Author Topic: Is this considered killing??  (Read 8725 times)

Jessie Fong

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Is this considered killing??
« on: July 04, 2012, 08:28:40 AM »
Let's picture this scenario ::

We use the kitchen sink daily to wash our vegetables and fruits and dirty dishes (for those who do no use the dish washing machine).  Over time, the sink gets dirty, clogged with food particles and sometimes left-overs.  We need to clear the pipes.  One of the methods is to use chemicals.  Another common, easy and fast method is to pour hot boiling water.

We have bacteria, maybe ants, or baby roaches hiding in the dark warm pipe.  They get washed away by the hot water.

Does this constitute killing? 

sonamdhargey

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2012, 08:47:09 AM »
Hey Jessie, I supposed if we knew there are some sentient being there to be killed then it is killing. However i have this questions and have been bothering me for sometime. How do we define sentient beings? Is bacteria sentient being? Are there a set rules to identify sentient beings?

brian

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2012, 09:32:45 AM »
I suppose that is killing, whether it is intentional or not. As we know killing intentionally or unintentionally does make us create negative karma. So maybe I would say unintentional killing is not as serious as killing with an intention. And this brings us to the attention of whether bacteria is really classified as sentient being? As far as I am concern, bacterias does not have a conscious mind. Please correct me if I am wrong. But bacteria does move on its own.

Jessie Fong

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2012, 09:45:42 AM »
If it does not have a consciousness, then it is not a sentient being.  To be "classified" as a sentient being you must have the 5 aggregates of

- form
- sensation
- perception
- mental formations
- consciousness

The bacteria moving on its own makes it a living thing? 

Someone also asked me, since a plant also grows, does that make it "living"?  Are we to consider it killing when we wash our vegetables since bacteria would also be killed?  Or when we cook them?



Tammy

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2012, 10:49:25 AM »
Hey Jessie, I supposed if we knew there are some sentient being there to be killed then it is killing.


I STRONGLY suggest you withdraw this statement!!!! Seriously, if we allow this statement to stand uncorrected, the next stage will be - killing insects is ok - next you will accept killing of small animals - next animals (most of them were born to be eaten, if we follow you line of thought!!) - and next killing another human being is 'OK' too!

Below is some definition of Sentient beings - basically mean living beings that has feelings !!

Sentient
Having a faculty, or faculties, of sensation and perception. Specif. (Physiol.), especially sensitive; as, the sentient extremities of nerves, which terminate in the various organs or tissues.
One who has the faculty of perception; a sentient being.

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/words/se/sentient218072.html#yHQb3MvdJ4xE3SHj.99

To arrive at an understanding of the term "sentient beings" you first need to separately understand each term "sentient" and "being." Because the words constitute abstractions or conceptual terms, you need to understand both fundamentas and differing ways the terms have had application.
Being
In context of the sentient being concept "beingness" involves living organisms: while inanimate objects do have a state of "beingness." In this context such objects do not qualify as "a being."

Sentient
Generally, the concept of sentience involves some form of physiological state of existence or some sort of capacity for thinking and/or feeling.

Tibetan Perception
As described in the article "Who Are The Sentient Beings?" at Purifymind.com, a teaching from Tibet states that anything that breathes has mind and anything possessing mind has sentience.

Legal
Most of the definitions one finds about the term sentient beings comes from philosophical, ethical or religious sources. However, the European Union has made a start on a legal quantification of the term as described at MFAblog.org, according all animals the status of sentient being.

Suffering
Another criterion that philosophical and religious perspectives have applied to the determination of sentient being is the organism's capacity to experience suffering.

Conclusion
Overall, then, in the broadest sense any living organism qualifies as a sentient being; whereas in a narrower definition organisms qualify as sentient beings only if possessed of capacity for suffering.


Hence no matter how small, any being that is breathing can be included as sentient being... we should not kill even a amoeba!
Down with the BAN!!!

brian

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2012, 10:52:35 AM »
Thank you for sharing this Jessie. Now I get the picture that bacteria is not a sentient being then...similar to trees, they move but does not have consciousness. The scenario that you brought up was a good one as it made me think of how often did we poured hot or acidic liquids into the sink and I can't imagine how many sentient beings that me and my family have killed. Scary to know this and I should let everyone of my friends know and to be extra cautious from now on.

lotus1

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2012, 11:57:26 AM »
There is always a debate on whether single cell bacteria are sentient beings or not. I agreed with Jessie and Tammy that only living beings that have feelings and consciousness are considered sentient beings.

With regards to the topic on if we pour chemicals to unclog the sink, I would think that is not the environmental friendly way. As the chemicals would also harm the fishes and creatures when it gets into the drains, rivers and sea. Why not we use the environment friendly way such as using natural enzymes or manual tools to unclog the sink? The other way would be prevention, i.e. do not throw the waste directly into the sink. Then, we would not be creating harm to any beings. :)



Benny

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2012, 12:12:14 PM »
Yes , I agree with Tammy that even bacteria has some sort of consciousness as i believe they can feel suffering and they will avoid suffering . Example if you cultivate a dish of bacteria and you drop a drop of sterilizer in the middle of that dish, you will observe under the microscope that all the bacteria around that drop of sterilizer will start to "avoid" or escape from the "killer' effects of the chemical or poison.

This clearly shows that even bacteria has the will and survival instinct to escape from harm. I would think that this ability of theirs qualify them as sentient beings worthy the right to live as well. 

Dolce Vita

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2012, 12:25:26 PM »
How about if there are termites or rats in the house? If we really have to kill them because they are harmful, is there anything we can do to purify our karma of killing?

Jessie Fong

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2012, 12:31:16 PM »
How about if there are termites or rats in the house? If we really have to kill them because they are harmful, is there anything we can do to purify our karma of killing?



There is already a thread ... please see http://www.dorjeshugden.com/forum/index.php?topic=2023.0

"Killing Pest".

vajrastorm

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2012, 08:06:49 AM »
We call them pests because they have the potentiality to harm our health and well-being, be they ants, termites, cockroaches or rats.Yet they are sentient beings and they have the Buddha nature within.

As is agreed here, we should take care that our environment is clean so as not to provide breeding grounds for them to breed. Hence, if through laziness and lack of care for the cleanliness of our environment, we breed them and have to destroy them,our act of killing them is definitely a negative act. (Sometimes though, we may find them already in the house to which we have just moved. This is samsara, so negative actions, like having to destroy them, have to be carried out).

The heaviness of the negative karma depends on the circumstances , the motivation( e.g, Our thoughts should be along these lines:"we regret very much that we have to kill you and wouldn't want to do so if it can be avoided")  and the amount of suffering we are going to cause them in destroying them.

Also as has been explained in an earlier post, we need to do certain prayers before we have them destroyed. We need to recite purification prayers, like the 100-syllable- Vajrasattva mantra  and the 35 Confessional Buddhas' prayer many times, applying the Four Opponent  Powers of Reliance, Remorse, Resolve and Remedy effectively. We also need to pray to Medicine Buddha ,reciting His mantra many times and dedicating this to the good rebirth of the beings we are going to destroy.

Positive Change

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2012, 09:33:18 AM »
We call them pests because they have the potentiality to harm our health and well-being, be they ants, termites, cockroaches or rats.Yet they are sentient beings and they have the Buddha nature within.

As is agreed here, we should take care that our environment is clean so as not to provide breeding grounds for them to breed. Hence, if through laziness and lack of care for the cleanliness of our environment, we breed them and have to destroy them,our act of killing them is definitely a negative act. (Sometimes though, we may find them already in the house to which we have just moved. This is samsara, so negative actions, like having to destroy them, have to be carried out).

The heaviness of the negative karma depends on the circumstances , the motivation( e.g, Our thoughts should be along these lines:"we regret very much that we have to kill you and wouldn't want to do so if it can be avoided")  and the amount of suffering we are going to cause them in destroying them.

Also as has been explained in an earlier post, we need to do certain prayers before we have them destroyed. We need to recite purification prayers, like the 100-syllable- Vajrasattva mantra  and the 35 Confessional Buddhas' prayer many times, applying the Four Opponent  Powers of Reliance, Remorse, Resolve and Remedy effectively. We also need to pray to Medicine Buddha ,reciting His mantra many times and dedicating this to the good rebirth of the beings we are going to destroy.

Thank you for this concise explanation Vajrastorm... at the end of the day, it all boils down to karma and how karma works. Here is an article which clearly explains the workings in order for us to best read, understand, contemplate and summize the situation posted by Jessie Fong. Best was to learn is to understand why:

Karma

There are four characteristics of karma:

1. Karma is fixed.
2. Karma multiplies greatly.
3. The consequences aren’t experienced if the action is not completed.
4. Karma is not exhausted by time, only by full experience of the consequences.

There are two types of karma:

1. Positive karma - is wholesome or virtuous or meritorious karma. Positive karma comes from desirable actions.

2. Negative karma - is unwholesome or nonvirtuous karma. It comes from undesirable actions.


Positive and negative karma can each be divided into two types:

1. Individual Karma - comes from an act executed by an individual, so the results are experienced by the individual.

2. Collective karma - is experienced collectively. It comes from collective action. For example, if five people together complete an action, the results are experienced by all five. All five have to share in the consequences of the action.

Actions can be incomplete, and so can karma. For karma to be complete, four binding factors are required. If any one of the four binding factors is missing, karma becomes incomplete. When all four binding factors are present at the execution of an act, then karma is complete.

Binding factors
The four binding factors are the base, the intention or motivation, the execution of an action, and the completion of an action.

1. Base. The base could be the recipient. In the act of killing, someone is killed, a human being, an animal, and this victim is the base.

2. Intention. When you’re walking on the grass, it’s very likely that you will step on insects you don’t see, hidden in the blades of grass. You may kill an insect, but you didn’t intend to kill. Intention falls under three types of delusion: attachment, anger, or ignorance. If you’re killing an animal for the meat, for example, you could be guilty of attachment or desire. A human being might be killed because of anger or jealousy, a motivating factor that manipulates the mind and its thoughts.

Killing may also occur through reckless or mindless behavior. An action is completed without the consequences imagined, but the possible negative consequences are ignored. The person acting thinks, "Whatever happens, I don’t care."

3. Execution. The base exists; intention exists, motivated by attachment, anger, desire , jealousy. And then comes the actual act. The act is manifested in body or speech. Killing or stealing are examples of actions manifested by the body. Lying or divisive speech are examples of actions manifested by speech.

4. Completion. Once the action is fully manifested through body or speech, and there is a sense of gratification, the act is complete. A person kills or steals with intention. The completion of the act gives
rise to a sense of satisfaction, "Well, I did it," instead of a sense of regret or remorse. The act is done; there is a sense of gratification or satisfaction; this is completion.


If one of these four factors is missing, then automatically the karma is incomplete or weak. The karma will not be experienced full-force.

However, weak karma can become strong through repetition. Some negative actions are less serious than others. Divisive speech, for example, is less serious than killing. But if you do one of these lesser negative actions over and over throughout your life, you eventually accumulate a lot of strong bad karma.

The four factors that make karma complete or incomplete affect the power of individual karma. It is worse to kill than to talk badly about someone, so the force of karma is not the same. But the fact that you may say bad things all the time could cause you to accumulate a lot of bad karma. Bad karma can become strong through repetition, through repeating a bad action day after day.

Question: What happens if you do a good deed but with a negative intention? Say, I do something for society, but my intention is to reap rewards for myself. Maybe I do charity work, but only so I can gain
recognition for myself.

Answer: In that case, although the action in general is good, it is polluted by bad motivation. So it doesn’t bring forth the full force of good karma in consequence.

For example, you give $1 million with the goal of receiving recognition; someone else gives $10 with pure motivation. The $10 donation is better than yours, as far as you and your karma are concerned. For the
recipient, $1 million is still a lot of money.

Karma occurs in the mind and resides in the mindstream, so your motivation is most important. There is more emphasis on intention than external action.

So, if all four factors are present, then karma, positive or negative, becomes complete. If any one of the four binding factors is not present, then karma, whether negative or positive, becomes incomplete.

If you look closely, you’ll realize that 99 percent of negative karma becomes complete because all four binding factors are present. And much of our positive karma is incomplete because our motivation is often self-interest or recognition.

Many actions we consider positive do not result in positive karma because the four binding factors are not there. Most negative actions result in negative karma because all four binding factors are present.

We end up with much mixed karma in a lifetime because we do good things and bad things throughout our lives. But if we try to weigh them on a scale, the positive karma is lighter than the negative karma, definitely.

Some karma gives rebirth in the desire realm, some in the form realm, some in the formless realm.


The 10 negative actions and 10 positive actions

All karma falls under 10 categories, 10 negative actions or 10 positive actions, similar to Christians’ 10 commandments.

The 10 negative actions include actions of the body, speech, and mind:

1. The negative actions of the body are killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct.

2. The negative actions of speech are lying; divisive speech; harsh, insulting words; and idle gossip or chitchat.

3. The negative actions of the mind are covetousness, ill will, and wrong view.


The 10 positive actions are not killing, not lying, etc. However, it’s not enough to just "not do" a negative action. It is not enough to have abstained from killing over a lifetime. You must also feel compassion for all beings and a wish for their happiness.

Three from the body

1. Killing. Killing is taking the life of any form of sentient being. Cutting down a tree is not killing because a tree is not a sentient being. A sentient being possesses consciousness. A sentient being experiences pain and pleasure, and with that comes emotions, attraction and repulsion. Animals can distinguish between pain and pleasure; so they have emotions.

It is considered more serious to kill a human being than an animal. It is especially serious to kill a highly realized spiritual being. If an ordained monk or nun kills, that is a violation of a primary precept, and he or she is automatically disqualified from being a monk or nun.

Question: Do you have to be vegetarian?

Answer: This is complicated. In Buddhism, eating meat is negative, yes. That’s because eating meat is inter-related to killing animals. But when it comes to vegetarian or non-vegetarian, it is difficult to draw a line. Did you stop eating meat because of dietary concerns or because of concerns about killing? If you’re just not eating meat itself, that is not being a pure vegetarian. Mahatma Gandhi was a pure vegetarian because he did not use or wear leather. But most of us don’t want to wait for the animal to die.

Question: How about Islam, where they pray over the animal before slaughter?

Answer: If I pray over you then kill you, is it okay? No, it’s not good, from the Buddhist point of view.

In the past, monks begged for food and ate whatever was given to them. So eating meat was not a violation of precepts.

If you look back, further, further, you see how hard it is to be truly vegetarian. You can’t get one grain of rice without killing 10 insects. If you are going to eat meat, it’s best to eat meat already killed, already in the market. That’s less negative than eating with a strong desire or intention for meat, thinking, "If I am without meat tonight, I will go on a hunger strike."

2. Stealing. Stealing is taking, purposefully, intentionally, whatever is not given to you or possessed by you. You purposefully or intentionally separate someone from his or her possession. You take something you don’t have a right to take or to use. Stealing from a church or temple something that belongs to the larger community is considered very serious.

Stealing also includes borrowing something and not returning it. Days, weeks, months, a year pass, and you think, "Oh, that’s good; he has really forgotten about it. I don’t have to give it back."

Putting your thumb on the scale and pushing so someone who intends to buy a pound actually gets less, that’s stealing, too.

3. Sexual misconduct. Everybody knows what this means. The main thing to remember is that you can cause tremendous problems, first between the couple, then the family, then the community. This can cause a lot of emotional pain to others.

Four from speech

4. Lying. Lying is intentionally changing your own perception and telling the other side. You know you’re going to the post office, but when someone asks, you say you’re going to the grocery store. There is an intentional verbal distortion. You know you’re going to the post office, but you change this in the telling, replace that awareness, and tell an untruth.

Question: Why is it important that you have changed your "perception"?

Answer: Having a mistaken perception is not the same as lying. For example, you see a ball that is actually blue, but a trick of the light makes it seem red to you. You say it’s red, but you’re not lying; that actually is your perception.


Question: What about white lies? They aren’t harmful.

Answer: That’s still lying.


Question: Social lies? You distort reality, but for a good reason?

Answer: Your perception is of great value in Buddhism. Your perception makes reality; you don’t want to mess around with that.


Question: Someone asks, "How do I look?" You say, "Very good," but the person doesn’t really look very good. You’ve said so because it makes the person feel good.

Answer: That would result in mixed karma. You lie, but you have good motivation, which is not hurting someone else. Still, there is negative karma for telling the lie.

It can be hard to tell sometimes. Perhaps if you take a verbal action, you can save someone’s life. Your motivation is to protect the person’s life or freedom. What motivates you is good, so it’s hard to tell. It’s still a lie, but there wouldn’t be much negative karma.

Exaggeration, on the other hand, is very bad. Exaggeration is constantly distorting a thing or event until it becomes serious to yourself and to others. You distort until it becomes bigger and bigger, nationwide with big-screen TV. That’s very bad. So stop that.

5. Harsh words. You use speech to hurt others’ feelings

6. Divisive Speech. You say bad things with the intent of dividing people. You say, "Oh, did you hear…," and then there’s a big explosion. Causing a division in a spiritual community is considered very serious. Or causing division between a couple or between friends.

7. Idle Gossip or Chitchat. If you carefully examine when you are engaging in gossip or chattering, often you’re trying to pick on others’ mistakes and damage their reputations and, at the same time, cover up your own faults.

You are also wasting time, talking about things of no consequence. We have little time in our lives to waste, and idle chitchat and gossip are time-consuming and energy-consuming. Little time is left for dharma.

Question: Please explain incomplete karma again.

Answer: It means "weak." The consequences are not as severe as the full force of karma would be.


Question: How do you get rid of incomplete karma?

Answer: It is good to be aware of our tendencies, to be conscious and keep our bad tendencies from manifesting. In habituation, we keep doing negative actions over and over. It is important to know, "I have this problem. This is my personal problem, and it is not good for me, and it is not good for others," and then sincerely and honestly acknowledge that. Then it is important to make a special effort not to manifest those negative tendencies. Gradually, we become more mindful.


Question: What about what has already been done?

Answer: It’s too late.


Question: Can you balance the bad with the good?

Answer: You can balance, but good things do not eliminate the bad things already done, unless you also do purification practice, Vajrasattva practice or the 35 confession Buddhas.


Question: If karma is incomplete, for example, you did something with intention, but immediately afterward felt regret, would you still need to purify?

Answer: Yes, but it is easier because the karma is weak. It’s like dirt in a cloth. If the dirt also includes grease, it’s harder to get the stain out. It takes time and detergent. Full-force karma takes time and effort to get rid of; incomplete karma is easier. In both cases, purification is needed, and without purification, bad karma never disappears.

Purification is different from other religious practices. It is not enough to go into a church where there is a small window and confess and someone inside says, "Well, you confessed; it’s okay," and you go away.

That is not enough in Buddhism. If you want to purify, you must take four steps. You must have a strong, sincere feeling of regret, not guilt. Guilt is past-oriented. Regret is future-oriented. You must have a strong resolve that you will never repeat the negative action, even if it costs your life. You must place your reliance on a higher spiritual being, such as Buddha, with a deep sense of compassion for others. You must apply an antidote that directly destroys negative karma, like a detergent that gets rid of dirt.

When all four are present, then yes, you can get rid of negative karma in one single meditative state, with one single cause. Again, if one of the four is missing, it will not work. Purification is difficult.

pgdharma

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2012, 06:06:52 PM »
I think that bacteria has some sort of consciousness as  they are a form of microorganisms that varies in shape and size. There are good and bad bacteria that are present in most habitats on earth. In fact  bacteria can be found everywhere. However, the heaviness of the karma in killing the bacteria is dependent on the motivation.

We have killed many bacteria without us knowing it.  Even bacteria that stayed in our digestive  tracts  are killed  when we  take antibiotics. In industry,  bacteria are important in sewage treatment and in the breakdown of oil spill. It is very useful in fermentation.  So I think it is not necessary to pour hot water or chemical into the sink as the bacteria can help in the breakdown of oil.

biggyboy

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2012, 08:08:07 AM »
Whether bacteria are sentient being or not? I just can't deduce it for sure.  If killing of bacteria has karma, then why do we need them in our eco system and or even in our food to say the least?  For example, probiotics are found in various foods such as yogurt, miso, which are considered to aid in our human digestion system.  Bacteria of such kind are useful and considered as good bacteria.  Good bacteria which reside within our human body help to expedite the production of certain essential vitamins, which keep our body healthy and fully functional. 

In addition, bacteria are also beneficial to our environment as it helps to recycle nutrients.  Every healthy ecosystem relies on bacteria to maintain balance.
 
Of course, there are bacteria that are bad enough to our human system which procreate and mutate to cause illness and sicknesses to a point that we want to find ways and means to stop them.  Hence, when we were to take antibiotics (for example) aren’t we killing them too? 

My next dilemma is, can we be reborn as bacteria then?

brian

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2012, 09:29:30 AM »
At this juncture, we are still unable to determine whether bacteria have consciousness or not. But from the comments made in this thread, especially about the comments about the bacteria avoiding being killed by the sterilizers. So argument could lean towards that bacteria is a being with consciousness. If bacteria have consciousness, that means it is killing if we pour chemicals to unclog the sink.

So whether it is really of consciousness or not, we should play safe to not creating negative karma for that. We have to be careful then. So we do not pour hot water or chemicals into the sink then.