Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Can Killing Sometimes Be Justified?

I’m something of an expert on bed bugs – having lived in India for a few years. Generally I like all creatures but there three that I just can’t abide, at least in my private space – flies on my food, cockroaches in my residence and bed bugs in my bed. Years ago, before I was a monk, I was in Kashmir going from Jammu to Srinagar and had to spend a night in a truck-drives’ stop. This insalubrious establishment consisted of one large windowless room with an earthen floor and filthy quilts and blankets scattered around the place. My companion and I selected the least filthy of these quilts, found the least dirty part of the floor (near the wall), blew out the lamp and huddling together against the cold, settled down to try to get some sleep. About half an hour after the light went out we both began to itch, first just a little then a lot. Grumbling and sighing, we lit the lamp again and found dozens of bed bugs on our clothing. Then a look of horror came over the face of my companion and he pointed towards the wall. I looked to where he was pointing and there, marching down the wall, were hundreds of thousands of bed bugs. There were so many of them they literally formed a rusty-colored curtain on the wall. Believe me when I say, ‘I hate bed bugs’.
From one perspective Cimex lectularius is a fascinating little creature. They are mentioned in the Tipitaka (e.g. Ja.1,10; III,423) where they are called mankuna. They can live for up to a year without feeding. Although slow-moving, their repulsive taste protects them from predators and even we humans are reluctant to squash them because of the offensive smell they give off. They even have a political dimension. By the early 60s they’d been almost eliminated in the UK. Then Mrs. Thatcher got elected and within three or four years they had returned with a vengeance. If bed bugs could vote they would always support the candidates advocating ‘trickle-down economics’ and promising to cut welfare payments and ‘streamline’ the health services. The other thing you have to admire them for is their tenacity. Once you get bed bugs they are extremely difficult to get rid of.
Well, a fortnight ago I found a bed bug in my bed. I was not a happy monk. The next morning I thoroughly checked the mattress, sheets, pillows, the bed itself but found none of the tell-tale signs of their presence. A week later another bug crawled out of a book I was reading. Then a day later I found another one. I realized it was time to take action. I took all the furniture outside and tipped boiling water over it – not just to kill the little blighters but also any of their eggs that might be there. Then I went out and bought some insect spray and sprayed every nook and cranny in the room. I soaked all my bed sheets, pillowslips and robes in boiling water and then put them through the washing machine twice. Then I put all my books in large plastic bags, sprinkled them with moth balls (naphthalene) and sealed the bags for a week. Now I’m waiting. I’ll keep you updated.
But while waiting I am also thinking. I know I deliberately and with full consciousness killed three living beings and probably killed at least a few more with my boiling water and insect spray. I’m a Buddhist monk, supposedly a model for how the devote Buddhist should live. But are their circumstances when killing, at least killing insects, is justifiable, or perhaps understandable, or perhaps excusable?

53 comments:

luke.jmo said...

oy vey... tell me about it. funny how such a profound moral stance is confounded by something as innocuous as some little bugs. i sympathize.

Jamie G. said...

I hope so (but I don't say that lightly). I'm a cop who carries two guns on my person while on duty. Though I chant the precepts daily, including vowing to cherish the life of all sentient beings, if absolutely required I would take the life of one to protect the life of another (say a man attempting to kill a child).

I could be wrong, but I once heard that in the Jataka Tales that the Tathagata killed a man who was attempting to kill a group of people... on a boat, I think. I can't seem to find this story now.

I also killed a Fiddleback Spider in the bathroom once. I tried to find something to take it outside with, but couldn't find anything. And instead of leaving the room and chance it getting away, I killed it. All I could think about was my infant daughter getting bitten.

Anyways, I've heard that I will eventually suffer the karmic results of that action, but I believe I did the right thing, come what may.

reasonable said...

perhaps bed bugs killed by a monk would get better rebirth? haha...

Gui Do said...

Well, by law and if they were humans, what the bugs do would be assault. They would be locked up. That's hard to do for us. And how would we feed them? The thing is, if there are exceptions, it just says that we can't take the Pali canon literally. For an inuit, a polar bear might one day become a threat. Size doesn't matter here.

yeo said...

In order for the plants in my garden to flower, I have to get rid of the many insects, esp caterpillars from feeding on them. Invariably, they are either killed or the insects eventually die for lack of food. As Buddhists we are not suppose to take lives (ie get rid of the insects); on the other hand if we don't destroy the insects, the plants will be weakened and evetually die. What a dilemma!

Gui Do said...

Does this dilemma really exist objectively or only subjectively? The way of nature is just like that. I guess the dilemma is just the human invention that has to be overcome. Respect the animal, maybe give it a bow when there is time, then kill when necessary. This extends to the way we eat. Nature's law is that living beings may feed on each other. It is actually more natural to kill an animal to eat it then to kill a bug not to be bitten by it (one maybe a means for survival, the other often just is a means for comfort).

True as it is said...

If a person intentional kills another, kammic result will follow. No need for any justification.

To justify is just deluding oneself from what may come.

Ken and Visakha said...

All beings love their lives.

Obviously any and all killing is justified all the time but justification doesn't make it alright, does it?

Having lived in lots of places, we've learned that we really cannot control much of anything. Indeed our bodies are shared by many others -- a useful meditation itself, and our space is shared likewise.

Cockroaches are disgusting, but then again, they are also interesting. It's a question of where they are. We seal all our food from them and catch them and put them outside whenever we can. We had a very ancient cockroach for some weeks in our bathroom in a monastery in Kolkata. He was very slow moving, with long anntennae testifying to great age? We felt almost sad to see him being devoured by an even bigger spider.

As for caterpillars -- if you love butterflies, you have to learn to share (or move them to some plant less prized?)

The Silent Spring occurred in Michigan when I was growing up so I hate the idea of poison. During the latter part of my childhood all the birds were gone.

bobzane said...

thanks for another great post

I tend to be over analytical, and could debate this one, killing bugs, over and over in my head forever... or at least until I shake off this mortal coil. I think its best to just put this one to stern.

Gui Do said...

So True as it is - have you never heard of a way to "cut" your karma? To end it? If ended, what result will then follow from killing the bug or polar bear, what do you believe - and what did you actually experience and know in that respect?

Justin Choo said...

Bhante,

This is the MOST RELEVENT post for me. The question that I dare not ask a monk has been answered.

I have been waiting to read it from a monk for the past 40 years!!

Now I can happily go to sleep. It's now 1.30 am.

khalilbodhi said...

Bhante,

With all due respect, perhaps sharing such blatant disregard for Dhamma-vinaya with the entire world isn't such a good idea. Like it or not, you are a representative of the Dhamma to many people (Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike) so your implicit advocation of breaking the first precept might send the wrong message. I sympathize with your plight but maybe you could find other ways of solving the problem. Mettaya.

Mike

anotherqueerjubu said...

Venerable Sir,

Here in NYC, where bedbugs have returned with a vengeance, a small device like a suitcase is being sold. It heats the contents to a certain level for a certain time, destroying bugs and eggs. People use it for their clothes and books. I don't believe your moth ball solution will be effective — though I hope it is. In cases like these, I forgo the philosophical questions — I know there are many actions in my life that create kammic repercussions, and that the destruction of bedbugs is rather low on the list. I'm with reasonable — wish them a better rebirth and fry them.

Gui Do said...

Why not go the other way and freeze them to death?

Talljoanne said...

@Jamie G: I have also heard the story of Buddha as a ship captain in his previous life killing the murderer, but can't find an authoritative online collection of the Jataka Tales to confirm it. Furthermore, the version of the story I heard says that even though the Buddha's intention was very pure, he still had to suffer the karmic consequences of killing and this was manifested as a thorn in his foot in his current life, which hurt him whenever he walked. Again, I'm unable to verify the authenticity of this, but it makes a nice story.

yamizi said...

I think the issues with killing is that everyone's taking the precept too seriously.

It's the middle path we are talking here and by that been said I don't mean to discourage people from taking the precept seriously.

As for the first precept, if we didn't kill the living being out of anger and hatred, I think we are pretty safe along that line.

My take for these precepts is that it sets a certain moral boundaries so that if we abide to it mindfully, we will not be living in constant anxiety.

Anyway, I think smoking certainly falls closely to the first precept than killing an insect. By smoking tobacco, you know that it increaes health risks like lung cancers that will articificially reduces your lifespan (by that it means that you would have live longer if you don't smoke). Second-hand smokers around you also get their health affected.

Now, all smokers know that smoking carries certain health risks that may jeopardise their own lives and others but they still smoke!

Amazing ain't it?

Alessandro S. said...

Talljoanne, it's the Upāya-kauśalya Sūtra, mentioned at page 62 (the 25th page of the PDF) of Martin Kovan's article: "Violence and (Non-)resistance: Buddhist Ahiṃsā and its Existential Aporias" (http://www.buddhistethics.org/16/kovan-article.pdf). It seems to be a post-canonical Mahayana sutra: http://www.usafa.edu/isme/ISME07/Meadors07.html

Victoria later notes that “The Upaya-kaushalya is by no means the only Mahayana sutra that has been historically interpreted as in some sense excusing, if not actually sanctioning, violence.”[7] Additionally, we find similar situations and justifications involving the use of violent force in numerous other Mahayana sutras, including the Maha-Upaya-kausalya Sutra, the Arya-bodhisattava-gocaropaya-visaya-vikurvana-nirdesa Sutra, and the Maha-parinirvana Sutra.[8]

[5] Victoria, Brian Daizen. Zen at War, 2nd Ed. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2006. 226.

[8] Harvey, Peter. An Introduction Into Buddhist Ethics. Cambridge University Press, 2000. 135-8.

Ven. Jo Jo said...

Wonderful topic. These are dilemmas we all face.

I'd like to point out that the issue in any situation such as this is the reasoning behind it. Does it have selfish roots — i.e. I don't like them? Or is it a legitimate health risk, which would be a matter of self-defence in a manner of speaking?

I too have faced situations such as this, and am currently in one again. The living quarters I've been given is infested with these tiny, almost microscopic, ants. They're a nuisance, but pose no threat to me. They only appear, en-mass, when a food source is present. It's caused me to rethink how I handle food waste, dishes, etc. Including keeping from being lazy and laying my bowl down after eating and not washing it straight away. I've come to see them an my buddies.
There's some attraction for them in my bathroom sink, though I can't figure out what without tearing apart the pipes. I've learned to gently blow them away so they don't drown when I use the sink. Obviously it can be taken to an even more extreme if you consider the ones in the pipes I can't see. The abbot has offered to have them dealt with, but I've declined. Again, because I don't see them as posing any sort of health risk to me.

What it all boils down to is each person needs to be responsible for their own kamma and understanding of the Dhamma. Each person will have a different level of tolerance when it comes to issues such as this. Just like some are overbearing proponents of recycling, while others do what they can in relation to their "comfort zone".

Thanks for the post.

no said...

I think we can look at the problem from two aspects. First, the karmic retribution for killing the insects intentionally. Second (of course), the intention.

For karmic retribution, I read somewhere that a learned Venerable has actually worked out a scale of karmic severity for killing various living beings, from insects to fishes, etc to a Buddha. So killing a few insects intentionally probably has far less severe karmic consequences than killing a cat or a dog.

For intention, we are still far from perfect. Thus we still need to defend our space, our tuft, our body. Intruders to our home has to be driven off. We don't say "take what you want". We exercise self-defence if we are physically attacked. We do our utmost not to be over-powered, killing if necessary. So, do we kill the bugs or just sweep them out? Will sweeping them out solve the problem or will it just prolong it or pass it to someone else? Guess we decide for ourselves. What is important I think is the state of our mind behind the act. Is it full of aversion? Is it a phobia? Is there a lot of anger and hate? We can get to the bottom of it by "watching" what goes on in our mind as we decide on the course of action.

aah-haa said...

What about killing malignant cancer cells by radiation or chemotherapy? I should think cancer cell is also a living entity like bed-bug?

Josh said...

I think about this kind of thing all the time. As I'm learning more and more about biology in college, I'm realizing even things like bacteria and the parasites that causes malaria are living organisms that we routinely kill without remorse. We tend to think of them biological robots or something. But they are truly alive, and many have lived on this earth far longer than humans. In fact, they're kind of like our great great grandparents!

Who has more of a right to live? We do because we're bigger and stronger and smarter? What would the Buddha say?

Buddha said...

Dear Bhante

Jus like Bedbugs the other most Resilent Species is Termites

I do face a Severe problem with termites.

I Spent a whole day cleaning my Book rack painting with cell oil, and arranged my Books , barely 2 months after that the Termites Struck again.

My Brother Quite often Teases me that the "Termites do Read More Dharma than I do "

Any suggestions to Eliminate them are a Huge Welcome as my Books abt Buddhism , Jainism & Hinduism ,Comics are all threatened.

sometimes i think its my greed in not sharing the Books that leads to such incidents :-(

Aaron said...

I think the Buddha has always advocated following the spirit of his teachings rather than the letter, and he's also know to be a very practical person, so this is how I look at Bhante's act of killing bedbugs:

The Buddha would have most certainly said that it is morally wrong to kill the bedbugs because all sentient beings tremble at punishment and wants to live. However, if the bedbugs are causing or have the potential to cause such majors problems to the Buddhist that it interferes with his/her practice and that there's no other viable solution, it might be necessary to take the life of the bug(s).

No doubt, there will be negative kamma, and the person who did the killing will have to somehow suffer the consequence of the negative kamma. However, I believe the Buddha, as a practical teacher, would have used this as a teaching moment to stress the imperfection of existence and implore Bhante to put in more effort into his practice to achieve Nibbana as soon as possible so as to avoid having to deal with the imperfections of existence forever.

Taking the life of sentient beings is wrong, but such is the imperfection of existence, and we should reflect on the killing and use it as an impetus to motivate ourselves to intensify our spiritual practice, and at the same time, think about how to avoid similar situations in future.

yuri said...

Never bothered about lives of mosquitos or flies before some success in meditation. Now flies can zizz peacefully on a flyswat in my room. I must look crazy in the eyes of other people but I use a butterfly-net to catch mosquitos and then free them outside the house. I cannot kill them, and not because of the first precept. I simply cannot do it anymore. BUT! Though bedbugs are only a dim memory of childhood in the post-war Moscow, in case they return I will not hesitate to use poisonous spray just as I do not hesitate to take medicine against bacteria causing health problems. But then I am not a religious Buddhist.:) What Aaron says sounds reasonable to me. This world - Samsara - is not the place for perfect living. Even when we eat vegetables we eat killed or mutilated plants. In Dhammapada there is a verse about a true brahman who moves on unperturbed even if he killed not just a couple of bedbugs but... look up for yourself!

True!!! As it is. said...

Dear Gui Do,

There are a few ways to reduce the negative Kamma.

1) Endure mindfully the negative result.

2) Do more skillful action, a
tablespoon of salt is very salty in a teacup but is nothing in an ocean.

3) Avoid unskillful action, thus avoiding adding negative result.

Even being an Arahan is no guarantee of escaping kammaic result as Ven. Moggallana's life has shown.

Or.......believe in GOD....if there is one ;)

Gui Do said...

Dear True as it is - I am from the zen fraction. As Bhante Dhammika might say - a totally different religion. We really believe that we cut (personal) karma when doing zazen (because we don't attach to judging in this "no mind" state).

I am really not able to think in those judicial categories like some here do - they are creations of your mind. For example - how would you know that a "thorn" in your foot is related to a killing? It is just superstition. So it makes no sense to speculate about it. Furthermore, if you think like that, there will always be unavoidable karma, because the bug will create its own when biting you (which would be considered heavier if you are following the Buddha path). But - the bug is just struggling for survival, you may not. This will bring no solution. Ranking animals won't do either.

As Josh mentioned here, we regularly kill parasites and bacteria with antibiotics. In detecting that we are one with the whole universe, how could we downrank them, as it is pretty obvious that the first being that nature could do without is us? That is why, I believe, we have to go beyond that internal "tribunal" which doesn't seem to be there by nature.

Actually, I have never found any proof that killing animals brought bad karma. On the contrary, my openness to animals lets me come closer to some of them than average. So it was with birds, dogs and the like. This could of course also be an illusion ...

Riglin said...

My place was once invaded by termites. I have no other choice except to exterminate the whole colony. I did give them one day notice to move out but... *sigh*

True!!! As it is. said...

Dear Gui Do,

You are right in that we cannot be sure which unskillful action will result in what sort of result. It is said that only the Buddha will know. But of course it depend on the person view on this matter.

I have no background in the Zen tradition thus I cannot comment much on zazen and how it can 'cut' Kamma. Maybe you would like to explain to us.

If we are also one with the universe, should we not also live in peace with ourselves and others? I disagree that the world will be better without us, this is just an assumption, the world really be better if we stop doing stupid things motivated by greed, hated and delusion.

I also cannot find proof that killing brings bad kamma, but as you pointed out, if one cannot associate a particular action to a particular result, how will a person know when he is suffering from his action of killing?

Magpie said...

Thank you for writing on this. It is something I have questioned frequently- at what point do we make the determination that our comfort/safety is more important than the lives of another. I keep it on the insect level, thankfully I don't have to struggle about eating meat or murdering a human :).
I am very allergice to bees and have not thought twice about using a can of poison when I've seen a hive in my yard, it really is me or them. However I do know that even if we kill in self defense it will reflect on our karma. But does that mean we shouldn't?
I don't know.. but I appreciate you posing the question.

Gui Do said...

True, you asked: "how will a person know when he is suffering from his action of killing?"
Well, he will not (besides those legal effect that might take place). The Christians speak of "teleology" as the idea of manhood moving towards a higher aim or goal. The same idea is involved in karma, when Theravadin monks explain to me that even a fly can "move up" by doing good (a Burmese abbot just did that) within the six worlds or six realms - where animals are in a lesser world than men, of course.

Well then, we may explain - although it still is speculation - that in former lives there was some wrong deed leading to a suffering in this life. But what about the opposite? Why can people like, say Kissinger and Pinochet, get away? That means there former lives must have been full of good deeds. But according to the karma teaching, it would then be impossible for them to "move down" to the cruel deeds they were involved in. As we see, this idea doesn't really help, except for those who need cheap comfort. Cutting karma for zennies is then destroying such illusions.

And finding out that if there is no consistent ego - there can of course be no personal karma attaching to you over different lives. Actually what we may suffer then would rather be the karma someone else - or whole manhood - has created, because it cannot continue on a (non-existent) ego. Those skandhas that form some sort of obvious consistency in our current live - the "me" talking to "you" and the you, True, writing to me - is all we can judge from. And there, obviously, this karma theory doesn't go deep enough.

From the zen point, it is impossible to kill s.th. that you are one with. You see the inherent buddha-nature of the bug that you share with it - and you know it cannot be destroyed. All that you destroy is what will end with yourself - the skandhas etc. This is ethically tricky, if you don't feel - like I do - that quite instinctively we don't do it to our own breed - mankind (except in cases of self-defence).

I fear that I am abusing the comment function here. But in my own blog topics like killing, vegetarianism and of course sexuality also tease the strongest reactions. May it give Bhante some more ideas for future blog topics. It is an ongoing debate between Buddhist schools.

reasonable said...

Someone here commented that "With all due respect, perhaps sharing such blatant disregard for Dhamma-vinaya with the entire world isn't such a good idea. Like it or not, you are a representative of the Dhamma to many people (Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike) so your implicit advocation of breaking the first precept might send the wrong message. I sympathize with your plight but maybe you could find other ways of solving the problem."

On the contrary, the Venerable's sharing is of great virtue, showing forth the virtue of truthfulness and honesty, which would touches the heart of many Buddhist readers (and touches me too, a Christian). Other Buddhists who are facing very similar dilemma could be encouraged in their struggles as they see the Venerable struggling together with them.

Too often people try to put up a nice good front and hide the ugly things in a closet.

So what the Venerable has done really get my respect.

Aaron said...

I concur that Bhante Dhammika's so-called "blatant disregard" for the Dhamma is a little misinformed. The Buddha has always advocated questioning of everything one has seen or heard, and he even encourages his own disciples to question his teachings and not accept them unless they are truly convinced after much contemplation.

Bhante Dhammika did not kill the bedbugs and go around encouraging others to take life wantonly. His blog entry was clearly meant to make people think hard about the first precept, and this is very much in line with what the Buddha had always stood for when he was alive and teaching.

Besides, Bhante Dhammika is a monk, a member of the Sangha, not the Buddha. While he is more learned than the rest of us here, a lot more skillful than the rest of us in his everyday actions, he is not perfect. He's still striving for perfection, and he's probably miles ahead of everyone else here commenting on his blog, so I don't see why should anyone criticise him for killing a couple of bedbugs.

I'm not excusing Bhante Dhammika's breaking of the first precept, but as someone else rightly pointed out in this thread of comments, Bhante's act is probably akin to throwing a tablespoon of salt into a lake. Breaking of any of the precepts are all too easy in the worlds of samsara, and I believe the Buddha would have encouraged his disciples not to be too perturbed by the occasional transgression because if one gets too caught up in a small mistake, that's a sure way of walking away from the Middle Path.

What's more important is to learn from the episode and find ways not to repeat the act again. The point of being a practising Buddhist is to strive for perfection, not to be perfect, for if one is perfect, then he/she is no longer a Buddhist, but a Buddha.

Dharma said...

There's no need to kill. What's worse is that the killing was from aversion. It is clearly breaking of the first precept.

From experience with many bugs, you just need to radiate genuine metta and urge them to leave. There are many cases of this working all over the world. This works when there are many insects too.

You can also donate your mattress to the bugs by discarding it where few people frequent.

moonpointer said...

The Ahina Sutta tells of how a monk died after having been bitten by a snake. The Buddha remarked so

"Then it's certain, monks, that that monk didn't suffuse the four royal snake lineages with a mind of good will, he would not have died after having been bitten by a snake."

The Sutta can be seen at
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.067.than.html

Times Eye said...

if you kill a living being with intention of killing as you did, u have collected bad karma of it.We can't justify you.

moonpointer said...

Sorry, I forgot to add the below to share:

From a film review at http://tinyurl.com/hongyi :

Ven. Hongyi is renowned for his mindfulness of abiding by the precepts, and his advocating of compassion in the small details. For example, he authored the famous ‘护生画集’ (Poem & Pictorial Series on Protection of Life). When I first heard of his inspiring conduct many years ago, the anecdote that impressed me the most was how he would always make it a point to inspect chairs for the possible presence of bugs before sitting on them. This touching practice has since made me sensitive to insects since – in the positive sense. In the film, he carefully scoops a bed bug from his head, before laying it down, chanting ‘Amituofo’ (Amitabha Buddha) to bless it. I sincerely hope those who see this scene will learn to be similarly kind to animals.

From http://tinyurl.com/sadinsects :

Tit: Hey, why spray the insects?
Tot: Because they are pests. (Tot is four years old.)
Tit: Because Tot wants to kill them, Tot is a big pest to them!
Tot: But they sometimes dirty the place.
Tit: Because Tot sometimes dirty the place too, should we spray Tot too?
Tot: Oh no! Mummy and Daddy will be sad.
Tit: Hey, insects have Mummies and Daddies too!

Kurt said...

Bhante,

I, too, would like to thank you for addressing this topic. Clearly it is something we have all had to deal with it at one time or another, which is undoubtedly why your post has generated so much response.

I do think it is sometimes necessary to kill, such as in the case of insects that pose a threat to our health. However, it can never be a entirely wholesome act. When one must resort to this, it is important to examine one's intentions and not act out of pure hatred and aversion. Instead one should think, "I am doing this to protect my own health and/or that of others" and wish the insects a beneficial rebirth. In that case, it would certainly be a mitigating factor in terms of the negative karma because there is also compassion involved.

Sam Jerga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reasonable said...

For those who believe in kammaic effect, I guess such a kammaic effect would not only correspond to the nature of the intention of the "killer", but also to the nature of the sentient being that was killed. If the sentient being has very little self-consciousness (e.g. as compared to human beings' ability to do reflection) or very little ability to feel pain or to think in their own language "I am in pain" (and some may not be able to think), it may mean the suffering of that sentient being is much much much lower than a "higher" animal such as human beings. The lower the suffering, the lower the kammaic effect on the "killer", if all other things are held constant. So killing a bed bug may bring less kammaic effect than killing a monkey or dog or human being. And if the killer's intention is "skilful", that may reduce further any kammaic effect (perhaps reduced to zero or almost zero?).

Dharma said...

Sam Jerga: 'Dharma - Does donating the mattress also apply to one donating ones house to termites? Or perhaps good health to cockroach infestations?'

Reply: You just need to let go of that part of your house infected by termites. E.g. a cupboard. As mentioned, 'From experience with many bugs, you just need to radiate genuine metta and urge them to leave. There are many cases of this working all over the world. This works when there are many insects too.' This applies to cockroaches too.

Please try metta and chanting before resorting to killing. The Buddha would agree too. Please study Ahina Sutta to learn about the importance of good will and metta.

Dharma said...

What would the Buddha do? The Buddha would never kill a single insect out of disgust. If we feel compelled to kill out of disgust, it only means there is lack of Metta. Do practise Metta more - and make it truly immeasurable - for the welfare of all sentient beings. Thank you - on the behalf of all beings.

From http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/vin/cv/cv.05.06.01x.olen.html is a Metta Verse taught by the Buddha in the Vinaya:

For those without feet, I have love.
I have love for all with two feet.
For those with four feet, I have love.
I have love for all with many feet.

May those without feet do me no harm.
May none with two feet do me harm.
May those with four feet do me no harm.
May none with many feet do me harm.

May all beings, all living things,
All who've come to be — one and all —
May they see every blessing!
May no evil at all come to them!

Without limit is Buddha.
Without limit is Dhamma.
Without limit is Sangha.

Gui Do said...

""Then it's certain, monks, that that monk didn't suffuse the four royal snake lineages with a mind of good will, he would not have died after having been bitten by a snake."
ARRGH!

And the Ven. Hongyi - fine for him to bless the bug, but the bug doesn't care. The reason is simple - the bug doesn't have our problems, i.e. it doesn't suffer in the way the Buddha spoke of (mentally). So my advice is: Do something for you - bow - than strike. If the Venerable had done that all his life, he would never have finished any Buddhist curriculums. If he'd use a magnifier, what else would he see living?

Dharma said...

Re: "Then it's certain, monks, that that monk didn't suffuse the four royal snake lineages with a mind of good will. For if he had suffused the four royal snake lineages with a mind of good will, he would not have died after having been bitten by a snake…”

Reply: Quite a serious misquote above. It should be this way: ""Then it's certain, monks, that that monk didn't suffuse the four royal snake lineages with a mind of good will, he would not have died after having been bitten by a snake." (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.067.than.html )

Re: “And the Ven. Hongyi - fine for him to bless the bug, but the bug doesn't care. The reason is simple - the bug doesn't have our problems, i.e. it doesn't suffer in the way the Buddha spoke of (mentally).”

Reply: If bugs don’t care because they don’t have our problems and if we don’t need to care for as many sentient beings as we can, why would the Buddha teach us the Metta Sutta at all? Why not just be honest and admit that one is lacking in Metta and train harder?

“As a mother would risk her life to protect her child, her only child, even so should one cultivate a LIMITLESS heart with regard to ALL beings. With good will for the ENTIRE cosmos, cultivate a limitless heart: Above, below, & all around, unobstructed, without enmity or hate.” (Metta Sutta)

Re: “So my advice is: Do something for you - bow - than strike.”

Reply: Very merciless indeed. Would you want someone to bow and strike you if you are a bug? Bow? “…but the bug doesn't care.” All sentient beings fear death and crave to live though.

"As I am, so are others ; as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.
-The Buddha (Sutta Nipata 705)

Re: “If the Venerable had done that all his life, he would never have finished any Buddhist curriculums.”

Reply: Please do research on Venerable Hongyi. He is one of the most respected Mahayana Vinaya masters in recent Chinese history, and a prolific scholar too. You can see a review of his film at

Re: “If he'd use a magnifier, what else would he see living?

Reply: The point is to do better in Metta – especially with sentient beings we can see. The Buddha did not teach us to be ‘extreme’ like Jain monks, who shield themselves from microbes with masks. Some Buddhists believe too, that microorganisms are not complex enough to be sentient life; and are more like plant life.

Dharma said...

Apologies. Correction: The 'quotes' should be the other way round -

Re: "Then it's certain, monks, that that monk didn't suffuse the four royal snake lineages with a mind of good will, he would not have died after having been bitten by a snake."

Reply: Quite a serious misquote above. It should be this way: "Then it's certain, monks, that that monk didn't suffuse the four royal snake lineages with a mind of good will. For if he had suffused the four royal snake lineages with a mind of good will, he would not have died after having been bitten by a snake…” (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.067.than.html )

Gui Do said...

Dharma: "Would you want someone to bow and strike you if you are a bug?"

As I said, as a bug I wouldn't care. It's quite normal for a bug to be killed.

"To do better in metta" - yes, that's why I bow. Still, I avoid relative categories.

Dharma said...

Gui Do: 'As I said, as a bug I wouldn't care. It's quite normal for a bug to be killed.'

Reply: But you are not a bug. How would you know bugs don't care or that if you become a bug, you wouldn't care? If it's a truth that all bugs don't care whether they get killed or not, and think it it normal to be killed, why did the Buddha teach the below -

From http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/vin/cv/cv.05.06.01x.olen.html is a Metta Verse taught by the Buddha in the Vinaya:

For those without feet, I have love.
I have love for all with two feet.
For those with four feet, I have love.
I have love for all with MANY feet.

May those without feet do me no harm.
May none with two feet do me harm.
May those with four feet do me no harm.
May none with many feet do me harm.

May all beings, all living things,
All who've come to be — one and all —
May they see every blessing!
May no evil at all come to them!
_________

Sorry for sounding like a broken record but Metta is meant to be immeasurable - for all beings - including those with many feet. Try to squish an ant and it runs away. Sentient beings fear death and crave to live. Bugs care not to be killed. As a popular Buddhist wish goes, may all beings be well and happy. May all beings be free from fear and suffering.

Dharma said...

Re: In order for the plants in my garden to flower, I have to get rid of the many insects, esp caterpillars from feeding on them.

Reply: My personal choice of action would be to leave the garden to nature. If the flowers are important, perhaps repellents rather than insecticides should be used.

Re: Nature's law is that living beings may feed on each other.

Reply: Buddha-nature’s ‘law’ is that we can choose kinder diets too.

Re: As for the first precept, if we didn't kill the living being out of anger and hatred, I think we are pretty safe along that line.

Reply: Some Buddhists believe it is impossible to kill without some element of hatred. I tend to believe so too. But as much as possible, let’s avoid experimenting to find out.

Md osman Maya said...

For some years bed bugs were regarded as a problem that belonged to the past. However infestations are now found around the globe and in plague proportions.
exterminating bedbugs
bedbug pest control

Catherine Aird said...

I guess this blog is perfectly incomparable. how to get rid of bed bugs

Jenny Hayes said...

This is a really very awesome blog more than ever to those new to blogosphere, concise and perfect information… custom notepad

Albert Robert said...

I was on rummage around for the sites related to provide good information, so I came up to your site. Paul D Dansker

Johney Luke said...

Awesome work! That is quite appreciated. I hope you’ll get more success.Need to scrape

James Brown said...

Thanks for the nice blog. It was useful for me. I'm happy I found this blog. Thank you for sharing with us,I too always learn something new from your post.
pest control san antonio