|Taking caterpillars off kale is gardening, rescuing caterpillars and putting them|
on kale is Fangsheng.
There is an ancient Chinese Buddhist practice called fangsheng, or “release life,” in which caged animals are released as a way of generating positive karma through acts of kindness. If this practice delivers I am due for a major karmic restructuring.
Usually adherents release relatively attractive life forms like birds or turtles. But even ticks have the life force running through their little bodies.
Since we live in the middle of a 500 acre farm containing large areas of forest and meadows, we are in prime tick habitat. Some tick bites can cause serious health problems, like Lyme disease. Since the spring I have been clearing our back patio of ticks to try and avoid bites.
I killed the first few immediately, but that didn't feel right, so I put the proceeding individuals in a small jar. It began to add up. What to do with them?
I thought of putting them out with the garbage, or flushing them down the toilet. I thought about pouring poison into the jar, but realized I don't have any poison. But then I began to think, "Who am I to remove the green fuse from these creatures?
Humans are the biggest pests on the face of the earth. We suck the life force out of Mother Earth as we puff up our environmental footprint several times over what is required. We are killing our host.
Should we be snuffed out because of that?
While I was thinking about the (slightly creepy) creatures in my jar, a comment that gave me further reason to pause was left on my post 10 Survival Foods You Can Grow.
"I had kale one year on my balcony. It is an amazing plant! Every time I found a little caterpillar with my bought vegetables it got to live in the kale. The caterpillars ate almost all the kale, then they cocooned and later turned into something else. And the kale, it just grew right back and I could go get some leafs almost all the way through winter."
It is one thing to save puppies and kittens, but caterpillars? Ticks? Yes. All life is sacred.
So off I went on my bicycle, with my tick bottle stowed in my backpack. A few kilometres ride into the countryside I stopped at the side of the road in a place far away from people and pets. I had my little (slight creepy) Fangsheng ceremony.
It should be noted that unscrupulous capitalist opportunists set up small businesses capturing the creatures released by well meaning Buddhists looking for a karmic boost. Bad karma, like so much of what the human pest does to suck the last bit of wealth out of the shell of our planet.
I don't think anyone will be recapturing my released ticks. They are free and fusing once again. Just not on my back patio.
“Old age should burn and rave at the close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of that light.”