How bad is killing a mosquito?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Annapurna » Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:43 pm

Hanzze wrote:
Annapurna wrote:
Well, all these thoughts are clever, but redundant, when you look at the categories Buddha marked as sentient:

Humans and animals.

Is a mosquito an animal?

Yes.

Therefore, it is sentient.

If it is sentient, killing it is breaking the first precept.

Quod erat demonstrandum.



:anjali:

Annapurna


I do not think that that catches the point. Taking life is taking life. Harming is harming. Do not look if it is a good being or a bad, an animal or something else. A plant or a ghost. Killing is killing. To think about if the being is sentient is dangerous.
Reduce your killing and harming. That is the practice at the very first beginning. Nothing else. As more complication are coming with the keeping of it you need to work on the roots of killing and harming. Mind. There is where you can handle it real. If they are uprooted, you will not need to decide anymore :-)


I do not think that that catches the point.


Of course it does.

I think you could use a bit more information on what constitutes sentience in Buddhism and what doesn't.

Plants are not sentient, in Buddhism, -and we're not Jains.

And so far I haven't met a ghost yet, have you? ... ;)

To think about if the being is sentient is dangerous.


No, it's not.

It's helpful and pivotal, -because you know that you can eat plants, and take antibiotics, and that you shouldn't kill animals and humans.

It really doesn't have to be any more complicated.

Mind. There is where you can handle it real.


Yes. With the facilities of the mind we can distinguish between plants and animals. ;)

It would be killing an animal, but it would not be killing a plant, according to Buddhist understanding of sentience.

Or what would be left to eat???

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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Lazy_eye » Mon Oct 04, 2010 9:25 pm

Yes, practically speaking we have to draw a line somewhere or we would be Jains.

The problem is that it remains something of a gray area whether micro-organisms fall under the category "sentient life" or not. As Individual pointed out, they also display evidence of intelligent behavior. So the fact that they are microscopic and require a host body as an ecosystem doesn't, in itself, settle the question.

As far as I know, the Buddha didn't say anything about this category of beings, so we have to extrapolate from what he did say. (If there' s a relevant sutta passage, hope someone will share it!)

If you or I take an antibiotic, then it seems we are actually fulfilling the criteria stated by TMingyur:

Intention: I want to remove the bacteria from my body
Correct perception: I know it is a living organism in there.
Affliction: it does not want to be removed (microorganisms have defensive and evasive behaviors)
Performance: I take the antibiotic
Culmniation: Bacteria is gone, I am better

I don't want to make too much of this topic since, as Anna said, it's probably not so important practically speaking. Still, if we are going to justify taking antibiotics, then why not kill mosquitoes that carry a disease? Why not put down a rabid dog? etc etc.

And the only answer I can come up with right now is that, as ordinary beings in samsara, we are going to face dilemmas like this from time to time. We may not be able to find a clear-cut answer, and we may not avoid generating kamma. Absolute purity/perfection is only feasible for those who have completely severed their attachment to samsara. Maybe someone like Dipa Ma could do it.

The rest of us, well, we just have to work on it to the best of our capacities.

LE
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby beeblebrox » Mon Oct 04, 2010 9:48 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:I don't want to make too much of this topic since, as Anna said, it's probably not so important practically speaking. Still, if we are going to justify taking antibiotics, then why not kill mosquitoes that carry a disease? Why not put down a rabid dog? etc etc.


The way I understand it, one shouldn't try to make any justification for what he/she does. This only leads to deluding oneself. Killing is killing, doing is doing, etc.

Everyone does that one way or another, of course... the only difference is that the people who practice the Dhamma should try to see it for what it is: try to think about it; see how it can be improved; or if it can't, then move on. Don't feel bad about it... it's part of saṃsāra. (But that doesn't mean you should try to make excuses for it, in an attempt to make yourself feel good about it.)
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Individual » Tue Oct 05, 2010 12:06 am

Annapurna wrote:
Hanzze wrote:
Annapurna wrote:
Well, all these thoughts are clever, but redundant, when you look at the categories Buddha marked as sentient:

Humans and animals.

Is a mosquito an animal?

Yes.

Therefore, it is sentient.

If it is sentient, killing it is breaking the first precept.

Quod erat demonstrandum.



:anjali:

Annapurna


I do not think that that catches the point. Taking life is taking life. Harming is harming. Do not look if it is a good being or a bad, an animal or something else. A plant or a ghost. Killing is killing. To think about if the being is sentient is dangerous.
Reduce your killing and harming. That is the practice at the very first beginning. Nothing else. As more complication are coming with the keeping of it you need to work on the roots of killing and harming. Mind. There is where you can handle it real. If they are uprooted, you will not need to decide anymore :-)


I do not think that that catches the point.


Of course it does.

I think you could use a bit more information on what constitutes sentience in Buddhism and what doesn't.

Plants are not sentient, in Buddhism, -and we're not Jains.

And so far I haven't met a ghost yet, have you? ... ;)

To think about if the being is sentient is dangerous.


No, it's not.

It's helpful and pivotal, -because you know that you can eat plants, and take antibiotics, and that you shouldn't kill animals and humans.

It really doesn't have to be any more complicated.

Mind. There is where you can handle it real.


Yes. With the facilities of the mind we can distinguish between plants and animals. ;)

It would be killing an animal, but it would not be killing a plant, according to Buddhist understanding of sentience.

Or what would be left to eat???

Annapurna

Annapurna wins. Hanzze loses. :popcorn:

Lazy_eye wrote:Yes, practically speaking we have to draw a line somewhere or we would be Jains.

I think the Jains draw a line too, at "life".

You could be more extreme and have compassion for ALL animate objects: "I abstain from interfering with all molecular interactions."

If a photon wants to go this way or that way, why should I interfere?
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Annapurna » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:15 pm

Individual wrote:"I abstain from interfering with all molecular interactions."

If a photon wants to go this way or that way, why should I interfere?


:rofl:
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Hanzze » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:46 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Annapurna » Fri Oct 08, 2010 5:25 pm

They itch, the stings. :evil:
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby timmbuktwo » Tue Nov 16, 2010 3:51 am

Mosquito's are living , so do not "kill" them. It is always easy thinking one way when you are at the top-tip of a pyramid only looking down, however , imagine the feeling when you look up from there and actually see another layer over you , then you may feel like what the others below you feel.

Who knows, maybe mosquito bites are actually beneficial .
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Luke » Sun Nov 21, 2010 6:35 pm

How bad is killing a mosquito?

As bad as killing any other animal.

If I understand things correctly, Buddhism doesn't put animals into "higher" or "lower" categories the way Hinduism does (a cow's life has more value than a mosquito's life to a Hindu) or the way most westerners value animals with paws and hooves more than other animals ("Aww, what a cute rabbit. Die, spider, die!").

I once heard a lama say that people who care about their own family and friends far more than they care about other people or other animals are no better than animals. To me, that seems a bit harsh, but it drives home the importance of having compassion for all living creatures.
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby rainthebat » Thu Dec 23, 2010 10:51 pm

Folks, many of you may very well drive an automobile...

Are you aware that driving an automobile causes injury to, and kills many thousands of insects (mosquito size + or -) in one ride.

Butterflys are killed (gasp) by many an automobile... and on rainy nights - dare I say it - several frogs, snails, worms, slugs, peepers, eggs, larvae... there is a lot of self denial about this,

so don't worry

so much about killing a mosquitoes with the hand, try and think about what driving a vehicle or riding an airplane (but no monks fly in airplanes these days, do they!). The only way to never kill, is to never be born (which is actually a goal according to lots of Buddhist thought!)

Basically, killing an insect (think the though; try not to do), but if you must, trust that you are buddhist, and whatever the decision, it will be closer to the right decision than your average of the 6 billion people whom many are committing more severe Karma... like many who know their involved in shortening a large animal with electromagnetic spinal cord/ life power ability.

Sometimes even the Gods and Goddess' and asuras, may play with human life in probably "strange" ways such as killing and manipulating.

Altogether, there is not self, so just having a loving heart is as reasonable as one can expect nowadays.

:heart: :heart: :geek: :heart: :heart:
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby rainthebat » Thu Dec 23, 2010 11:05 pm

. Most of us are small time murderers, most of us are still at least walking on ground where small insects and spiders may be crawling... I've yet to see a Nun or Monk that can hover (but it is claimed of being possible - surely they wouldn't want to attract that much overwhelming attention, if they did have that talent) :spy:

. The Buddha is neither coming, nor going ... no sentient being will ever be a Buddha, because a Buddha has transcended being a sentient being, and the birthing or dying perception it involves.

. Since I drive a car, my energy can not come close to that level, but I still agree with that line of thought. :o :alien:
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby cooran » Fri Dec 24, 2010 4:43 am

cooran wrote:Hello DeeHarry, all,

There isn’t any wiggle room in Buddhism … the deliberate knowing killing another being is just that, and will have its results. The mosquito in this re-becoming, may well have been a human in a previous birth….

Getting The Message … Thanissaro Bhikkhu
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ssage.html

Vipaka Sutta … Results
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

There was a previous thread on this subject:
About not kill any living being
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=4893

with metta
Chris



And a little more:

I think it is essential to have a definition of exactly what a sentient being is within Buddhism.

Someone said that sentient beings are those who are capable of experiencing suffering (Dukkha), that if a being seeks to avoid a blow, it is sentient

So a kangaroo seeking to get out of the spotlight of a night shooter, is seeking to avoid suffering (pain of being wounded/killed). The snails on the paths at my workplace seeking to (very slowly) avoid the shoes of the passers-by are seeking to avoid suffering (pain of being squashed). The fear they feel is also suffering. This would fit with a Tibetan teachings which says that sentient beings are all beings that have mind, and mind is found in all beings that breathe. I think this would cut out all bacteria, virus, and plants. One wonders about beings in other realms, like petas, devas etc (Do they breathe. can they feel a blow?)

In "An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics" Peter Harvey (p151)
'sentience, the ability to experience and to suffer, and the related ability, in this or a future life, to transcend suffering by attaining enlightenment'
and
'The flux of consciousness from a previous being is a necessary condition for the arising and development in the womb of a body (rupa) endowed with mental abilities which amount to sentience (nama): feeling, identification, volition, sensory stimulation and attention (S.II.3-4)'

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Sambodhi in Oz » Sun Dec 26, 2010 8:09 am

Dear rainthehat

The point is not how many get killed by an act but, that of intention, you do not drive a motorcar so that you kill several insects at a go, even a doctor while doing a surgery might end up killing a human being who otherwise may have lived a few more weeks but, that is not a negative karma. It is a negative karma only if you do it so as to harm others.

Even in this case the intent was to save his son rather than kill a mosquito, and the life of a normal human is possibly more important than that of a mosquito so fine I think the paternal feelings were more important. This may be a mixed karma bordering on positive in fact.

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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby zavk » Mon Dec 27, 2010 1:21 am

Heh.... this is an issue that annoys my partner somewhat. When I say 'annoy', it is not as if she gets angry with me. She has very sensitive skin and is squirmish around some insects and bugs, so she clicks her tongue at me whenever I refuse to swat at them. But she understands and respects my reasons for not doing so, I must say.

Why do I refrain from killing mosquitoes, bugs, etc? I must say that my decision is not really based on a careful or thorough consideration of some of the very good points raised in this thread so far: issues about what qualifies as a sentient being, what qualifies as consciousness, the dynamics of kamma and rebirth, etc. To be sure, these issues are worth considering and thinking them through can help us get a better understanding of the Dhamma. However, if you have been around discussion forums long enough (and really you don't have to be at it for very long), I think you'll agree with me that there is no easy way to reach a consensus about such things. Debates about these issues then to go on and on, and in the process, they can sometimes generate feelings of annoyance and irritation amongst the participants, producing feelings of unwholesomeness. So this is partly one reason why, though I find these issues interesting, I do not usually dwell too much on them.

The main reason I choose to refrain from killing mosquitoes, bugs, etc, is NOT because I have figured out the answers to such questions. Rather, it is because each time I catch my urge to react blindly and stop myself from doing it, I EMBODY and ENACT my commitment to the Dhamma, to the precepts in particular. In that very brief moment when I choose to remain calm and equanimous, I LIVE the Dhamma; the Dhamma--and all the talk about non-violence, kindness, kamma, etc--become a living event rather than just concepts and propositions. In that moment, debates about sentient beings/consciousness/kamma/rebirth become somewhat less urgent in comparison to how I choose to act in THAT very moment: whether I want to embody wholesomeness or not.

Again, I must say that thinking through these issues can help us develop Right View. But in those moments when I'm confronting an annoying mosquito buzzing around my ear, my decision is oriented by Right Effort (which is about honouring my commitment to wholesomeness, to the precepts) more than anything else. Questions about the 'rightness' or wrongness' or the 'truthfulness' and 'falseness' of statements about consciousness, sentience, etc, take a back seat to whether I choose to EMBODY wholesomeness or not, so that I may LIVE the Dhamma rather than merely engage with it as a set of rules, statements, and propositions.

Now, if only my partner would stop giving me grief for being blasé about insects hanging out in the bathroom.... but I love her for it, nonetheless. :)

:anjali:
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Dec 27, 2010 1:36 am

Great post zavk,

Luckily we don't have mosquitoes here. I've trained my partner to mostly catch flies with a butterfly net and take them outside. I remind her that she's supposed to be keeping the precepts, which she accepts, but she's less impressed by my suggestion that the flies "just want to be your friend"... :tongue:

:anjali:
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby cooran » Mon Dec 27, 2010 5:24 am

Hello all,

Mosquitos can easily be kept out of houses by installing mesh screens on houses in tropical and sub-tropical areas, or can be turned away by wearing repellent on the skin, or, if they get inside the house ... caught in cupped hands or a disc case and then released outside.
You do not have to kill another sentient being to ''save'' a child from being bitten.

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Hanzze » Tue Dec 28, 2010 4:58 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Annapurna » Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:54 pm

cooran wrote:Hello all,

Mosquitos can easily be kept out of houses by installing mesh screens on houses in tropical and sub-tropical areas, or can be turned away by wearing repellent on the skin, or, if they get inside the house ... caught in cupped hands or a disc case and then released outside.
You do not have to kill another sentient being to ''save'' a child from being bitten.

with metta
Chris


Absolutely.


Hanzze wrote:That problem didn't exist before electricity.


Oh sure it did. They had oil lamps and candelabra...fireplaces... ;)
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby phil » Wed Dec 29, 2010 12:06 am

cooran wrote:Hello all,

Mosquitos can easily be kept out of houses by installing mesh screens on houses in tropical and sub-tropical areas, or can be turned away by wearing repellent on the skin, or, if they get inside the house ... caught in cupped hands or a disc case and then released outside.
You do not have to kill another sentient being to ''save'' a child from being bitten.

with metta
Chris


Hi Chris and all

I find the cupped hand technique often results in the mosquitos death, they're pretty fragile little things and our cupping accuracy can't be great. So I use an empty box from a smallish electrical appliance, makes a good catching device for cockroaches as well.

It's easy for me to write about this in broad daylight like I'm a saint, but in the middle of the night when they pull their "hide when the lights go on" routine, it is difficult for me not to utterly despise the little bastards...er, bi...never mind.
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby tobes » Tue Jan 11, 2011 1:09 am

I think it's also worth considering the positive side to all of this: the merit of saving the lives of little insects.

A little bug lands in your drinking water. Certain death! Every effort to escape is fruitless. Slowly the struggle becomes overwhelming......then a giant human hand offers a life raft/green leaf. Suddenly there is respite. For ten minutes on dry land there is no movement, too waterlogged, perhaps the hand was too late. But then the water dries up and the bug dances off into the night.....

How easy a gesture for that human hand! How wholesome an intention! How beautiful the action! How brilliant the result!

:namaste:
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