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The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights Paperback – June 1, 2004
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About the Author
Norm Phelps was the 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 was for faith communities of all traditions to include animals within the scope of their compassionate ministries. Norm Phelps's books include The Dominion of Love, The Great Compassion and The Longest Struggle. Norm passed away in the end of 2014.
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As a lay practitioner of Buddhism, I found this to be one of the most personally relevant books on Buddhism that I've encountered, and I've encountered a bunch. It's rejuvenated my practice. Mr. Phelps' insights and perspectives have actually given me something "to do" with my Buddhism--a proactive way to practice compassion, i.e. by being vegan.
I've been vegetarian, but it didn't really help my mental state. This book brought me out of a selfish perspective, one of meditation and reflection, and into a more comprehensive perspective. It's not about our suffering. It's about their suffering. (This might be a direct quote from the book.) This perspective seems to be exactly what I needed and my "practice" now feels much more relevant. I seem less concerned about my own state of comfort, which once made facing animal abuse head-on difficult for me. I simply was unable to dwell upon it for long without feeling utter despair, but I find that being proactive is a subtle but important coping technique. Don't waste time worrying. Find peace through action. I have difficulty comprehending how any of us can ever have absolute peace when so much suffering is occurring, but the only hope would seem to be in actively seeking to eliminate as much of it as we can. All Buddhists should take a long hard look at animal suffering and this book is the place to start.