This goat is one of the animals rescued from the slaughterhouse.

The Polish group of Students for a Free Tibet and the ecological and cultural association the Gaya Club marked the Dalai Lama’s birthday in traditional Tibetan style by buying animals that would otherwise have been slaughtered, and ensuring that these animals then give service to human beings.

The action devised as a tribute to the Dalai Lama, was based on the Buddhist doctrine of karma, according to which everything we experience has been caused by our own previous actions, words and thoughts.

Liliana Skoczylas of SFT said: ‘From a Buddhist point of view, the cause of a premature death, a short life, and diseases is harming and killing other beings; and the source of longevity and good health comes from protecting life, any life. Driven by such convictions the Tibetans have traditionally endeavored to commemorate certain important and religious occasions by gathering merit through saving the lives of animals destined to be killed in a slaughterhouse. The saved animals have been specially ear-marked and set free.’

The merit is increased because the animals – pigs, cows, geese, goats and wild boar – have been given to a home for children with special needs, and also to an institution for recovering addicts, where the animals will have a therapeutic role.

The action is detailed on the website of Students for a Free Tibet in Poland which states: ‘The Gaya Club and the Students for free Tibet, Poland, desire to celebrate the 70th birthday of Dalai Lama, the spiritual and political leader of Tibet, a Nobel Prize laureate, a Buddhist monk and the best known refugee of the present world – wishing him a long life and expressing the hope that the sufferings of the Tibetans and all persecuted people will come to an end, and promoting the idea of non-violence and dialogue in solving conflicts. Some of the animals – fishes – will come back to their natural environment, for other animals a safe shelter will be found where they will be able to live peacefully and serve others.’