Animals have always been regarded in Buddhist thought as sentient beings, different in their intellectual
ability than humans; but no less capable of feeling suffering. Furthermore, according to the Mahayana school,
animals possess a Buddha nature and therefore have an equal potential to become enlightened.
Moreover, the doctrine of rebirth holds that any human can be reborn as an animal and any animal can be
reborn as a human. An animal might be a reborn dead relative; and, if you looked far enough back in one’s
infinite series of lives, you would eventually perceive every animal to be related to you in some way.
The Buddha expounded that those sentient beings currently living in the animal realm have been our mothers,
brothers, sisters, fathers, children, and friends in past rebirths. One could not, therefore, make a hard distinction
between the moral rules applicable to animals and those applicable to humans: humans and animals are
ultimately part of a single family. They are all interconnected.
I would not have believed the above article had I not expereinced this for myself
with family pets, which I am sure, many here have as well.
~* Have a lovely day, Tara *~