i can't remember, perhaps it was a dream, a vague recalling at best...where does buddha ask ‘do you want to be a dumb animal?’ I’m not accusing buddha of calling animals dumb, I’m assuming he thought some animals are dumb…like some person (animal), but that other animals are smart, like some person. Anyway, does he say this?


3 Answers 3


There is a sutta where two ascetics, one who act like an ox and one who acts like a dog ask the Buddha what their rebirths will be. The Buddha tells him he'll either go to hell, or be reborn an animal.

A second time…And a third time Puṇṇa, the ox-duty ascetic, said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, this Seniya is a naked dog-duty ascetic who does what is hard to do: he eats his food when it is thrown to the ground. He has long taken up and practised that dog-duty. What will be his destination? What will be his future course?”

“Well, Puṇṇa, since I certainly cannot persuade you when I say: ‘Enough, Puṇṇa, let that be. Do not ask me that,’ I shall therefore answer you.

“Here, Puṇṇa, someone develops the dog-duty fully and uninterruptedly; he develops the dog-habit fully and uninterruptedly; he develops the dog-mind fully and uninterruptedly; he develops dog-behaviour fully and uninterruptedly. Having done so, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in the company of dogs. But if he has such a view as this: ‘By this virtue or observance or asceticism or holy life I shall become a great god or some lesser god,’ that is wrong view in his case. Now there are two destinations for one with wrong view, I say: hell or the animal realm. So, Puṇṇa, if his dog-duty succeeds, it will lead him to the company of dogs; if it fails, it will lead him to hell.”

MN 57


'Animals' generally do not have a reflective mind. For example, if a cat is hungry, it will kill a bird to eat. The cat will not consider if that bird is a mother of other baby birds. Or, where I live, cats destroy the eggs or chicks of certain native birds that nest on the ground. The cats do not consider/reflect these birds spent weeks sitting on their eggs to have some baby birds; or the cats do not reflect whether or not these type of birds is in danger of extinction. Instead, the cats act on impulse; not being able to understand there is a lobby where I live to have cats banned from our rare geographical location.

In Buddhism, the translation of 'animal' comes from the word 'tiracchānayoni' or 'tiracchāna'. The word 'tiracchāna' means 'going crosswise or obliquely or horizontally'. The impression is 'tiracchāna' means to not evolve or go beyond instinctual patterns & reactions, similar to animals that only follow heavily programmed & limited modes of instinctual reactions & behaviors.

Therefore, the impression is the word 'tiracchāna' refers to people who simply blindly follow greed, hatred & delusion and to not reflect upon the dangers & consequences of these instinctual patterns & reactions.

Here, student, some man or woman does not visit a recluse or a brahmin and ask: ‘Venerable sir, what is wholesome? What is unwholesome? What is blameable? What is blameless? What should be cultivated? What should not be cultivated? What kind of action will lead to my harm and suffering for a long time? What kind of action will lead to my welfare and happiness for a long time?’ Because of performing and undertaking such action…he reappears in a state of deprivation… But if instead he returns to the human state, then, wherever is his status, he is stupid. This is the way, student, that leads to stupidity, namely, one does not visit a recluse or brahmin and ask such questions.

MN 135


Either way, you are a dumb animal. If you don't think so, ask any other animal type. They will more or less tell you that. Even pigs will not tell you.

“How can these recluses, sons of the Sakyans, having assembled together on the fourteenth, fifteenth and eighth days of the half-month, sit in silence, like dumb pigs[?]

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