Monks bless our Vietnam bears

Tuan, our Vietnam Director, sent the most wonderful update recently of a visit by a group of Buddhist monks to our rescue centre in Tam Dao. It brought me back to April 2010 when Buddhist monks visited our centre in Chengdu, China and blessed our newly rescued bears and sanctuary, leaving a veil of calm and tranquility throughout. Tuan’s words below are particularly touching, showing a profound example of the growing number of people who will not tolerate the ugly truth of bear farming in Asia today.

On 8th May 2011, 40 Buddhist monks of the Phu Nghi and Thien An Temple in Tay Thien Mountain (approximately 20km from our sanctuary), came to bless our bears. Accompanying the monks were 30 Buddhist volunteers from Hanoi who came to help the temple with odd jobs. The monks heard about the sanctuary and contacted us through the [Tam Dao National] Park and subsequently, they came at our invitation. On the day, the monks performed a peace and healing ceremony for bears that have suffered so much and a ceremony to appease the surrounding spirits so that our sanctuary is protected against bad elements. Before the ceremony, the head monk spoke of how we should all help to protect bears and wildlife, especially referring to the young generation who can lead the change for the better. The ceremonies lasted for over an hour, following which the monks went to the double bear house and blessed all the bears.

I told the monks about the bear bile farming situation in Vietnam and they were astonished to hear of the suffering that our bears had endured. The head monk said that the temples will do all they can to help us - and that they would work with us to spread the message to protect the bears, and not exploit them for commercial gain. Overall it was a very good visit even though it was a hot day for performing an outdoor ceremony. When the monks left, I can feel there is a lingering atmosphere of hope, calm and contentment.

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