I have a dog that i love very much.I don't feel like his a dog.I have a lot of respect for him.And treat him like an old friend.As he is old now.I heard somewhere that animals who hear the Dharma can be reborn as a human??I don't know if that's true or which sutta it's in.But I have formed a habit of either reading the sutta to him,chanting in Pali,or sometimes just talking to him about the Four Noble Truths.As that's the one thing i want to remember when i die.I know it seems too silly but i just feel like somewhere inside he can understand me.He has a very serene and calm demeanor too.I hope that there is a sutta about animals hearing The Dhamma having a better rebirth,because this dog has qualities that even i as a human being lack.I hope that there is some way to share the greatest gift(The Dhamma) to our animal friends.

Is it true is there a way to benefit animals by helping them come into contact with the Dhamma? Such as teaching them the Dhamma?

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    Inasmuch as dogs understand human body language, they probably learn something from a human who has good qualities, versus a human who does not. Then, the dog probably has a better mental inclination at the time of death.
    – Anthony
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 15:12
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    Apparently Lama Zopa Rinpoche has written articles somewhat related to this topic. Here is his article on "How to Benefit Animals" lamayeshe.com/index.php?sect=article&id=333&chid=1389
    – Robin111
    Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 20:01
  • To add to the discussion, I recently watched a documentary on discovery channel about a tibetian monk in himalayas who had a tiger as a 'pet'. Not just that, they had trained the tiger to be vegetarian! This seems nothing short of a Dhamma miracle! Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 12:13
  • You have a link to that, regarding the tiger? That sounds much more like a Chinese project-- there are zoo/temples that have been doing stunts with animals, more for the tourism it generates than for any benefit of the animals. Anyhow, here is a link to a temple cat in South Korea that sounds legit. tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/… Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 21:59

10 Answers 10


There's a Jakarta story of a previous incarnation of the Buddha giving his body to a hungry tigress. The reason for that act was to prevent the tigress eating her cubs, which would have damaged her sila.

Therefore, I will kill my miserable body by casting it down into the precipice, and with my corpse I shall preserve the tigress from killing her young ones and the young ones from dying by the teeth of their mother.

My mum rescued a stray dog. She (the dog) was initially aggressive to other dogs, but my mum taught her not to be. My mum also taught her self-restraint: including to not rush to get her dinner immediately, but to wait when the dinner bowl is set on the floor, wait until she is told that she can get it.

I like to think that you're able to help a dog, for example by teaching it some morality.

In terms of teaching them Dhamma, although they cannot read books I hope they can read you.

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    Chris, one thing is wrong about your answer. The gauthama Bodhisattva wasn't concerned about an animals sila. Because sila is a word for a way of life practiced intentionally to achieve better state, and animals do not have any sila. It was meththa (compassion & kindness) towards these animalsthat led Bodhisattva to give life.
    – Theravada
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 0:13
  • The tale is told using phrases like, "he can save the tigress' purity"; "I shall preserve the tigress from killing her young ones"; and "The tigress transgresses all limits of affection". Though sila may be intentional, people also say that wrong-doing is wrong (and that negative consequence of wrong-doing are real) even if a wrong-doer is ignorant that it's wrong.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 0:56
  • Also, other animals in other jataka tales are depicted as moral: they're given human speech and reasoning etc.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 0:57

In Chinese/Mahayana Buddhism, not only is it possible, but under the Brahma Net Sutra precepts, you are obliged to teach the dharma to all sentient beings including animals.

In that cosmology, hearing the dharma today creates the karma and merit that will bear positive fruit in future lives.

  1. Failure to Teach Sentient Beings

A disciple of the Buddha should develop a mind of Great Compassion. Whenever he enters people's homes, villages, cities or towns, and sees sentient beings, he should say aloud, "You sentient beings should all take the Three Refuges and receive the Ten [Major Bodhisattva] Precepts." Should he come across cows, pigs, horses, sheep and other kinds of animals, he should concentrate and say aloud, "You are now animals; you should develop the Bodhi Mind." A Bodhisattva, wherever he goes, be it climbing a mountain, entering a forest, crossing a river, or walking through a field should help all sentient beings develop the Bodhi Mind.

If a disciple of the Buddha does not wholeheartedly teach and rescue sentient beings in such a manner, he commits a secondary offense.

ref: http://www.fodian.net/world/1484.html

Now from a secular standpoint, this question pivots on if animals are sentient, intelligent and capable of language.

On the topic of sentience, even neurologists don't have a good explanation for why or how human are sentient let alone animals. For those who'd like to think this seal the case that animals are insentient, it doesn't. It means we aren't sure that humans are sentient.

In the area of intelligence and language, there is a mixture of objective evidence that animals are smarter than they look and a lot of people who want to continue to believe that animals are dumb, mindless automatons. It makes it more tenable to continue to eat and exploit them with clear conscience.

On the other hand, while I personally find it plausible that animals have some intelligence, have animal communication systems, it falls short of the tricks humans can do and falls short of human style language.

So no Doctor Doo-little and no chance that an animal, even a chimp could digest something abstract like the tenets of a religion. I do speculate that chimps, whales, dolphins and other social animals probably have an intuitive understanding of ethics.

So finally, I think it is a good project to teach the Dharma to all sentient beings, including animals. It is the heart of my favorite Buddhist vow. It will take kalpas. It will take kalpas to familiarize even a small percent of humans with the dharma. But in kalpas, that's enough time for animals to evolve the intelligence required.

Lets hope we don't exterminate them before that time passes.


No. strong NO.
I assume that you are not referring human as animal.

Animals do not have wisdom to comprehend dhamma. SO they are restricted from achieving Janna (meditation achievement) or to become Stream Enterer. Only human or higher (with the exception of divas in Arupa world) can be stream enterer. humans who committed 5 heinous karma (Ānantarika-karma) are also doomed. they cannot achieve higher level of dhamma in current life. However, Animals (or doomed humans) can still do good merits for happiness and pleasure for next lives. None of any suttas ever mentioned Buddha teaching to non-human animals. Buddha would not waste his time. However, in some sutta, buddha would be kind to animals by accepting gift (fruit/honey from a monkey) from them and one occasion, allowed an elephant to carry his alm bowl knowing that they will be reward for the good karma. Buddha mentioned being born into animal or helm realms is like being in prison for a long sentence.

you can teach your dog to do good. I have a golden retriever and every time i make small donation to charity in a mail, i would have him carry my letters to mail box. Least we can do for our furry friends.


I agree with dean's harsh but canonical answer. Animal's do not possess the intelligence necessary to create enough understanding of Dharma to Awaken. They also have other obstacles such as being uncomfortable, emotionally bonded to tribe, etc. If an animal does manage to reach a high level of cultivation in its life (very rare) then it tends to die on the spot (source: an old story about a monk who's cow Awakened and fell dead and he went looking for the human incarnation of the cow).

is there a way to benefit animals by helping them come into contact with the Dhamma?


  • New Age techniques, such as crystal absorption, sun absorption, moon energy absorption, are all various methods to improve one's energy levels including on a psychic plane. Master nan talked about a fox spirit in the mountain he did a retreat in and how she cultivated by stealing other monk's sexual essence and disrupting their cultivation. He also mentioned how wolves stare and howl at the moon and this is a way of absorbing its energies to create a longer life and more harmonized system.

  • Playing dharma talks aloud can build a positive connection as it will transfer to his unconscious mind and eventually, perhaps in a future life time, he will be more quickly accept Dharma into his life.

  • Doggy train him to bow to a Buddha statue and to other monks. There is a story in the canon about how a person when he was a dog in a past life eons ago built good karma with the Buddhadharma by throwing his poop at a Buddha statue! To us, this may not seem like a "good thing" to do yet from the dog's perspective this is its offering of wonderful delicious, interesting aroma (poop). Thus, that monk (who was otherwise a very bad person) was allowed to enter the sangha.

  • Entering a meditative state of concentration with an animal (including human) and looking directly into their eyes can transmute the state of consciousness to them. This is linked to one of the yogas of Naropa, consciousness transference. This requires strong cultivation on your own side. I only mention this for the record and do not reccommend it.

  • Include him in your meritorious activities! Dogs are already building positive karma all the time and it sounds like your dog definitely is not building as much bad karma as some dogs I know in my neighborhood!

I'm glad you have such a closeness with him and you are already doing as much as you can for your dog while also improving your own cultivation. Good job!


Of course animals can understand love and compassion. Most people who dont know this have not spent a lot of time with animals. I personally have watched horses and dogs help human beings awaken to kindness and self revelation when humans failed them.


Yes! Once the dog or cat or animal heard the dharma even if they don't understand it..the fact the matter is the Dhamma energy will take root in their Karma and evently will grow and will lead them to be reborn in the human plane of existence...


No, like Mr. Dean quoted. But of course they are in small amount able to adopt certain behavior on a level of rites and rituals, which have also certain impacts on their future well-being.

Such as path factors are not possible to develop for animals, since they would always lake on right view.

How ever, its is not a waste of time, if you invest it in a certain wished relation ship but a question of how much you actually benefit from such an relationship for a long term at fist point.

When ever something looks nice and good for you, don't forget, its just your preoccupation about it. The dog as people, do not leak you because they "love" you, they and you do such for a gain: sensual pleasure. Atma would like to quote some sentence in regard of love, to make it even understandable how much humans are actually "animals". or say, not different of them:

"How few understand what love really is,...

...and how it arises in the human heart. It is so frequently equated with good feelings toward others, with benevolence or nonviolence or service. But these things in themselves are not love. Love springs from awareness. It is only inasmuch as you see someone as he or she is really here, and not how they are in your memory or your desire or in your imagination or projection that you can truly love them; otherwise it is not the person that you love but the idea that you have formed of this person, or this person as the object of your desire not as he or she is in themselves.

The first act of love is to see this person or this object, this reality as it truly is. And this involves the enormous discipline of dropping your desires, your prejudices, your memories, your projections, your selective way of looking ...a discipline so great that most people would rather plunge headlong into good actions and service than submit to the burning fire of this asceticism. When you set out to serve someone whom you have not taken the trouble to see, are you meeting that person's need or your own?"

"You see persons and things not as they are but as you are. If you wish to see them as they are you must attend to your attachments and the fears that your attachments generate. Because when you look at life it is these attachments and fears that will decide what you will notice and what you block out. Whatever you notice then commands your attention. And since your looking has been selective you have an illusory version of the things and people around you. The more you live with this distorted version the more you become convinced that it is the only true picture of the world because your attachments and fears continue to process incoming data in a way that will reinforce your picture."

from The Way to Love--- Father Anthony de Mello

That is the fact of such mostly called "compassion" and it counts for most of every being most of the time, if you feel that your need to help. So being in a way not really dependent on each other or feel not attached, is the ground where real help could appear.

One instance wher the Buddha encountered the matter of an animal is reported in the Vinaya (giving animals no acceptance to join the Sangha):

“You nāgas are not liable to growth in this Dhamma and discipline. Go, nāga. (Staying) right there[2], observe the uposatha on the fourteenth (or) fifteenth and eighth of the fortnight. Thus you will be freed from the nāga-birth and quickly regain the human state.”

The nāga, (thinking,) “It’s said that I’m not liable to growth in this Dhamma and discipline!” sad and unhappy, shedding tears, let out a shriek and left.

from: The Case of the Animal

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma, not meant for commercial purpose or other low wordily gains my means of trade and exchange]


As to Theravada Buddism Animals have benefited from dhamma and had many good things as returns.But they can't understand dhamma because of their low capabilities.

But if you want to help animals here are some tips....

How to give animals better lives

One day a frog who was near a monastery heard a dhamma session and listened to the beautiful sound that it heard. Meanwhile a person who is a Shepard came to listen and as he was tired he gave some weight of his body to the stick that he was holding which was on that frog. But he did not knew that. The frog immediately dies and was born in heaven.

So what to learn from this?

Animals can hear dhamma and if they listen and liked it it would generate good and powerful karma that can get them out of lower realms and to higher realms.

So if you want to help your animal...

Recite dhamma in a very distinct and nice tone. recite them so nicely that it would be attractive to anyone nearby. This would generate good Karma to you and to your dog as it listens.

But talking would not work because dogs can't understand it. But if you do Meththa meditation it will effect anyone in any place including all forms of life. That is a sure fire way to communicate goodness to any being.

Paying Homage to Buddha - Audio file

Loving Kindness Meditation - Audio file

Practice these and recite whenever you can,it will give protection to you while helping your little friend to a better life.

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    It's worthy to comment, that such as sending metta, does not have any real effects for the target beings aside of a maybe accordingly behavior which it benefits. There is no such as merit transfer. All this ideas are simply good for one self, yet does not change much on the animals situation. The message of the story "How to give animals better lives" is actually terrible, and now often even taken on as thought. But aside such, that is endless arrogant and hubristic, not to speak that such violates the fundamental teachings. There are people who kill and steal while sending metta...
    – user11235
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 1:16

There are a lot of inreresting cass involving animals gaining glimpse of Dharma.

Many monks may know or have those experiences.

If you so desire to know or confirm, you can ask them.

They will freely answer the truth.


People think Dhamma Dana (gifting Dhamma) is by printing dhamma books and distributing them. However, the true Dhamma gift is being able to inspire others to be virtuous, kind and wise. Animals, especially dogs do possess a degree of intelligence. Kind owners, who speak kind words and treat their animals and others kindly do impart their kindness on their pets. This will serve for their long term benefit. May all beings be happy.

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