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The Wikipedia article on animals in Buddhism states that animals have Buddha nature, and therefore have potential for enlightenment. I do not dispute this as I sit here petting my cat, but wonder - what are the actual mechanics of how they might go about this? For humans, the path is laid out for us in the teachings of the Buddha. But how can an animal achieve the same final goal?

3

Ignorance is the cause of birth and death. Birth and death comes from craving. Craving comes from desire. Desire comes from wanting pleasure. Pleasure comes from avoiding suffering.

When a being comes to this plane, it comes because it's ignorant of who it is. That being starts to learn. While learning, it does many mistakes. It invents birth. It invents death. It searches for pleasure. It avoids suffering to find pleasure. It does so many many many many many lives.

When a lion came to this plane, it came because it was ignorant of who it was. That lion is learning. While learning, it did many many mistakes. It was born. It wanted to live. It searched for pleasure. It avoided suffering. The more it found pleasure and avoided suffering, the more it learned. The more it learned, the more it knew after death. The more it knew after death, the more it knew after rebirth. Positive kamma was building up many many many many lives.

When that being was reborn into this plane, it was reborn because it was ignorant of who it was. That being has learned. While learning, it did many many many mistakes. It was born. It wanted to live. It learned that by avoiding suffering, pleasure will come. By avoiding suffering and searching for pleasure, that being learned good-and-bad. The more it learned, the more it knew after death. The more it knew after death, the more it knew after rebirth. Positive kamma was building up many many many lives.

When that being was reborn into this plane, it was reborn because it was ignorant of who it was. That being has learned. While learning, it did many many many many mistakes. It was born. It wanted to live. From differentiating good-and-bad it learned to avoid suffering. The more it avoided suffering, the more it knew. The more it knew, the more it renounced suffering, pleasure, desire, craving, death and birth. Positive kamma was building up many many lives.

When a being comes to this plane and renounces birth, death, craving, desire, pleasure and suffering, that being is liberated. It knows: "Oh, ignorance! Ignorant I was! I did many many many many many mistakes. That's the reason for all this mess."

By completely eliminating suffering, pleasure, desire, craving, death and birth, ignorance ceased. When ignorance ceased, it learned who it was. By learning who it was, kamma was found. By finding kamma, kamma was unwinded. By unwinding kamma, knowledge about previous lives arose. By arising knowledge of previous lives, that being knew: "This is suffering. This is the cause of suffering. This is the end of suffering. This is the end of all this mess".

  • ++ This is all about Karma and Vipaka. Nice :) – user5194 May 27 '15 at 12:16
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In short they get reborn as a human being sometime in the future and practice.

You could help by reading some dhamma(suttas) to your cat if you wish.

There is a precedence in a sutta where a frog was listening to a Buddha's discourse and got killed because someone accidentally impaled it with a walking stick. It was then reborn as a deva.

  • In short they get reborn as a human being sometime in the future and practice. Well that is not always true :) – user5194 May 27 '15 at 12:19
  • @Siddhartha please specify the "not always true" exception and which traditions it comes from. :) – Samadhi May 27 '15 at 12:32
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    As per Vajrayana, all beings are capable of taking a rebirth into any of these six realms. 1) God Realm 2) Jealous god realm 3) Human realm 4) Animal realm 5) Hungry ghost realm and 6) Hell realm. So an animal can “upgrade” to a human birth. Or if enlightened merge into God Realm. Theravada or Ditthi-yana may have a different opinion but the basic point is that it is not necessary for an animal to take a rebirth only in Human form. – user5194 May 27 '15 at 12:34
  • @Siddharth Rout, that comment is worthy of a full answer. Post if you wish :-) – Anthony May 28 '15 at 0:18
  • No Thanks @Anthony. I am done with Buddhism forum. I have already deleted all my answers and put in a request to delete my account :) – user5194 May 28 '15 at 6:21
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An animal can't be liberated as an animal; that being itself may be liberated in future births in higher realms of being.

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    Understood - but how does the animal attain the higher level of being? A lion, for example, has lion tendencies, and so kills other animals to survive. A human doing that may be knocked down a notch in the samsara reckoning, but the lion...? – Jeff Wright May 27 '15 at 0:37
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    the lion wasn't always a lion; the lion may have past seeds he has sown which may help him in the future. but as you say, it is not easy to be born a human. This is all just conjecture though. Only a Buddha can fully understand kamma. The best way the rest of us can appreciate it is through the direct experience of practicing meditation. – Ryan May 27 '15 at 0:52
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There are some interesting cases among animals not only cat but birds, dogs, cows, fish and any kind.

Hope this is helpful. Don't take it too seriously but for your reference. About a cat who refuse to eat chicken, catfood, fish, or any meats and only eating vegetables and shedding tears when given food.

https://youtu.be/CN5yKheno_s

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"Dog tries to save fish with water" http://youtu.be/Mx_X6hmhwrs

Watch it and it inspires.

  • Hello DanEng and welcome to Buddhism.SE. We've put together some useful information to help you get started here. – Robin111 May 27 '15 at 11:33
  • Hi DanEng:) One-line answers cannot really be considered answers. Could you add some more text material or references to the texts? Thank you. – Lanka May 27 '15 at 14:42

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