Can Animals Commit The Five Heinous Crimes?

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LG2V
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Can Animals Commit The Five Heinous Crimes?

Post by LG2V » Sun Dec 24, 2017 2:07 am

Can animals commit four of the five heinous crimes (matricide, patricide, killing an arahant, injuring a Buddha)? Presumably, they couldn't cause a schism in the Sangha.

More specifically, do animals receive the same punishment for such crimes as a human would? Many animals eat and/or kill their parents. Would they be destined to go to hell in the subsequent life?

If so, the animal realm is even more dangerous than I thought and all the more reason not to end up there. :toilet:
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J.Lee.Nelson
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Re: Can Animals Commit The Five Heinous Crimes?

Post by J.Lee.Nelson » Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:25 pm

I think the answer depends on whether animals have volition for their acts, assuming that the volition behind an act determines its kammic consequences. I seem to recall a Jakata-type story in which a human, seeing that a starving tigress wanted to kill him to feed her starving cub, slit his own throat so that she would not have to kill him herself and therefore suffer the consequences. However, I think that story was in a book on the Bodhisattva Vow, so it may not be part of Theravada canon.

I can't recall a Jakata tale where something happened during an incarnation as an animal that later effected a human life, for example in the Jakata tale known as "The Curse of Mittavinda" and the recalled past lives of the Isidasi the nun, the emphasis in the storytelling is generally how one really horrid human life leads rebirth in a hell world, followed by lots and lots of kammic poetic justice in subsequent animal lives. On the other hand, there are Jakata stories where the Bodhisatta was, for example, king of the stray dogs, and demonstrated volition and goodness.

Now, we're not supposed to give too much value to the visions we have during meditation, but one time, after having drank a wee bit too much strong coffee during a retreat, I was having a splendid meditation and feeling very grateful for having a chance to be at the retreat, so I asked, "What did I do to deserve this?" And the answer came as a vision of a little brown bird dropping a sunflower seed into a monk's almsbowl and allowing the monk to pet its back before flying off. So if you want to assume that the vision was evidence of a past life as a bird and that the bird's dana was indeed what gave me enough merit to get to that retreat, it shows that an animal can earn merit for its actions. If we further assume that the same rules apply for both good and bad kamma, then yes, an animal can suffer the kammic consequences of bad actions.

Consider the sutta wherein the Buddha scrapes from the ground some dirt into his fingernail and tells us that the dirt in his fingernail is the suffering we will have between entering the stream and liberation, and all the dirt on Earth is how much we suffered before that. With your acute observation on the dangers of the animal world, we can better grasp the magnitude of the problem of being born an animal and therefore truly appreciate this sutta and the benefits of stream-entry.

Somewhat related: On my back deck I have a Buddha statue with an attached bowl. I enjoy putting seed in the bowl for the birds, because then the birds look like they're bowing to the Buddha. There was even a mourning dove this morning hopping around the statue (didn't make a full 108 times around of course). I like to pretend :quote: that maybe I'm using skillful means to help my "winged sangha" make merit for their future lives. :smile:

2600htz
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Re: Can Animals Commit The Five Heinous Crimes?

Post by 2600htz » Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:10 pm

LG2V wrote:
Sun Dec 24, 2017 2:07 am
Can animals commit four of the five heinous crimes (matricide, patricide, killing an arahant, injuring a Buddha)? Presumably, they couldn't cause a schism in the Sangha.

More specifically, do animals receive the same punishment for such crimes as a human would? Many animals eat and/or kill their parents. Would they be destined to go to hell in the subsequent life?

If so, the animal realm is even more dangerous than I thought and all the more reason not to end up there. :toilet:
Hello:

Sadly, animals not even committing a heinous crime have big chances of ending up in a hell realm or a state of deprivation.

Regards.

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LG2V
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Re: Can Animals Commit The Five Heinous Crimes?

Post by LG2V » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:25 am

J.Lee.Nelson wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:25 pm
I think the answer depends on whether animals have volition for their acts, assuming that the volition behind an act determines its kammic consequences. I seem to recall a Jakata-type story in which a human, seeing that a starving tigress wanted to kill him to feed her starving cub, slit his own throat so that she would not have to kill him herself and therefore suffer the consequences. However, I think that story was in a book on the Bodhisattva Vow, so it may not be part of Theravada canon.

I can't recall a Jakata tale where something happened during an incarnation as an animal that later effected a human life, for example in the Jakata tale known as "The Curse of Mittavinda" and the recalled past lives of the Isidasi the nun, the emphasis in the storytelling is generally how one really horrid human life leads rebirth in a hell world, followed by lots and lots of kammic poetic justice in subsequent animal lives. On the other hand, there are Jakata stories where the Bodhisatta was, for example, king of the stray dogs, and demonstrated volition and goodness.

Now, we're not supposed to give too much value to the visions we have during meditation, but one time, after having drank a wee bit too much strong coffee during a retreat, I was having a splendid meditation and feeling very grateful for having a chance to be at the retreat, so I asked, "What did I do to deserve this?" And the answer came as a vision of a little brown bird dropping a sunflower seed into a monk's almsbowl and allowing the monk to pet its back before flying off. So if you want to assume that the vision was evidence of a past life as a bird and that the bird's dana was indeed what gave me enough merit to get to that retreat, it shows that an animal can earn merit for its actions. If we further assume that the same rules apply for both good and bad kamma, then yes, an animal can suffer the kammic consequences of bad actions.

Consider the sutta wherein the Buddha scrapes from the ground some dirt into his fingernail and tells us that the dirt in his fingernail is the suffering we will have between entering the stream and liberation, and all the dirt on Earth is how much we suffered before that. With your acute observation on the dangers of the animal world, we can better grasp the magnitude of the problem of being born an animal and therefore truly appreciate this sutta and the benefits of stream-entry.

Somewhat related: On my back deck I have a Buddha statue with an attached bowl. I enjoy putting seed in the bowl for the birds, because then the birds look like they're bowing to the Buddha. There was even a mourning dove this morning hopping around the statue (didn't make a full 108 times around of course). I like to pretend :quote: that maybe I'm using skillful means to help my "winged sangha" make merit for their future lives. :smile:
Thanks for your answer. It's got some super cool anecdotes, and I'm glad that you shared them.
2600htz wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:10 pm
LG2V wrote:
Sun Dec 24, 2017 2:07 am
Can animals commit four of the five heinous crimes (matricide, patricide, killing an arahant, injuring a Buddha)? Presumably, they couldn't cause a schism in the Sangha.

More specifically, do animals receive the same punishment for such crimes as a human would? Many animals eat and/or kill their parents. Would they be destined to go to hell in the subsequent life?

If so, the animal realm is even more dangerous than I thought and all the more reason not to end up there. :toilet:
Hello:

Sadly, animals not even committing a heinous crime have big chances of ending up in a hell realm or a state of deprivation.

Regards.
I suppose that it's possible.
Here are some excellent sites for giving free Dana (Click-Based Donation):
http://freerice.comhttp://greatergood.com/www.ripple.orgwww.thenonprofits.com

J.Lee.Nelson
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2017 2:52 am

Re: Can Animals Commit The Five Heinous Crimes?

Post by J.Lee.Nelson » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:33 pm

Thanks for your answer. It's got some super cool anecdotes, and I'm glad that you shared them.
You're welcome! It's always sort of a risk to share meditative visions with non-meditators :rolleye: , but I feel more comfortable sharing them here on DhammaWheel since it's fairly common for meditators to have lights, visions, and other sorts of things—and some people on here seem to have had some really astonishing experiences! One does need to be careful because visions can be just visual versions of mental proliferations. With that in mind, I tend to take seriously those things that fit the Buddha's definition of the True Dhamma (see the Gotami Sutta, https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html) and throw out those that do not.

I remember another example of an animal making merit by serving the Buddha: One time when the monks were quarreling, the Buddha slipped away into the forest for some peace. There, he was waited on by an elephant who brought him food every day. For his deeds, this elephant earned a high rebrith. I can't seem to find the story online, except for a footnote on a simlar elephant story (minus rebirth) at https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html. The footnote mentions "elephant the Buddha met in the Parileyyaka Forest (Mv.x.4.6-7)".

I'm pretty sure I heard the story about the elephant who earned a higher rebirth by feeding the Buddha in one of Ajahn Brahm's dhamma talks, but I can't for the life of me remember which one.

Oh, and if you'd like to know whether you're a streamwinner (and therefore not live in fear of ending up in an animal rebrith) see if you can check all the boxes in the Mirror of Dhamma from the Maha-parinibbana Sutta:
8. "But truly, Ananda, it is nothing strange that human beings should die. But if each time it happens you should come to the Tathagata and ask about them in this manner, indeed it would be troublesome to him. Therefore, Ananda, I will give you the teaching called the Mirror of the Dhamma, possessing which the noble disciple, should he so desire, can declare of himself: 'There is no more rebirth for me in hell, nor as an animal or ghost, nor in any realm of woe. A stream-enterer am I, safe from falling into the states of misery, assured am I and bound for Enlightenment.'"

9. "And what, Ananda, is that teaching called the Mirror of Dhamma, possessing which the noble disciple may thus declare of himself?

"In this case, Ananda, the noble disciple possesses unwavering faith in the Buddha thus: 'The Blessed One is an Arahant, the Fully Enlightened One, perfect in knowledge and conduct, the Happy One, the knower of the world, the paramount trainer of beings, the teacher of gods and men, the Enlightened One, the Blessed One.'

"He possesses unwavering faith in the Dhamma thus: 'Well propounded by the Blessed One is the Dhamma, evident, timeless, [18] inviting investigation, leading to emancipation, to be comprehended by the wise, each for himself.'

"He possesses unwavering faith in the Blessed One's Order of Disciples thus: 'Well faring is the Blessed One's Order of Disciples, righteously, wisely, and dutifully: that is to say, the four pairs of men, the eight classes of persons. The Blessed One's Order of Disciples is worthy of honor, of hospitality, of offerings, of veneration — the supreme field for meritorious deeds in the world.'

"And he possesses virtues that are dear to the Noble Ones, complete and perfect, spotless and pure, which are liberating, praised by the wise, uninfluenced (by worldly concerns), and favorable to concentration of mind.

10. "This, Ananda, is the teaching called the Mirror of the Dhamma, whereby the noble disciple may thus know of himself: 'There is no more rebirth for me in hell, nor as an animal or ghost, nor in any realm of woe. A stream-enterer am I, safe from falling into the states of misery, assured am I and bound for Enlightenment.'"


Commentary I have read say the "virtues dear to the noble ones" are the five precepts. The commentary also said that the Buddha did not want to give such a checklist out lest the laypeople get lazy. (It was the recent "lay arahants" thread where a link to this commentary was posted) I think it's just one of those things that one needs to check in with every so often. But anyway, I don't want to get too off-topic.

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