Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

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

Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby whynotme » Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:42 pm

Hi,

What do you consider the limit of not killing? Do you kill small bugs, ants, or do you consider bacteria, virus are living things? What things determine a living thing, and should not be killed? Size, nervous system, biological structure?

Wish I could ask the Buddha himself but can not so I ask for your opinions. It is an important question I need the answer.

Regards.
Last edited by whynotme on Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby daverupa » Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:49 pm

Whether it can be observed to breath or not, iirc.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby David2 » Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:55 pm

Every animal that has a nervous system should not be killed, because those animals have the ability to suffer.

Killing bacteria is not worse than killing plants... bacteria don't suffer, as carrots don't suffer.

Killing bacteria is ok... our body is killing thousands of them every day on its own anyway. :lol:
(Without killing those thousands of bacteria every day, we would die within few days.)
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Re: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby santa100 » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:00 pm

Bugs, ants, insects,... belong to the animal kingdom, so yes, they're definitely living beings we should avoid killing intentionally. As far as virus and bacteria, I wouldn't go too far as to avoid taking medicine after catching a nasty viral infection or a flu. But the best way is to stay in shape, eat right, exercise,... so you wont' catch a cold and won't have to use antibiotics/antiviral...
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Re: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby David2 » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:02 pm

santa100 wrote:But the best way is to stay in shape, eat right, exercise,... so you wont' catch a cold and won't have to use antibiotics/antiviral...


This way not the antibiotics do the killing, but your body itself kills more. :stirthepot:
Nothing wrong with it, though. ;)
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Re: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby chownah » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:04 pm

I think that usually the distinction is whether it is sentient or not.....I'm not sure if there is scriptural support for this or not but it is a common view...which of course points us to the question of how to define sentience......also, in a thread in a forum which is no longer functioning it was discussed about whether killing different things had different kamma and I think the scriptures supported the idea that larger animals had worse fruits than smaller ones......it was suggested by some that it was the neurological complexity that was the determinant but no Pali scriptural references were found to support that notion.
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Re: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby chownah » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:12 pm

I just thought of something....didn't the Buddha teach something to the effect that all beings fear death?.....if he taught that then perhaps if an animal is so undeveloped that they can not have the fear of death then they are exempt from the killing precept?....just wondering....never thought of this before....
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Re: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby David2 » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:15 pm

chownah wrote:I just thought of something....didn't the Buddha teach something to the effect that all beings fear death?.....if he taught that then perhaps if an animal is so undeveloped that they can not have the fear of death then they are exempt from the killing precept?....just wondering....never thought of this before....
chownah


So you are allowed to kill people who do not fear death? :D
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Re: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby whynotme » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:40 pm

This way not the antibiotics do the killing, but your body itself kills more.
Nothing wrong with it, though.

Besides bacteria, there are several small types of worm in our body, they may size several centimeters in length. And between bacteria and an ant, there are many different size of living things. Some bacteria are even visible to naked eyes.

And if it is killed, it is killed without my intention. My body is not me or myself, so I am not guilty
chownah wrote:I think that usually the distinction is whether it is sentient or not.....I'm not sure if there is scriptural support for this or not but it is a common view...which of course points us to the question of how to define sentience......also, in a thread in a forum which is no longer functioning it was discussed about whether killing different things had different kamma and I think the scriptures supported the idea that larger animals had worse fruits than smaller ones......it was suggested by some that it was the neurological complexity that was the determinant but no Pali scriptural references were found to support that notion.
chownah

I agree with you

But I don't like the idea that we calculate the kamma by the size of the victims. Kill an ant is aceptable because the bad kamma is small, think like that makes our mind narrower.
Yes, the size is important, but I don't killing isn't because kamma, it's just part of the reason. Mainly, I don't kill because metta, I don't want others to feel the pain, I don't want to harm others, even the smallest sentiences.

And as the bodhisatta Siddhartha didn't want to harm the sentiences in a water drop (I just remember so, hope that someone could bring the evidence in the suttas), so I think small sentiences is counted. How small? I don't know, wish I have the divine eyes.
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Re: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby acinteyyo » Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:45 pm

Did someone ever thought about that it's not so much about whether or not a "being" suffers from being killed but rather that it is about (the killer who's going to suffer because of) the state of mind which happens to be when the intentional act of killing is carried out? Maybe what should be considered killing does not depend on WHAT will be killed but whether or not there is the intention of killing whatsoever... know what I'm trying to say?

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
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Re: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby cooran » Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:03 pm

Hello all,

I am concerned because an inspection seems to indicate that my home has borers in the framework of the roof. I need to eradicate them or they will destroy the house. What to do? I've had a few sleepless nights worrying about this. I would be grateful for any thoughts on this, with textual links if possible.

Regarding viruses:
Here is an old post by Ven. Dhammanando on Dhammastudygroup:

> a) Are viruses living beings?
> b)Are bacteria living beings?

I don't think this is known for sure. The Pali texts refer to the "two
hundred families of worms" that share our bodies, and since the texts
seem to assume that they inhabit everyone's body one can't limit the
meaning to just tapeworms and the like, which afflict only some
persons. And so it might be tempting to identify these with bacteria
and viruses. However, the subject only comes up in the context of
descriptions of asubha meditation, and so the writers don't digress
into a discussion of how large these "worms" are or whether they are to
be classed as anything more than one-facultied beings (like plants).

> c) Is killing viruses bad kamma?
> d) Is killing bacteria bad kamma?

I think not. In Vinaya texts the precept against intentional killing is
broken only if the being killed is large enough to be visible to the
human eye.

> e) Can one be reborn as a virus? If so which plane (out of 31 planes
> of existence) is it?
> f) Can one be reborn as a bacteria? If so which plane (out of 31
> planes of existence) is it?

If viruses and bacteria are sentient beings, then yes. If not, then no.
If they are sentient beings then they would have to be included with
animals, since they are too small to be any other kind of amanussa.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastu ... sage/66316

with metta
Chris
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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
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Re: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:00 pm

cooran wrote:Hello all,

I am concerned because an inspection seems to indicate that my home has borers in the framework of the roof.
Don't kill them, you'll end up with no home and your house will be a blight in the neighborhood and source for the infestation of other homes.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby daverupa » Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:08 pm

Insects and pest control from dhammawiki; may as well line up the resources.

"Salt cube in the Ganges" sums it up for me.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:13 pm

Even for vegans, a line has to be drawn some where. For me, a clear line is in the biological kingdoms of life. Opinions vary, but many biologists place it as:

Kingdom of Algae
Kingdom of Bacterium
Kingdom of Fungi
Kingdom of Plants
Kingdom of Animals (includes humans)

The animal kingdom consists entirely of sentient beings. For the other kingdoms, it is not quite so clear and there is no rebirth to these kingdoms. Therefore, a clear line, imo, is that there should be no killing (or as little as possible, at least without intent) to all members of the Animal Kingdom. Beyond that, we need to breathe and eat.
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Re: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby santa100 » Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:55 pm

Cooran wrote:
I am concerned because an inspection seems to indicate that my home has borers in the framework of the roof. I need to eradicate them or they will destroy the house. What to do? I've had a few sleepless nights worrying about this. I would be grateful for any thoughts on this, with textual links if possible


At Home Depot, there're rodent/pest repellants that emitt high-pitch frequencies (un-detectable to human ears, but very annoying to the pests) that will drive them away. Make sure to identify the exact type of borers so you can get the right "frequency" emitter for them..
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Re: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby cooran » Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:24 pm

Hello Santa100,

Can't seem to find them here:
http://www.yourhomedepot.com.au/

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: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby daverupa » Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:29 pm

That might be because electronic pest control is bogus.

here comes the science

The evidence for these devices comes solely in the form of testimonials, but alas, the plural of "anecdote" is not "data".
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:35 pm

Hi Chris,

I'm sure you've heard this before, but the survival of any living being (such as you or me) is in some ways detrimental to other living beings. Building the house in the first place undoubtedly killed many beings, either directly or by depriving them of habitat. I think that it is important to recognise that all we can do is reduce our impact, not eliminate it.

:anjali:
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Re: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby cooran » Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:44 pm

thanks Mike, all,

The problem lies with 'intentional' and 'unintentional' when it comes to Kamma-vipaka.

There are very many beings (borers) in the timber. To hire a Pestie to treat the house would be intentional action. But to not hire a Pestie would mean the house will become ruined, and I won't be able to sell it - which is my intention in the next year - and this is a financial need.

with metta
Chris
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---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: Killing, what should be considered killing? Bacteria, virus?

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:24 pm

mikenz66 wrote:I'm sure you've heard this before, but the survival of any living being (such as you or me) is in some ways detrimental to other living beings. Building the house in the first place undoubtedly killed many beings, either directly or by depriving them of habitat. I think that it is important to recognise that all we can do is reduce our impact, not eliminate it.


Good points. I think the only way one can truly avoid all killing of even the smallest insects is to live as a Jain ascetic with no clothes and no shelter. And even then, it may be impossible. :o Even though he eats the tops of veggies, not killing the source plant, there may be some very tiny nematodes on those plants.

Reduced killing is probably the only feasible solution.
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