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Perhaps most pertinently can animals become enlightened?
I take it that you mean can animals other than human animals become enlightened without having to ( through developed karmic patterns) become human animals first ?
Why not ? after all, we human animals can only perceive enlightenment from the human perspective, ie, what enlightenment means for us.... our mindset...
If enlightenment is beyond bodily experience ie, a 'mind' thing and all sentient beings have a mind of sorts, (mind in this case being that which knows) what's stopping a non human animal from becoming enlightened, if one takes into account that so-called enlightenment is beyond the mundane, conventional mindset....
Before enlightenment scavenged for food and drank water...After enlightenment scavenged for food and drank water
Why do Buddhists get defensive
Perhaps @techie it has a lot to do with the self & attachment
However I would say "Why do "SOME" Buddhists get defensive?" because not all Buddhist get defensive, some don't really give a toss what's said about Buddhism...It's no skin off their self so to speak
@Bunks when you say "Struggle to remain mindful" What exactly do you mean ?
Is it just a matter of the mind wandering/meandering ?
One can't get (or take) back so called unmindful moments, one can only becoming more aware of it happening ie, be mindful...
More often than not the mind becomes charmed by its own thoughts , however if one becomes accustom to the fact that thought itself is the thinker, ( spending time on the cushion, will help with this) awareness will eventually become the observer and the mind will not be dragged into the experience ... (when one overcomes the delusion within, the illusion without will subside)
If you are aware that this is happening...What would you call this awareness ? (clue it begins with "M" )
What to eat and what not to eat may be of some importance, however "training the mind" (cushion time) is the key to maintaining an ongoing mindful state...But then I could well be just talking through my ass ( pun intended)