PODCAST: Dogs and Cats Who Love Buddha: Doggy and Kitty Dharma

What do the Buddhist teachers say about doggie and kitty Buddha Dharma? Did Buddha teach that Dogs and cats have Buddha Nature, just like humans? How can you help your companion meet the Dharma in daily life? How can we help when our companions are passing from this life?

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Many Mahayana meditations, sadhanas and prayers use language such as “all beings have been our mothers…” — a constant reminder that every being, even the insect we step on by accident, is our family. Ultimately, Mahayana Buddhists accept that humans and animals are interconnected as a single family — in the Oneness of the Universe.

Clearly, your doggie, kitty, hamster, budgie, and extended animal companions all have both Buddha Nature and karma. In what ways does this change our relationship to our beloved companions?

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, in a teaching on “animals in everyday life,” said, “There is a story when Buddha gave teachings to 500 swans in the field and the next life they were born as human beings, became monks, and they all became Arya beings, able to achieve the cessation of suffering and the true path. So the result is unbelievable, just by hearing Dharma words.” This teaching illustrates that all animals have Buddha Nature. The swans, in just one life cycle, became humans, monks, and ultimately Aryas.

Most Buddhists are familiar with these stories. Yet, in real life, do we really treat our animal companions as fellow journeyers on the path to Enlightenment? If we did, we’d bring our pets meditation rooms and retreats. We’d acknowledge our companions are subject to Karma, just like us.

This means that, as their friends, we need to be mindful of their actions, as much as our own, because they, too, have Buddha Nature. They, like the swans, can become Aryas (Enlightened Beings). When your doggy chases and kills a squirrel, you have to help him mitigate his unfortunate karma. When you kitty kills a blue jay, you have to take a measure of responsibility.

Mantras for Pets

Venerable Zasep Rinpoche, Spiritual Director of Gaden for the West, believes its important to practice with your animal companions and chant mantras for them.

 

At the Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Redding, they arrange events where they “recite mantras and pray for the animals.”

As they chant mantras and prayers, they plant “a kind of seed that grows in the minds of animals to give them good health and a better life.”

This example is meant to be a daily practice for Dharma companions of animals — reciting mantras every day.

 

This example is meant to be a daily practice for Dharma companions of animals — reciting mantras every day.

Animals are like humans with emotions.
Animals can be sad, afraid, worried, wish to be happy…

As they chant mantras and prayers, they plant “a kind of seed that grows in the minds of animals to give them good health and a better life.”

 

Medicine Buddha for Animals

 

Medicine Buddha is well known as a practice for animals. It is taught that Medicine Buddha’s mantra when spoken in a dying animal’s ear, will help release it from lower rebirth, ensuring birth as a human.

Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche also advises these mantras or practices as beneficial for animals, throughout their lives to help bless their mind streams:

Medicine Buddha: Om Bekhandze Bekhandze Maha Bekhandze Bekhandze Randza Samundgate Soha

Lama Zopa also recommends including your animal companion in your practices.

He wrote, in advice to a student,. “Take them around holy objects — circumambulate… Chant mantras…” Recite prayers in their ears to “plant the seed of all the realizations of the path to enlightenment.”

 

“This makes a huge difference. It has inconceivable result, unbelievable result. That makes them have a good rebirth in the next life, to be born as a human being and meet the Dharma.” He also recommends blessing their food by chanting mantras and blowing on their food and water.

Venerable Chodron also advised: “So read Dharma books or short texts or prayers out loud to your companion, for example, the Heart Sutra, The Three Principle Aspects of the Path, The Foundation of All Good Qualities, and so on. Say lots of mantras so he hears it.” She was speaking to a student who’s pet was dying, but the advice is best applied much earlier, long before sickness and end of life issues.

 

Daily Meditation: include an animal companion

 

Many Buddhists encourage their pets to settle down in a room where they meditate or perform daily sadhanas. Cats, in particular, seem drawn to practice, often snuggling right in the lap of the meditator. Of course, highly precise, advanced tantric practices might not be the best for pets, but for simpler practices — quiet breathing practice, mantra practice or sutra reading — the company is very beneficial.

 

Snuggle up to your animal companion, now, and listen to the wonderful voice of Yoko Dharma chanting the Medicine Buddha mantra, recommended by many Mahayana teachers as beneficial for all beings, including your non-human companions.

Snuggle up to your animal companion, now, and listen to the wonderful voice of Yoko Dharma chanting the Medicine Buddha mantra, recommended by many Mahayana teachers as beneficial for all beings, including your non-human companions.

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Lee Kane

Author | Buddha Weekly

Lee Kane is the editor of Buddha Weekly, since 2007. His main focuses as a writer are mindfulness techniques, meditation, Dharma and Sutra commentaries, Buddhist practices, international perspectives and traditions, Vajrayana, Mahayana, Zen. He also covers various events.
Lee also contributes as a writer to various other online magazines and blogs.

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