Bedbugs and the 1st precept

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

Bed Bugs

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:45 pm

Hello Everyone,

I am currently in the unenviable position of dealing with a possible bed bug infestation. I saw one walking across my stairs in broad daylight three days ago and my life has been turned upside down. Besides the obvious difficulties and expenses I'm incurring in preparing my home for the exterminators I am very concerned with my ongoing breach of the first precepts. I recall Ven. Thanissaro recommending a passage to be chanted from the suttas or commentary in such a situation. Any thoughts are appreciated as I am deeply disturbed by the situation but have a young family that I am duty bound to protect. Mettaya :heart:
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby seeker242 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:53 pm

Have you ever seen this? :smile:

Image
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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby Ben » Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:06 pm

I feel for you KB. As you know, I had to deal with a similar situation recently.
Sometimes we are placed in situations where we have to make very hard decisions.
And I know that for you, extermination would be an absolute last resort.
kind regards,

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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby Hickersonia » Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:08 pm

I'm glad that I'm not the only one that has concern over this type of issue...

I have no easy answer either, but if I end up in the situation where I have this sort of problem again (not bed bugs specifically, but ants and other such little beings), I intend to act without hatred or malice while removing as many of them as I can non-violently before executing my obligations to uphold my landlord's expectations of a reasonably insect-free property.

Life isn't always fair. Neither apparently is karma, disease, or death. :(

As for the posted sign (thank you seeker242), I imagine it is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid such things as local ordinances, state regulatory requirements, and insurance policies start requiring it...
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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby bodom » Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:11 pm

A few months ago are entire apartment complex was over run with bed bugs. Me my wife and two young children were waking up every morning with red itching spots all over our bodies from being bitten every night. Sometimes I would wake in the middle of the night to find them crawling on my newborn son. We spent a lot of money replacing beds and furniture to no avail. Finally we had to have pest control come and take care of the problem. My suggestion is not to wait for the problem to go away because it absolutely will only get worse. Do what you need to do for your family.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby Hickersonia » Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:18 pm

Expanding on this a bit... it has occurred to me that if I want to buy a house, I have to have a termite inspection done in order to get a loan. If there are termites, they have to be exterminated as part of the process, and then (regardless of the current presence of termites) poisons must be put down to kill them in the future to insure the finance against potential losses from termite damage. So, unless I have a huge currency stock [I don't], financing a house (at least where I live) requires me to violate the first precept.

Similarly, if we have a bed bug infestation in our home, my wife has to remain home from her work at her preschool until a professional exterminator can certify in writing that our home is bed-bug free. This, of course, has to be done in a timely manner or she faces the loss of her job (thankfully this has not been a concern for us yet!).

I have come to the conclusion that being forced by someone else to perform the act somewhat [not entirely] mitigates the violation, but I am not going to say that my conclusion is entirely correct except in that it helps me sleep at night... :-/
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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:29 pm

Thank you everyone for your posts and advice. I really appreciate your concern and well wishes. Mettaya :heart:
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:54 pm

The Household life is full of dust (sorry)

it is something you need to take care of, it is unfortunate, but, remember the precept is mainly concerned with human life and corresponds to the Parajika more so than the paccitia, although the commentaries to the vinaya for this rule for novices also deals with bed bug eggs and it is fair to say the paccitia is included to a degree for lay people also.

but at the end of the day is there really any other option to get rid of them?
you obviously can not let them stay, so what are the options, and are they viable?

why not try to ask them to go and tell them what you will need to do if they do not leave on their own during a sitting? then start vacuum thouraly everywhere, and once you have finished, do some form of memorial specifically for them?

I have tried posting this several times now :tantrum:
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:43 pm

Hi Cittasanto,

Thanks for the advice. I'll definitely give it a try. :heart:
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:51 pm

Khalil Bodhi wrote:Hi Cittasanto,

Thanks for the advice. I'll definitely give it a try. :heart:

I know of some New Age/Wicca inclined people in the UK do this with long-tails and mice, in the UK at least so there is no reason it wouldn't work for bugs if it works for them?

I have heard there is a cemetary in Japan with momorials that companies put up dedicated to the workers who lost their lives through some means while in employment in their firm, and a company which specialises in termites had put up a memorial for the termites and said that this is a needed service and a means of livelihood, not a personal thing to the termites, and may they gain a fortunate birth.
obviously not exact :) but if nothing else it is considerate, and showing some form of respect. I will PM you with something in a moment.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby Fede » Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:56 pm

Cittasanto wrote:.......once you have finished, do some form of memorial specifically for them?

I have tried posting this several times now :tantrum:


Well, you finally made it.... :twothumbsup:

Kahil, Lama Surya Das recounts in one of his 'Awakening Trilogy' books that a USA-based monastery, which i believe had actually simply been established in an old and disused school, was over-run with cockroaches...
At first, the monks tried to welcome their 'little brothers' and make allowances for their being there.... but after a while, visitor numbers began falling off, retreats were badly attended, and people simply stopped visiting in adequate numbers - the little critters became pests, and soon after that, became a menace.
in spite of every different effort made by all the monks, to clean the place from top to bottom, and (indeed, as cittasanto suggests) talking to them, entreating them to reduce their numbers or leave), the problem reached critical point.....
the monks sent word back to the 'mother monastery' (in Nepal, if memory serves me well) and eventually, they reluctantly decided that the 'roaches had to go, and the exterminators were brought in.
the monks offered many mantras and "prayers" wishing the cockroaches a better, more auspicious and more fortunate re-birth - but that still meant killing them.

It had to be done.

Your bedbugs?
Ditto.
It has to be done.

Living according to the Precepts and The 8fold path is one of the hardest things we can ask of ourselves.

I maintain it's far more difficult to do the right thing, and adhere to such guidance, than it is to follow the 'rules' of any other religion I know, simply because *The Buck Stops Here*.
But it does not entail bearing guilt, or whupping ourselves over the head with a metaphorical Buddhist frying pan (or skillet, as some call it....).
It means understanding that Stress is caused, and can be transcended, through correct practice and application.
And correct practice and application, is often unsavoury, unpleasant and challenging.
but it's still 'Right'.

With much metta,

Fede.

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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:08 pm

There is a poison for flees that you give to your pets, in form of pills, that don't kill the flees. It only sterilizes them. And they soon disapear. Maybe there is a poison with the same efects your exterminator can use. :shrug:
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby Samvega » Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:59 am

First:

Remember that samsara is messy. You do what you have to do to minimize your samsaric footprint, but in the end your have responsibilities to yourself and your family.

Ernest Becker says:


*Existence, for all organismic life, is a constant struggle to feed -- a struggle to incorporate whatever other organisms they can fit into their mouths and press down their gullets without choking. Seen in these stark terms, life on this planet is a gory spectacle, a science-fiction nightmare in which digestive tracts fitted with teeth at one end are tearing away at whatever flesh they can reach, and at the other end are piling up the fuming waste excrement as they move along in search of more flesh

*...each organism raises its head over a field of corpses, smiles into the sun, and declares life good.

Second:

The more you waffle on what you have to do, the more insect you're going to kill as the infestation grows. Be compassionate and take action ASAP before your killing a million beings instead of a hundred.
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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby EmptyShadow » Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:46 pm

Khalil Bodhi wrote:Hello Everyone,

I am currently in the unenviable position of dealing with a possible bed bug infestation. I saw one walking across my stairs in broad daylight three days ago and my life has been turned upside down. Besides the obvious difficulties and expenses I'm incurring in preparing my home for the exterminators I am very concerned with my ongoing breach of the first precepts. I recall Ven. Thanissaro recommending a passage to be chanted from the suttas or commentary in such a situation. Any thoughts are appreciated as I am deeply disturbed by the situation but have a young family that I am duty bound to protect. Mettaya :heart:


How big infestations you guys are talking about?
The way i deal with bugs, mainly fleas is by catching them and releasing them outside the house.And in my life i dont remeber ever being attacked by hundreds of fleas at once :tongue: ,so that the usual way of getting rid of them to be insufficient.
Also the bed bugs kinda dont jump so thay just sit there just waiting to be moved outside, and you dont need hunting skills to catch them :jedi:
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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby Mr Man » Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:09 pm

Khalil Bodhi wrote: I recall Ven. Thanissaro recommending a passage to be chanted from the suttas or commentary in such a situation.


This possibly?

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... on.html#s5


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RysZqfstJ0
Last edited by Mr Man on Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby Ferox » Fri Apr 20, 2012 4:15 am

this seems to just be one of those things that is unavoidable to the house holder. I agree with what Cittisanto is saying. Bed Bugs is more then a mere uncomfortable nuisance and without a doubt needs to be dealt with in one way or another as it effects not just your family but the whole community.
-just one more being treading the ancient path of Dhamma-
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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby EmptyShadow » Fri Apr 20, 2012 3:53 pm

But it's killing! It's "funny" how ppl expect to get rid of bad kamma results by doing more bad kamma.
I dont know what's the best solusion for massive infestation but to me it seems that many buddhists dont take the first precept very seriously and go for the poison or call exterminators after seeing one bug or so.
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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Fri Apr 20, 2012 4:01 pm

EmptyShadow,

I can assure you that I take the first precept very seriously to the point of escorting mice and cockroaches out the door and to the street. Furthermore, I am aware that there are kammic implications for my actions. Were I to be a monk and not responsible for my childrens' welfare I could see handling it differently but, at present, I am not. The problem with bed bugs is that they spread like wildfire and multiply like crazy which means that they will soon overrun an apartment building. See here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/bedbugs/html/home/home.shtml Mettaya.
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-Dhp. 183

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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby EmptyShadow » Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:09 pm

Hello Mettaya

Sorry if i have insulted someone with my previous post, it was not my intension.
Also it wasn't addressed specifically to you but more to old topic about fleas where many participants dont show any mercy to insects and other animals(mices), and admit that thay kill or would kill them if thay disturb their lives in any way.

I dont know how big is your problem with bed bugs and what's like to take care of and protect your family/ children so i realy dont want to judje your decisions. :anjali:
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Re: Bed Bugs

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:17 pm

EmptyShadow wrote:Hello Mettaya

Sorry if i have insulted someone with my previous post, it was not my intension.
Also it wasn't addressed specifically to you but more to old topic about fleas where many participants dont show any mercy to insects and other animals(mices), and admit that thay kill or would kill them if thay disturb their lives in any way.

I dont know how big is your problem with bed bugs and what's like to take care of and protect your family/ children so i realy dont want to judje your decisions. :anjali:


Hi EmptyShadow,

No harm done and no offense taken. Samsara is a bad deal all around. Sukhi hotu!
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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