five Precepts. Phelps dives deeply into the confusion over the transcribing and translation of the Buddha's words and thoroughly discusses the over-rated "three-fold rule" of meat eating. The author has a strong grasp of Buddhist theology and history, and he relates all this information, which is sometimes quite upsetting, with a sense of wit. He thoroughly and convincingly tears apart all the ridiculous arguments held by Buddhists that are attached to flesh foods, like the attachments to vegetarianism (how can one be attached to compassion?), "the Buddha ate meat, so why can't I?" (a claim that has now been widely discredited by historians), and other cloaks behind which meat-eating Buddhists hide.

Compassion's complete dismemberment of all the myths and arguments regarding vegetarianism in Buddhism can only be ignored by the blindest of practitioners.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jane Easton on February 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
I love Norm Phelps. Really. As a vegan who was drawn to Buddhism because of its philosophy of interconnectedness and compassion, imagine my dismay when I discovered that some Buddhists ate meat. Phelps has helped me to understand the social and historical context of the various forms of Buddhism, as well as the excuses of Buddhists when it comes to eating animals. Rather than throw up his hands in disgust, he encourages the reader to think 'OK,this is wrong - but that doesn't mean that Buddhism is to blame'. There is a phrase called 'idiot compassion' in Buddhism, but Phelps doesn't indulge in that. He is reasonable, fair but firm, pulling no punches when it comes to examining the ethical 'loopholes' that some Buddhists create to justify their diet. However, he offers hope also, in the form of compassionate alternatives. There is a better way, a way that liberates animals from suffering as well as liberating ourselves from cruelty and self-seeking behaviours. All animals, including us, deserve no less - so read this book, be thankful for this big-hearted, compassionate and inspiring writer - and hopefully you too will take a few brave steps towards a kinder way of life. There are a million and one good reasons to be veggie - or even better, vegan. With a wealth of great recipe books (and gorgeous food), benefits to the animals, your own health, the environment and the world's hungry, it's never been a better time to make the change.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bob Isaacson on January 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book about the direct connection between eating animals and products made from animals and the unimaginable suffering caused by the production of food and other consumer products made from the bodies of animals. For those who are curious about what the Buddha and the dharma said about these issues, Norm Phelps presents a thorough and compelling review of the Buddha's teachings. He also responds directly to the "justifications" offered in support of eating animals and products made from animals. A very important contribution to the "modern day" view of the dharma and animal slaughter. Very highly recommended.
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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Rigpai Dorje on March 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
I have greatly enjoyed reading this book. It has provided fuel for discussions and debates with teachers and friends. For that I would have given it 4 Stars. However, I was a bit disturbed by what seems to be a lack of understanding of the point of view of some teachers the author openly critizes without futher exploring their statements. Something the author fails to understand is that one can be vegan and still be full of anger and rage. One can eat meat and be further along in working with the nature of their mind. I am personally vegan and a Buddhist monk, and I believe veganism to be a natural progression on the Path. Yet non-violence is defined in abhidharma literature as the absence of anger and intention to do harm. As such, one can be 100% vegan and still not be non-violent due to presence of strong anger in their mindstream. In Buddhism, all facets must be taken into account for the debate to be valid. We cannot just rely on our feelings as they are what have kept us blinded to our state in samsara for all these eons. This is a wonderful book to use for discussion, yet one must read it with a grain of wisdom to see beyond the author's own point of view.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Wilmoth on October 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most well written and inspiring books about animal rights I have read in a long time. On top of that the connection to Buddhism makes quite the argument against the eating of meat, dairy, and eggs. (something I already do not partake in) Some western Buddhists twist the meaning of the Buddha's teachings in a way that makes meat eating seem okay. Well, this book sets the record straight. It is well thought out and written. I would recommend this book not just to animal rights folks or just buddhists..but both. The two things go hand in hand!
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