Animals in Buddhism – How a Squirrel Trying to Rescue a Baby in Buddhism
In a recent article on Animals in Buddhism, I talked about how the mother squirrel was trying to drain a lake dry to save her two babies. The story is quite touching, especially the part about how she dipped a few drops of water on her body, shook off the water, and tried again until the water evaporated. This story has many echoes in modern life, from the death of two baby turtles, to the latest prank by the squirrel, Surli.
Animals in buddhism
Buddhists consider all sentient beings to have the potential to attain enlightenment, including animals. According to the Mahayana school of Buddhism, all sentient beings, including animals, have the Buddha nature, which is the same as human potential. Buddha explained that all sentient beings are interrelated, including humans. As such, the Buddha’s teachings about animals are also applicable to human beings.
Buddhist texts often feature animals, and Buddhists were prone to use these stories to spread their religious messages. But not all stories were necessarily Buddhist. In China, for example, there were stories about monkeys that did not feature the Yocagara philosophy. That is not to say that Buddhists do not believe in animals, but that their stories should not be misconstrued to be ‘animal-friendly’.
Lions and deer are common symbols for the Buddha. The lion is regarded as a protector of the dharma, and many buddhist iconography depicts lions guarding the gates of monasteries and temples. Lions are associated with Tibetan buddhism, and this influence is reflected in the art of this region. Leopards, which live in snow mountains, are also common symbols.
Principle of the Mutual Possession of the Ten Worlds
In Buddhist teachings, the principle of the mutual possession of the ten worlds describes the idea that we are each the owner of a portion of every world. In other words, each world contains a portion of the potential of Buddhahood. According to Buddhism, the ten worlds are inextricably linked. The Buddha possesses all ten worlds and each possesses one another. The concept of the ten worlds is a central part of Buddhist philosophy.
According to Buddhism, life in any of the ten worlds is equally endowed with the same ten factors, including mind, body, and spirit. Thus, anyone who lives in one of these worlds has the potential to manifest the other worlds. In the Lotus Sutra, this is referred to as the principle of the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds. As a result, any human can manifest buddhahood and become a buddha. Similarly, all the living entities inhabiting the worlds are equally endowed with a certain set of qualities, which allows them to manifest life in the other worlds.
Mother squirrel trying to drain lake of water to recover her two drowned babies
The story of a mother squirrel trying to drain the lake of water to rescue her two babies is a very popular Buddhist tale. This story tells of a mother squirrel who tried to retrieve her two babies after they had drowned in a lake. Despite the fact that her efforts were completely futile, the mother squirrel’s persistence touched the heart of Gautama. Inspired by the story, Gautama vowed to continue his quest for truth. The Buddha then underwent painful austerities and spent hours on end under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, Bihar, until he reached enlightenment. During this time, he also let go of his thoughts. Zen practitioners refer to this as ‘No thought, no mind’.
During this period, the mother squirrel was reincarnated as a holy mother squirrel and lived on top of a tree near a lake with her two babies. Over time, devotees realized that the holy mother squirrel was not an ordinary squirrel. Her behavior was extraordinary. It was a living example of the will of God in an animal form. The saint’s actions inspired many people to feed the holy mother squirrel and they became rich and healed.
Surli the squirrel’s latest prank
Surli the squirrel’s latest mutiny seems to go a little too far. The prank goes too far, and he is exiled to the Nut Shop. The nut shop is more of a front line of a bank robbery. The Raccoon, who is trying to secure power from Surli, is also a bank robber with his own program.
How does a squirrel trying to rescue a baby in Buddhism demonstrate the principle of compassion?
The squirrel is trying to rescue the baby out of compassion which is one of the key principles of Buddhism.
Why is it significant that the squirrel is trying to rescue the baby?
The squirrel is trying to rescue the baby because it is a symbol of Buddha’s compassion.
What does the story of the squirrel trying to rescue the baby teach us about compassion?
The story of the squirrel trying to rescue the baby teaches us that even the smallest act of compassion can make a difference.
How can we apply the lesson of the story of the squirrel trying to rescue the baby to our own lives?
We can apply the lesson of the story of the squirrel trying to rescue the baby to our own lives by always being mindful of the possibility to show compassion to others even in the smallest ways.
What does the story of the squirrel trying to rescue the baby tell us about the power of compassion?
The story of the squirrel trying to rescue the baby tells us that compassion is a powerful force that can overcome all obstacles.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.