Refrain from killing...

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Refrain from killing...

Postby Buckwheat » Fri Apr 26, 2013 8:32 pm

The Buddha taught us not to kill sentient beings, but plants are OK (but not for monastics). Does the Buddha ever define precisely which life forms are to be regarded as "sentient". It seems that generally mammals are the most common examples of what not to kill. What about insects (are they really "sentient")? bacteria? Fungi are neither plant nor animal, and some claim fungi display forms of intelligence ( :alien: ). On the other hand, jellyfish do not have a brain, does this make them non-sentient?

Of course, even if something is defined as non-sentient, does not mean that we would be skillful in killing the entity for selfish or heedless motives. I am just curious how people in this community define sentience and what creatures they see as having sentience.

I would like to keep this discussion within the Theravada tradition, not referencing any Mahayana, Hindu, Tao, etc. definitions unless they are used to clarify the Theravada view.
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Re: Refrain from killing...

Postby Dennenappelmoes » Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:09 pm

The way I see it, definitions like these are deliberately open to interpretation to allow for your own wisdom. That said, in the monasteries I know of they certainly do not kill any insects either. Drawing a line based on knowledge (rather than wisdom) is dangerous in my opinion, since knowledge changes over time (I mean talking about brains etc). If you'd have to draw a line though, then maybe it's more helpful to base your decision on the following question: Does this being want to be happy and avoid suffering? If we see that it does, this opens the door to empathise and feel metta for this creature. (AFAIK this is a Mahayana approach, but that doesn't disqualify it as "untrue" or "not useful" for the Theravada path) I think even a jellyfish shows this behaviour. In fact, since not killing is about creating good karma, even destroying a teddybear could be bad karma as it disturbs your mind if you perceived it as having sentient-being-like traits.

I'd say, if it moves, just try not to kill it. I'd say the act of broadening our definition of "sentient being" is a training in itself.
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Re: Refrain from killing...

Postby Hickersonia » Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:02 pm

I think I go with Dennenappelmoes' response for the most part... and he brings up "destroying a teddybear" could be bad karma: I agree -- it reminds me of all those violent video games I used to play. Just watching the mind a little bit showed me just how much anger and negativity it was really building, just playing a game!

Just like I don't think using antibiotics, or antibacterial soaps and cleansers, etc. cause breach of precept unless we use them with the intent to kill something that we can actually see (like, if I spray an ant on my kitchen counter with bleach).

Intending no harm isn't exactly the same as doing no harm, I think... or if it is, getting in my car and splattering bugs across my windscreen to drive to work in the summer is likely going to send me to one of the lowest hells...
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Re: Refrain from killing...

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:28 pm

Considering that the Suttas refer to living beings, living creatures and that the cosmology includes humans and animals, not plants, bacteria, algae, etc. I think the demarcation line is clear:

The Animal Kingdom

Anything in the animal kingdom (includes humans) is a living, sentient being, which includes mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and insects. I don't have the reference handy but recall something to the effect of Buddha saying that anything we cannot see that we accidentally kill does not have intent and therefore, no transgression.

This demarcation line includes significantly more beings than say the typical theistic religions who see 'no killing' as applying only to humans, but also less than the Jain view that all killing is bad even of plants and micro-organisms (which is impossible to uphold). Buddhism, again is in the Middle when compared to these 2 extremes.
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Re: Refrain from killing...

Postby Dennenappelmoes » Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:56 pm

Hickersonia wrote:Intending no harm isn't exactly the same as doing no harm, I think... or if it is, getting in my car and splattering bugs across my windscreen to drive to work in the summer is likely going to send me to one of the lowest hells...


Yeah, intention is always a key factor in my opinion. In a talk on morality (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNXeAK591Nc) Ajahn Brahmali mentioned this is ok so long as you don't drive your car for the purpose of killing insects. So I guess you're off the hook :thumbsup:
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Re: Refrain from killing...

Postby Buckwheat » Sat Apr 27, 2013 8:23 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:The Animal Kingdom

Thanks, David.
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Re: Refrain from killing...

Postby Dennenappelmoes » Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:53 pm

Buckwheat wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:The Animal Kingdom

Thanks, David.


I am not entirely conviced by this definition. The animal kindom includes vegitative lifeforms as well. The only thing the label "animal" stands for, is organisms that have cell nuclei and no cell walls. I think a definition based on behaviour is more adequate, even though in practise this comes down to the animal kingdom in 99% of the cases.
Call me a nitpicker, but just to avoid any potential dogmas :rules:
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Re: Refrain from killing...

Postby hopedhamma » Sun May 05, 2013 1:57 pm

living things that we should refrain from killing are those that have citta and cettasika. But the most important thing is "the intention to kill". The killing will be completed and considered as kamma or karma with these combinations

1. that animal has life
2. knowing that it has a life
3. has intention to kill
4. try to kill
5. the animal is dead because of that action

"intention" is very subtle to notice, it is chetana chettasika (intention chetasika) that arises everytime citta arises. The intention not to kill is from a good citta and on the other way round, intention to kill is from an bad citta. walk and step foot on the ant isnt considered as kamma, but trying to step on it because it is annoying is considered as kamma and whenever there's bad kamma occur, there will be consequences or called akusala vipaka. Akusala vipaka give results through all 5 senses which are to see unpleasant thing, to hear unpleasant thing, smell, tongue, body sense.....

Those who kill a lot usually result in sickness, accidents, and that is the result of taking lives or hurting lives

Not to kill is much harder than to just kill.
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Re: Refrain from killing...

Postby Coyote » Sun May 05, 2013 2:23 pm

What about if you think something is alive and try to kill it, but it doesn't actually die because it wasn't alive in the first place? Like trying to kill a tree and believing it is sentient? Given that the intention to kill is present in the mind, even though no killing occurs, I would have thought that it would still be akusala kamma. Or is it just delusion?
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Re: Refrain from killing...

Postby Lazy_eye » Sun May 05, 2013 4:17 pm

Wonder if swarm intelligence adds another twist to this precept...

I have to say that in the past I didn't really get all that worked up about the death of ants. It's not clear what degree of sentience is possessed by an individual ant.

However, an ant colony has about the same number of brain cells as an individual human. If we view the colony as being like a brain, then we might have reason to believe it is quite sentient.

Kind of makes you think, doesn't it? (no pun intended!)
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Re: Refrain from killing...

Postby SarathW » Mon May 06, 2013 12:50 am

I think, there is no direct answer to this question. It depend on your level of understanding.
Depend on whether you are a lay person, monk or a person who have attained any stage of sainthood will have different interpretations.
For example a person who attained Arahantship will not even think about killing in any form, as they are free from mental fabrications.

What we should understand is that every cause will have an effect.

You are killing yoursef, when you kill someone or something .

So, you are the sentient. :shrug:
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Re: Refrain from killing...

Postby hopedhamma » Mon May 06, 2013 1:35 am

Coyote wrote:What about if you think something is alive and try to kill it, but it doesn't actually die because it wasn't alive in the first place? Like trying to kill a tree and believing it is sentient? Given that the intention to kill is present in the mind, even though no killing occurs, I would have thought that it would still be akusala kamma. Or is it just delusion?


Akusala Kamma is also dhamma, the intention to kill is akusala citta not kamma, the intention to kill without completing the 5 points does not considered as success killing, but the intention to kill had already arised as akusala citta. the Akusala citta will accumulate in a self waiting to arise again when there's any factor to arise

Rupa dhamma without citta and chetasika such as trees, rocks, soil, chairs, tables, are not considered as life. Trees don't hear, smell, taste, think, see, feeling pain unlike ants... and so killing trees are not considered as Akulsala Kamma.

In our everyday life, which one is more? Akusala Citta or Kusala citta? Starting from opening our eyes in the morning. The desire to have clean teeth, picking nice clothes to work? Whenever it is not kusala citta, that moment is Akusala Citta. Wanting to get a tree to build for a furniture, the moment chopping the tree with the desire is driven by Akusala Citta. But, teaching is not to force us not to have Akusala Citta or Akusala kamma, the Buddha teaching teaches us to know the condition of Akusala Citta and Kusala Citta when ever it arises.

For those who won't ever kill again is Ariya Person which is Sodabhan Ariya onward. Sodabhan Ariya will not break any 5 sila starting from killing, robbing, telling lies, having sexual affairs, and drinking alcohol.
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Re: Refrain from killing...

Postby SarathW » Mon May 06, 2013 3:02 am

Hopedhamma
You said:-"the intention to kill is akusala citta not kamma"


The Buddha says:— “I declare, O Bhikkhus, that volition (cetanā)
is Kamma"

Page 265
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/buddh ... gsurw6.pdf
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Re: Refrain from killing...

Postby hopedhamma » Mon May 06, 2013 5:08 am

SarathW wrote:Hopedhamma
You said:-"the intention to kill is akusala citta not kamma"


The Buddha says:— “I declare, O Bhikkhus, that volition (cetanā)
is Kamma"

Page 265
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/buddh ... gsurw6.pdf



That's because the action that has already completed with Cetana Chetasik is considered as Kamma

However,

The Chetana or intention to kill which has not been done by the action is akusala chetasik (think that I will kill this ant ) and thus making the citta that arises together become Akusala Citta.


The intention to kill the ants, at that moment, Akusala Citta arises but it has not yet been completed as Kamma because we just think we'll kill and have not done them yet.

So, there are 2 conditions here

- The first scenario is the intention to kill but has not been completed the killing, then, the akusala kamma is not yet occured. But the akusala citta is real and it has already arised

- The second scenario is the intention to kill and the killing is completed with that intention. Then, it is considered as akusala kamma

Dhamma and the Buddha teaching is very detailed and require detailed considerations with determinations. A person wants to kill the ants (at this moment, Akusala Dhamma arise) but doesn't really necessary that he/she will always do it. The moment before killing, Satipattana might rise ( Mahakusala Jhanasamprayut ) knowing the dhamma condition at that moment and refrain from killing it and thus not Akusala kamma and as the result, no Asksala Vipaka.
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