Can Animals Reach Pure Land?

Question: Can animals reach Pure Land?

Answer: As in the the case for humans and all other sentient beings, it is possible for animals to be born in Pure Land as long as they can give rise to the Three Provisions (Faith, Aspiration and Practice) in time – by understanding what it means to have Faith, to Aspire accordingly and to Practise nianfo (mindfulness of Amituofo) in their minds, or even aloud, even if it might sound unintelligible to us.

However, it is generally harder for animals to give rise to the Three Provisions due to their negative karmic conditioning, in comparison to the average human. As such, we should cherish this human life well, as an ideal vehicle for practising to reach Pure Land. It is unwise to wait till one is born an animal! Here is one such classic case, of a chicken manifesting signs of being born in Pure Land: http://purelanders.com/2009/12/03/how-a-chicken-went-to-pureland/

Though animals are generally more deluded than us, less sharp in their spiritual faculties, and more distracted by their base instincts for food, sleep and sex, this is not the case for every single animal. The fact that some animals can reach Pure Land while some humans are not even interested shows how they can be more intelligent than we assume. Besides, we cannot judge each animal clearly as we cannot read their minds.

This is why we should do our best by speaking kindly to animals, be they pets or captive ones, to urge them to nianfo. There is no more skilful method of Dharma practice to ensure that they have a good rebirth, as it is much more difficult to get them to, say, meditate the conventional way. If you have pets, it is good to do your regular nianfo practice aloud in their presence – to get them familiar with the name of Amituofo as the sound of compassion. When they are ill and are about to pass away, support-chanting should be done too, just as we would do it for any human loved ones.

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Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!