Treating Fleas?

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby Annapurna » Mon Jul 19, 2010 11:03 am

cooran wrote:Bobby, who asked the question in the OP, lives in London. He was speaking about personal practice. And that was what I responded to.


It probably won't make much sense to ask you another question, since you already ignored my other one, or did you miss it?

Anyhow, also in London there are insects that need to be taken care of.

You of course live a privileged life, as far as I can tell, and can afford screens and steel and whatnot, but not all Buddhists can.

The animals you described, snakes, and so forth, are also relatively easy to catch!
At least in comparison to fleas.... :rofl:

I don't think you ever had a flea infestation, because if you had had one, I don't think you would be speaking like you do....

Apologies if my assumption is incorrect.

I also think that IF people ask about fleas, like the OP or his friend, they usually have a reason -and often it is an infestation.

It' no shame...shit happens. You can be clean or a messie, it can hit you, although you definitely have a point with cleanliness.

Fleas are dangerous, they used to help spread pestilence in the middle ages, and those deluded human beings back then chased cats, as 'friends of the devil', cats, the best natural antagonists of rats, who could have kept the rats and mice at bay back then!

Killing cats, burning them on the stake, and innocent women as witches too, brought heavy kamma-the pest.


Metta,

Annapurna
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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby Annapurna » Mon Jul 19, 2010 11:12 am

PeterB wrote:Kill 'em if you cant repel them. I simply have no interest in the idea of fleas being reborn, or kamma being generated by their demise.
Fwiw someone mentioned the other day that the Dalai Lama swats mosquitoes, this is a fact, i have seen him do it.
Not that I base my own ethical code on his you understand, but he clearly does not think that mosquitoes are little sentient beings and negative kamma is the result of their violent demise.



I think it was in his Autobiography that the Dalai Lama wrote that if mosquitos return after chasing them away, repeatedly, -they had a fair and kind chance, so to say, and at some point, they are going to ruin it.

End of story.
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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby Ben » Mon Jul 19, 2010 11:43 am

Some words from the great Master...

"What is unskillful? Taking life is unskillful, taking what is not given... sexual misconduct... lying... abusive speech... divisive tale-bearing... idle chatter is unskillful. Covetousness... ill will... wrong views are unskillful. These things are called unskillful...

"And what is skillful? Abstaining from taking life is skillful, abstaining from taking what is not given... from sexual misconduct... from lying... from abusive speech... from divisive tale-bearing... abstaining from idle chatter is skillful. Lack of covetousness... lack of ill will... right views are skillful. These things are called skillful."

— MN 9


So, killing is unskilful. Whether a being is a flea or a whale - its unskilful. I don't think the Buddha ever said anywhere that killing is wholesome, or drew the line saying something like 'killing insects will produce negligable or no kamma whereas killing a more advanced lifeform brings with it heavier kamma'
Most of us are going to be faced with extraordinarily difficult situations and sometimes may have to act in ways that are not consistent with the precepts. I think for many of us - its a fact of life. Whatever you decide to do - you have to take responsibility for your actions of body, speech and mind.
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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby PeterB » Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:02 pm

Absolutely Ben. And if I were involved in the W.H.O's campaign to end malaria then i would readily shoulder responsibility for the death of mosquito larvae in a trade off towards preventing human beings getting that frequently deadly disease. In my view not taking preventative action in those circumstances would be far more unskillful.
I would also take the kammic responsibilty in freeing a kitten from fleas. If any Buddhist has a kitten with fleas and a dilemma about it give me a call, I'll do it for you. And sleep well.

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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby Ben » Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:21 pm

Thanks Peter

At the beginning of last year I had to take a beloved family pet to the vet to have it euthanazed. It was a gut-wrenching decision as the animal was like a child to us, and a sibling to our children. He was a big black greyhound who was the unofficial mascot of two schools my wife worked at and was a frequent meditation buddy to me. In fact, he was like my shadow, following me into every room. But at the end of his life he had an accident and had some major trauma to his spine. He was in constant agony and we couldn't afford the treatment that may - or may not - alleviate its suffering. I didn't shy away from the decision that led to his death, but it was also one of the hardest decisions I had to make.
and then... we get ants regularly invade our kitchen - and I regularly get in trouble from my wife for gently sweeping them up with my hand-brush and tray and taking them outside rather than kill them!
As for your example of eradicating billions of mosquito larvae to lessen the exposure of people to malaria - like you, I would be moved to protect the lives of people who will be affected by a debilitating and often fatal disease. But i would also be mindful that nearly all of our actions, including the decision to protect lives by killing others, has a kammic legacy.

Samsara sucks!

Metta

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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby PeterB » Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:30 pm

Surely...in the end our best bet is to end the kammic/vipaka chain once and for all..we cant fix it.

:anjali:

metta

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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby BobbyC » Mon Jul 19, 2010 5:11 pm

Many thanks for all the great replies, everyone! I'm sorry that my topic has sparked such intense debate among some of you, but it's all good stuff we can learn from. Even though I'm not able to quote specific suttas, I feel I have a firm grasp of buddhism's philosphy, so thank you to all those who suggested readings to me :)
Cooran, Ben and Chris specifically - I always learn a lot from you guys.
Tilt - I fully understand your reasonings and appreciate what you're saying, although I'm not sure I'll ever agree with you. Here's a little article I found before I posted on here that you might find useful/interesting: http://www.animalliberationfront.com/Pr ... dhists.htm
I noticed a few people commented that it was not a problem to kill insects and the like. Could illnesses like malaria not have come about as a result of the poor beasts being helplessly battered for centuries? :lol: I'm just putting that out there for all to criticise! lol

Much metta,

Bob
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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby Goedert » Mon Jul 19, 2010 5:27 pm

Friends I will tell a little story:

There as a buddhamma teacher that lived in the wilderness and he stabileshed his class teaching at cave.

This teacher one day, come across a poor man with raged robers with dust and many pleas in it.

The teacher asked the poorman:
- Why man you are using this raged dusty robe full of pleas?
The man:
- Oh. People in the city don't like that I get near them because I'm dirty, weak and ugly. I have nothing, I'll i get is rotten food to eat.
(conversation goes on...)
The teacher:
- Lets change our robes or you probabilly be dead and take this food.
The man:
- Oh thank you, thank you. I never been treated this way, you are a great person! Thank you!

Actually the teacher want to the cave to teach his disciples and they noticed his robes.

Days passed and teacher started to get sick because of the pleas and the disciples offered him a new cast of robes.

He said:
- If I change this robes now, all this pleas will die. I will not be etthic with the dhamma. One who sees the dhamma will not cause to kill, actually wish the wellfare of the beings.

And days passed the the teacher started recovering his health conditioning and the pleas went of and disappiared.

Due to the master purity (no sense of identity, of to defend what is my, my house, my body, my many things, no desire, no avertion) and compassion even for the small creatures, the pleas refused to parasite him.

The End.

This story is told in Tibet. This teacher actually lived in the middle ages in Tibet.

Take care friends.
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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby Anicca » Mon Jul 19, 2010 5:35 pm

Howdy y'all!
alan wrote:Here's another translation. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.6.09.olen.html
Do we see the Buddha telling us how bad it is to kill insects? No.

The translator's note from this link seems interestingly applicable to this thread:
... But the fire can also be taken as a symbol of wisdom. We are naturally drawn to the light of truth, to the teachings of the Buddha for example, but must take care not to over-shoot the mark. Getting too attached to views, even if these views are correct, can also lead to harm and the strengthening of bondage. The word translated here as "point" is sara, which can mean the heart, the essence or the crux of something. The subtle idea that seems to be expressed is that rushing or running will never reveal what is essential — the pith can never be approached headlong. What is needed is the tranquility of mind that meditation brings, and the ability to keep even wisdom in proper perspective


As a vegetarian and a person that escorts flies and spiders etc out of the home, quotes like this taken to heart help me stay on the Middle Path and not stray to far from the Buddha's excellent teachings.

Bottom line for me - fleas belong outside the home - if i couldn't repel them - i'd exterminate - then do everything in my power to prevent reinfestation. As a native Okie here recently said - "Not in my teepee!"

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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby PeterB » Mon Jul 19, 2010 5:48 pm

BobbyC wrote:Many thanks for all the great replies, everyone! I'm sorry that my topic has sparked such intense debate among some of you, but it's all good stuff we can learn from. Even though I'm not able to quote specific suttas, I feel I have a firm grasp of buddhism's philosphy, so thank you to all those who suggested readings to me :)
Cooran, Ben and Chris specifically - I always learn a lot from you guys.
Tilt - I fully understand your reasonings and appreciate what you're saying, although I'm not sure I'll ever agree with you. Here's a little article I found before I posted on here that you might find useful/interesting: http://www.animalliberationfront.com/Pr ... dhists.htm
I noticed a few people commented that it was not a problem to kill insects and the like. Could illnesses like malaria not have come about as a result of the poor beasts being helplessly battered for centuries? :lol: I'm just putting that out there for all to criticise! lol

Much metta,

Bob
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Malaria is caused by a parasite that lives within the mosquitoes bloodstream and has done since before humankind evolved. The mosquito bites a host because it needs a blood meal to nourish its larvae developing in its eggs . During the process of taking blood from the nearest mammal the parasites pass into the hosts blood. In humans this causes malaria. Which is frequently fatal particularly among children and is as serious and highly unpleasant and recurring illness even when not fatal. It has nothing to do with mosquitoes taking revenge. The most effective preventive is to oil nearby stagant water supplies, which kills the larvae. Which is a jolly good thing.
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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby Mukunda » Mon Jul 19, 2010 6:08 pm

alan wrote:I haven't found any reasons in the suttas to believe we should not kill bugs.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.6.09.than.html

Seems like a perfect opportunity to tell us all about why we should respect the lives of insects. But he didn't do it.


Where did the Buddha give exceptions to the 1st precept in regards to insects, or any other creature we may find inconvenient?
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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jul 19, 2010 6:35 pm

BobbyC wrote:Tilt - I fully understand your reasonings and appreciate what you're saying, although I'm not sure I'll ever agree with you. Here's a little article I found before I posted on here that you might find useful/interesting: http://www.animalliberationfront.com/Pr ... dhists.htm

A fanciful article: The best is to put some food out for them in a special place in a corner of your house, and then ask them not to disturb you. And, little mouse, completely resist your urge to procreate. Maybe, it might might work for someone, though such a thing did not work for Trungpa at Samye Ling, and I am rather doubtful that it would work for most people.

So, are you going to tell those fleas to go away and not to suck blood from any other human, or any other blood bearing creater? It starts to get a little silly after awhile.
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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby PeterB » Mon Jul 19, 2010 6:53 pm

It didn't work Tilt, and it fact it was rats. After much heart searching Trungpa called in Rentokil. " There is no choice " he said. "we have tried everything else."
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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby Monkey Mind » Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:15 pm

I don't know what most of you are talking about. I just want to offer appreciation to Chris for this information. I am willing to use flea bombs, but both my doggy and myself break out in severe rashes afterwards. I will try these solutions.

cooran wrote:5 Solutions for Natural Flea Control
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/5-solu ... ntrol.html

with metta
Chris
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby Mukunda » Mon Jul 19, 2010 9:59 pm

Monkey Mind wrote:I don't know what most of you are talking about. I just want to offer appreciation to Chris for this information. I am willing to use flea bombs, but both my doggy and myself break out in severe rashes afterwards. I will try these solutions.

cooran wrote:5 Solutions for Natural Flea Control
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/5-solu ... ntrol.html

with metta
Chris


It's best to remember that poisons don't limit their actions to solely those creatures we want gone.
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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby Mukunda » Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:01 pm

PeterB wrote:
Mukunda wrote:Where did the Buddha give exceptions to the 1st precept in regards to insects, or any other creature we may find inconvenient?
:anjali:

There is no reason to suppose the Buddha knew that mosquitoes were vectors for malaria.
Having a small child running a high fever for days or weeks and with a strong possibility of dying , could I suppose be regarded as an inconvenience.
....All because because of kindness to mosquitoes. Sheesh. It is as Americans say, a no brainer.


Doesn't really answer the question posed, now does it?
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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby Tex » Tue Jul 20, 2010 12:11 am

Interesting discussion from all so far.

For myself, I vow to abstain from taking life every day. I brush mosquitos away instead of swatting them, I try to be mindful of where each step lands, and when I find a little roach or fly in my house or office, I trap him and release him outside (lest my dog or a coworker end him). I do what I can.

But if my dog somehow gets heartworms (yes, she's on preventatives of course, but they're not 100%), I will not flinch at protecting my dog from those heartworms. And if I get some sort of parasite, same decision. I'm not suggesting it's okay to kill in those instances or that the resulting vipaka won't happen; it's just a choice that I am ready to live with. Perhaps that is due to my own attachments and time will teach me otherwise.

But didn't the Buddha also mention something about the kammic implications being more significant for killing a higher life form than a lower one? (Sorry, don't recall the source, help?) And if we choose to sit back and do nothing in the case of a dog with heartworms or our own human lives infected with some fatal parasite, isn't that an intentional action? Not to say that we're responsible for that death, obviously, but if we can willingly choose to take on some lesser kamma of killing of the lesser organism, aren't we doing ALL parties a favor?
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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby octathlon » Tue Jul 20, 2010 12:30 am

:goodpost: , Tex,

I agree, I think that is a very sensible view.
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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby Mukunda » Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:35 am

Tex wrote:But if my dog somehow gets heartworms (yes, she's on preventatives of course, but they're not 100%), I will not flinch at protecting my dog from those heartworms. And if I get some sort of parasite, same decision. I'm not suggesting it's okay to kill in those instances or that the resulting vipaka won't happen; it's just a choice that I am ready to live with. Perhaps that is due to my own attachments and time will teach me otherwise.

And if we choose to sit back and do nothing in the case of a dog with heartworms or our own human lives infected with some fatal parasite, isn't that an intentional action?


As I see it, the intent would be treating a disease, and unfortunately the treatment that heals the dog kills the heartworms. The mind set is entirely different, and since kamma is reliant on mental factors, this would not equal the kamma of taking life.

If we kill mosquitoes to prevent illness, the intent is killing mosquitoes, which has the attending mental factors (namely, hatred of and/or aversion to mosquitoes) of unwholesome kamma.
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Re: Treating Fleas?

Postby octathlon » Tue Jul 20, 2010 2:24 am

I need a lesson in kamma regarding animals, please: from all these discussions, nothing is said about an animal intentionally harming anyone and the consequences for the animals. Are animals not capable of intentionally harming someone, say, a lion killing someone who has trespassed into his territory?

I would guess they just do things out of instinct, but there are cases of animals that seem to act intentionally. It's hard to tell whether their actions are voluntary and intentional, or simply instinctive (same with humans, but that's a different subject...).
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