I always hear of Buddhists encouraging people to chant mantras, dedicate merits, pray etc. for animals & pets so that they may be exposed to the dharma and take a better rebirth. Also, chanting for dead animals; the insect you unintentionally killed, the carcass on the dinner table, pets who have passed on etc.

How do we know that? Do animals have the capacity to comprehend dharma?

2 Answers 2


Good householder,

Repeating goodwill and good thought toward all beings is part of right view developing, are huge merits (if also acting likewise: non-harming, virtue in word and speech) for one who does. Dedicating ones goodness, merits to all others, so that if they are able to take part on the deeds by approve and rejoicing, is also huge meritorious for one who does. One who joins the merits by mudita gain merits as well.

How ever, either taking part on merits or receiving certain gifts, once fallen into the realm of common animal isn't possible. And it's also not possible to make anything for others that would overwrite their own actions.

It's good to reflect what ever food like eating ones only son, or mothers (former existances), flesh to get disenchanted toward pleasures in the Sensual Worlds.

Seeing oldage sickness and death all around, not releasing anybody, anything, the wise is busy in focus on merits torward escape for there own kamma/deeds establishes beings.

Yet, even if one thinks "may all beings here without hunger" while liter the rinsing water of his food away, even this is merit in giving, yet not one of huge benefit as such starts with giving toward those with virtue, metta, the Noble Ones.

Metta, virtue and generosity of one with such attributes actuually helps the doer much and all others most possible. Sila is not only cause for wealth but also happiness (heavens) and liberation, once conducted on right view.

And no, animals are not capable to comprehend, understand the Dhamma, yet it's good if one leads ones pets to good habits which, when used to things, even if not understanding, is useful when one time getting, gaining better chance.

For the most, the only, but not small gift toward fellows and other beings, is not to harm them aside of sharing so that they can carry on. Else is up to their deeds.

Hypocritical behaviour like wishing well yet not willing to either act virtuoso nor generously not renounce sensual pleasures is bad in both ways but common under ordinary folk to feel a little better. Who likes people wishing well around while harming and without restrain?

It's like demonstrating for climate action while enjoying pleasures of all senses... fools gather not understanding the first Noble truth. And they wouldn't be willing to renounce, even if.


The term metta has been translated as loving kindness, benevolence, friendliness, amity, good will and universal love.

Cultivating metta is about changing YOUR state of mind, and not actually changing other people's or animals' state of mind.

Loving kindness is about you changing your thoughts, emotions, intentions, attitude, outlook and conduct, in such a way that it radiates with benevolence and friendliness to all beings (including yourself). It is so that you become the true friend who wishes everyone, without discrimination, to be happy and at ease with themselves. Loving kindness is a cure for one's ill will towards others.

On the other hand, compassion (karuna) is about you trying to understand the suffering of others and trying to alleviate the suffering of others, or at least not make it worse. Compassion is a cure for one's contempt for others.

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