Author Topic: Religious Ivory Demand Killing Elephants by Thousands  (Read 7204 times)

WisdomBeing

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Religious Ivory Demand Killing Elephants by Thousands
« on: September 17, 2012, 10:20:14 AM »
This story is shocking. I was amazed that in this day and age, we are endorsing the ivory trade not just by the people who are making a buck out of it but by so-called religious people – from different religions also, including Buddhism!! It really makes me feel ill to think about people exploiting ivory with the misguided notion that it is an offering to the Buddhas. This National Geographic article will bring disrepute to Buddhism, but on the other hand, I hope that it will create some pressure to stop this ridiculous practices.

Religious Ivory Demand Killing Elephants by Thousands, Report Says
Despite global ivory ban, tusks carved into Jesuses, prayer beads, amulets.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/09/120914-ivory-religious-elephants-ban-science-religion/

Oliver Payne
National Geographic News
Published September 14, 2012

Elephants are being illegally killed across Africa at the highest rates in a decade, and the global religious market for ivory is a driving force. "Blood Ivory," the cover story in the October issue of National Geographic, offers the first in-depth investigation of this untold story.

While it's impossible to say exactly how many elephants are slaughtered annually, a conservative estimate for 2011 is more than 25,000. And thousands of those are dying to satisfy religious devotion, their tusks smuggled into countries to be carved into religious artifacts: ivory baby Jesuses and saints for Catholics in the Philippines, Islamic prayer beads for Muslims and Coptic crosses for Christians in Egypt, amulets and carvings for Buddhists in Thailand, and in China—the world's biggest ivory-consumer country—elaborate Buddhist and Taoist carvings for investors.
 
If someone in the Philippines wants to smuggle an ivory statue of the baby Jesus to the U.S., Msgr. Cristobal Garcia is happy to advise, writes National Geographic investigative reporter Bryan Christy. "Wrap it in old, stinky underwear and pour ketchup on it so it looks shitty with blood," Garcia told Christy. "This is how it is done."

Monsignor Garcia is head of protocol for the archdiocese of Cebu, the largest in the Philippines, giving him a flock of nearly 4 million in a country of 75 million Roman Catholics, the world's third largest Catholic population. The tradition of carving ivory into religious pieces in the Philippines is so deeply rooted that in Cebu the word for ivory, garing, also means "religious statue."

Christy reports that another prominent Filipino Catholic, Father Vicente Lina, Jr. (Father Jay), advises people to buy religious icons made of "new" ivory—"so the history of an image will start in you." By "new" Father Jay means smuggled.

In 1990 a global ban on ivory trade came into force, and to get around it, Father Jay told Christy, Muslims from the Philippines' southern island of Mindanao smuggle ivory in from Africa. It comes "through the back door. You just keep on paying so many people so that it will enter your country."


Small | Large


Video: Reporter Bryan Christy on Uncovering the Religion-Ivory Connection


The Roman Catholic catechism states that, "It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly." Earlier this week National Geographic asked the Vatican to comment on the devotional use of ivory, which is fueling the current African elephant crisis. As of September 14, a statement had not been received.

"Ivory Removes Bad Spirits"

The elephant is revered in Buddhism and is a symbol of Thailand. Monks there give out ivory amulets in return for donations. Kruba Dharmamuni, a prominent monk known as the Elephant Monk, wears an ivory elephant-head pendant suspended from ivory prayer beads representing the 108 human passions.

"Ivory removes bad spirits," Dharmamuni told National Geographic. Ivory also earns him money. The Elephant Monk takes in thousands of dollars a month from amulets of ivory and other materials sold in his temple gift shop.

In China, religious themes are common in carved ivory pieces. Newly rich Chinese are snapping up ivory in the form of Buddhist and Taoist gods and goddesses. Prices can be astronomical: Christy reports seeing a carved ivory Guanyin on sale for the equivalent of U.S. $215,000. Guanyin is the Buddhist goddess of mercy, a Madonna-like figure who doubles as a fertility goddess.

Buddhist monks in China perform a ceremony called kai guang, the opening of light, to consecrate religious icons, just as some Filipino priests will bless Catholic images made of illegal ivory for their followers. "To be respectful of the Buddha," the report quotes a Chinese collector, "one should use precious material. If not ivory then gold. But ivory is more precious."
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sonamdhargey

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Re: Religious Ivory Demand Killing Elephants by Thousands
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2012, 02:16:50 PM »
I find it it rather amusing especially the Buddhist Monks in this post are contributing to the Ivory trade. How would the monk justify Ivory is a precious offering more precious than gold to be offered to the Buddha as a sign of respect reallly baffles me. There are many other precious material out there that can use as offerings. To ward off bad spirits, there are many items and prayers that can ward off bad spirits. Maybe these Monks didn't know the source of the Ivory and maybe the Ivory was harvested from already dead elephants. Who knows?

vajratruth

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Re: Religious Ivory Demand Killing Elephants by Thousands
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2012, 03:08:48 PM »
Not causing harm is such a basic principle in any religion, especially Buddhism. If you cannot get that basic right, then I truly cannot imagine how you can understand and master a practice such as Compassion. In Buddhism, we believe that all lives are equally precious and in the Lamrim, we are taught to visualize and hold the believe that all sentient beings were once our mothers , and to think of all beings compassionately.

But this Elephant Monk is something else entirely. I am taught to respect all members of the Sangha but I am not entirely sure that thus particular form of "practice" represents Buddhism. I looked up the article and to my shock this is what I found:

"The Elephant Monk, Kruba Dharmamuni, who used to be the Scorpion Monk and still displays a life-size statue of himself as a scorpion in his temple, wants to take me ivory shopping in Surin..."

"...The Elephant Monk’s main income is from amulets, and he offers a strange variety, including images of himself and of the Buddha as well as amulets made with plastic-encased bits of bone from the skulls of dead pregnant women, pure corpse oil, soil from seven cemeteries, tiger fur, elephant skin, and carved ivory. Business is good enough that he’s building a new temple, Wat Suanpah, modeled in part after Thailand’s popular tiger parks—often front organizations, critics say, for the illegal tiger trade. The Elephant Monk suffered similar controversy when a recent television exposé reported that he’d starved an elephant to death for its skin and ivory, but he says it died of natural causes and he was only holding an elephant funeral. Besides, by shopping in Surin, he tells me, he can find all the elephant ivory and skin he needs. Before the exposé, he took in about one million baht ($32,000) a month from his gift shop, the Internet, and foreign travels. Now he’s down to about 300,000 baht a month. But, he says, in just three days in Malaysia or Singapore he could sell his followers one million bahts’ worth or more".


[Excerpts from the Nat Geo article: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/10/ivory/christy-text?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ng%2FNGM%2FNGM_Magazine+(National+Geographic+Magazine)

« Last Edit: September 23, 2012, 03:11:25 PM by vajratruth »

Benny

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Re: Religious Ivory Demand Killing Elephants by Thousands
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2012, 04:19:32 PM »
This is utterly shocking ! These people are loving and revering elephants to EXTINCTION , whats more they have even made it an act of spirituality to offer and use ivory in a religious context. What will they think of next ?

The line seems to have all but disappeared for the Thai monk , he is even suspected to have even starved an elephant to death , all for the sake of selling the body parts to raise funds to build a temple ? Well some might arguably justify this as moral and righteous killing for a greater good to benefit mankind with another temple ! As if there isn't enough temples in Thailand. Oh, maybe they need one that is made entirely of ivory ? To please the Buddhas ? Some might even go so far as to say that the elephants whose tusks were harvested are now going to a higher rebirth due to the fact that their body parts are now used to "please" the Buddhas.

As far as i am concerned that is a bunch of crap excuses to make money. When is the buying gonna stop ? Its when we all stop making such excuse as , "oh it is alright it came from an animal that died of old age " .
Common , who are we kidding ....we have to stop placing any value and importance on animal bones, skin, and penises already people !!! We don't live in the ice age do we ?!? Or is it just our past life imprints that get the better of us???

P.s: A little confession , i used to like ivory cravings since i was very young, maybe due to the value of it . Not now after i realized how they were obtained. Please people we have to devalue the ivory NOW.

dondrup

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Re: Religious Ivory Demand Killing Elephants by Thousands
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2012, 06:36:14 PM »
Where there is demand of ivory, there is supply of ivory.  Hence the only way to totally wipe out the trade of ivory is to stop the demand of ivory.  With so varied sources of demand from the World especially from the religious sources, the elephants can’t escape from death arising from the demand for their ivory tusks.
 
It is unbelievable that thousands of elephants are sacrificed and killed for their ivory tusks which are then used in religious purposes.  Making statues out of ivory is a complete disrepute to Buddhism which teaches compassion and non-harming of others.  Kruba Dharmamuni, the monk who is involved in the trade of ivory is totally misleading the public about ivory removing bad spirits. How can ivory which is derived from killing elephants remove bad spirits?   

Amitabha

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Re: Religious Ivory Demand Killing Elephants by Thousands
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2012, 01:14:27 AM »
True buddhists know that all living beings has buddha nature and a buddha to be and hence endearing and treasure life. And true buddhist know that bad karmic is planted by causing suffering and death towards animals either done personally, incitation or through others. True buddhist know that there is no religious purposes and personal merits in offering ivory tusks but instead causing bad effort in world disaster and eco-unfriendliness and damages. May they realize their bad cause done and alter their pursuit of buddhahood grace in them and all  ;D

WisdomBeing

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Re: Religious Ivory Demand Killing Elephants by Thousands
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2012, 11:00:42 AM »
I don’t know what to think of this. I mean we are taught not to criticize the Sangha because we may not understand what they are doing but surely in this case, where there is evidential harm to other creatures, I just cannot see how this Thai monk’s activities can be justified. Am I breaking a Buddhist rule by being critical? I do not intend any disrespect but especially after reading what vajratruth posted about this monk making 1million baht – and oh it’s now only 300,000 poor thing – I just feel quite uncomfortable about it.

Is there a dharma lesson to this which I am missing?
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Jessie Fong

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Re: Religious Ivory Demand Killing Elephants by Thousands
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2012, 02:27:29 PM »
Ivory is considered a valuable commodity and many an elephant has been killed by poachers because they want to harvest the tusks for sale to ivory merchants.

For the monks to encourage offering of ivory as a precious material goes against the practice of non-killing.  They can actually ask the devotess to offer precious materials like gold, silver, etc. that would not require the taking of lives.

I would like to think that the idea of offering of precious items has been taken out of context when they apply it to use ivory as an offering.

DS Star

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Re: Religious Ivory Demand Killing Elephants by Thousands
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2012, 03:26:10 PM »
I don’t know what to think of this. I mean we are taught not to criticize the Sangha because we may not understand what they are doing but surely in this case, where there is evidential harm to other creatures, I just cannot see how this Thai monk’s activities can be justified. Am I breaking a Buddhist rule by being critical? I do not intend any disrespect but especially after reading what vajratruth posted about this monk making 1million baht – and oh it’s now only 300,000 poor thing – I just feel quite uncomfortable about it.

Is there a dharma lesson to this which I am missing?

I shared your sentiment Wisdom Being. I also felt not comfortable reading this news as we are not supposed to criticize Sangha member.

Like you, I was shock to read Vajratruth's post on the strange amulets on sale by the controversial Elephant Monk aka the Scorpion Monk, Kruba Dharmamuni:

"...as amulets made with plastic-encased bits of bone from the skulls of dead pregnant women, pure corpse oil, soil from seven cemeteries, tiger fur, elephant skin, and carved ivory..."

I don't know if there is any Dharma lesson in this but I was told by a Sangha member, one of the 227 Pratimoksha vows, monk/nun cannot use any items that are made from ivory. Even all their existing personal ivory items are to be destroyed immediately and confessed to Sangha Community Committee.

So I can't get the Dharma lesson from selling those amulets that resembles black magic items... too scary...

pgdharma

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Re: Religious Ivory Demand Killing Elephants by Thousands
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2012, 03:38:57 PM »
This contradicts Buddha's teachings.  Any Buddhist  who is sane will know that causing pain and suffering to others and killing is a no no in Buddhism and creates heavy negative karma.

Kruba Dharmamuni involvement in the trade of ivory sets a very bad example and mislead the public into believing that ivory can remove bad spirits and how can he say that  ivory is a precious offering which is more precious than gold? How can killing an elephant for the ivory is considered precious? This is just an excuse for him to make more money, for his own selfish interest and greed.

RedLantern

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Re: Religious Ivory Demand Killing Elephants by Thousands
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2012, 04:32:33 PM »
The elephant is honored in many nations and religions around the world.It is revered in Buddhism and is a symbol of Thailand.Despite global ivory ban,tusks are carved int prayer beads and amulets.
The National Geographic October cover story also exposes key fears in analysis and decision making in the leadership of the convention on International Trade in endangered species of wild Fauna and flora (cites) which sets international wildlife trade policy.Cites approved a massive sale of illegal ivory to China and Japan in 2008.That decision,the report concludes,has only increased the world's appetite for illegal ivory,fueling the current elephant poaching and frenzy across Africa.
The importance of placing value on ivory should stop so as the demand would be less.It is against Buddhist teachings to kill for greed and selfishness.

ilikeshugden

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Re: Religious Ivory Demand Killing Elephants by Thousands
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2012, 04:49:36 PM »
I think that the practice of hunting for ivory is a cruel practice, regardless of whether it is for a religious reason or not. This is very bad. Some people have the nerve to use the glorious name of religions for thie own selfish secular gains. They are just pulling themselves deeper into the 3 lower realms. How sad. On a "good" note, in Africa, there have been many elephants that are being born without their tusks due to over-poaching. Soon, elephants shall not have to die for the sake of selfish humans.

buddhalovely

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Re: Religious Ivory Demand Killing Elephants by Thousands
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2012, 11:17:46 AM »
The elephant is revered in Buddhism and is a symbol of Thailand. Monks there give out ivory amulets in return for donations. Kruba Dharmamuni, a prominent monk known as the Elephant Monk, wears an ivory elephant-head pendant suspended from ivory prayer beads representing the 108 human passions.

"Ivory removes bad spirits," Dharmamuni told National Geographic. Ivory also earns him money. The Elephant Monk takes in thousands of dollars a month from amulets of ivory and other materials sold in his temple gift shop.

In China, religious themes are common in carved ivory pieces. Newly rich Chinese are snapping up ivory in the form of Buddhist and Taoist gods and goddesses. Prices can be astronomical: Christy reports seeing a carved ivory Guanyin on sale for the equivalent of U.S. $215,000. Guanyin is the Buddhist goddess of mercy, a Madonna-like figure who doubles as a fertility goddess.

Buddhist monks in China perform a ceremony called kai guang, the opening of light, to consecrate religious icons, just as some Filipino priests will bless Catholic images made of illegal ivory for their followers. "To be respectful of the Buddha," the report quotes a Chinese collector, "one should use precious material. If not ivory then gold. But ivory is more precious."