Monday, March 8, 2010

So Can Killing Sometimes Be Justified?

On 2nd March I related my bed bug problem and asked the question ‘Are their circumstances when killing, at least killing insects, is justifiable, or perhaps understandable, or perhaps excusable?’ On the 5th March I gave some background information pertaining to kamma that might have some bearing on answering this question. Today I would like to try to answer the question according to my understanding. According to the Buddha, the killing of any ‘breathing thing’ (that counts out bacteria) is negative. In the Vinaya the Buddha is depicted as saying, ‘A monk should not intentionally deprive a living creature of life, even if it be only an ant’ (Vin.I,97). So there is no doubt that in getting rid of my three bed bugs I did something with negative consequences. So now the question is, ‘How negative?’ What will be or would be the kammic consequences of killing a bet bug or some other insect? We saw that according to the Vinaya killing an animal is on a different level to killing a human (although the reason for this distinction is not given). We also saw that the Buddha recognized that an action can have ‘mixed’ intentions and thus mixed kammic consequences. I am going to argue that killing an insect would have minor kammic consequences and this negativity would be even further diluted if the intention/intentions behind the act was mixed with concern for one’s health, one’s kids well-being, etc. If I do this sort of thing rarely and with hesitation (and I do), and I generally have a kindly and nurturing attitude towards others, including small creatures, I suspect that like the salt in the great river, the consequences of killing three bed bugs would actually be quite small. So in answer to our question we could perhaps say this. Wherever and whenever possible do what you can to preserve and uphold the life of others, even that of humble creatures. while understanding that there might be times when you feel this is difficult. What do you think?

One other thing. In the comments, some of my readers said that ‘killing for any reason must have a kammic consequence.’ While I agree completely, this sort of comment implies that the whole purpose of Buddhism is not to make any negative kamma no matter what, to go through life ultra-careful not to do anything that might ‘make bad kamma.’ Clearly the less negative kamma we have to deal with the better. However, we should keep in mind that the purpose of Dhamma is to develop that wisdom and understanding that can free us from the rounds of samsara. There may be times or situations in life where we genuinely feel that we can manage a bit of negative kamma, or that the consequences of doing some action are less negative than abstaining from doing it.

77 comments:

Ken and Visakha said...

Since Buddhism is not Jainism, simply avoiding unwholesome actions isn't enough for us.

What has troubled me about the whole discussion is the dislike of a living being for being what it is not for what it happens to do. Isn't hating bedbugs for being bedbugs, and mosquitoes for being mosquitoes per se something akin to hating homosexuals for being homosexuals, for who they are? When people detest another group of people they call them vermin and that has been used to excuse pogroms and genocide.

Certainly the consequences of killing three bedbugs won't be very great, but what of the consequences of not destroying them, removing them and putting them elsewhere and working to develop compassion for all critters, pesky and otherwise? Metta is supposed to be developed universally as a mother loves her only child. Wouldn't the results of extending metta and mercy be quite wonderful?

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Dear Ken and Visakha,
Of course ‘removing them and putting them elsewhere’ is what I usually do to pesky insects. But in the case of bed bugs this would mean either inflicting them on someone else or arranging for them to starve to death, which I dont see as much diffrent from washing them down the sink.
Also, I must say I see a major difference between hating or disliking a homosexual(i.e. a human) and hating (actually in my case ‘being revolted by’)bed bugs. The former does no harm to me or anyone else (by his or her sexual behavior),the latter sucks my blood, causes welts all over my body and keeps me up at night. Let’s not make ‘category mistakes’.

rahul08 said...

very interesting perspective Ken and Visakha. I would agree with your view that hating or "being revolted" by critters and lizards,is just hating them for what they are. i would also agree that since humans are complex organisms, thus having complex mental processes,their dislike for unusual humans (homosexuals, and most other perverts, etc etc) is just a complex, sophisticated amplification of this basic feeling of disgust. dealing with feelings is one part of practice, and on the other hand as Ven. mentioned, if something is going to harm us, then probably the negative karma is diluted when v kill that thing.

Tazzie said...

I thought I would save this juicy bit of self confession till the end of this thread "I feel that an 'Oprah Winfrey' confessional moment is upon us" Just before Bhante did the first of this series' I too had to kill some insects, in this case it was 8 wasps. The background to this was as follows. Several months ago some paper wasps began constructing a big cricket ball sized hatchery for their pupae just next to our front door. I have seen them for many years build similar structures around our house and garden and always live and let live and the never took much notice of them except to admire their industry and tenacity etc. Several years in a row we had a very large flourescent pink and black hornet build a similar structure.. just next to our front door too and never had any problems with it.( I'd hate to arm wrestle that sucker!)But again no problems with it even thuogh we would accidentaly collide from time to time especially when I was outbound and it was inbound, it complete with a neat ball of clay in its legs for the next phase of its construction. All very gentlemanly! But these other wasps were different. all was ok for several months, hardly noticed them as we came and went about our business until about a month or six weeks ago. I left by the front entrance as usual one morning and felt what seemed like several electric shocks on my neck and back. Somehow I knew it was them straight away and sure enough several of them were buzzing around
as if to say "you got too close buddy" Which is what I thought I had done. Any how we continued for another week and I took every measure to make sure I wasnt too close to their construction site as I came and went. But then about a week later they started attacking me pretty much every time I came or went. Funnily enough at the time of the first attack their usual yellow and black colour had seemed to have transformed permanently to an almost blood red and black. A warning to all comers I guess. Any how I went an bought some insect spray and the rest is history. I nuked em. So you can see that I did this in a sense of self defense and was not especially averse to them, so I agree with Bhante that all in all the small amount of bad vipaka I have generated is pretty much like the few grains of salt in the river of a fairly blameless life. I did have compassion for them before and after, and I can only surmise that they are seeking rebirth as flourescent Pink and black hornets
so they can even the score next summer!

Ken and Visakha said...

I certainly never meant to make a category mistake (whatever that is) but I did think after I posted my comments that I certainly didn't intend to compare gays or gypsies or blacks with insects! (we just watched the movie MILK and he made the point that gay rights wasn't just an issue to him -- because the attacks on gays attacked who he was.)

Bedbugs can't help what they are either and everything requires nutriment -- we certaily share that with them.

What interests me is the revulsion. You are in a position to do something about bedbugs, unlike someone in extreme poverty or confined in a prison cell. Because you can do something, it seems to me that it would be better to just put them elsewhere and let them fend for themselves (especially since they can go so long without feeding.) You aren't responsible if they starve to death but you are responsible, even if it doesn't signify much, if you kill them.

I take it you don't think that we've all been closely related at some time in the distant past?

Chula said...

At least it's good to know that you're portraying your action as negative. About going through life ultra-careful not to do negative kamma - that is actually the quality of ottappa (concern for the results of evil action), which is an essential quality for progress in the path and not something inferior to a supposedly "wise" person.

Another thing, in your profile, you have stated that:
"I am not a stream enterer (at least I don't feel like one)."

I think now you can know for certain that you are not a stream-enterer, since one of the qualities of one is that:
"the disciple of the noble ones is endowed with virtues that are appealing to the noble ones: untorn, unbroken, unspotted, unsplattered, liberating, praised by the wise, untarnished, leading to concentration."
SN 55.31 - Paṭhamapuññābhisandasutta

As such, I think you can remove the "(at least I don't feel like one)" part to avoid deceiving others.

NUSBS Alumni said...

There is generally something about people wishing that they have a perfect teacher and feeling cheated when they find out that someone they respect is human.

Bhante Dhammika is a human, for goodness sake. He never claim to be be beyond being a human being.

He did not encourage killing. He felt that he had to kill some bed bugs and he explained why he think that he has incurred negative kamma.

This, to me, is a whole lot better than a whole lot of practitioners who observe the Vinaya by the rules but not in spirit.

Do not depend on Bhante Dhammika for your own cultivation. He is a practitioner like the rest of us. Just because we are imperfect does not mean he has to.

The Buddha is the Perfect One.

may said...

I do feel that killing insects would be akin a pinch of salt in the sea in this case.

But I'd like to voice my opinion that there is a considerable difference between killing and removing to leave them to their own "fate". It is comparable to throwing in the death sentence instead of sending them into exile where they could still fend for themselves.

Holly said...

All this tsk-tsking and judging of Venerable Dhammika's intentions and actions--come on, people! I'll just take the Buddha's advice:
"Do not consider the faults of others,
Or what they have or haven't done.
Consider rather
What you yourself have or haven't done."
Dhammapada 50

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

Can we really go through life trying to avoid creating negative Kamma? Is this a fool's dream?

Looking at reality, this does not seem possible or probably it will be really hard to do.

There is no-one in the world who is not blamed.

So Bhante killed some bedbugs, he admitted in his blog and he will have to deal with it.

Why not use this example to reflect on our own lives and see if we have such moment in the past and how we relate / react to it instead of projecting our sense of judgment onto Bhante's behaviors.

He may have done an unskillful action but that should not negate the skillful things he may have done in the past.

Little by little is the water jug filled, at the end of the day each one of us will have to deal with our own Kamma whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not.

Aaron said...

Chula,

I don't see why Bhante Dhammika should remove the description of himself as you suggested. He could very well be a stream enterer but he's too modest about it to say so. In anycase, for the quote you picked to justify your claim that Bhante's no stream enterer, I think you might want to look hard at the quote again.

"the disciple of the noble ones is endowed with virtues that are appealing to the noble ones: untorn, unbroken, unspotted, unsplattered, liberating, praised by the wise, untarnished, leading to concentration."

So you're a noble one or a member of the "wise"? If you are (although I suspect otherwise), by all means, you can tell Bhante Dhammika off. Otherwise, please refrain from veiled insults of his character. That's certainly not part of Right Speech.

Chula said...

Aaron,

Who the wise is is explained in the suttas - I see no reason to make this personal.

Quoting Thanissaro Bhikkhu in his introduction to the Kalama Sutta:
For thoughts on how to judge whether another person is wise, see MN 110, AN 4.192, and AN 8.54.

About criticizing unskillful action - it's a sign of growth in the path for a person to welcome well-reasoned criticism. Ven. Rahula used to wish for as much advice and criticism as the sand he could throw up in the air.

Even for a monk who is far along the path, this is valid. There is the example of Ven. Sariputta bowing down to a novice who pointed out that he broke a minor rule regarding wearing the robe properly.

My quote was to show that according to the suttas, anyone who does not keep the five precepts unbroken is not a stream-enterer. I was merely bringing that into notice.

David (TheDhamma.com) said...

For those that see the killing of bed bugs, termites, and wasps invading your bed or home as weighty kamma, my question is:

What about the killing of insects you participated in with the eating of vegetables (farming production), living in homes and buildings where foundations were poured.
Apologies in advance if you live outside in the open air, never walk on sidewalks or ride in a car and only eat organic fruits.

Chula said...

I think you are missing the point of what kamma is. It's not whatever happens as a result of our existence, but intention itself (AN 6.63). If my intention is to walk down the road, and unknowingly I step on ants, that has no negative kamma.

In this case, Bhante specifically killed the bed bugs with a hateful intention, so it counts as bad kamma.

About what the actual results are going to be, we can only speculate, and the Buddha says in a sutta that speculating about kamma and its results can lead one to insanity (AN 4.77).

David (TheDhamma.com) said...

Hi Chula,
I'm not talking about accidentally stepping on an ant on the sidewalk; I'm talking about knowingly have cement poured so that you can walk on the sidewalk, knowingly have cement poured so you can live in a house or apartment, knowingly eating vegetables that were sprayed with insecticide, etc., with full knowledge and intent.
I know, someone else may have done it, but you are using it and enjoying it (the home, the vegetables, etc.) and contributing to that livelihood where cement foundations kill insects, where insecticide kills insects, and where crops are dug killing insects.

Gui Do said...

In summer I try to stay at my mother's place because my area is getting really noisy (people with low income and education, not really caring about their neighbours). I read in the room (which is rather dark) that was mine when I was a child. There is a lamp, new style, which someone must have bought, spreading its strong light up and not down. Wasps come in, maybe from under the roof. They regularly make their rounds, than get hurt when touching the lamp, take a break at the wall, then again head towards the light which they probably confuse with the sun. There they die quickly from the burning heat. Some fall inside the lamp which has become a mass grave now. Well, I know I could ask my mother to change that lamp, I could switch it off and try to get the wasp out (which I did once, for a change) - but actually I consider it suicide and I believe in a right to suicide. I would feel more responsibility if it were beas - because they are a more endangered species. Anyway, it's a really strange phenomenon. Although I don't kill them, from an ethical standpoint it might be much worse than killing bedbugs. Depends on how you look at it. And I am pretty sure my mother will change the lamp when it is full of wasps one day.

Gui Do said...

Oh, and one more thing: Is breathing supposed to happen only with the lungs? Because some bacteria are what we call "aerob" here, they need oxygene.

fable said...
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fable said...
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fable said...

Hi Chula,

"In this case, Bhante specifically killed the bed bugs with a hateful intention, so it counts as bad kamma."

-> I think you are taking the wrong step here by assuming that it was a 100% hateful intention. Bhante mentioned that arranging for someone else to remove them would be afflicting them to that someone else. I would agree to that reasoning, and when this reasoning is applied, the intention is also composed of kindness and compassion for other HUMANS.

So I would think that the action was a mixed one - due to the reason above, rather than a bad one wholly triggered by hateful intention.

Aaron said...

Chula,

Going by your logic, no one can ever be a stream enterer. You obviously did not read Bhante Dhammika's earlier entry, or you chose to ignore a highly important statement by the Buddha:

"If anyone were to say that just as a person does a deed, so is his experience is determined by it, and if this were true, then living the holy life would not be possible, there would be no opportunity for the overcoming of suffering."

I have no intention of getting personal with you. What I do find interesting is how you try to skirt the entire discussion of whether you are qualified to judge how wise or noble someone else is when you brought the quote up yourself. :-)

no said...

Somehow I feel Ken and Visakha has touched on an important point. Reading the last few posts by the Venerable, I have the feeling that something is missing. It felt all too "cerebral". Wouldn't it be wonderful if the Venerable had also talked about how to handle our aversions to particular insects? Yuri had talked about how his practice of meditation had changed him, including his attitude to insects. I think, it is just my personal opinion, without its teachings on meditation, Theravada Buddhism is more or less just an intellectual exercise.

fable said...

Also Chula, I really question the use of the word "deceive" which carries with it a harmful intent to others.

In the profile its says:
'I am not a stream enterer'

Clearly, one who can process this piece of information properly would not assume otherwise.

MidPath said...

Dear Chula,

The Venerable Sir voluntarily related his experience and went further to say there is no doubt of some negative consequences.

Please ask this: Why would the Ven post such comments if his intent is to to deceive?

Like Aaron, I too suspect the same. Because if you are of such nobility, you will know better
than to insult a member of the Sangha.

I do not believe a single word of your reply to Aaron that you are merely trying to bring into notice
who is or is not a stream enterer. Because if your are "merely" doing so, there are a thousand ways to phrase your comments in a way that you can speak or write with words mild, pleasant and noble...which is the fouth precept.

I put it to you clearly here.
Your intent is clear to smear and insult the Venerable.

Chula said...

David,

Intention here is personal intention - not intentions of others. If you start worrying about other people's intentions there would be no way to practice. Kamma is just one's own actions - if the intention is to eat vegetables, it does not matter whether the farmer sprayed insecticide on them - that is the farmer's own kamma.

fable,

I mentioned it was a hateful intention based on his "I hate bed bugs" quote. If it ended there that would just be bad mental kamma, but it ended up being bad bodily kamma. Of course it could be mixed but the point is that there was some bad kamma involved.

About the profile statement being deceitful - I was pointing out the portion which states "at least I don't feel like it". If the person knows full well that he is not a stream-enterer (by looking at how the suttas define one), then it would be deceitful to include this suggestive addition. Of course, only Bhante would know - he could've changed since the action.

Aaron,

Of course a past deed doesn't define a person. But my statement was based on his recent past - so unless he has changed between the time of the action and now, the comment is still valid.

I already pointed out that I'm merely pointing out what the suttas state about stream-entry and how to distinguish a wise person. My pointing that out doesn't imply that I'm a wise person - just that I remember some suttas here and there :)

With Metta

Chula said...

I think people are misunderstanding well-intentioned criticism with insulting speech. As I pointed out earlier, criticism can be a cause of growth in the path.

Insulting would involve a hateful intention, and of course only I can be sure of that. I know very little about Bhante but I can see that he has helped a lot of people in the Dhamma. However, I would think that even a teacher is not above well-reasoned criticism (especially considering that the suttas state that one should consider another who shows one's faults to be showing hidden treasure).

I hope we all progress in the path.

Aaron said...

Chula,

I agree that nobody is above well-reasoned criticism made with good intentions. What struck me was how you decided to stick the label of deceit on Bhante Dhammika's personal introduction and linking it to his killing of bedbugs. As far as I can comprehend, he's merely saying he's not a stream enterer, and if he was one, he doesn't know about it because he has yet to experience what was described in the suttas about stream enterers. How is such a statement deceitful or suggestive?

My limited mental capacity leads me to the conclusion that you most probably intentionally read it as deceit after reading his entries on killing bed bugs, but that's just my personal conclusion.

Thank you for taking the time to respond. If I have somewhat offended you with my remarks, please accept my sincerest apology.

fable said...

Hi Chula,

I apologize if I misinterpreted your comments. But still, I think words which can easily be implied to form misunderstandings should be avoided.

About the bad kamma incurred relating to bed bugs, I think there is no doubt about that; and I don’t think that the single piece of bad pie is what we are concerned about here.

I’m looking at the entire pie – consisting of implications it would have on other people. Based on that, there is any doubt for me that it is a mixed kamma.

Tazzie said...

So has any one posted a conclusion about wether killing can be justified and under what circumstances. My conclusion is yes but only as a last resort and in self defence or in defence of another on a case by case contingency, and of course according to the conditions at the time. It should be remembered that we are probably not real Bodhisattvas(I for one,cannot recall taking the vow to become a Buddha in the presence of a previous Buddha) and so offering my self to a hungry tigress seems a little unrealistic. As I mentioned earlier, for me, this thread coincided with a similar incident to what Ven Dhammika disclosed and was all the more poignant as a result. Thanks for everyones input nonetheless. May we all attain to the end of suffering in this very life. I would say that with only one or two exeptions most replies drifted off the subject and their seems to be very few first hand experiences . As for remarks about stream entry and the qualities of one, once again there are really no generalities, save for the elimination of the 3 fetters , 1 belief in an unchanging eternal soul or essential self(ATTA, ATTMAN) 2 belief that external rites and rituals in and of themselves can lead to the end of suffering 3 confusion about whether The Buddha Dharma is the true way to the end of suffering. I hope someone out there can provide the references cos i can't recall them, but here are 2 examples of Stream enterers both from the Tripitika. Numero uno, Vesaka(not the one with the dead child)but a lay woman who was a Stream Enterer at the time of the Buddha. She became Sotapanna at the age of seven and went on to have(so it is told) a family of 20 children. By my calculation she had lustfull thoughts and acted upon them at least 20 times.(aghast!) She also recieved permission from the Buddha to give accomodation to prospective Bikkhus(Bikkhunis) in a guest house provided by her for their last night as a layperson. She also provided them with their monastic requirements of a robe and alms bowl. Numero Duo, At the other end of the Sotapanna spectrum is Ven. Ananda, the Buddha's close assistant, who claimed that after 20 years of being a Sotappana he had never had even one sexual thought! It is said that an ordinary wordling cannot know if another person is an Ariya Puggala or not. Wheras the Ariya is aware of whether another person is Ariya or not, and would probably be discreet about it as well, after all the Ariyas eg(Sotappana) have tasted Nirvana and see with compassion how much suffering is really going on around the place! even amongst ernest Dharma farers who have yet to see clearly.

MidPath said...

Well Chula,

Sorry, I read your comments over and again. I am unable to find any good that can come from it.

For one who can quote the suttas and is apparently good in writing,your ending words should be "...to avoid misleading others...". For how can one avoid deceiving? Deceiving cannot be an act of a blunder, can it? But unskillful speech or writings can be insulting, even if there is no hatred.

fable said...

My own conclusion is that there can be no justification in regard for the being killed.

But in view of the entire situation, the suffering it would cause for others if the pests are not gotten rid off, then I see that there is compassion behind the motivation for killing the pests. This would make the killing necessary even though it cannot be justified.

reasonable said...

Bhante: "In the comments, some of my readers said that ‘killing for any reason must have a kammic consequence.’ While I agree completely, this sort of comment implies that the whole purpose of Buddhism is not to make any negative kamma no matter what, to go through life ultra-careful not to do anything that might ‘make bad kamma.’ "

Indeed, to avoid killing no matter what, so as to avoid any negative kamma no matter what, would seem to be very selfish, since the ultimate motive for not imposing suffering on others is to benefit self. I guess such an "intention" would itself generate even more negative kamma than the act of killing for the sake relieving suffering. So I disagree with Chula's statement that "going through life ultra-careful not to do negative kamma - that is actually the quality of ottappa (concern for the results of evil action), which is an essential quality for progress in the path and not something inferior to a supposedly "wise" person.". Such ultra regard for self is very selfish. Our true motive to avoid killing ought to be for the sake of others (i.e. not imposing suffering on others) and not for sake of self.

Ken and V: "I take it you don't think that we've all been closely related at some time in the distant past?"

The motive of us not killing others should not be because the others are related to us. That would be another form of selfishness where one is unfairly biased favorably towards one's clan, one's relatives, one's gang etc. Whether or not the other party is related to us (be it now or distant past or distant future), we should avoid killing her/him/it as long as such an act would impose suffering upon him/her/it. As long as the other party is a sentient being, we should try as best as we are able or is practically possible, to avoid causing them unnecessary suffering.

Chula said...

Aaron,

No apologies necessary. Thanks for the response.

Tazzie,

The suttas state much more than just the ending of the 3 fetters for the qualities of a stream-enterer.

Regarding lust, that is only completely eradicated at non-returning so is irrelevant to this discussion.

MidPath,

I accept that "misleading" would be a better word than "deceiving". The reason I used it is because if one knows that one is not a stream-enterer (from the suttas), but still implies so, that would be deceiving.

I've learnt a lot from the responses. I assumed that most people would be open to criticism without taking it as an insult, and that I probably shouldn't be so blunt in the future.

reasonable,

This whole path is tread to benefit oneself. The reason it's not mere selfishness is because it's unique in that the pursuit of personal benefit in the path actually helps others.

Searching all directions
with one's awareness,
one finds no one dearer
than oneself.
In the same way, others
are fiercely dear to themselves.
So one should not hurt others
if one loves oneself.

Ud 5.1: Rajasutta

MidPath said...

Dear Chula,

Unintentional misleading would be most appropriate to express your views. But again, as one like you who writes well, it is hard for me not to think that you crafted the words - "avoid deceiving" - intentionally to imply rather than a mere poor choice of words.

David (TheDhamma.com) said...

Hi Chula,
Thanks for your responses. Like you wrote, I too would like to believe that there will be no kamma effect of buying, renting, or using homes, eating vegetables, etc. I try to buy only organic vegetarian foods, but still I intentionally buy homes where cement foundations are poured. I hope you are right, but I knew full well that another home would be built for someone else and millions of insects will be killed.

In regard to pests which enter the home and invade, what would you do? Or what would you suggest? For example, if termites and killer wasps entered the home and threatened you and your family? And let's assume that there is NO way to displace them to another home? What can we do?

Dharma said...

The question of how much negative karma is created in killing insects does not make much sense in the light of striving to expand loving-kindness in a manner as universal and equanimous as possible. An ideal attitude is how some Vajrayana Buddhists strive to regard all beings as 'mother sentient beings' - beings who have had at one time been our own parents. This idea is reflected in the Mata Sutta too:

There the Blessed One said: "From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. A being who has not been your mother at one time in the past is not easy to find... A being who has not been your father... your brother... your sister... your son... your daughter at one time in the past is not easy to find..."

It is good to, for readers to see how the previous thread of discussion on the topic ended at
http://sdhammika.blogspot.com/2010/03/can-killing-sometimes-be-justified.html

May all beings great and little be well and happy.

MidPath said...

Whether one is a monk or lay person, for as long as we are trapped in a physical body, we are subjected to everything. We know the first noble truth...that Life is the cause of suffering.

This thread on killing bugs, I take it as just friends chatting and ponder for a while. No need to get overly analytical and split hair on how much of this or that. No need to bear so heavily in mind. No need to imply and show one knows more than the other. You just have to know yourself...and observe are you happier as each day passes by.

I strive to be happy so that others can be happy with me..and it work. In everyday life, sometimes I clown a little to make a laugh. To hear the laughter in turn makes me happy. With a postive mental and happy attitude...life goes on and the load is lighter.

And yes, I kill bugs too.

Dharma said...

Re: Whether one is a monk or lay person, for as long as we are trapped in a physical body, we are subjected to everything. We know the first noble truth...that Life is the cause of suffering.

Reply: So it's ok to kill any bug? Or better to kill less or even none?

Re: This thread on killing bugs, I take it as just friends chatting and ponder for a while. No need to get overly analytical and split hair on how much of this or that. No need to bear so heavily in mind.

Reply: It's a matter of life and death.

Re: No need to imply and show one knows more than the other. You just have to know yourself...and observe are you happier as each day passes by.

Reply: Happier day by day is priority, at the expense of other beings?

Re: I strive to be happy so that others can be happy with me..and it work. In everyday life, sometimes I clown a little to make a laugh. To hear the laughter in turn makes me happy. With a postive mental and happy attitude...life goes on and the load is lighter.

Reply: This thread on killing bugs. How does joking make this issue lighter?

Re: And yes, I kill bugs too.

Reply: From the Metta Sutta -
May all beings be happy at heart.
Whatever beings there may be,
weak or strong, without exception, [which includes bugs]
long, large,
middling, short,
subtle, blatant,
seen & unseen,
near & far,
born & seeking birth:
May all beings be happy at heart.

Let's not give ourselves any excuse not to further train our Metta as it's intended for, as taught by the Buddha - for all beings.

aah-haa said...

Chula said: "I assumed that most people would be open to criticism without taking it as an insult, and that I probably shouldn't be so blunt in the future."

The truth is people are NOT open to criticism because they take criticism (no matter what) as an insult.
Your bluntness is actually sharpness, else they would not inflict any suffering!

reasonable said...

Hi Chula,

Thanks for your response.

Regarding what I said that it is selfish if one's ultimate motive for not killing is to benefit oneself (avoiding negative kamma no matter what), you mentioned that "This whole path is tread to benefit oneself. The reason it's not mere selfishness is because it's unique in that the pursuit of personal benefit in the path actually helps others."

My question: Does that mean that not causing suffering to others (e.g. not killing others or the concern for others' welfare) would then seem to be a "side-effect" or a secondary motive in one's pursuit of the benefit to oneself?

Compare this to "worldly selfishness": someone seeks to gain reputation for himself by donating billions of dollars to charities. His ultimate motive is to benefit himself and not about helping the needy.

When compared to the "worldly selfishness" above, would such a pursuit for spiritual benefit for self (i.e. avoid negative kamma no matter what) be "spiritual selfishness"?

Thanks.

reasonable said...

"I must say I see a major difference between hating or disliking a homosexual(i.e. a human) and hating (actually in my case ‘being revolted by’)bed bugs. The former does no harm to me or anyone else (by his or her sexual behavior),the latter sucks my blood, causes welts all over my body and keeps me up at night."

If I am not mistaken, Gautama Buddha say something like even if someone were to cut our limbs and doing things that hurt/harm us very badly, we should not return violence for violence. Perhaps I am mistaken but if I am not mistaken, does this principle of not returning violence to violence apply also to animals such as those little bed bugs, i.e., even though these bed bugs hurt us or harm us, we ought not to be "violent" to them by killing them?

As an aside, did Gautama Buddha say anything about killing someone to prevent that person from causing harm (e.g. causing death) to other innocent sentient beings (e.g. human beings or animals)? What would Gautama Buddha advise, if not killing the potential killer (e.g. terrorist) would cause the death of many other innocent beings, while killing that potential killer would also appears to be a wrongful action?

Or would such killing to save others not invoke kammaic effect if one's intention is truly to save others?

Dharma said...

Re: Of course ‘removing them and putting them elsewhere’ is what I usually do to pesky insects. But in the case of bed bugs this would mean either inflicting them on someone else or arranging for them to starve to death, which I dont see as much diffrent from washing them down the sink.

Reply: But surely, it cannot be better to free them elsewhere to fend for themselves (yes, they are resilient) than to kill them directly – or it would be an endorsement of mercy-killing, which though controversial, is something the Buddha never encouraged – even when he encounters very sick lay people and monks.

Re: Any how I went ann bought some insect spray and the rest is history. I nuked em [some wasps]. So you can see that I did this in a sense of self defense and was not especially averse to them,…

Reply: Why not try metta (loving-kindness) meditation to protect yourself and them at the same time? Metta should be the first approach and killing the absolute last. It is said that no insects ever trouble the Buddha because of his strong metta, which is gentle yet commanding of respect. When I was on a tropical island known for its huge mosquitoes for three months, I did not get bitten once, while most of others did. I did practise metta then.

Re: … so I agree with Bhante that all in all the small amount of bad vipaka I have generated is pretty much like the few grains of salt in the river of a fairly blameless life. I did have compassion for them before and after, and I can only surmise that they are seeking rebirth as flourescent Pink and black hornets so they can even the score next summer!

Perfection of metta and karuna is about minimising even the few grains. Compassion to the bugs before and after is not useful to them if they get killed. On the idea of them seeking vengeance, the Buddha did famously teach that hatred cannot be ceased by hatred; hatred can only be ceased by love. Since this is an eternal law, it’s wonderful for us to more diligently cultivate metta to encompass all beings.

Re: What about the killing of insects you participated in with the eating of vegetables (farming production), living in homes and buildings where foundations were poured.
Apologies in advance if you live outside in the open air, never walk on sidewalks or ride in a car and only eat organic fruits.

Reply: The Bodhisattva path entails the minimization of harm as much as possible. Eating veges that involves insect kills less than eating meat animals who feed on more veges. Eating organic is better – though some killing might still happen accidentally.

Re: They [insects] regularly make their rounds, than get hurt when touching the lamp, take a break at the wall, then again head towards the light which they probably confuse with the sun. There they die quickly from the burning heat. Some fall inside the lamp which has become a mass grave now…. I would feel more responsibility if it were beas - because they are a more endangered species.

Reply: I removed the cover of my lamp – so that it cannot become a mass grave. All animals and insects are endangered individually when they face death.

Dharma said...

Re: Oh, and one more thing: Is breathing supposed to happen only with the lungs? Because some bacteria are what we call "aerob" here, they need oxygen

Reply: Plants breathe too – CO2 though – but are considered non-sentient in Buddhism. Microscopic lifeforms that are very simple (not complex enough) might pertain more to plant life.

Re: Kamma is just one's own actions - if the intention is to eat vegetables, it does not matter whether the farmer sprayed insecticide on them - that is the farmer's own kamma.

Reply: In the cycle of supply and demand, when we support organic food more, there will be less killing. When there is some link, there is some karma involved surely.

Re: In regard to pests which enter the home and invade, what would you do? Or what would you suggest? For example, if termites and killer wasps entered the home and threatened you and your family? And let's assume that there is NO way to displace them to another home? What can we do?

Metta meditation. You can send thoughts of loving-kindness to the insects and persuade them to leave. It does work. I have tried it for a few hundred insect ‘invaders’ myself. For termites, I suggest removal of the affected parts of the house or even the insects one by one. Let’s all practise Metta harder. Time for less rationalization for killing and more practice to avoid killing. Not always convenient but almost always possible. May all be well and happy.

fable said...

Hi Dharma,

"Metta meditation. You can send thoughts of loving-kindness to the insects and persuade them to leave. It does work."

Interesting! I never thought it could work. What did you thoughts of loving-kindness to the insects consist of? And how long did you have to send Metta to them to "persude" them to leave? I'm sincerely interested to know these info, as if it does work then I can try it out.

wizwman said...

Much have been argued over whether to kill or not to kill pests out of revulsion or for any reason, why don't all Buddhists eliminate the flesh of all sentient beings in their diet?
I believe many have no difficulty showing `compassion' giving intruding creatures a chance to live by gently removing them. Some buy creatures for liberation believing it is a compassionate meritorious act. Many radiate loving kindness to all beings, believing they were our relatives in past existence.
But come to eating, many will not give up meat even though they have alternatives. Detractors will say `Hitler is also a vegetarian' (meaning that being a vegetarian does not mean you are kinder than Hitler?); or `Buddha did not insist his monks be vegetarians' (did Buddha and his monks have a choice being alms receivers?), or `killing cannot be avoided in Samsara’ (since vegetable produce also cost lives so it is futile to do your bit to lessen the immense sufferings inflicted on the farming and slaughtering of larger, more perceptive beings?) I think all Buddhists should examine their minds and ask whether these are just excuses to continue eating meat and paying someone to do the killing. Really, if we can’t let go of our craving for taste, what can we let go?
Turning a 100% vegetarian may be difficult but it is genuine compassion for all living creatures. Occasionally if vegetarians do kill some pests the few grains of salt could be well diluted in the sea of compassion generated by not being involved in much more brutal killing.
I wish all Buddhists say with clear conscience: “May all beings be well and happy”

Dharma said...

Re: "Metta meditation. You can send thoughts of loving-kindness to the insects and persuade them to leave. It does work." Interesting! I never thought it could work. What did you thoughts of loving-kindness to the insects consist of? And how long did you have to send Metta to them to "persude" them to leave? I'm sincerely interested to know these info, as if it does work then I can try it out.

Reply: Metta meditation is the systematic nurturing of metta. Many Buddhists I’ve come across see it as nothing more than a visualization or feel good exercise. This is an unfortunate huge mistake indeed. When we truly suffuse ourselves with metta as an immeasurable, it will also overflow and readily change how we relate to all beings. If we don’t really cultivate metta well, we will not believe or experience the power of metta. The best case of Metta at work is as the basis or background of the Metta Sutta: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.1.08.piya.html The thoughts sent in metta meditation can simply be according to the text in the sutta – by reciting and repeating them in your mind. The better practised one is, the more swiftly will its effects be felt by oneself and others around. Bearing in mind that insects and animals are sensitive to energies, when one has true metta, they will be felt. We can recall the case of the enraged elephant Nalagiri stopping in his steps before the Buddha due to his strong metta. For the case of a few hundred strange-looking insects that marched right into my house, I practised radiation of metta to them for about 20 minutes and chanted general chants, plus gentle talking to them. They all left by daybreak.

Re: Much have been argued over whether to kill or not to kill pests out of revulsion or for any reason, why don't all Buddhists eliminate the flesh of all sentient beings in their diet?

Reply: This is a worthy ideal indeed, though not easy for many. Am glad to share that I’m a vegan who is taking the next step of striving to eat as organic as I can. The reasons for cutting down meat are many and they need not even be religious. E.g. see http://viva.org.uk/goingveggie There is no need to even argue on whether all Buddhists should eat less meat (or go vege) or not according to this or that teaching – because all humans should go in the direction of eating less meat, given the present terrible condition of the planet (immense suffering of farm animals, environmental collapse, declining human health, needless human starvation…), as summarised by the website. I sincerely hope readers will take a look at the website – as part of the practice of metta. May all beings great and small be well and happy.

fable said...

Hi Dharma,

Would you mind sharing what is the species of insect you managed to “persuade” out of your house? And how are you certain that they did actually left, instead of hiding or taking camp somewhere in your house?

I do not underestimate the power of metta, but I feel that its powers is dependent on the cultivation level of the person suffusing the metta, and the recipient’s emotional capacity. Even if one is highly cultivated in metta, I doubt that ants/termites can understand or feel our wishes and intentions for them.

Dharma said...

Hi Fable,

Re: Would you mind sharing what is the species of insect you managed to “persuade” out of your house?

Reply: There were very strange-looking insects that I had never seen before and have never seen since - larger than conventional ants, black and had big heads.

Re: And how are you certain that they did actually left, instead of hiding or taking camp somewhere in your house?

Reply: I know because not a single of them ever appeared again for 6 years so far.

Re: I do not underestimate the power of metta, but I feel that its powers is dependent on the cultivation level of the person suffusing the metta, and the recipient’s emotional capacity. Even if one is highly cultivated in metta, I doubt that ants/termites can understand or feel our wishes and intentions for them.

Reply: As the only variable we can control is our strength of our metta, we need to practise well. The above is not the only case of metta working for insects. Friends have similar experiences too. Hope all will try harder, using the Metta Sutta for inspiration. May all beings be well and happy.

jake said...

i really cannot be bothered to read all the comments so let me just to get to my points...

it's not all about avoiding bad kamma, its more about doing good kamma, and loving humans and yourself is good kamma..

teaching the Dhamma, speaking the truth even when it can be painful is good kamma..

i think a lot of you making the criticism are probably vegetarians, and let me say this to you, as someone who was vegetarian for years, it is _far_ more important what comes out of your mouth than what goes in..

yes the Buddha promoted the development of metta in the metta sutta, but another of the four sublime feelings is equanimity, and if you are a truthful and even a little wise you will know that it is not possible to live without on occassion having to kill insects, even animals and even humans.. it takes a sense of equanimity and sense of proportion to know this.. if this hasn't occured to you yet you are in delusion and some kind of fanatic..

that is why the Buddha did not forbid meat eating and it is why the Buddha taught there is HUGE difference between killing a bedbug and killing a wise and pure person..

The Buddha taught the middle path for goodness sakes.. don't think like an insect.. and don't sleep in a bed with bed ticks or risk your life and family's over some vermin and pests... kill them mindfully if you have to.. if you have a good store of good kamma, your killing might even increase theirs..

self-mortification is not the way and neither is indulgence

live wisely

Dharma said...

Re: it is _far_ more important what comes out of your mouth than what goes in..

Reply: Both are important. If what we eat is due to greed and constant complacence to animal suffering, it is a spiritual impediment too, to some extent.

Re: ...and if you are a truthful and even a little wise you will know that it is not possible to live without on occassion having to kill insects, even animals and even humans..

Reply: Which is why we need to be more mindful in how we relate by our actions - to minimise harm.

Re: The Buddha taught the middle path for goodness sakes.. don't think like an insect.. and don't sleep in a bed with bed ticks or risk your life and family's over some vermin and pests... kill them mindfully if you have to.. if you have a good store of good kamma, your killing might even increase theirs..

Reply: Nowhere in the suttas is it taught that Middle Path means it's okay to kill some intentionally. Killing is an extreme measure. Why sleep with ticks? Practise metta to invite them to leave. Please read the last few comments to see what I mean. If being killed by someone with good karma can increase the good karma of another, all Buddhas would have killed all sentient beings once they became Buddhas.

Re: self-mortification is not the way and neither is indulgence

Reply: Killing without considering the metta approach first is 'other-mortification' (destruction of others).

Soe am i said...

what a coincidence that i have had a few run ins with bedbugs here too.> I personally prefer metta infused approaches. One big benefit of that is with a cooled metta mind, you have already removed your mental suffering and can deal with the situation with a clearer mind.

I may be mistaken but from personal experience, the state of contentment seems to be closely related too.

The reminder to practise more metta is definately timely as i can think of plenty of situations everyday in the past where it could have made a positive difference.

I was experimenting with infusing kindness for a person i care for, to 'endure and excell' at the more exhausting tasks i had to udertake these days. Sometimes it just slips out of my mind. Glad i dropped in on Bhante's blog.

I wish that you all may read these posts with your metta mind. In fact, do eat, sleep, work, play and smile with the metta mind!

Metta to me, as i go sleep my slight headache away.

May all biengs be free from headaches and bedbugs and, may all bedbugs be free from headaches too.)

MidPath said...

Dear Dharma,

If one truly understand the Noble Truths...that Life is Suffering and Life is the cause of sufferings...then one would be able to handle life...in that one accepts the good and bad that comes with life and having a body .

The living body is subjected to everything and it is natural to react.

It is by reflecting and acknowledging one's transgressions that is more important....instead of asking and justifying.

And the first precept...after abstaining from killings..goes on with one affirming to act for the welfare and happiness of all beings...does that not also include killing to protect perhaps?

For without Life...one is not able to practice and cultivate at all !!

Dharma said...

Re: The living body is subjected to everything and it is natural to react.

Reply: Practice of the Dharma is to train ourselves to respond with as much kindness and wisdom as possible. Killing is seldom neither.

Re: And the first precept...after abstaining from killings..goes on with one affirming to act for the welfare and happiness of all beings...does that not also include killing to protect perhaps?

Reply: In the case of bugs, killing does not protect the killed. Why not try the Metta method first, as mentioned in the above few comments? The less we are unwilling to try it, the more we should - because it is a possible sign of our lack of loving-kindness and our confidence in the power of love. Also from the Metta Sutta:

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.

Dharma said...

Apologies. A correction:

"The MORE we are unwilling to try it, the more we should - because it is a possible sign of our lack of loving-kindness and our confidence in the power of love."

CompassionSensuality said...

Q: How many Zen masters does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Two - one to change the bulb and the other not to.

Swami Satchidananda (from memory of a satsang I attended back in the early 1980s):

"Yes, there is attachment and there is detachment. But aware that there is also attachment to detachment."

A kind-hearted hedonist radiates more loving kindness than a piously miserable monk. ~ Anonymous


________________________

Now to weave the above around the subject at hand.

Metta sometimes as "pesticide" works for me at times, others not. So in the rare occasional moments where I succumb to doing a mahasamadi on a cockroach, I do it conscously -- apologizing to it as well as wish it well on its widening spiral journey of consciousness.

Such as seeing it turn into a butterfly. A form of blessing, if you will.

Meaning that one can "blow it" yet still infuse as much Loving Kindness in the moment as one can.

The spiritual path isn't about attaining perfection, IMO, it's about learning to live with paradoxes.

The core one being that we are here and yet we are not, that we are already all free and yet seemingly are not.

Therefore taking oneself, one's actions (incl. misactions) or attachments to even pristine spiritual precepts too seriously can all be traps.

In short, we do the best one can, and as others have pointed out here -- it's not about extremes.

Because for those of you who consider yourselves Buddhists, it's called "The Middle Path" for a reason, yes? :)

MidPath said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MidPath said...

Yes :)

Dharma said...

Re: A kind-hearted hedonist radiates more loving kindness than a piously miserable monk. ~ Anonymous

Reply: It is possible to be pious and kind-hearted too.

Re: Metta sometimes as "pesticide" works for me at times, others not.

Reply: How does pesticide work for the bugs?

Re: So in the rare occasional moments where I succumb to doing a mahasamadi on a cockroach, I do it conscously -- apologizing to it as well as wish it well on its widening spiral journey of consciousness.

Reply: How do you do a mahasamadhi on a cockroach?

Re: Such as seeing it turn into a butterfly. A form of blessing, if you will.

Reply: Does that help turn it into a butterfly? Are cockroaches better off as butterflies? I just let a cockroach go last night - no need to kill at all.

Re: Meaning that one can "blow it" yet still infuse as much Loving Kindness in the moment as one can.

Reply: Why not do this Mahasamadhi thing for all insects then, since it can send them to better rebirths with loving-kindness? According to Dr. Peter Harvey, a Theravada Dharma professor, it is impossible to kill with absolutely no hatred, and with hatred, there is negative karma.

Re: The spiritual path isn't about attaining perfection, IMO, it's about learning to live with paradoxes.

Reply: The Buddhist path is about attaining perfection of qualities like compassion and wisdom.

Re: The core one being that we are here and yet we are not, that we are already all free and yet seemingly are not.

Reply: Does a bug who suffers from being killed understand that?

Re: Therefore taking oneself, one's actions (incl. misactions) or attachments to even pristine spiritual precepts too seriously can all be traps.

Reply: The precepts are rafts, guidelines. Abandon them too early and one will drown in the sea of Samsara. When one does not need the precepts as guidelines any more, it is when they already abide by them naturally in spirit.

Re: In short, we do the best one can, and as others have pointed out here -- it's not about extremes. Because for those of you who consider yourselves Buddhists, it's called "The Middle Path" for a reason, yes? :)

Reply: The Middle Path is not about killing in moderation, because killing itself is an extreme and destructive action - nothing Middle Path about it. Middle Path here is to cultivate compassion and wisdom well - like the Buddha did, who never needed to kill any bug.

CompassionSensuality said...

All valid and wise replies to what I chose to state, Dharma.

However I will gently pull back from responding to them because for me, everything is a choice of perception.

We can counter what each other chooses to perceive as "truth" or "Truth" in general or about specific issues (such as the subject of this thread) with seemingly opposite or different views and essentially get nowhere, really.

The mind loves polemics, the heart doesn't need to debate anything (another view that can be countered with another :)

But I'm choosing to leave it at that for I sense we would end up disagreeing on some central things because I tend to dive down deep or wide to question even some of the most sacred tenants of any spiritual tradition. It's just the way I'm wired.

I know you are coming from a sincere well-intentioned place of the heart, and so am I. The rest really isn't that important.

____________

So off I go sidestepping the temptation to pontificate any further - lol.

Namaste, in the very true sense of the word,

~ Philip

CompassionSensuality said...

Closing P.S.:

Perhaps the best way for me to sum up my own chosen perceptions is to not use my own words. And again, I make no claims to perfection or mastering thing -- including what it quoted below. I just try to do the best I can, one step at a time.

"Do not accept anything by mere tradition. Do not accept anything just because it accords with your scriptures. Do not accept anything because it agrees with your opinions or because it is socially acceptable. Do not accept anything because it comes from the mouth of a respected person. Rather, observe closely and if it is to the benefit of all, accept and abide by it."

~ Kalama Sutta

no said...

"Because for those of you who consider yourselves Buddhists, it's called "The Middle Path" for a reason, yes? :)"

Before the Buddha was enlightened, he practised a form of austerities as the path to follow so as to reach enlightenment. It left him completely emaciated (the front of his belly touching his spine at the back), and he lived in the forests alone completely isolated from all people. So this was the extreme path.

After gaining enlightenment, the Buddha taught a path to enlightenment that did not require such austerities. His followers (the monks) could eat a meal a day and wrap themselves with robes, etc, so as to be physically comfortable while practising the Way. It was said that it was like the strings of a musical instrument which, in order to play nice music, must not be too tight or too loose. Therefore it was called the Middle Way.

But in this day and time, the "Middle Way" can well be considered as "extreme" (see the Samaññaphala Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.02.0.than.html )

Of course, that is not to say we can't simply take what we find useful and helpful to us, and leave the rest on the side-burner. For that matter, from the little I have read of the scriptures, it would appear that the Buddha taught quite differently to lay people and to monks. Only those lay people whom the Buddha recognised were ready would he teach the Four Noble Truths, etc. Nowadays we teach such things to everybody...

MidPath said...

Dear NO,

The Lord Buddha refrain from austerities before attaining enligtenment....please check...and Path is not called Middle Path just because of that..please check further.

You sound like as if you lived during the time of the Lord Buddha. Are you sure that the Four Noble Truths are taught selectively and not proclaimed upon Enlightment ?

no said...

Dear MidPath,
You mean I am 2,500 years old or perhaps one of my earlier reincarnations? :)

Dharma said...

Re: … I will gently pull back from responding to them because for me, everything is a choice of perception. We can counter what each other chooses to perceive as "truth" or "Truth" in general or about specific issues (such as the subject of this thread) with seemingly opposite or different views and essentially get nowhere, really.

Reply: That makes morality totally arbitrary, which is dangerous. This thread is about killing bugs. It did not get nowhere. The win-win approach of training metta to benefit both bugs and ourselves was suggested. Metta first, before violence, if at all. Am sure the Buddha would agree. 

Re: "…Rather, observe closely and if it is to the benefit of all, accept and abide by it."

Reply: Ahhh… Metta. May all beings great and small be well and happy.

MidPath said...

Dear No,

:) Well maybe you did lived 2500 years ago...who knows :)

Well maybe you could advice me so I can also find and learn what you wrote in the appended:

Only those lay people whom the Buddha recognised were ready would he teach the Four Noble Truths

MidPath said...

Dear Dharma,

The art of disputation cannot help you in your persuasion. No one can dispute that Metta is central to the teachings. I dedicate loving kindness at the end of puja and yes it work for me, especially when I dedicate towards someone who done my wrong. That means it work for me in that hatred is subdued or prevented from arising in me...it would be supertitious to think that some radiation makes the other person less angry.

It is natural for one to put on a smile when he is reconciled within, and that lead the other person to let down their guard and anger.

So in the case of using metta so that the bugs will not bite and will also go away...sigh...if we were to accept that...then it is no difference from the miraculous healings that some faith claims.

So while I truly believe your persuasion are well meant, I urge you to consider that the practice of Metta is for oneself to condition the Mind and Consciousness rather than thinking that Metta will get stronger or weaker if one kill a bug.

And I do not think killing a bug or two, i.e. if one has to and not for the love or joy (such as game hunting) or hatred of killing, would have such a negative impact on our daily practices.

Dharma said...

Re: I dedicate loving kindness at the end of puja and yes it work for me, especially when I dedicate towards someone who done my wrong. That means it work for me in that hatred is subdued or prevented from arising in me...it would be supertitious to think that some radiation makes the other person less angry.

Reply: Was the Buddha's radiation of Metta towards Nalagiri the enraged elephant to stop him from trampling hi superstitious? Metta is not just a feel-good exercise. It is meant to be embodied and expressed.

Re: So in the case of using metta so that the bugs will not bite and will also go away...sigh...if we were to accept that...then it is no difference from the miraculous healings that some faith claims.

Reply: You need to study the Ahina Sutta at to see how Metta can prevent being harmed by animal sentient beings: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.067.than.html

Re: So while I truly believe your persuasion are well meant, I urge you to consider that the practice of Metta is for oneself to condition the Mind and Consciousness rather than thinking that Metta will get stronger or weaker if one kill a bug.

Reply: Metta of a person who considers killing and kills is definitely weaker in comparison to a person who considers not killing and does not kill. E.g. The Buddha never killed any bug, according to the suttas' records - because he never needed to - because his Metta has been perfected. While we might be a long way off from that, he is proof that Metta can be perfected with practice.

Re: And I do not think killing a bug or two, i.e. if one has to and not for the love or joy (such as game hunting) or hatred of killing, would have such a negative impact on our daily practices.

Reply: Surely, it cannot be disagreed that restraint from killing, nurturing and expressing Metta has positive impact on our daily practices. I suggest reading all 4 threads of discussion in this blog related to this issue to see how Metta is the conclusion in all cases. Many perspectives have been covered and exhausted already. May all beings big and small be well and happy.

Dharma said...

The Ahina Sutta url was cut off. Here is the shorter version: http://tinyurl.com/ye34lfy :-]

MidPath said...

Dear Dharma,

I am glad to finally hear/read you say something that beginner like me can relate with:

--->> While we might be a long way off from that, he is proof that Metta can be perfected with practice

So since I am here, a long way before I attained perfection, I still have to deal with the imperfections now.

So until I attain a level, like you, who can radiate and get rid of bugs, I have prevent bugs from biting me by other ways so as to do my puja. :)

Dharma said...

Re: So since I am here, a long way before I attained perfection, I still have to deal with the imperfections now.

Reply: Yes, we all have to work harder. Practice means to stretch ourselves more and more, to love more and more, to kill less and less. That's how to 'deal with the imperfections now' - not to just give in to them :-] May all beings big and small be well and happy.

bandpm said...

I am relativly new to Buddhism so please forgive me if my questions or opinions seem simplistic.

My understanding is that the spirit of Buddha's teachings would be not to harm sentient beings. A simple way to think "is this creature sentient?" would be to ask "does this creature feel pain?".
IMO single cell organisms such as bacteria or fungi don't make the cut.

Ever intentionally take an antibiotic? You just intentionally killed billions of bacteria.

Ever flush a toilet? You just intentionally sent billions of bacteria to their death at a waste treatment plant.

Now, did the Buddha know about modern science? Of course not. Ideas of bacteria weren't known until just a few hundred years ago.
If you were to take the 'no harm' policy to the extreme IMO you would have to go far beyond what Jains do. The first time you get a serious infection you'll die as you won't take antibiotics. No toilets. No soap. No toothpaste. No mouthwash. You'll have to invent some sort of hovercraft so as not to step on anything. ever.You won't use any product that could have caused the death of anything. i could go on but hopefully you get the picture.

Brett Moore

Zong Seng Silatharo said...

For those lay followers who do not know the Patimokkha.

It's a Pacittiya Offense to kill intentionally for a Bhikkhu. It should be confessed.

He is to be expelled from the Sangha and be re-ordained if a Samanera is to commit killing intentionally.

For general info.
It's and offense for Monks who take meals after noon time, who accept cash by hand. Take Note. Don't be mislead by "yellow neck" monks, a term used by the Buddha for monks that don't keep the Vinaya rules.

MidPath said...

Dear Zong,

You wrote for those lay followers who do not know.... So are you a lay follower or are you a Monk?

Would you propose sacking a Major General with sterling achievement over trivialities at the expense of loosing the next war?

MidPath said...

Dear Zong,

I left out...sorry...are you drinking water with a champagne or so sort of wine glass ?

MidPath

D said...

The law of Ahimsa: not to kill or do harm, mentally or physically or by words to any sentient being, however to defend oneself, Family or loved ones from attack is just under the law of Ahimsa and no karmic reactions will be incurred. Intelligence should be used with the frame work of the law, man is the author of his own health. In the case of bodily disease it is a question of balance and ultimately the body is a temporary vehicle.

Question: The word or function of Karma suggests a universal law, which suggests intelligence behind the law? Just a thought any views greatly welcomed?

Peace and love

fred said...

My teacher, who is regarded by many of her students as at least an Anagami, says that it is possible to be Sotapanna or even Sakdagami and not know it. and that a Sotapanna can still break the five precepts, but only in a minor way and not enough to warrant rebirth in the lower realms. Only an Arahant can keep the precepts perfectly unblemished.
I have tried to avoid the killing of insects but realise that this is impossible. I therefore consider that the results of such killings could give minor results such as the little sufferings we get from insect bites.

Dharma said...

Have you tried the path of Metta to avoid killing, as suggested in the many comments above? This the Buddha did perfectly and we can work towards it too.

Am not sure how it can be concluded that such killing can only 'give minor results such as the little sufferings we get from insect bites'.

I see it the other way round. If we generate Metta for even small animals and insects, there are major results - of advancing towards the perfection of Metta, of making it truly an immeasurable, as it is meant to be, for the welfare of all beings great and small, as taught by the Buddha in the Metta Sutta.