Reply To: Lobha, Dosa and Moha(?) in the animal realm


Hi Alay,

There is a very basic fact that comes from Abhidhamma, and one does need to have a good knowledge of Abhidhamma to see this point. There are 7 universal mental factors (cetasika) that arise with ANY citta (thought) of ANY living being: vedana, sanna, cetana, manasikara, phassa, jivitindriya, and ekaggata.

The key point relevant to the question is that not only puppies but all animals (down to fish and ants and amoeba) have feelings (vedana) and perceptions (sanna) at their own levels. They all feel suffering, especially bodily suffering. As part of their strong kamma, the animals cannot show their emotions, so one would even not have pity on them. For example, fish cannot cry (or laugh); their bodies are not designed by kamma to do that. So, just because we cannot see them crying, does not mean they don’t feel pain. At least in fish, the suffering is quite clear: they writhe with pain dangling by those hooks; see, “It’s Official: Fish Feel Pain“.

And they also have sanna (perceptions) about their experience. Obviously the dogs and cats recognize their owners, and as you pointed out, remember those who have harmed them.

The most precious thing for EACH living being is their life. When someone takes care of them, they appreciate it and show it in whatever form they can. Even though some dogs show a trace of “smiling”, some others can show their appreciation only by body language, mostly by wagging their tails. And when get threatened, they show their displeasure by whatever form they can: dogs bark and bit; cats scratch, etc.

The only significant thing animals cannot do is to make plans to make their lives better. My daughter’s dog very much likes to sun bathe in her cot, but when the Sun moves away from her cot she does not realize that she can pull it to the right place easily. We have to do that for her.
– While birds have been building nests for billions of years, their “designs” have not changed at all.

So, the bottom line is that animals do have lobha,dosa, moha. But they are mostly robots, even those some higher animals have minor planning capabilities.
– But they can kill out of anger, greed, and of course moha too. Especially “higher animals” can show those when they fight for food, territory, mates, etc. But lower animals like amoeba “just have to take much of the sufferings come their way”. Of course, those in the niraya (hell) have no options at all. They just suffer without having any ability to respond or to lessen the suffering.