Lama Zopa Rinpoche blessing birds in Bodhgaya, India, January 2017. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

In 2007, Lama Zopa Rinpoche talked about the benefits of feeding birds, saying, “When we give food to birds we should chant the Mitukpa, Medicine Buddha, Chenrezig, and the five powerful mantras and then blow over the food. Giving food to birds protects them from hunger and thirst. The most important benefit is that it purifies negative karma and defilements. It helps them to not be born in the lower realms, by purifying them. It blesses their minds. By giving food in this way, it becomes a practice of loving kindness, of giving material things, and of giving fearlessness and purifying negative karma. There is so much suffering and fear in the lower realms and this is a way to protect them from it.”

Lama Zopa Rinpoche recites mantras for an injured bird, Kopan Monastery, Nepal, December 2016. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Rinpoche continued. “Feeding the birds and the other animals doesn’t have to be done for one’s own pleasure but can instead be a sincere practice of giving … You are offering fearlessness by saying mantras and then blowing on the food or water. This is morality working for sentient beings—giving sentient beings what they need. Giving food and water is material generosity. When mantras are said and blown upon the food and water it becomes the charity of fearlessness, and when you play the mantras so that the animals can hear them it becomes the charity of Dharma.”

Feeding a Northern Cardinal, Ottawa, Canada, March 2017. Photo by Suzanne Hawkins.

Read the complete teaching here:

See more information and a video on How to Benefit the Bodies and Minds of Birds here:

Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), a Tibetan Buddhist organization dedicated to the transmission of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition and values worldwide through teaching, meditation and community service.