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Life Release Practice

During Saga Dawa Month

 Sunday, June 9th, 2019

We welcome you to join us during Saga Dawa on Sunday, June 9th for a Fish Release Ceremony. Life Release or Tsethar in Tibetan is a universal Buddhist tradition of saving the lives of animals that are destined to be killed. As Buddhists we not only completely abstain from taking lives, but also we offer the gift of life and protection through the practice of Life Release.


This is very significant in Buddhist practice. On a practical level, by the merits of Life Release, our lives will be free of all obstacles and will have longevity with optimal health. This practice also offers the animal who was freed an auspicious connection to the Dharma and a higher rebirth in their next life.


Chatral Rinpoche wrote, “It is my firm belief that if people adopt this practice by universal consensus, everlasting peace and all around happiness will descend on this earth and human suffering in all its forms will become a thing of the past.”

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From time to time we engage in Fish Release Ceremonies, where we release as many fish as we could afford. Although these events are beneficial at any time, life release typically takes place during Saga Dawa, the holiest month in the Buddhist calendar when meritorious action is greatly multiplied.

We welcome anyone who feels inspired to participate to join us and to experience this heart-warming practice for oneself. If you would like to participate in the practice of fish release or have further questions about our events, please feel free to email Talia at:

May the lotus feet of the Guru who glorifies the Teachings be firm.

May the Noble Ones who hold the Teachings encompass the earth.

May the prosperity and dominion of the patrons of the Teachings increase

May the Teachings auspiciously remain for a long time.

May Bodhicitta precious and sublime,

Arise where it has not yet come to be;

And where it has arisen may it never fail

And grow and flourish ever more and more.

Beginning with Kuntuzangpo and great Dorje Chang,

Down to my own kindest root guru,

Whatever aspiration they have made to benefit beings,

May I accomplish them all.

The Benefits of Saving Lives

By HH Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche

I bow down before the Lama, Buddha Amitayus,

And the bodhisattvas in training.

I shall now in brief describe the benefits

Of freeing animals and ransoming their lives.


To save animals from slaughter or any mortal danger,

With entirely pure motivation and conduct,

Is without doubt a practice to be taken up

By all followers of the Buddha Shakyamuni.


Many are the sutras, tantras and commentaries

Which describe in detail the advantages it brings,

And countless learned and accomplished masters of India and Tibet

Have stressed the value and importance of benefitting beings.

Even in the basic vehicle one avoids inflicting harm on others.

In the Mahayana this is the very training of a bodhisattva,

And in the secret mantra, a principal samaya of the Ratna family.


The reasoning behind this is as follows: in this world,

Nothing is as dear to someone as his or her own life,

So there is no greater crime than taking life away,

And no conditioned virtue brings greater merit

Than the act of saving beings and ransoming their lives.

Therefore, should you wish for happiness and good,

Exert yourself in this, the most supreme of paths,

Which is proven through scriptures and through reasoning,

And is free of obstacles and potential dangers.


Consider your own body, and, with this as an example,

Avoid doing anything that might bring harm to others.

Make every effort not to kill any living creature—

Birds, fish, deer, cattle and even tiny insects—

And strive instead to save their lives,

Offering them protection from every fear.

The benefit of doing so is beyond imagining.

This is the best practice for your own longevity,

And the greatest ritual for the living or deceased.

It is my main practice of benefitting others.

It dispels all external and internal adversity and obstacles;

Effortlessly and spontaneously, it brings favorable conditions;

And, when inspired by the noble mind of bodhicitta and

Completed with dedication and pure aspiration prayers,

It will lead one to complete enlightenment,

And the accomplishment of one’s own and others’ welfare—

Of this you need have no doubts at all!


Those whose minds incline to virtue and acts of merit

Should prohibit hunting and fishing on their land.

Some birds, in particular, such as geese and cranes,

Are impelled by their karma to migrate

And fly south in autumn, north in spring.

At times, weary from the efforts of their flight,

Or having lost their way, some are forced to land,

Distressed, afraid and anxious; when this happens,

You should not throw stones or shoot at them,

Nor try to kill them or do them any harm.

Protect them so they may easily fly once more.

To offer care and affection to sentient beings

In desperate situations who lack protection

Brings just as much merit as the meditation

On emptiness with compassion as its core—

So it has been said by glorious Lord Atisha.


Lamas, officials, monks, nuns, men and women,

In all the places over which you have control,

Exert every influence and do all within your power

To release animals and ransom their lives,

While encouraging others to do the same.


In all those places where this is done,

Sickness among people and livestock will cease,

Harvests will be plentiful and life will be long.

All will enjoy happiness and wellbeing in abundance,

And at death let go of deluded experience,   

Before finding an excellent rebirth within the higher realms.

Ultimately, there is no doubt that this will lead one easily

To find the supreme and perfect state of awakening.


In response to the request of Doctor Dordrak,who offered a pure silk scarf and a hundred Nepali rupees, the one called Chatral Sangye Dorje, who strives continuously to ransom lives, wrote down spontaneously whatever came to mind. By the merit of this may all sentient beings come to practice enlightened actions!  Mamakoling samanta!



Buddhism emphasizes compassion and part of living compassionately is to recognize the suffering of others and to do what we can to help alleviate it. The bodhisattva vow confirms our intention to help all sentient being, but in our everyday life, we need to start small by applying that vow to the people and situations we meet each day within our own community. At Odiyana, we have formed a Dharma Circle of sangha members and local friends who put their aspirations into action by finding ways to work locally, both individually and collectively, to make this world a better place. There is no need to choose between meditation practice and helping others. These have both always been part of the Buddhist path which have nourished and supported each other through the ages.  By bringing our bodhisattva vow into this relative, suffering human realm, we engage with our practice in a powerful and dynamic way.

The Odiyana Dharma Circle focuses on helping others in a range of specific ways. In addition to assisting during events at our center, during the past year, we expanded into the community and have cooked dinners for 65 people (half of them children) at a local homeless shelter. We shop for the food, then cook and serve it there. We are able to eat with the group who do the cleanup after the meal.  Members of the Dharma Circle, either individually or in pairs, have sorted cans at the Food Bank and participated in their summer Picnics in the Park Program where we serve lunches to children who get free lunches during the school year. In addition, members of our group have volunteered at hospice and senior centers, counseled gang members, and collected warm clothes for the Warming Centers. In terms of educational outreach, we’ve also sponsored writing and meditation workshops and held Dharma Movie Nights. 

The Odiyana Dharma Circle doesn’t meet regularly as a group, but stands ready to be of service when needed for specific occasions such as when a call goes out for volunteers to cook dinner at a homeless shelter or in the case of a local emergency situation. The group is open to everyone who wishes to be of benefit in the community. In the Santa Barbara area, if you wish to join the Odiyana Dharma Circle, please contact its coordinator, Kimberley Snow:

To start an Odiyana Dharma Circle in your area, a volunteer coordinator would simply collect phone numbers and/or emails from those who wish to help. When the need arises, a call would go out for volunteers. The group should also be alert to needs within the community so that it can be of service where needed.  

Lama Tsering of Chagdud Gonpa often said that a simple way to engage Bodhicitta was to ask yourself whenever you entered a room what you could do to help. By extension, we can think of our community, our world, as that room. 


In addition to being part of our Dharma Circle, all members are encouraged to find other places to volunteer which align with their special interests. Here are a few suggestions to get you started in the Santa Barbara area.  




Foodbank SB County

4554 Hollister Ave.,Santa Barbara, CA 93110
(805) 967-5741

Volunteers at SB’s well established Foodbank distribute food to 3500 local nonprofits directly. One in four people in SB County receive food from the Foodbank . Volunteers help with everything from collecting and sorting donated food to teaching food literacy, cooking and gardening education programs.  See their website for details:

Volunteer Coordinator Melissa Howard:


Food From the Heart

Volunteers provides healthy meals at no charge for the homebound and those in need.

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church
909 North La Cumbre Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93110

(805) 334-5292


Transition House: Homeless Shelter for Families

Nicole Janowicz, Volunteer Coordinator (805) 966-9668 ext. 115

Individual volunteers work in almost every aspect of the Transition House program, depending on their skills and interests: they comfort babies in the Infant Care Center, read books and make art with a group of children in the Evening Enrichment Program, or tutor and supervise children while their parents are attending evening classes. Some Transition House volunteers meet the immediate needs of our families by keeping the shelter running smoothly in the evenings, making lunches, providing dinner, or lending an ear as a Shelter Manager or Screener.Volunteers also provide vital backup support by helping with fundraising and administrative tasks.

Civic and Faith-Based Groups provide other services from providing dinner, lunches, bringing baked books to overseeing outings for children.  


Casa Esperanza Homeless Center and Community Kitchen


Wide range of volunteer opportunities for individual and groups.




SB Public Schools – Partners in Education: 

4400 Cathedral Oaks Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93160

805 964 4711


Teachers in all of our public schools are looking for volunteers to help them with many different tasks in the classroom. If you enjoy working with children, this is a great opportunity. Volunteers for tutoring, classroom aides, and others are needed. A special benefit is that Partners in Education will pay for the TB test and LifeScan schools require of volunteers.


SB Library

Local libraries have many opportunities for volunteering from shelving and sorting books to helping with the children’s library to processing audio/visual materials plus many other ways which are listed on their website:

Pilar Montes

Volunteer Coordinator


SB Central Library, 2nd

floor Reference Desk


Adult Literacy:

Train to teach someone to read through the Adult Literacy Program at the Santa Barbara Library. 

(805) 564-5634


Art Without Limits 

Assisting with art mentorship programs and administration. 

Organized by Create The Good 

816 Chelham Way, Santa Barbara, CA 93108 

Contact:, Julie McLeod, 805-565-1332 

Art Without Limits creates one on one mentorships with talented, trained artists that want to learn the skills of how to become a successful professional in any of the arts. Some work can be done at home. Organizational and computer skills are important. 




Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network 

(SBWCN) is a nonprofit, volunteer organization that rescues and rehabilitates injured wild birds, mammals, and reptiles in Santa Barbara County.

Staff and volunteers currently help approximately 4000 native animals each year.

1460 Fairview Ave

Goleta, CA 93117

(805) 681-1080


SB Humane Society 

Volunteers to visit  with dogs or cats several times a month.


City Parks


Volunteer jobs involve horticulture, native habitat restoration, gardening, rose and tree pruning, pond maintenance, planter refurbishing, and weeding. Parks needing volunteers include Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden, A.C. Postel Memorial Rose Garden, Franceschi Park & Chases Palm Park. 




Goleta Valley & Santa Barbara Cottage Hospitals

Volunteer opportunities cover a wide range of possibilities including patient care, greeters, emergency room, sewing teddy bears, rehabilitation care , aquatic therapy, clerical, end of life care, gift shop, lab,  and many more. See:


Cottage Health System Volunteer Office. Call 805-569-7357 or email



Hospice of Santa Barbara 

All Patient Care Volunteers are required to complete a comprehensive training which includes an initial 6 week course and ongoing education and training. After that, there are a number of different ways in which you can help the dying:



Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care

Trained volunteers can participate in Direct Patient Home Care; Serenity House; perform clerical & special event duties; pet therapy; flower delivery from Farmer’s Market; music therapy; loan closet for equipment such as wheelchairs, canes & walkers (minimal training require). 


NODA –No One Dies Alone

This is a collaborative effort between VNHC, Hospice of Santa Barbara, Cottage Hospital and several local residential facilities. This program offers an opportunity for volunteers to do “on call” work. Volunteers must go through the Cottage Hospital volunteer orientation as well as our volunteer training. Following the trainings, the volunteer is placed on a list and may be called to sit at the bedside of a chronically or terminally ill patient when there are no family or friends available. Its purpose is to bring comfort and compassion to those in the last 48 to 72 hours of life.  Active patient care volunteers are eligible to be part of this program in addition to their regular assignments. 

Cottage Health System Volunteer Office. Call 805-569-7357 or email


Braille Institute

2031 De La Vina St
Santa Barbara, CA 93105-3895
(805) 687-0472


There are many opportunities for helping the blind and seeing impaired through the Braille Institute by serving as instructor, classroom assistants, tech center volunteer, support group facilitator and in various other ways. See their website for all of the different opportunities: 




RSVP Santa Barbara: 

Matches senior volunteers to non-profits

(805) 963-0474


Family Services Agency


123 W. Gutierrez
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

(805) 922-1236

Provides a wide range of volunteer opportunities in a range of programs including Long Term Care Ombudsman of Santa Barbara and the Big Sister, Big Brother Mentoring programs.  


United Way of Santa Barbara:


United Way of Santa Barbara County has a wide range of volunteer opportunities for individuals, groups, agencies, and corporations. Whether you are an individual looking for a one-time or long-term opportunity, a corporate partner seeking additional ways to get involved, or you have a special skill you'd like to share, United Way of Santa Barbara County has an outlet for you to volunteer.

Day of Caring:

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Join United Way of Santa Barbara County in an opportunity to give back to the community through a morning of helping out various nonprofits in the Santa Barbara area.  Following a Kick-Off Breakfast at Ben Page Youth Center, teams will volunteer across the county to complete much needed tasks such as painting, cleaning, landscaping, gardening and general repairs.


Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County

6860 Cortona Dr, Goleta, CA 93117
(805) 692-2226

Volunteers assist ReStore employees. Tasks include sorting, pricing and cleaning donated items, performing small repairs, pricing and shelving new inventory, loading and unloading vehicles, assisting customers in making purchases, and helping with donation pick-ups.

Construction/repair volunteers join with skilled professionals and no prior experience is necessary.

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