The Bodhisatva Fish

by Wong Tho Kong, The Buddhist Channel, Sept 21, 2007

This is a story of how I became a non-meat eater. My farther was an ardent fishing enthusiast. He would spent most of his spare time fishing. So needless to say, he took me to join his hobby when I was vvery young at the age of five. He would carry me on his shoulders while he goes round fishing with a bamboo rod near a mining pool.

As I grew up I too took up this hobby and the two of us together with a few friends would go fishing every weekend. We were specialists in cathcing the Marble Gobi a priced fish for its succulent meat. Where I lived there were many mining pools stocked with plenty of Marble Gobis.

So we were good at what we did, we never went back empty handed. I continued this hobby for 22 years so you can imagine the amount of lives I took and suffering I had caused to the fishes by my ignorance and delusion.

Now the bait we used were also eaten by other species of fish. One day as I was fishing at an ox bow lake, I felt a stong bite on my fishing line and as I reel in the catch I could feel it was a big one. Sure enough I had caught a foot long river carp. It was a beautiful speciment with golden scales and red tipped fins.

As I bent down to look at it closely something in the fish caught my attention. It eyes  seems down cast and very mournful. I felt a sudden sadness which eminated from my heart as if an arrow had been shot through it. It really disturbed me deeply. I have never seen a fish so sad in fact I never thought they had feelings before. At that very moment  realisation dawn on me that animals have feelings too.

That fish soon died and we did not eat it. From that day onwards I was never interested in fishing anymore. Although I still fetch my father to fishing but I did not fancy partipating in it.

When my father passed away I decided to give up eating meat and also give up killing.

My mother was surprised at the sudden change, initially she would worry that without eating meat I would not get enough nourishment but that soon changed.

I realize that we react instinctively out of fear to protect our own life what I call life preservation. The very instant a mosquitoe lands on my skin I would smash it flat.

So to rectify this bad habbit that has become an instinct, I need to over come my fear. I decided to go to the area behind where I stayed where there are big mosquitoes. As I sat down quietly a big one came hovering  around my outstretched  arm. Soon it landed on my arm, as I feel its tiny legs land on my skin there was a strong urge to chase it away but I didn't. Its needle like proboscis then pierced my skin at that moment I really wanted to smash it but I controlled my fear.

After it had filled its abdoment with blood it soon flew away clumsily because of the weight of its lunch. This was how I taught myself to avoid killing insects my overcoming my fear.

One day as I passed by a fish pond I stood and watch people fishing  then I realised that I still had the interest to fish although not actually doing it. I search about it inside of me how to overcome this habit and I decided to buy some live fresh water fish from the market and free it in to a big river.

As I watch the fishes swim away there was a sense of peace and joy. Nowadays when I see people fishing I would say quietly "may you not catch anything today".