Author Topic: Is this considered killing??  (Read 8731 times)

Tenzin K

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2012, 11:51:10 AM »
Insects and pest control is a difficult issue for many Buddhists to consider. The First Precept does not allow the killing of living beings. This generally refers to all sentient beings which includes all animals and humans. Insects are members of the Animal Kingdom.

Many Buddhists argue that the killing of insects is just as bad as the killing of a larger animal. And when looking at passages from the Metta Sutta and other discourses about the importance of not killing living beings, it appears they are correct. Killing living beings appears to be wrong in all cases, regardless of the motivations.

However, there does appear to be some differences in the weight of the negative kamma assigned to the killing of smaller beings as compared to larger beings and humans. The Vinaya makes one such distinction, considering murder an offense so serious as to require permanent expulsion from the Sangha (Parajika 3), while killing an animal is a far less serious offence (Pacittiya 62), on a par with insulting someone, idle chatter and having a non-regulation size sitting mat. This distinction is probably based on the idea that the intentions behind killing a fellow human would be markedly stronger and more intense than those behind killing an animal.

Each of us has probably noticed that we think differently about the death of a person, the death of a warm blooded animal and that of an insect. Likewise we probably notice a difference in how we felt if we were to kill a chicken and an ant. These feeling must be partly socially conditioned but whatever their cause they do affect our minds differently and therefore have different vipaka (kamma result). This may not be a fact but could be a possible explanation for the Vinaya’s (and most peoples') distinction between killing a human and an animal.

The Buddha may have allowed the monks and nuns to eat meat according the 3 fold rule, but did not allow them to eat certain meats such as the flesh of humans, elephants, horse, dog, snake, lion, tiger, leopard, bear, and hyena (Mahavagga VI.23.10-15) even if it was generously offered. This again shows a sort of hierarchy with humans at the top, followed by these royal animals (such as elephants and lions), then lower animals, and finally insects.

Based on the above points and teachings from the Buddha, there could arguably be a hierarchy such as the following:
Humans (a parajika offense requiring expulsion from the Order for killing a human)
Large, Royal animals, such as elephants, lions, tigers (not allowed to be eaten even if offered)
Smaller animals (their flesh may be eaten, if offered to monks, nuns)
Insects (building construction and farming allowed even though they may be killed indirectly)
There will be negative kamma associated with the killing of any animal, which includes insects, but it appears that the weight of the kamma will be lesser for insects. Further evidence to this size issue is the fact that in the Vinaya texts the precept against intentional killing is broken only if the being killed is large enough to be visible to the human eye.

Although the mind is a subtle and complex phenomena and its workings are difficult to plumb, the doctrine of kamma is all too often presented in the most naive and simplistic terms. For example, one often hears people say "If you kill you will... " (fill in the gap – be killed in your next life, be reborn as a worm, go to hell, etc.).Interestingly, although not surprisingly, the Buddha criticized such generalizations:
"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. But if anyone were to say that a person does a deed that is to be experienced, so does he experience it, then living the holy life would be possible, there would be an opportunity for the ending of suffering. For instance, a small evil deed done by one person may be experienced here in this life or perhaps not at all. Now, what sort of person commits a small evil that takes him to hell? Take a person who is careless in the development of body, speech and mind. He has not developed wisdom, he is insignificant, he has not developed himself, his life is restricted, and he is miserable. Even a small evil deed may bring such a person to hell. Now, take the person who is careful in development of body, speech and mind, He has developed wisdom, he is not insignificant, he has developed himself, his life is unrestricted and he is immeasurable. For such a person, a small evil deed may be experienced here or perhaps not at all. Suppose someone throws a grain of salt into a little cup of water. That water would be undrinkable. And why? Because the amount of water is small. Now, suppose throws a grain salt in River Ganges. That water would not be undrinkable. And why? Because the amount of water is great" (Anguttara Nikaya I.249).

It appears that although negative kamma, the killing of insects would be like a salt cube in the River Ganges and not seriously lead to any significant negative results, especially if done in defense of your home and family. For example a person who kills termites, wasps, or poisonous insects that entered his home after attempts to remove them failed.

Ensapa

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2012, 12:17:15 PM »
you know what? we're all in samsara and we are bound to kill something or anger another being, one way or another so there is nothing wrong with doing so if we do not have the intention to kill them in the first place. If we do not have the intention to kill them but kill them by accident, we do have negative karma, but it is not as bad as stomping on them on purpose than feeling satisfied that they have died. Motivation and intentions are everything.

bambi

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2012, 03:58:03 PM »
Yes Jessie! It does constitute killing but we can always do a puja and dedicate it to whatever insects we might have killed. Every moment we breathe, we are killing many but not on purpose. And when we walk, we might also kill some insects on the floor. I do believe that without the 4 factors for a karma action to be complete, it is okay.

Ensapa

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2012, 05:44:34 AM »
Yes Jessie! It does constitute killing but we can always do a puja and dedicate it to whatever insects we might have killed. Every moment we breathe, we are killing many but not on purpose. And when we walk, we might also kill some insects on the floor. I do believe that without the 4 factors for a karma action to be complete, it is okay.

There are mantras such as the Medicine Buddha mantra that is said to help the beings reincarnate into better states of existence but if we have no choice but to eliminate certain living beings that will threaten and harm more people if we do not get rid of them, such as mosquitos for instance, then we can use mantras to blow on them or whatnot. But still, nothing is as bad as killing them on purpose.

Q

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2012, 12:32:22 PM »
Killing is killing, whether you do it intentionally or not intentionally, negative karma will be collected. The only difference is like what many have already said... the motivation.

Now, the issue on bacteria. Let me tell you straight, bacteria is not a sentient being. They have no sensation of pain and just like plants, they react to stimuli. The main thing that classify them as not sentient beings is because they are not reproduced through DESIRE. We are after all in the desire realm, and all sentient beings that can be considered as 'alive' are all produced through desire. Bacteria has no such thing, they are just a state of existence like plants.

ilikeshugden

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2012, 03:39:14 PM »
There are multiple factors for the karma to be fully done. That is having a motivation, doing the deed, rejoicing. If you have the motivation to kill when you are pouring the hot water or chemicals, you will have part of the karma. If you rejoice after doing the deed with the motivation, the bad karma comes at full force. Also, if you did not know about the insects dying, your bad karma will be lessened. If you use hot water or chemicals with the motive of only cleaning the vegetables, the karma of killing is lessened as the other factors are not there. If you like, when pouring such chemicals or using hot water, recite the medicine Buddha mantra and visualize that the insects are blessed into a better rebirth.

ratanasutra

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #21 on: December 30, 2012, 05:30:55 PM »
If you know or believe they are sentient being, then you should not kill them as it will cause great suffering to them, and also make you feel great remorse and have great concern for your own well-being from the karma you created.

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

I could not confirm or deny about this but I guess the important thing to remember is that the mind can exist without physical base (example ghost does exist), and so can physical life exist without the mind... To me, it seems like the bacteria fall into the latter category.


diablo1974

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #22 on: December 31, 2012, 08:51:56 AM »
It depends on the sentient being whether they have any consciousness or not. If they have and we inflict injuries on them and they died. Its killing.  To me, killing is still killing unless our motivation is very pure from compassion.  But i guess most of us doesnt have that pure compassion to be able to kill with compassion.


apprenticehealer

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #23 on: February 23, 2013, 08:51:01 AM »
I agree that it would be considered killing if the sentient being has consciousness and feels the suffering that it is subjected to before dying.
However how it would affect one's karma depends on the intention of the person committing the killing. If it is done unintentionally , then the karma is not too heavy, but if the killing is done intentionally and deliberately, then the karma will be very negative and heavy.
But i do wonder many times, what would the karma be if we have to 'kill' one or a group of sentient beings to 'save' another sentient being. Example, if a person is very ill and requires strong antibiotics to 'kill' off the virus or bacteria in order to recover, is taking the antibiotics considered 'killing'?  Another example : there is this huge 100 over years old tree in my garden and a few years ago, it became infested with termites. If we have left the situation alone, this beautiful grand old tree will die. We called in the Tree Doctor, who then had to kill off this whole nest of termites and after several months, the termites were all exterminated and the tree survived. The above two examples were intentional and deliberate 'killings', so how does one reconcile between this type of killing and the type of killing of animals, man , and all other sentient beings?

Dondrup Shugden

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Re: Is this considered killing??
« Reply #24 on: June 14, 2015, 04:05:00 PM »
you know what? we're all in samsara and we are bound to kill something or anger another being, one way or another so there is nothing wrong with doing so if we do not have the intention to kill them in the first place. If we do not have the intention to kill them but kill them by accident, we do have negative karma, but it is not as bad as stomping on them on purpose than feeling satisfied that they have died. Motivation and intentions are everything.

Reading Ensapa's contribution made me recall a conversation I had with a monk as to whether being vegetarian means we do not kill.  His answer was that even as a vegetarian we kill, such as in order to grow the vegetables, the soil must be ploughed this very action alone would have killed ants, worms and other living organism in the soil.

There you go, we are in samsara and everything we do is not perfect, therefore knowing or not knowing our motivation and either accidental or not, we need to do virtuous acts to counter balance our negative karma created.