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Can animals eperience enlightenment?
I am wondeirng about this from a buddhist perspective.
I've just read a book on buddhism and the notion of happiness and joy. The writer said or implied that enlightenment is essentially happiness. All sentient beings desire happiness.
We have dogs. Sadly a couple of years ago my dog was hit by a car and died. My dog was very clever and affectionate and we had a strong bond. When I think about life and the meaning of life and metaphysics etc I wonder about my dog. My dog had such a strong personality that it is hard to believe that he can go. It does not seem just or to make sense. I'm sure most people feel this to some degree when a loved pet or person has died.
From my understanding of Buddhism, Buddhist theory promotes the idea that the essence of my dog lives on - its mind or whatever.
A question I have (regarding buddist theory) is more general regarding animals. Can animals experience enlightenement? Does buddhism believe animals reincarnate up the scale to become human? Or does enlightenment occur in all species but its just a varied experience or something similar. Is enlightment on a human level more fulfilling than say an earthworms level or is it just a variation of a similar experience?
Why are there different types of animals from a spiritual or a toward enlightenment perspective?
If things progress through levels to humanity, then what comes after humanity?
Humans have the ability to 'think about things' more complexly than animals. So how can animals expect to 'become less ignorant' (i.e. wake up).