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Animal Rebirth

Since animals go by instinct, and obviously aren't very mindful, how would an animal other than a human create the good karma to have a human rebirth?
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Comments

  • personperson Veteran
    edited April 2011
    Obtaining a human rebirth is compared to a turtle who surfaces from a vast sea once every 100 years and happens to come up into a drifting yoke. Its not an easy thing so we should take advantage of our opportunity.

    Some people will pick up insects and circumambulate a stupa with them.

    "There is an account in the Jataka Tales of seven insects living on a leaf of a tree next to a lake at the bottom of which was a stupa. When winter came the tree shed its leaves. The wind carried the bugs' leaf seven times around the lake, and then it fell in the water and the bugs drowned. Following the Buddha Shakyamuni there were seven generations, known as the first seven generations of buddhas, who were incarnations of these seven insects. Now that's benefit! The bugs had no idea the stupa was there. They didn't know what was going on. They were just carried by the wind."

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    A porpoise saves a drowning swimmer, or guides a lost boatload of people to the nearest island. A dog runs into a burning building to save a child, or warns its owner of danger. A horse senses a coming earthquake and gets the attention of its owners, to bring them out of the house before the earthquake hits and causes the house to collapse. it happens.
  • CloudCloud Veteran
    @AbbeyRoad, Worry about what causes suffering and why. Investigate. Does a dog have Buddha-nature? Mu! This is just mental fermentation, not leading to the goal.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    But cloud, we're taught that people can be reborn as animals, and animals as humans, so I think it's perfectly reasonable to wonder how that would work.

    Some animals are very intelligent, and bond with their owners, and have feelings, they have psychologies. We don't know to what extent they might be mindful, if any, but they're certainly capable of acts of compassion and even bravery. Some animals.
  • CloudCloud Veteran
    edited April 2011
    shrug
    If an animal does not possess the capability to understand that everything experienced is not-self and impermanent, it does not have the capability to rise above conditioned existence. Its nature is still Buddha-nature, but its ability to realize this is quite limited. Therefore the dissolution of its aggregates and re-formation as something else, perhaps a human, may lead to this realization.

    If we posit there is something which is reborn, then karma will eventually lead to that something being part of a human or other "being" that can understand. To try and figure karma out is something that can lead to madness though. So...
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited April 2011
    @ Cloud --Animals have Buddha-nature? How so? Now you have my attention. :)
    By risking their lives to save a human, they're rising above conditioned existence. Everyone is conditioned to survive. So on exceptional occasions (heck, what do we know, this may happen more often than we think), animals rise above conditioned existence.

    P.S. You're cute when you shrug.
  • CloudCloud Veteran
    There are not "animals", there is "mind" and "form". The nature of mind is Buddha-nature. Therefore, "sentient" life-forms that we discern possess a mind have this same nature. We also discern there are different capacities of mind, even within our own species. The capacity of animals other than humans does not lead to clear-vision of reality. They are carried along by conditioning with little or no chance of directly changing that, though indirectly karma does its thing.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    OK, I'll buy that. I think. This Buddha-nature of mind/consciousness, it must exist, then, as part of the universal mind-field scientists talk about, the "fabric of the universe"? (Pardon me while I ponder an imponderable, but it came up as a scientific report on another thread.)
  • Also, one need not forget negative karma. It could simply be that a person with negative karma is reborn as an animal, and endures hardship as that animal, essentially working out their negative karma. If they live as an animal long enough working this out, then technically they could be reborn as a human. Just a thought.
  • CloudCloud Veteran
    edited April 2011
    @Dakini, And mind follows form, is conditioned by form. What is the nature of form? To be permanent, or to change? Is it self, or not-self/interdependent? Form is empty, mind is empty, and this emptiness we call the Dharma. Realization of this emptiness we call Nirvana. ;)
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    I like that thought, thanks, kataz. You may be right. The animal realm is for working off negative karma...could be. The hell realms are undoubtedly similar, but for REALLY bad karma.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    @Dakini, And mind follows form, is conditioned by form. What is the nature of form? To be permanent, or to change? Is it self, or not-self/interdependent? Form is empty, mind is empty, and this emptiness we call the Dharma. Realization of this emptiness we call Nirvana. ;)
    Yeah, well, I seem to be a long way away from grasping that. Quantum physics is a piece of cake by comparison. :scratch:
  • Quantum physics is a piece of cake by comparison. :scratch:
    I suppose that's why there are so many more quantum physicists than buddhas
    :D
  • DhammaDhatuDhammaDhatu Veteran
    edited April 2011
    Since animals go by instinct, and obviously aren't very mindful, how would an animal other than a human create the good karma to have a human rebirth?
    the scriptures say an animal attains human birth by realising the Four Noble Truths

    :mullet:
    So too, bhikkhus, those beings are few who, when they pass away from the animal realm, are reborn among human beings. But those beings are more numerous who, when they pass away from the animal realm, are reborn in hell.

    For what reason? Because bhikkhus, they have not seen the Four Noble Truths. What four? The noble truth of suffering, the noble truth of the origin of suffering, the noble truth of the cessation of suffering, the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering.

    SN 56.121

    http://www.bhikkhu-revata-paauk.com/dhamma-books/Awaken_01_What-are-Humans-Doing.pdf
  • look it this way: being reborn as an animal is mostly about exhausting negative karma than making new positive karma.
  • Animals dont create positive karma.
    Nor do they create negative karma.
    They will be reborn as humans when their past good
    karma ripens.
  • and where is reported the Buddha taught like this?

    :confused:" alt=":confused:" height="20" />
  • 335. Bhikkhus, a few find access to the meanings of the Teaching and the bliss of release, others do not experience release. Therefore bhikkhus, you should train to see the meanings in the Teaching to experience the bliss of release.

    336. Bhikkhus, in the peninsular of India there are a few pleasant orchards, forests, outstanding sites, stretches of water but many irregular blocks of land, irregular rivers flowing disorderly, forming uneven shapes. In the same manner a few humans who leave the human corpse are born among humans many more are reborn in hell, in the animal world and as ghosts.

    337. In the same manner a few gods that leave divinity are reborn among gods many more are reborn in hell, in the animal world and as ghosts.

    338. In the same manner a few gods that leave divinity are reborn as humans, many more are reborn in hell, in the animal world and as ghosts.

    339. Bhikkhus, in the same manner a few released from hell are reborn human, many more are reborn in hell, in the animal world and as ghosts.

    340. Bhikkhus, a few released from hell are reborn with the gods, many more are reborn in hell, in the animal world and as ghosts. In the same manner a few who leave behind the animal world are reborn as humans, many more are reborn in hell, in the animal world and as ghosts. In the same manner a few who leave behind the animal world are reborn as gods, many more are reborn in hell, in the animal world and as ghosts. In the same manner a few ghosts are reborn among humans, many more are reborn in hell, in the animal world and as ghosts. In the same manner a few ghosts are reborn among gods, many more are reborn in hell, in the animal world and as ghosts.

    http://www.metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/4Anguttara-Nikaya/Anguttara1/1-ekanipata/016-Ekadhammapali-e.html
    :hair:
  • Thanks guys! This is starting to make a lot more sense! :thumbsup:
  • Animals dont create positive karma.
    Nor do they create negative karma.
    They will be reborn as humans when their past good
    karma ripens.
    Animals that eats other animals do create bad karmas unfortunately.

  • CloudCloud Veteran
    Animals that eat other animals do so because that is their nature. Animals that do not eat other animals do so because that is their nature. Humans are the only ones that choose what they eat because we have the capacity to eat what we want and grow our own food.
  • edited April 2011
    Animals that eat other animals do so because that is their nature. Animals that do not eat other animals do so because that is their nature. Humans are the only ones that choose what they eat because we have the capacity to eat what we want and grow our own food.
    Absolutely.

    The different 'realms' rather than being literal places we can go to after death, can also be interpreted as mental states and an 'animal' mental state is generally considered to be a delusional one.

    Ajahn Buddhadasa said :


    "Now to the realm of beasts (tiracchana). Birth as a beast means in everyday language actual physical birth as a pig, a dog, or some other actual animal. Rebirth after death as some kind of lower animal is the everyday meaning of rebirth into the realm of the beasts.

    In Dhamma language, it has a different meaning. When one is stupid, just like a dumb animal, then at that moment one is born into the realm of beasts. It happens right here and now. One may be born as a beast many times over in a single day. So in Dhamma language, birth as a beast means stupidity."


    http://www.buddhadasa.com/naturaltruth/twolanguage3.html

    also:

    "Within the Buddhist teachings the six realms of existence are seen as six mind-states which are effectively six particular styles of imprisonment. As human beings we experience all these mind-states daily, although we may have a stronger tendency towards one than the others, depending on our habitual patterns."

    http://www.samyeling.org/index/samyeling-course-action?id=142&course_title=The+Six+Realms+of+Experience
  • Animal realm is here and now. Remember all the folks going through the motions of their lives at the start of Shawn of the Dead? That's the animal realm.
  • I never thought of that before (animal realm rebirth being a 'here and now' kind of rebirth). Perhaps all of the rebirths could be considered as occurring here and now (the hungry ghosts those afflicted by overwhelming longing for more wealth even as they have amassed much, hell beings punished by their own 'inner demons' because of bad karma?) Again, just speculation on my part, I haven't read enough of the sutras to be speaking definitively on anything.
  • Since animals go by instinct, and obviously aren't very mindful, how would an animal other than a human create the good karma to have a human rebirth?
    Ok, the stock reply would normally be that the exact workings of kamma and rebirth are imponderables. Nevertheless, I cannot help pondering on these questions from time to time. As you say, animals act on instinct. Even if humans teach them some tricks, such tricks just add to their 'data-base' of instincts. A dog rescuing a child from drowning is just instinct. So, I don't believe they engage in "intentional" actions, so how will kamma accumulate?

    Do anyone here think animals want to be reborn as humans? Why will they? I take a walk in my city, I see lots of people - some sad, some worried, some tired, some depressed, but vary few happy people. At the same time, I see plenty of happy birds chirping away, happy and content dogs, peaceful cats - some watching the chirping birds :D , etc... And I think: For animals wanting to be reborn as humans will be like wanting to escape nirvana and be reborn in samsara. Try releiving a dung beetle of his dung and offer him your confortable house. What will he do? Yes, he'll run straight back to his dung. Animals are happy being animals. They don't want to become humans... ;)
  • I agree. I think also animals looks happier than people. :)
  • personperson Veteran
    edited April 2011

    Do anyone here think animals want to be reborn as humans? Why will they? I take a walk in my city, I see lots of people - some sad, some worried, some tired, some depressed, but vary few happy people. At the same time, I see plenty of happy birds chirping away, happy and content dogs, peaceful cats - some watching the chirping birds :D , etc... And I think: For animals wanting to be reborn as humans will be like wanting to escape nirvana and be reborn in samsara. Try releiving a dung beetle of his dung and offer him your confortable house. What will he do? Yes, he'll run straight back to his dung. Animals are happy being animals. They don't want to become humans... ;)
    Our pets are up towards the top of the animal kingdom. Is a cow or pig locked in a pen its whole life waiting to be slaughtered happy? Is a wildabeast being eaten by an alligator happy? Most wild animals don't have the kind of mental suffering that humans can obtain but their lives are consumed with finding food, avoiding being food and reproduction. Some animals may have very nice, happy lives but they're just pawns of their circumstances they have no ability to change their minds to a more positive state.

  • Its interesting that this comment came from
    a person not an animal. lol.
    just kidding.
    I wonder if salmons suffer as they swim
    upstream to spawn & die.
  • edited April 2011
    Salmon are at their peak in terms of energy and life-force when the swim upstream, since this is the most challenging part of their life. For the species to survive, they need to meet this challenge. They're driven by instinct and the need to reproduce, and all their effort is focused on achieving their goal. I don't think they're suffering. Watching a salmon run is one of nature's greatest spectacles, IMO. There's so much energy and power in the air (and the water!), it's a wonder to behold. Do they suffer after they've spawned, and their bodies begin to decay and they die? Most likely.


    Do anyone here think animals want to be reborn as humans?
    I doubt they go around thinking about it. The message I got from this discussion is that the purpose of animal rebirth is a) to give them time to work off negative karma from previous lifetimes and b) according to the Buddha, they have the choice to realize the 4 Noble Truths, and thereby gain admission to the human realm. The Buddha didn't elaborate as to whether animals have sufficient cognitive faculties to achieve this, but he must have believed they did.

    The fact that Tibetans believe animals and insects could have been their parents in an earlier lifetime indicates the realms are taken literally. Whether or not the Buddha taught that the realms could be interpreted as mental states is a good question. My impression is that it is later commentators and interpreters who came up with this idea, as even HHDL has spoken about it.(Even the previous Pope began to publicly interpret Heaven and Hell this way.) But is there support for this in the suttras?

  • zidanguszidangus Veteran
    edited April 2011

    Some animals may have very nice, happy lives but they're just pawns of their circumstances they have no ability to change their minds to a more positive state.
    There was a thread with posts which address this issue.
    http://newbuddhist.com/discussion/10176/mercy-killing

    with regards to your statement above, I don't think it is a clear cut as you make out. There are some animals that may not be restricted to just act out of instinct, indeed there is evidence that some animals have empathy. Nobody really knows how the minds of animals truly work or what motivates them to do some of the actions they are observed to do. All we can do until some ground breaking evidence arises that can answer the question "Do animals only act out of instinct ?", is observe and make our own conclusions from our observations. So for me the answer to this question is far from certain.

    With Metta

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    I knew a Tibetan elder who said the dog belonging to someone who hosted him from time to time was an "old soul". He would sit and talk to the dog as if it were a person, whenever he visited its owner. I don't know if he spoke to the dog in English or Tibetan, but I suspect--Tibetan.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    335. Bhikkhus, a few find access to the meanings of the Teaching and the bliss of release, others do not experience release. Therefore bhikkhus, you should train to see the meanings in the Teaching to experience the bliss of release.

    336. Bhikkhus, in the peninsular of India there are a few pleasant orchards, forests, outstanding sites, stretches of water but many irregular blocks of land, irregular rivers flowing disorderly, forming uneven shapes. In the same manner a few humans who leave the human corpse are born among humans many more are reborn in hell, in the animal world and as ghosts.

    337. In the same manner a few gods that leave divinity are reborn among gods many more are reborn in hell, in the animal world and as ghosts.

    338. In the same manner a few gods that leave divinity are reborn as humans, many more are reborn in hell, in the animal world and as ghosts.

    339. Bhikkhus, in the same manner a few released from hell are reborn human, many more are reborn in hell, in the animal world and as ghosts.

    340. Bhikkhus, a few released from hell are reborn with the gods, many more are reborn in hell, in the animal world and as ghosts. In the same manner a few who leave behind the animal world are reborn as humans, many more are reborn in hell, in the animal world and as ghosts. In the same manner a few who leave behind the animal world are reborn as gods, many more are reborn in hell, in the animal world and as ghosts. In the same manner a few ghosts are reborn among humans, many more are reborn in hell, in the animal world and as ghosts. In the same manner a few ghosts are reborn among gods, many more are reborn in hell, in the animal world and as ghosts.

    http://www.metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/4Anguttara-Nikaya/Anguttara1/1-ekanipata/016-Ekadhammapali-e.html
    Did the Buddha teach this, or is it a later addition? I thought you said the Buddha didn't teach rebirth in his "core teachings". If this isn't a core teaching, does that mean this isn't his true belief, he was tailoring his teaching to a specific crowd? (But he was teaching monks here, so...he must have believed this.) If this was a key teaching, then clearly he taught rebirth, and to monks, at that. If it was a later addition, then is it to be disregarded, like the teaching that allowing nuns into the Order will shorten the life of the Dharma? Please help us put your post in perspective.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    One more question. If the Buddha taught this type of cosmology, about different realms of existence, is this not metaphysics? If not, then what is it?
  • fivebellsfivebells Veteran
    edited April 2011
    Whether or not the Buddha taught that the realms could be interpreted as mental states is a good question... But is there support for this in the suttras?
    We've gone over this dozens of times. It's a question of philology and translation. The outline of the realms in the longer Lion's Roar sutra is a good example. Rebirth adherents see it describing the cosmological consequences after break-up and dissolution of the corporeal body, but it makes more sense as a description of mental states arising from samsaric attachments. The descriptions of the attitudes which lead to the realms and the descriptions of the realms themselves fit the mental-state model better than the cosmological one. It comes down to the translation of the Pali usually rendered like "break up and dissolution of the body." As Dhatu has pointed out dozens of times, it doesn't have to be rendered that way.
  • DhammaDhatuDhammaDhatu Veteran
    edited April 2011
    Again, just speculation on my part, I haven't read enough of the sutras to be speaking definitively on anything.
    One will not find anything "definitive" in the sutras because these teachings, being mundane or moral teachings, are taught in a manner to be interpreted by the listener or reader.

    They are spoken by one person in a way according to his truth and interpreted by others according to their truth.

    :)
    The Awakened One, best of speakers,
    Spoke two kinds of truths:
    The conventional and the ultimate.
    A third truth does not obtain.

    Therein:
    The speech wherewith the world converses is true
    On account of its being agreed upon by the world.
    The speech which describes the ultimate is also true,
    Through characterizing dhammas as they really are.

    Therefore, being skilled in common usage,
    False speech does not arise in the Teacher,
    Who is Lord of the World,
    When he speaks according to conventions.

    (Mn. i. 95)



  • SabreSabre Veteran
    Always funny to see people think there is a big difference between humans and animals. They say animals act on instinct, but humans act on something completely different apparently.. But the difference is not so big. Some animals are highly intelligent and humans also act on instinct, so I think rebirth as an animal is very well possible.

    Why an animal could be reborn as a human being, I don't know. But some humans are the living proof of reborn animals, hehe. :p

  • Dakini, what is your personal take?
    Do you agree with DD?
  • If you believe in evolution,
    humans were aniamls.

    An obvious difference is how humans have shaped or
    some say destroyed their environment.
    Always funny to see people think there is a big difference between humans and animals. They say animals act on instinct, but humans act on something completely different apparently.. But the difference is not so big. Some animals are highly intelligent and humans also act on instinct, so I think rebirth as an animal is very well possible.

    Why an animal could be reborn as a human being, I don't know. But some humans are the living proof of reborn animals, hehe. :p

  • SabreSabre Veteran
    edited April 2011
    You are right, but to conclude:
    Humans ARE animals. ;)

    To think there is something fundamentally different I think is just a form of arrogance or ignorance. Even DNA wise monkeys are like 90% the same (don't know the exact number).
  • hermitwinhermitwin Veteran
    edited April 2011
    A scientist confirmed said our dna is 70%(cant remember
    exactly) identical to bananas.
    so, dna is not a good measure.

    I dont think its arrogance, its just true.
    Isnt it amazing that we can use pig organs in
    humans yet our brain is totally different?
  • SabreSabre Veteran
    haha didn't know that

    Don't think you can be reborn a banana indeed. :p
  • Interestingly, in many classical literature,
    we are told to be like a rock or a tree(banana if u like)
    to be enlightened.
  • SabreSabre Veteran
    edited April 2011
    :thumbsup: :D

    From the monkey mind to the banana mind..
  • the banana is mine, you can keep the monkey.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited April 2011
    Dakini, what is your personal take?
    Do you agree with DD?
    XD I dunno. I have only questions, no "take" yet. We haven't resolved whether animals act entirely on instinct, or whether they make choices based on affinity for people. Why does the porpoise save the swimmer? Surely, it knows the swimmer's in distress, by whatever process that "knowing" happens. Is that instinct, or independent cognition? Probably not a "moral" decision, though, I guess. DD says the suttras are totally up for individual interpretation, so there are no definitive answers in them. so what is there to agree with? All I know is what I don't know. We have no way of knowing for sure what animals are thinking. (Do we?) I think the fact that the Buddha believed that animals could realise the 4 Noble Truths is interesting. Is it possible for animals to go through such a cognitive process? Do we accept what the Buddha said just because he said it? How would someone in hell manage to be reborn as a human, or a god (stanzas 339, 340, above), how would that happen? This seems to be where belief enters into Buddhism. Faith. ?

    Sorry. No answers, only questions. That's all I got.

  • 'Buddha believed that animals could realise the 4 Noble Truths'
    Are you sure???
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited April 2011
    That was in a quote DD dragged out of somewhere. Believe it or not. I was blown away. He taught that realising the 4 Nobles is how animals progress up to human rebirth.
  • I don't remember Dhatu bringing that sutra reference up, but it sounds like you may have missed the most important point about it: it is yet another sutra referring to the realms in a way which makes perfect sense if you interpret them as here-and-now mental states, but which seems quite obscure if you interpret them as post-mortem cosmological destinations.
  • And you just accept it???
    That was in a quote DD dragged out of somewhere. Believe it or not. I was blown away. He taught that realising the 4 Nobles is how animals progress up to human rebirth.
  • DhammaDhatuDhammaDhatu Veteran
    edited April 2011
    'Buddha believed that animals could realise the 4 Noble Truths' Are you sure???
    I quoted the scriptures, dude.

    :buck:
    So too, bhikkhus, those beings are few who, when they pass away from the animal realm, are reborn among human beings. But those beings are more numerous who, when they pass away from the animal realm, are reborn in hell.

    For what reason? Because bhikkhus, they have not seen the Four Noble Truths. What four? The noble truth of suffering, the noble truth of the origin of suffering, the noble truth of the cessation of suffering, the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering.

    SN 56.121

    http://www.bhikkhu-revata-paauk.com/dhamma-books/Awaken_01_What-are-Humans-Doing.pdf


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