A karmic war chest will be waiting for one Buddhist monk who’s spent decades rescuing stray dogs in Shanghai and bringing them to his monastery to live in peace and comfort, or to find a new home.
Since 1994, Zhi Xiang has rescued over 8,000 homeless pooches from the streets of the Chinese mega-city, caring for all of them.
In Buddhism, the highest goal is to reach the fourth stage of consciousness, whereby the trappings of reality fall away as the practitioner realizes life is merely an illusion. Yet the holiest of monks, the Bodhisattvas, don’t choose this path, and instead, like 51-year old Xiang, remain in this world to try and help people stuck in the cycle of life to escape.
With help from volunteers and his own Bao’en Temple workforce, Xiang currently cares for hundreds of cats and dogs. Costing nearly $2.5 million every year in labor and supplies, Xiang tries to get as many of them as he can into family homes overseas, using social media to reach out to perspective pet owners.
So far 300 dogs have been adopted by families in Canada, the United States, and Germany.
Not a trained vet, Xiang loves and cares for the animals he saves as if he was, and while many are too sick, the younger or healthy ones move on to adoption shelters, or straight into the arms of new owners.
“I think they’re very happy so I feel it’s worthwhile,” he told ABC Australia. “But of course I miss them.”
“I have a dream that one day, when I have some free time, I want to go abroad and visit them, take photos with every dog that I rescued,” he said. “So when I get old and can’t walk, I have these photos to look at.”
If indeed Karma rewards those who sacrifice their own time and wealth to help alleviate the suffering of animals, that which Xiang awaits in his afterlife is greater than anyone can imagine, and rightly so.