Do animals meditate?

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Do animals meditate?

Postby Individual » Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:10 am

I'm training my dog to not pull on the leash. She has an obsession with sniffing every smell she finds, apparently scavenging for food (even though we feed her enough). Well, when she pulls, sometimes I just pull her back, tell her to sit, and not move. I hold the leash tight, so that she really can't do anything other than just sit there. When I do this, she quivers and has a look of anxiety and craving on her face, like she desperately just wants to obsessively and neurotically chase after the smells on the ground she follows... Sometimes, though, she seems to actually be putting forth effort to calm down, relax, and let go.

Also, she comes to me when she wants to go out. But I often make her wait. When she has to wait, she just lays down nearby and sits there, staring blankly or sleeping. I have a poster of a woman on my own wall... The other day, I saw her looking at it, and I looked over at her, thinking, "What the heck is she looking at that for?"

The traditional idea that animals are reborn as humans just by waiting for their karma to be exhausted just doesn't sit right with me. I mean, why should it apply to the woeful realms, but not the human realms also? I can't just sit in these human realms and "wait for my karma to be exhausted." I am reborn in higher realms through mindfulness and right action, and can actually fall into lower realms through a lack of mindfulness. Could this not hold true for beings in other realms? Don't animals put forth effort and concentration, in their own limited way?

An animal that is well-trained benefits psychologically. And I think that, for instance, a dog that is well-disciplined and well-loved will likely have a different rebirth than a wild dog. Am I wrong?
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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby clw_uk » Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:13 am

I dont think that animals could meditate as it does need a certain level of self-awareness, something which animals do lack in a full sense as they are driven by instincts alone.
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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:26 am

The traditional idea that animals are reborn as humans just by waiting for their karma to be exhausted just doesn't sit right with me. I mean, why should it apply to the woeful realms, but not the human realms also? I can't just sit in these human realms and "wait for my karma to be exhausted."


I've actually never run across this specific teaching before. It sounds like you're saying that beings in the lower realms are serving time in a sense, until their karma is exhausted?

I think this requires further investigation :spy: Hope to hear more.

Kindly,
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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby davcuts » Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:20 am

Individual wrote:
The traditional idea that animals are reborn as humans just by waiting for their karma to be exhausted just doesn't sit right with me. I mean, why should it apply to the woeful realms, but not the human realms also? I can't just sit in these human realms and "wait for my karma to be exhausted." I am reborn in higher realms through mindfulness and right action, and can actually fall into lower realms through a lack of mindfulness. Could this not hold true for beings in other realms? Don't animals put forth effort and concentration, in their own limited way?


I believe it does apply to the human realms. Once someone has exhausted their karma (or merit) to be human they die. In most cases humans fall into the lower realms upon death. Where we will stay until our karma is exhausted. It's the same for all realms. The god realm may last for aeons but eventually the gods lose their merit to the point they have none, which sends them to the hell realm when they die. Animals don't have the wisdom to meditate. But I did read one story of a boar that was being hunted. As it tried to escape the hunters it came upon a stupa. It "remembered" taking refuge in the stupa in a former life. As it died from exhaustion in front of the stupa it's actions where so pure, it took rebirth in a pureland. Perhaps from this story animals can meditate, but if so it has to be rare. It's difficult for a human to take rebirth in a pureland, much less an animal.
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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:12 am

Thank you Dave :namaste:
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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby bodom » Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:12 pm

A favorite method of communicating is the cat's purr, which is unique to the feline species. You may already know that a cat purrs when he's content. Animal behaviorists now believe that they also purr when they are in the mood to be sociable.

However, if you pay close attention to your cat, you'll notice that he also purrs when he's nervous, feeling a little uneasy or even if he's in great pain. Some experts think it's a feline form of "meditation" and that this action comforts them. If this theory is at all correct, the "purring" sound of the feline is the equivalent of our "Ohm" when we meditate.

http://www.articlesbase.com/pets-articl ... 57327.html

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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby sunfowerggs » Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:45 am

This is an interesting discussion. thank you for sharing :juggling:

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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby Vardali » Wed Aug 19, 2009 6:37 pm

I don't know if animals can meditate, but I do firmly believe that the capacities of animals to act purposefully (instead of being purely instinct-driven) are wildly underestimated.

I don't know about dogs but I am sharing my household with a few cats - and their actions and characters are very different; some of them are real sunshine kitties who are always happy, positive and friendly; others are anxious, nervous and neurotic. Their frame of reference will certainly differ from our human perspective, but they have their own rules, preferences and developments to go by. And there are some that are real little "angels" and I find it hard to imagine that they might not have a chance to gain merit/positive rebirth.

I am trying to expose them to my Buddhst practise, playing chants etc. for them just in case they might benefit. And funny, when I am going into a guided meditation session and a cat is lying on my legs etc. they seem to relax as well ;)

Anyway, I think that - culturally speaking - animals are really underestimated in their (self-)consciousness, so I hope they will be able to move towards enlightenment one way or the other :)

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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby Annapurna » Wed Aug 19, 2009 7:32 pm

bodom_bad_boy wrote:A favorite method of communicating is the cat's purr, which is unique to the feline species. You may already know that a cat purrs when he's content. Animal behaviorists now believe that they also purr when they are in the mood to be sociable.

However, if you pay close attention to your cat, you'll notice that he also purrs when he's nervous, feeling a little uneasy or even if he's in great pain. Some experts think it's a feline form of "meditation" and that this action comforts them. If this theory is at all correct, the "purring" sound of the feline is the equivalent of our "Ohm" when we meditate.

http://www.articlesbase.com/pets-articl ... 57327.html

:namaste:


When cats give birth, or are injured,they purr in a special deep and loud frequency, which seems to reduce pain and speed up healing, a study showed.

Bone fractures of people who often held purring cats healed significantly quicker, also less pain was reported.

Frequencies have distinct effects on the cells of beings.

My cat Julie once jumped onto my chest when I was in bed and caughing for hours, and purred in an unfamiliar frequency, that I had only heard before when she had her paw hurt,and I had to wash it everyday and treat it. She was in great pain, and in between meooooows, purred like this.

My caugh, which had been bothering me for weeks, completely disappeared that night.

I still can't believe that it happened, and don't know how, but as soon as she was on my chest and purred in that loud deep way, I felt relief, and I could breathe again...

I like the notion that they say "Om" when purring.... :anjali:
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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby Annapurna » Wed Aug 19, 2009 7:36 pm

Vardali wrote:I don't know if animals can meditate, but I do firmly believe that the capacities of animals to act purposefully (instead of being purely instinct-driven) are wildly underestimated.

I don't know about dogs but I am sharing my household with a few cats - and their actions and characters are very different; some of them are real sunshine kitties who are always happy, positive and friendly; others are anxious, nervous and neurotic. Their frame of reference will certainly differ from our human perspective, but they have their own rules, preferences and developments to go by. And there are some that are real little "angels" and I find it hard to imagine that they might not have a chance to gain merit/positive rebirth.

I am trying to expose them to my Buddhst practise, playing chants etc. for them just in case they might benefit. And funny, when I am going into a guided meditation session and a cat is lying on my legs etc. they seem to relax as well ;)

Anyway, I think that - culturally speaking - animals are really underestimated in their (self-)consciousness, so I hope they will be able to move towards enlightenment one way or the other :)

:namaste:



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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Aug 19, 2009 9:14 pm

There was a similar discussion to this over at e-sangha a few years back and Bhante Dhammanando was not on vassa at the time, so there were some great quotes and information from him.

He mentioned some quotes where the Buddha had some communication with some animals (elephants and others) in an apparent mind-to-mind communication where clearly the animals were obtaining some wholesome, good kamma.

I think there are plenty of other cases where animals can generate negative kamma. For example, male lions killing the cubs of a female so that she will mate with him to reproduce more or female lionesses killing cheetah cubs so that they don't grow big and become competition for game meat later in life.

In general, using common sense, most animals will exhaust kamma after so many lifetimes, but there are some at least subtle opportunities to generate good or bad kamma.

Over my lifetime so far, I have been owned by 8 different cats (not all at the same time) and currently have three cats that own me and order me around. And there is not any two who are alike in any way. Each has had their own personalities, good traits and bad traits. Some were friendlier than others, some nicer, etc. Two of the cats I have had were from the same litter and had the same "upbringing" yet they were completely different in every way.
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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby BlackBird » Thu Aug 20, 2009 1:56 am

Animals do not have the capacity to understand the Dhamma. It would naturally follow that they are incapable of meditation.

However I do think animals can act with purpose, let me relate a story.

We used to have 2 cats, Bobby was the Alpha male around the neighbourhood and we loved him dearly. When I was younger I would sit on the porch after school for a good 20 minutes, and wait for a taxi to pick me up and take me to my Mum's work. Bobby would come every day without fail, and sit with me. He didn't expect anything of me, and I didn't expect anything of him. Just two sentient beings enjoying each other's company. Never underestimate the power of animals to make humans happy and teach them compassion.

Bobby used to rush home from prowling his teritory to greet us because he knew the sound of our car. When I was coming home one night he was obviously rushing home to greet me and got hit by a car on the road adjacent to us.

We didn't know this had happened, but our other cat Paru, a quiet shy wee moggy who largely kept to herself - Was in a strange mood that night. For the first time in years she actually came up to my Mum and started meowing at her, and came and sat on her knee. She was meowing quite a lot that night, for a cat who never meowed before. So when we found Bobby dead on the road side it all seemed to add up. My Mum was grieving pretty hard, and I was no different. But this wee cat Paru, stuck by us, and kept us company. Rubbing up between our legs and looking at us with big comforting eyes... If ever you could see compassion in a cat's eyes, this was it.

It was a beautiful moment, and one that served the shy wee cat a lot of merit - I believe, or well I hope it did anyway. She had a good heart.

Some animals have a lot of good merit stored up in there, a lot of good traits which are still easy to see if one pays attention.
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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby kannada » Thu Aug 20, 2009 6:00 am

Animals don't need to meditate - We do...
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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Aug 20, 2009 6:30 am

Greetings kannada,

kannada wrote:Animals don't need to meditate - We do...


On the other hand, if my stupid dog Penny had a better understanding of cause-and-effect, she might be a bit less stupid.

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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby kannada » Thu Aug 20, 2009 7:27 am

Hi Retro,

Thanks for the photo. If Penny were living among her own kind, in her own natural environment, and raised by her own species, she would have developed keen intelligence. The problem arises when one species attempts to raise another, the obvious shortcomings occur. In her own enviornment Penny would have to develop a keen understanding of cause and effect as one transgression may well mean death...

Regards

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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby Annapurna » Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:46 am

BlackBird wrote:Animals do not have the capacity to understand the Dhamma. It would naturally follow that they are incapable of meditation.

However I do think animals can act with purpose, let me relate a story.

We used to have 2 cats, Bobby was the Alpha male around the neighbourhood and we loved him dearly. When I was younger I would sit on the porch after school for a good 20 minutes, and wait for a taxi to pick me up and take me to my Mum's work. Bobby would come every day without fail, and sit with me. He didn't expect anything of me, and I didn't expect anything of him. Just two sentient beings enjoying each other's company. Never underestimate the power of animals to make humans happy and teach them compassion.

Bobby used to rush home from prowling his teritory to greet us because he knew the sound of our car. When I was coming home one night he was obviously rushing home to greet me and got hit by a car on the road adjacent to us.

We didn't know this had happened, but our other cat Paru, a quiet shy wee moggy who largely kept to herself - Was in a strange mood that night. For the first time in years she actually came up to my Mum and started meowing at her, and came and sat on her knee. She was meowing quite a lot that night, for a cat who never meowed before. So when we found Bobby dead on the road side it all seemed to add up. My Mum was grieving pretty hard, and I was no different. But this wee cat Paru, stuck by us, and kept us company. Rubbing up between our legs and looking at us with big comforting eyes... If ever you could see compassion in a cat's eyes, this was it.

It was a beautiful moment, and one that served the shy wee cat a lot of merit - I believe, or well I hope it did anyway. She had a good heart.

Some animals have a lot of good merit stored up in there, a lot of good traits which are still easy to see if one pays attention.



Hi Blackbird, I'm pretty moved right now by your post.


It seems to mirror my experience with cats so well.

Both my cats got hit by cars too, the second, Jeannie, died in my arms. My heart was in pieces, I cried all day.

Cats were for us like family members, like children.

I like what you wrote about compassion.

It's true,they are wonderful teachers, also of compassion.

They also HAVE compassion, sure, lots of.

I know they love us. This love makes them care about our wellbeing.

I have several examples of my cats showing compassion in a very tender way to family members if they were sick or sad.

My cats would both roll up beside me, and put one paw on me, from time to time ever so gently grab me with the 'fingers', to reassure me of...yeah,- something like: "Hey.... I'm here, you're not alone".

Thatwas really comforting.

I recall one night were Juli's neck fur was wet from my tears, and she wouldn't move nor walk away.

When I shoved furniture around one day, and moaning, because a closet wouldn't move, Jeannie got up on her hind legs, put her tiny paws on the other corner of the closet and gave me a confident deep look into the eyes.


That made me laugh, and them "we" pushed together.

The closet moved!!!

I was so happy. Hugging that little thing that gave me more strenght, because I don't assume she had a lot to contribute. But I'll never ever forget, how she got up,had her paws on the closet and looked me straight into the eyes.

She wanted support me in her own way. She had good intentions, and compassion.
And so I think, that my cats gained lots of merit, for the happiness they gave us.

They were also very obedient, especially Jeannie.

So, when you say that cats can't understand the dhamma, I will say you're (probably) right, ;) but they can live a part of it. :anjali:
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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby Rhino » Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:10 pm

The Buddha said in M129 that the life of animals is full of suffering and that animals are not able for liberation
Bhikkhus, there are beings that go on their fours and grinding grass dry or wet with their teeth, eat it. Who are such beings? They are horses, cattle, donkeys, goats,deer or any other animals that go on their fours and eat grass. The fool greedy for tastes do evil things and after death are born in the company of the four footed and eat grass.

Bhikkhus, there are animals that eat excreta. They run sniffing the smell of excreta, thinking we will eat that and that, like the brahmin that runs for the smell of a sacrifice thinking we will eat here and here. In the same manner animals that eat excreta. run sniffing the smell of excreta, thinking we will eat that and that. Bhikkhus, what are the animals that eat excreta? They are cocks, pigs, dogs, foxes and any other animals that eat excreta. The fool greedy for tastes do evil things and after death are born in the company of the animals that eat excreta.

Bhikkhus, there are crawling things that are born, live and die in the dark.. Bhikkhus, what are the crawling things that are born, live and die in the dark? Beetles, worm maggots, earth worms and similar crawling things are born, live and die in the dark. Fools greedy for tastes do evil things and after death are born in the company of those born in the dark

Bhikkhus, there are things that are born, live and die in the water..Bhikkhus, what are the things that are born, live and die in water? Fish, turtles, crocodiles and similar beings are born, live and die in water. Fools greedy for tastes do evil things and after death are born in the company of those born in water.

Bhikkhus, there are things that are born, live and die in excreta..Bhikkhus, what are the things that are born, live and die in excreta? Things that are born live and die in rotten fish, in rotten flesh, in rotten bread, in a dirty village pool Fools greedy for tastes do evil things and after death are born in the company of those born, live and die in excreta.

I may explain the unpleasantness of the animal world in various ways, yet it is not easy to explain that unpleasantness completely.

Bhikkhus, a man would throw into the ocean a plough share with a single hole in it. Then with the eastern winds it would be carried west and with the western windscarried east. With the northern winds it would be carried south and with the southern winds carried north. Then there is a blind turtle in the depths of the ocean and it comes up to the surface after the lapse of a hundred years. Bhikkhus this turtle with one eye to see would he put his neck in the plough share and yoke it to the hole to see light?’

‘Venerable sir, it would happen after the lapse of a very long time.’

‘Bhikkhus, it is more likely that the blind turtle would put his neck in the plough share and yoke the eye to the hole to see light rather than the fool once fallen to hell would gain humanity. What is the reason? Here, there is no righteous living, good conduct, merit or a pleasant mind. Here they eat each other, the weaker one is eaten up.

Bhikkhus, even if the fool regains humanity after a very long time he is born in a low clan such as with the out castes, the hunters, with the bamboo weavers, chariot builders, rubbish collectors or in such other low family.Born into a poor family without eatables, drinks and clothing, gains them with difficulty. He too is not with pleasant appearance has a deformed body and is with many ailments, either blind, deformed, lame or paralysed, or does not gain eatables, drinks, clothes, conveyances, flowers, scents, ointments, beds, dwellings and illuminations. He misbehaves by body, speech and mind and after death goes to decrease and is born in hell

Bhikkhus, it is like the gambler, who at the first throw loses his sons, wife and all his wealth and is further pursued. That unlucky throw on account of which the gambler loses his sons, wife and all his wealth is much better than the fool misbehavingby body, speech and mindwould after death be born in hell.Bhikkhus, now the fools’ sphere is completely told

http://www.vipassana.info/129-balapandita-e.htm
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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby genkaku » Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:50 pm

My very-poorly informed and largely uninterested understanding of Buddhist approaches to animals (other than human beings) is like some of what has been expressed above: Since animals other than human beings lack self-awareness or self-consciousness, they also lack the capacity to meditate, by any usual defined understanding of that word.

Whether this is better or worse, higher or lower, karma-linked or not, I haven't got a clue, but I do admire the straightforwardness and acts of what human animals might call kindness in our four-legged, winged and finned friends.
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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby Dhammabodhi » Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:50 pm

I don't know whether animals meditate or not, but this big cat earned a lot of merit I'm sure.
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Re: Do animals meditate?

Postby Dhammakid » Sat Aug 22, 2009 2:17 am

Dhammabodhi wrote:I don't know whether animals meditate or not, but this big cat earned a lot of merit I'm sure.


Wow, that's an amazing video. I've seen this on various documentaries about the wild. It's clear from these types of stories that animals are indeed capable of good karma production. Even the Buddha tells of his good karma production in various animal lives.

Of course, since the big cat is female, could her actions towards the baby baboon be more maternal instinct than some level of knowledgeable and aware good karma production? Would a male cat do the same?

However, the answer to the original question is indeed no, animals cannot meditate as it is defined in Buddhism. If they could, they would be capable of liberation, and we know this is not the case. The animal world is marked by immense suffering and a great level of passion, both hindrances along the path. What might be perceived as some level of concentration in an animal is most likely just resting or giving up.

Remember, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration both come at the end of the Path. Proper mindfulness cannot be developed without good moral behavior. It is a well held Theravadin belief that immorality is an impediment to good meditation practice.

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