Take the 2-minute tour ×
Buddhism Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people practicing or interested in Buddhist philosophy, teaching, and practice. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have always wondered if insects belongs to the animal realm in Buddhism, and I have yet to read stories about rebirth as an insect, such as a butterfly, a mosquito, or a praying mantis.

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

According to Buddhism, rebirth can take one of four types:

  1. Opapatika - spontaneous rebirth
  2. Samsedaja - born or arisen from moisture
  3. Andhaja - born in an egg, oviparous
  4. Jalabuja born from a womb, viviparous

Most insects belong to the andhaja group, I think. But yes, as others have mentioned, insects are considered a potential realm of rebirth.

Examples from the texts:

Queen Upari (Ubbari)

Persons favored by fortune enjoying privileges of wealth, family, education, rank, physical beauty etc., are prone to exhibit haughtiness in their dealings with others. Shrouded in their own vanity and self-esteem, they become neglectful in their performance of meritorious deeds. Humility plays no part in their make-up. The Blessed One had taught in the Cūḷakammavibhaṅga sutta that such vain-glorious, haughty persons are liable to land up in lowly inferior re-births. On the other hand, unpretentious persons who show humility and pay reverential respects to those deserving of homage will be reborn in noble families.

Queen Upari of our story was extremely beautiful and being the chief queen of the ruling monarch was of very high status in life. She had her head turned by these pre-eminent qualities and looked down with contempt on those she should have shown her respects. For such unwholesome attitudes and actions, it may be presumed she was reborn a lowly female cowdung-beetle. On hearing this account of rebirth of his beloved queen as a female beetle, King Assaka promptly rejected it, saying "I don't believe it."

The hermit replied, "I can show you the female beetle and make her talk too." The king said, "All right. Please do and make her talk too." The hermit using his supernatural powers of abhiññā made a vow for both the male and female beetles to make their appearance before the king.

When the male and female beetles emerged from the heap of cowdung into the presence of the king, the hermit said, "Oh King, the female beetle which is following from behind was your chief queen Upari devi. Having abandoned you, she is now trailing the male cowdung-beetle wherever it goes. Oh King, have a good look at the female beetle who was lately your chief queen Upari."

The king refused to believe the hermit. "I can't believe that such an intelligent being as my queen Upari was reborn as this female beetle", said the king.

True, for those who do not quite believe in the laws of kamma and its resultant effect, who do not understand the principles of conditionality or causal relationship, as explained in Paṭiccasa-muppāda, it would be difficult to accept that a being of the human world should have gone down so low as to become a mere beetle. Even in these days of sāsanā when Buddha's teachings are widely prevalent, there are some people holding the view that "when man dies, he cannot descend into an existence inferior to that of a human being". So it is not surprising that during the dark ages when Buddha's dispensations were yet unheard of, such stories of incarnation were received with scepticism.

http://static.sirimangalo.org/mahasi/Dhammacakkappavattana%20Sutta.htm

Ven. Tissa

Tissa.-An Elder of Sāvatthi. He once received a length of coarse cloth as a gift and handed it to his sister to be made into a robe. She had the cloth pounded and spun into fine yarn and made of it a soft robe-cloth. At first Tissa would not accept it but was prevailed upon to do so and had it made into a soft robe by skilled robe-makers. He died on the night it was finished and, as a result of his fancy for it, was reborn as a louse in the robe. After his death, the monks wished to divide the robe but the louse started shouting. The Buddha, hearing this by his power of divine audience, asked the monks to lay the robe aside for seven days. At the end of that period, the louse was reborn in the Tusita world. DhA.iii.341ff.

http://www.palikanon.com/english/pali_names/t/tissa.htm

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks, but aren't most insects are oviparus? Is the concept of egg in Buddhism different from science? –  fxam Jun 28 at 2:25
    
Right, sorry, fixed. No, I don't think there's a list of what animals are which type. –  yuttadhammo Jun 28 at 2:30
1  
Some insects may historically have been thought of as "moisture born". For mosquitoes, though a microscope can show us a tiny egg is involved, it would be an understandable conclusion. –  Brian Drummond Jun 28 at 9:34

yes insects are also a kind of animal. In buddhism it is mentioned that one can rebirth as any kind of animal accordiing to the deeds whom has done. I am a buddhist and please note these points.

Accordiing to the buddhism,

The only thing you take to the next birth is what you have done when you were alive ( called Meritorious Deeds) .

Rebirth as a human is a rare incident. (onece budda has mentioned that it is like the amount of the sand which you can get from the land to your thumb vs the rest of the sand in tha land Ex: Universe )

One must have a lot of good deeds to have all the confrot in a life. Buddihism does not accept to leave everything to past which means accepting everything as a result of the past and leave them. budda once mentined that if you have the courage you can even change the effects of your bad deeds.

Finaly keep in mind life is short do good things and improve your capability to get close to Nirvana. (the event or process of the extinction of the fires of attachment (raga), aversion (dvesha) and ignorance (moha or avidya).In the Buddhism, when above fires are extinguished, one is released from the cycle of rebirth (samsara) and suffering (dukkha) comes to an end.

share|improve this answer
    
I always liked the probability thought experiment explained as: the chance a single blind turtle in all the world covered with water coming up from the depths once every hundred years and sticking its head through a single life preserver randomly floating along. –  Richard Morgan Jun 27 at 16:57
    
yes of course. All in all buddhism teach us that " being a human you must not waste your life and shoud live a life that is worthwhile to your current life and your next births." –  user2781812 Jun 27 at 17:28

I don't know of any stories about rebirth as an insect, but for some evidence of insect consciousness there's always the hilarious Pilahaka Sutta, and its unspoken "these worldly goods and fame are all just dung..."

share|improve this answer
2  
wow a talking beetle too –  fxam Jun 27 at 13:01

As far as I can tell the "Animal realm" includes insects. It is a sentient being and I don't see why they wouldn't be a part of samsara.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.