Dogs Have Buddha Nature

by William Toyo Sensei

‘Do dogs have Buddha nature?” 

It’s mostly about our dogs, Bijoux and Dante, two Coton de Tulear’s (hence its name in French, “Coton”, meaning cotton), they have very soft white hair (as opposed to fur). The Coton de Tulear developed on the island of Madagascar. I have found that our dogs have compassion and I believe also Buddha Nature.

We all know of the infamous and most debated Koan, “Does a dog have a Buddha-nature or not?” The answer being “Mu” literally meaning that dogs do not have Buddha nature, and has been interpreted to mean that such categorical thinking is delusion and that yes and no are both right and wrong. The term is often used or translated to mean that the question itself must be “unasked” no answer can exist in the term provided.

But let’s get back to dogs and compassion. Our dogs are full of natural goodness and have rich emotional lives. It has been proven that these animals possess empathy and compassion, the emotions upon which moral sense is built. Dogs develop this great sense of trust. We’re linked, and there is something spiritual about that unity. We can learn a lot by observing the emotional behavior of our dogs and many times find the Dharma hidden in their behavior. We often take compassion for granted and let it flash by many times during the day (Awareness). We are so distracted during the day living in the element that we live in. Dogs are sentient, emotional and highly reactive beings, they rely on the compassion of the humans they know as family. They are not immune to anxiety, which lead to pain and illness, and they get frightened when they find themselves deprived of companionship in a stressful environment.

It will seem familiar to most of us who have dogs to notice that: Dogs have a sense of fair play. They dislike cheaters. They experience joy in play. They delight in friends. Dogs get jealous when the other gets more or better treats or treatment. They are resentful, and maybe saddened by unfair behavior. They get afraid. They are embarrassed when they mess up or do something clumsy. They feel remorse or regret when they do something wrong. They remember bad things done to them, but sometimes choose to forgive. Does this seem familiar to us, we should pay a lot more attention to our animals and learn compassion and awareness from their well –being. Dogs have affection and compassion for their animal and human friends and family. They defend loved ones and comfort us when we are ill or injured.

How wondrous and far reaching compassion can be among all living beings. Each of us is capable of limitless love.

What is your dog doing right now, my two are lying at my feet, waiting for me to finish writing this Dharma Glimpse to take them out for a walk and don’t forget the treat!


William Toyo Sensei is a Lay Minister with the Bright Dawn Way of Oneness Buddhism. 


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