This is a question about Pure Land Buddhism.

What is a sentient being ? What is a living being ? Examples, e.g. slug, tree, bacteria, cat, aliens ?

How do you teach enlightenment to a cat ?

Are the snow lions in a pure land enlightened ?

How do slugs get to be enlightened ? Do they have to be reborn as human first ?

How can every living being be enlightened ? Do they all have to be human first ?


1 Answer 1


What is a sentient being

In Classical Chinese Sutra, sentient being is 有情眾生, or simply 有情, a brief translation is one who has feelings, emotional beings. Trees, rocks, mountains... are not. But they can be dwelling places of Devas (Avatamsaka Sutra). I think in between there are marginal or transitory, like bacteria, slug, insect... like a rainbow though we say there are 7 colours, but in fact it's indivisible, between red and orange there is red-orange, re-red-orange, red-red-red-orange... so on and so forth, so the same as sentient beings and non-sentient beings, in respect to the multitude of lifeforms and substances.

How do you teach enlightenment to a cat ?

You should teach a human before teaching a cat, you should teach a human who has confidence and respect of Buddha before teaching those not... if a cat is ready for enlightenment, it's the Bodhisattva's job, not unenlightened human being you or me. Also a cat the first task before anything else, is to acquire human form - to be reborn as human.

Are the snow lions in a pure land enlightened ?

No snow lions in Pureland. Pureland is the emanation of Amitabha only those harmonious with his emanation are emanated by him, there are birds, trees, lotus, pavilions, clothes, foods, musics, dances, ponds... you may read the Pureland Three Sutras.

How do slugs get to be enlightened ? Do they have to be reborn as human first ?

There are no slugs in Pureland, all crawling things are not found in Pureland, if the birds are there it's due to Amitabha emanated them, and they are beautiful birds singing beautiful songs of the Dharma: the Four Truth.

It's not easy to transmit the Buddhist teaching if one didn't get a more profound understanding of what Buddha tried to convey, that the appearance of our world is purely our own conceiving. Such as this world - earth, with the grits, thorns, thunderstorms and lightnings, putrid smells, walking on two feet from distance to distance - spacetime... are all our own conceiving.

  • But I have seen several Thangkas of scenes in Pureland, There are SnowLions under the Throne. I have read Vajrayogini in Pure Dakini land sits on a throne supported by 8 Snow Lions ?
    – Ididit
    Aug 24, 2017 at 14:51
  • One of the main points of my question is in the generation of Bodichitta I have been taught to seek enlightenment for "all sentient beings", I don't get how this works.
    – Ididit
    Aug 24, 2017 at 14:58
  • Alright, it seemed your Pureland stands for Purelands, not restricted to Sukharvati (?) of Amitabha. There are many Purelands for many Buddhas. Snow Lion is particularly Tibetan Buddhism, related to one of the schools (four main schools of TB). As far as I understood TB taught abt immediate realizing Buddhahood, and emphasized Tantric (secret) Doctrine [密法] . It's, according to their claiming [emphasized], related to the fourth Buddha in this Noble Kalpas who taught Tantra, who associated with Snow Lion. There will be no more Buddha taught Tantra after this fourth. Aug 24, 2017 at 19:54
  • If you google for Pureland artworks such as the Duanhuang or Maogao cave wall paintings found along Silk Road, no Snow Lion. Again Bodhicitta is another TB particularity, in general traditional Mahayana taught compassion, Bodhisattva vow in brief is for keeping the path of seeking Buddhahood uninterrupted during many birth-deaths, also based on Ultimate Emptiness in questing of Perfect-wisdom. Aug 24, 2017 at 20:08
  • The TB Bodhicitta is certain mystical liquid generated by the body when doing proper Tantric Yoga... So seek enlightenment of all SB is just part of the job mainly about the superior intention, not really an act that must be fully carried out. Aug 24, 2017 at 20:08

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