Animals Have Consciousness and the Rare Ones Can Even Spiritually Cultivate
In the "Jataka Tales," Shakyamuni Buddha talks about the many past lives he and his students often had together as animal friends. Take a look here at these pictures of a tortoise and hippo pair of friends.
Over many lives, this is the type of friendship that often leads to cultivation together. Often you see the same friendship between monkeys and dogs, or cats and rats, dogs and cats, and so on. Two dissimilar animals that get along and play with each other, even though they might normally be natural enemies.
Walt Disney likes to make movies of such pairs of animal buddies.
Yes, some animals can cultivate. Yes, animals DO have consciousness. Anyone who has dealt with animals extensively can tell you that... regardless of what science says. But as Hinduism, yoga, Buddhism, Taoism and the esoteric schools explain, the consciousness of animals is much dimmer than our own. Masters who project themselves into animal bodies for demonstrations of "consciousness projection" in Tibetan Buddhism often report about this directly.
What type of animals cultivate? Foxes, coyotes, horses, badgers, tigers, snakes, tortoises, parrots ... the list goes on.
The stories of animals that cultivate and succeed are in countless traditions, but usually these animals cause trouble upon their success, which is why masters rarely teach animals unless they're really qualified. The Coyote man of the American West causes the same trickster problems as the fox spirits who cultivate in Asia. In Singapore it's the fish that cultivate...in Indonesia you get garudas made of chi...and so on it goes.
Even some insects can cultivate by absorbing the yin essence of the moon or as the Tao school explains, by actually eating the printed words on the printed paper of certain holy scriptures. I would never have believed this until I saw something like this myself, and having lived with a great Zen and Esoteric master for about ten years in Asia, I ended up seeing all sorts of strange, rare and unusual phenomena that most people are simply not aware of or just would not recognize if they were staring them in the face.
Why not? Cognitive dissonance. People hold on to their world views so tightly that to let in one crack would destroy the whole, so the strategy is to reject true reality for your self-built comfort zone. That's why only those who cultivate emptiness can really see and accept true reality and the way things really are.
Anyway, that's your short lesson--a cultivation minute.
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