Note: I submitted this manuscript on 20 October 2014 as my second essay to Professor Guang Xing of the University of Hong Kong, Centre of Buddhist Studies, for the BSTC6058 (Buddhism and Society) course, which I took as a cross-institutional elective for my PhD (Communication & Film Studies) programme at the Hong Kong Baptist University.
Buddhism was founded by Gautama Buddha (563–483 B. C.) in India about 2,500 years ago (Cheng 2003, 19). During this time – India in the sixth century B. C. – ritual sacrifices that involved the taking of life were practiced (Horner 1967, 2). Two religious systems that flourished during these times, Jainism and Buddhism, took a firm stance “against the prevalence of practices which deprived creatures of life” (Horner 1967, 2). Protection of life lies at the core of the teachings of the Buddha. It occupies the first among five precepts that are considered binding on all who call themselves Buddhists: “1. Not to take the life of any living being; 2. Not to take what is not given; 3. Abstaining from sexual misconduct; 4. Abstaining from wrong speech; 5. Abstaining from intoxicants” (Dahlke et al. 1975, 3).