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Naming Animals

Giving Dharma Names to Animals

Most people give their pet animals names they think are cute or sound cool or perhaps reflect the animals’ personality. As Buddhists, we are missing a huge opportunity if we do this and doing our animals a disservice. As Lama Zopa Rinpoche says:

“If you have a pet it is very good to give it a Dharma name rather than giving it a useless name that has no benefit for the animal. If you give your pet a Dharma name, such as names of the path to enlightenment (renunciation, bodhicitta, emptiness – they can be in English, Tibetan or Sanskrit) it leaves a positive imprint on the mind of the animal.”

Rinpoche explains by giving an example of his dog at Aptos:

“So we called the dog in Kachoe Dechen Ling ‘Om mani padme hung’. Each time she hears her name it plants the seed for the whole path to enlightenment, it leaves a positive imprint on her mind. Also, it creates the cause for her to understand all the 84,000 teachings of Buddha because they are contained in om mani padme hung: the two truths, the path of method and wisdom and the goal, dharmakaya and rupakaya. Each time we call her name it leaves a positive imprint for her to be able to hear the whole sutra and tantra, the complete extensive teachings of Buddha. This is incredible; definitely each time she hears her name it brings her closer to enlightenment. This is such an easy way to benefit animals and to bring them closer to enlightenment so we must do it, we must attempt every single way to benefit them. We must do it for others, to quickly liberate them from samsara, which is only in the nature of suffering and which has no beginning, which is continuous." [5]

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Understanding the incredible benefits just of naming your pets, it is very silly and foolish if you don’t do even this. It’s such an easy way to benefit them, even if you don’t do bigger things like building a stupa to benefit the sentient beings living with you. What you can easily do is take them around holy objects, chant mantras, read lam rim prayers that contain the whole path, the Heart Sutra, Diamond Cutter Sutra, Sutra of Golden Light, Arya Sangatasutra, and chant powerful mantras as much as possible. There are so many practices you can recite next to them as well as many other things you can do, but if you can’t do these then an easy one is giving them a Dharma name that will benefit them very much.

During Choden Rinpoche’s teachings at Vajrapani a few years ago Rinpoche said that Lama Atisha called animals ‘sangpo’, which means “good-hearted.” Probably he is not saying: I am good-hearted, but as Lama Atisha has bodhichitta maybe he is saying that his bodhichitta came from them. Lama Atisha gave teachings to numberless sentient beings, liberating them from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bringing them to enlightenment. As all this was received from these animals, from their kind heart, the reason Lama Atisha calls them sangpo is that he is naming the result on the cause. Sometimes he may have called them triche, which means “kind one.” This is maybe to benefit one’s own mind, referring to all animals as “kind one”, remembering how all one’s happiness comes from them.




Suggested Dharma Names


Below are some examples of beneficial names you can give your pets (or children!). We have listed only single word names rather than double as single words are easier when calling for your pet. But you can combine some of the words as Tibetans do, for example: Samten Chodron (female) means 'Truth Light of Meditation' or Jinpa Phuntsok (male) means 'Generous One Full of Qualities'.


NAME

MEANING

Acharya

A spiritual master







Amrita

Nectar of the gods

Arya

A being who has attained a direct realisation of the true nature of reality.

Asanga

4th century Indian scholar; One of then two most important masters in the development of the Mahayana Buddhist schools of ancient India.

Atisha

11th century Indian scholar accredited with founding of the Tibetan Mahayana school called Kadam. His works include the great text ‘Lamp of the Path of Enlightenment’

Bodhicitta

Awakened mind, mind of enlightenment

Bodhi

Enlightenment

Chodak

Dharma Spreader

Choden

One who is devout, religious

Choedron

Truth Light

Choegyal

Dharma king

Chokyi

Joyful Dharma or teachings

Chophel

The flourishing of the Dharma

Dagpa

Pure

Dana

(Sanscrit) voluntary giving of material, eneregy, or wisdom to others; one of the 6 Perfections

Dechen

Great Bliss

Deyki

Happiness and Joy

Dhargey

Progress, development, spreading

Dharmata

Suchness, true nature of things; phenomena as it really is,as seen by a completely enlightened being without any distortion,

Dondrub

Accomplishment, attainment, realizer

Dorje

Vajra, which means indestructible

Drimed

Stainless, imaaculate, undefiled

Drolma

Liberator Tara

Drolkar

White Liberator Tara (long life deity)

Gendun

Helper

Gyaltsen

Victory banner

Jampa

(Maitreya, the next Buddha) Loving-kindness

Jamyang

Gentle voice (Manjushri)

Jangchub

Enlightenment

Jigme

Fearless

Jinpa

Generosity

Kalden

Good fortune

Kalsang/Kelsang

Fortunate, Good fortune

Karuna

Compassion

Karma

Action, deed

Kaya

Body of a Buddha

Khandro

Dakini

Kunchen

All-knowing

Lekshey

Right speech. eloquent

Lhakyi

Happiness, joy

Lhundup

Spontaneously accomplished

Lobsang

Kind One, Noble-minded, kind-hearted,

Lodro

Wise One, intelligent

Lungtok

The Teachings, scriptures





Ngawang

Powerful speech

Ngedon

Ultimate truth

Ngodup

Attainment, accomplishment

Norbu

Jewel

Nying jye

Compassion

Osel

Luminosity, luminous clarity

Palden

Glorious

Paramita

Perfect virtues, the perfections

Pelkyi (female)

Radiant Happiness

Pema

Lotus

Phuntsok

Excellence (excellent qualities, most perfect qualities)

Prajna

Wisdom, discriminative awareness

Rabten

Steadfast

Rigpa

Awareness of the absolute

Rigzin

Wise One, Knower; wisdom

Rinchen

Precious, gem, treasure (great value)

Samadhi

Concentration, meditative stabilisation

Samdup

Fulfillment (of one's wishes)

Samten (male)

Samadhi, Perfect stability in meditation

Sang

Purified, awakened

Sangpo

Good hearted

Sangye

Buddha

Sempa

Bodhisattva

Shamatha

Calm abiding

Shedrub (male)

Accomplisher of highest knowledge

Shepa

Awareness, knowledge

Sherab

Perfect knowledge, Wisdom, discriminative awareness

Shunyata

Emptiness

Sila

Moral discipline

Sonam

Merit



Tenpa

(holder of the) Teachings

Tenzin

Holder of the teachings

Thekchen

Mahayana

Thokmay

Unobstructed, unhindered

Thubpa

Capable or Mighty One

Thubten

The Buddha's teaching

Tinley/Trinley

Enlightened activity

Tilopa

One of the 84 mahasiddhas of ancient India and the guru of the great scholar and meditator Naropa.

Tsering

Long life

Tseten

Stable life

Tsewang

Life empowerment

Tsognyi

The two accumulations: merit and wisdom

Tsondru

Diligent One

Tsultrim

Moral discipline

Tushita

Pure Land of joy

Tutob

Great Abilities



Wangchuk

Lord, mighty

Wangdue

Subduer

Yangchen (female)

Melodious One

Yangkyi (female)

Inspired Happiness

Yangzom (female)

Perfect Woman of Accomplished Qualities



Yeshe

Deep/pristine awareness, widsom knowledge

Yodron (female)

Turquoise Light

Yonten

Good qualities

Zopa

Forbearance, patience

...

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