Buddhism Your Questions Answered (171 FAQ)

Q&A 63. Performing life liberations

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Q: I have been following Master Lu’s Guan Yin Citta Dharma Door for over two months now and I have experienced countless positive effects. I have even tried to perform life liberations twice. The first time, I released a large turtle and prayed to the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva to bless and protect me. I then recited the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra several times before releasing it.
When I arrived home, I felt that I might have done something inappropriately. So I went online and searched for the ritual of performing life liberations, only to find that there are many versions. I picked one that seemed the most proper to me. Then I invited my family members to perform life liberation with me, but we spent a long time just doing the ritual and my family members lost patience. I was going to invite them to perform life liberation on the 1st and 15th of every lunar month, but after that incident I do not dare to ask them again.
Since then, my plans for further life liberations have been put on hold. Without advice from Master Lu, I fear that I might have done it the wrong way. Hence, would Master Lu please advise us on how to perform life liberations correctly, so that beginners like us can follow it properly?


  • Performing life liberations encompasses all three types of giving: the giving of wealth, the giving of Dharma, and the giving of fearlessness. Hence, it can help us attain immeasurable merits and virtues. The greatest benefits that we can receive from performing life liberations are the elimination of disasters and extension of our lifespans.
    People in the following occupations should also perform life liberations frequently: kitchen staff, chefs, doctors who perform abortions, funeral and burial workers, pesticide and sanitation workers, slaughterhouse or abattoir workers/butchers, etc. to eliminate their acts of misconduct and negative karma. But it would be best to seek opportunities to change careers altogether.
  • In regard to the time to perform life liberation: Any time throughout the year is suitable. For people who would like to pray for longevity, it is best to perform a life liberation on their birthday. Other significant dates include Chinese New Year’s Eve, when people bid farewell to the old and welcome the new, the 1st and 15th of each lunar month, and the birthdays of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and so forth. Other suitable times to perform life liberations include the time when someone experiences their predestined calamities, such as prior to hospitalisation or a major operation, after being diagnosed with a severe illness, or after being involved in unfortunate incidents such as a car accident, etc.
    To achieve the best results, it is best to choose a sunny day when Yang energy is at its peak. Avoid performing life liberations at night; however, cloudy or rainy days are fine during the daytime.
  • It is best to release animals that are commonly consumed by humans, including fish, shrimp, prawns, crabs, clams, etc. Other animals that tend to be killed or eaten would also be suitable.
  • You should recite sutras and mantras when you perform a life liberation. Performing a life liberation helps us to eliminate disasters and extend our lifespans; reciting mantras and sutras helps to protect us. For best results, it is suggested that you perform both together.
    You can start reciting while on your way to the release site. It is best to recite the Great Compassion Mantra. Before you recite, you should state your full name: “May the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name>, help me to eliminate disasters and extend my lifespan. I will continue accumulating more merits and virtues.” Then you can recite the Great Compassion Mantra, the more the better.
    If you are performing life liberation on behalf of someone else, you can say, “May the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless <full name>, help him/her to eliminate disasters and extend his/her lifespan.”
  • Once you arrive at the release site, you can face the sky and say the following prayer three times, “I express my sincere gratitude to the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva”. Then you can recite the Great Compassion Mantra and Heart Sutra once each, and the Qi Fo Mie Zui Zhen Yan 7 times.
    Just before you release the fish into the water, you can say the prayer once more, “<Full name> is releasing <number or total weight> of <fish, shrimp, or other creatures being released>. May the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless <full name>, help <full name> to eliminate disasters and extend the lifespan of <full name>.” While you are releasing fish, you can also recite the Great Compassion Mantra, the Heart Sutra, and the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra as many times as you like. The more the better. Be gentle when you release the fish into the water so that it will not cause them any harm.
  • Before performing life liberations, it is advisable to make the following plea to the Bodhisattva: “If there is an issue of pollution in the course of performing life liberation and if the fish released are freshly hatched, I beg for forgiveness from the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva and Dharma Protectors.”
    This is to prevent problems caused by the water quality or the unsuitability of species, such as the water is polluted, the fish released are not fit to live in the area, or there are larger fish eating up small fish. If you are well aware that there are large-scale fishing activities in the area or that fresh water fish are not fit to be released into sea water or vice versa, you should take preventive measures in advance by looking for a suitable place for the life liberation. This is to ensure that the life liberation is successful and appropriate.
  • If any of the creatures to be released die during the life liberation, you need to recite the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra to help the spirits of the deceased ascend to a higher spiritual realm. Generally, you need to recite 3 times for each shrimp or prawn, 7 times for each crab and 7 times for each fish that died.
  • It is best to use your own money to purchase the creatures to be released. If you are releasing on behalf of your family members, it is best to use their money to make the purchase.
  • If you are performing the life liberation on behalf of someone else, please refer to Q&A 108: Performing life liberation on behalf of others for further details.
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