Exchanging Insights: Pets
Having pets is an issue that we as cultivators should look at and understand clearly. The dictionary defines "pet" as: "any domesticated or tamed animal that is kept as a companion and cared for affectionately." So a pet refers to not just an animal that is raised, but "cared for affectionately" and done so to be "kept as a companion." For ordinary society, affection is very normal. Affection is a kind of emotion.
"The affection among family members, the love between a man and woman, love for parents, feelings, friendships, doing things for friendship's sake--no matter where you go you can't get out of emotion."
"If you don't sever emotion, you won't be able to cultivate." (Zhuan Falun)
As cultivators, for those that raise animals, we should look at the issue of emotion--is emotion involved in the raising of animals? For example, on farms each animal has its purpose. Livestock is raised for food, dogs guard the home, cats catch unwanted rodents--this is normal life on a farm. For cultivators that live on a farm, we should not become overly emotional and attached to the animals. For those of us that do not live on farms or other settings where animals are raised, yet we raise animals or have pets, perhaps we should ponder this issue more deeply from the perspective of a cultivator, and see if the reason we have a pet is a pursuit of affection and emotion.
In Teaching the Fa at the Conference in Europe Master said,
"Question: How should I treat the chongwu (pets) at my home?
"Teacher: 'Chong' is to love, to be fond of. You love it, you're fond of it, and you're attached to it, right? Isn't that what it means? So when you asked the question you spelled out your attachment. Our taking good care of living things and everything in nature that exists for human beings is not wrong. But nothing should be overdone. You really shouldn't overdo it. Human beings are the highest and most perfect life on earth--and gods view it this way too--whereas all animals (regardless of whether they're large or small) and plants, and all living things, are created for man. Those things wouldn't have been created if there were no human beings. In some regions and countries nowadays, the adoration of animals has gone to an extreme. Some people love and care for animals more than human beings.
"I just said that gods created human beings; they created this earth for man's existence. Those living things were created for people to enjoy, for them to play with, for them to live off of, and for them to feed on. And along with this they make the earth flourish. Everything is created for man, but if man becomes inferior to animals, then that's the same as violating the laws of Heaven. Of course, we cultivators shouldn't be like that. We practice compassion and we're compassionate to all beings. But we absolutely shouldn't go beyond this compassion and develop another attachment: being overly caring for those things. Overemphasizing anything isn't right. In modern times, especially in Europe, people are overly fond of dogs; I have found that it's the same in the United States. Let me tell you that gods created dogs to guard people's homes, and absolutely not to become your kids or your friends, as if they were on a par with human beings. Humans should never be equated with dogs. So you should never go too far. Remember this: Humans can cultivate into Buddhas, while no animal can; humans can cultivate into gods, while no animal can; and humans can go to heavenly paradises, while no animal can. If an animal wants to go, then it needs to reincarnate as a human in its next life and cultivate before it can. I think I've explained this clearly."
Some may think, "As long as I do not have any attachments toward my pet, then it is ok to have a pet." Master said,
"Question: If I have a dog at home, can I do the exercises at home?
"Teacher: Those creatures are likely to make connections spiritually, and once they are spiritually connected they will harm people. There was a saying in Buddhism: 'Don't kill and don't raise pets or grow plants.' But don't take this to the extreme, either. It's just a matter of how we appropriately handle it." (Zhuan Falun Fajie "Teaching the Fa and Answering Questions in Guangzhou")
"Question: Can those that study Falun Dafa raise small animals?
"Teacher: The Buddha school goes by not killing and not raising, and perhaps the Tao school thinks this way too. But there are features of the Tao school where they have animals with abilities, turtles and the like. At extremely high levels, they have one or two to protect the Fa, but they have to pick exceptionally good ones. Since these things are with a person when he practices, as a person's level increases, it's easy for them to attain some special abilities. Once they attain special abilities, because they don't care about xinxing, they will do bad things and turn into demons." (Zhuan Falun Fajie "Teaching the Fa and Answering Questions in Zhengzhou")
"Question: If I take in abandoned, small animals, will that create karma?
"Master: This actually will not create karma. As an everyday person he's doing a good deed, but in the past Buddhism talked about not killing, and not raising things. Not killing or raising has a reason. As to 'not killing,' cultivators are all clear on it. "Not raising" has two points. One is that when [a person is] cultivating it's easy for these animals to gain intelligence. If they gain intelligence in an instant, perhaps they will do many bad deeds. In China there is an old saying called, 'becoming a spirit.' Animals themselves are not allowed to cultivate. Another thing is that raising these things takes a lot of care. It will be distracting, and thinking of it is also an attachment and will affect cultivation. Of course, to cultivators being very fond of animals is also an attachment." (Teaching the Law at the Law Conference in Houston ¡V draft translation version)
Category: Journeys of Cultivation