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Dhamma Wheel • View topic - How bad is killing a mosquito?

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 bodom » Sat Oct 02, 2010 4:34 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:Because Bodom what the Buddha is describing is a series of arisings due to kamma vipika....not a discrete entity which becomes another discrete entity.
There may indeed be kammic implications in intentional killing...but that does not mean that one sentient being BECOMES another sentient being. Rather that conditions arise in accord with kamma , and that those conditions may be both impossible to predict and varied.
This is not simply a matter of semantics. It goes to the heart of the Buddhas actual teaching on Punarbhava that sets it apart from the ideas of Hindu reincarnation.



Right you are. Thank you for clarifying your position.

: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: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Sanghamitta » Sat Oct 02, 2010 4:36 pm

Or rather ..right HE was... :smile:
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby ground » Sat Oct 02, 2010 5:29 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:
TMingyur wrote:
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….


I concur.

The only thing to do is to regret form the depth of one's heart, openly admit one's misdeed, practice the teachings as never did before and consequently abstain from any further killing in the future.

The worst thing to do is to justify or seek justifications.

kind regards

The idea that a mosquito has been a human being in a previous birth, or that a mosquito has been a mosquito, or a human being a human being in previous births... is completely at odds with the concept of Punarbhava as found in the Suttas.
It is in fact a variation of the idea of an atta.

No. cooran has just expressed what the Buddha taught applying conventional language.
"Atta" is just your projection when reading those words.
Not inherently different but also not inherently identical but in conventional terms the difference between "human being in a previous birth" and "mosquito now" is not the same difference as the difference between two different persons now.

Sanghamitta wrote:Because Bodom what the Buddha is describing is a series of arisings due to kamma vipika....not a discrete entity which becomes another discrete entity.

Again I concur.

Now do you infer that you need not care about your conduct since you are neither an entity in this present life nor there is an entity in the succeeding existence that has to deal with the consequences of your actions?

Kind regards
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Individual » Sat Oct 02, 2010 8:59 pm

To clarify this, let's first discuss human suffering:

When you have any sensation, it is the result of receptors in your tissue. By "receptors," I mean actual tiny physical objects embedded in your tissue, that can be all kinds of funny shapes. And their specific shape and chemical make-up is what determines their function. So, for example, pressure-receptors are shaped like little bubbles, so that when your skin is compressed, the contents of the bubbles is also compressed, triggering a reaction which is detected by a neuron (receptors have neurons connected to them to communicate that reception has occurred). Receptors for temperature occur because their shape is altered by temperature and your taste & smell receptors are like little keyholes which only certain molecules fit into (sugars fit into sweet receptors, salts fit into salty receptors, etc.).

Pain receptors -- called nocireceptors -- are receptors that transmit a signal when tissue has been damaged (literally drastically altered chemically or physically). When you feel pain, it travels up nerve fibers to your spine, travels up to the brain, and there, the pain is registered. Emotional anguish (which you may feel because of physical pain or just all by itself) is governed by the limbic system of the brain, called the "emotional center".

So, you understand me so far?

OK, now imagine you're an insect:
-You have no nocireceptors that detect pain
-Even if you did, you have no spine (insects are invertebrates) to carry the signal to the brain
-And even if you had a spine, your brain is not sophisticated enough to experience something like "emotional anguish".

Instead, insect intelligence is mechanical, like a venus fly-trap. When a fly lands in a venus fly-trap, it has receptors that detect something is there, causing the plant's leaves to close. But would anybody here say that a venus fly-trap is "aware", that trimming its leaves causes "suffering"?
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Lazy_eye » Sun Oct 03, 2010 3:28 am

However...

Research repeatedly shows how insects are capable of some intelligent behaviours scientists previously thought was unique to larger animals. Honeybees, for example, can
count, categorise similar objects like dogs or human faces, understand 'same' and 'different', and differentiate between shapes that are symmetrical and asymmetrical.This must

...Much 'advanced' thinking can actually be done with very limited neuron numbers. Computer modelling shows that even consciousness can be generated with very small neural circuits, which could in theory easily fit into an insect brain. In fact, the models suggest that counting could be achieved with only a few hundred nerve cells and only a few thousand could be enough to generate consciousness.


http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 124009.htm

Also, "suffering" does not necessarily equal "physical pain". If that were the case, instead of seeking enlightenment, we might as well strive for rebirth as some form of life that lacks nocireceptors.
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Individual » Sun Oct 03, 2010 5:21 am

Lazy_eye wrote:However...

Research repeatedly shows how insects are capable of some intelligent behaviours scientists previously thought was unique to larger animals. Honeybees, for example, can
count, categorise similar objects like dogs or human faces, understand 'same' and 'different', and differentiate between shapes that are symmetrical and asymmetrical.This must

...Much 'advanced' thinking can actually be done with very limited neuron numbers. Computer modelling shows that even consciousness can be generated with very small neural circuits, which could in theory easily fit into an insect brain. In fact, the models suggest that counting could be achieved with only a few hundred nerve cells and only a few thousand could be enough to generate consciousness.


http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 124009.htm

Also, "suffering" does not necessarily equal "physical pain". If that were the case, instead of seeking enlightenment, we might as well strive for rebirth as some form of life that lacks nocireceptors.

Science has also shown the same of plants and bacteria, though, too. Microbial intelligence is an example that springs to mind which is readily found on Google.
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Sanghamitta » Sun Oct 03, 2010 5:58 am

Jainism here we come....little brooms and surgical masks to the fore.
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Sanghamitta » Sun Oct 03, 2010 6:39 am

I concur.

The only thing to do is to regret form the depth of one's heart, openly admit one's misdeed, practice the teachings as never did before and consequently abstain from any further killing in the future.

The worst thing to do is to justify or seek justifications.

kind regards[/quote]
The idea that a mosquito has been a human being in a previous birth, or that a mosquito has been a mosquito, or a human being a human being in previous births... is completely at odds with the concept of Punarbhava as found in the Suttas.
It is in fact a variation of the idea of an atta.[/quote]
No. cooran has just expressed what the Buddha taught applying conventional language.
"Atta" is just your projection when reading those words.
Not inherently different but also not inherently identical but in conventional terms the difference between "human being in a previous birth" and "mosquito now" is not the same difference as the difference between two different persons now.

Sanghamitta wrote:Because Bodom what the Buddha is describing is a series of arisings due to kamma vipika....not a discrete entity which becomes another discrete entity.

Again I concur.

Now do you infer that you need not care about your conduct since you are neither an entity in this present life nor there is an entity in the succeeding existence that has to deal with the consequences of your actions?

Kind regards[/quote]
T Mingyur I understand that yoiu are a student of Tibetan Buddhism, and as such I see little point in dialogue. We could perhaps find a form of words that could bridge this present wee gap...but there would still yawn the giant chasm of Tulkus , Docetic Buddhas, " Buddha Nature ", the Trikaya doctrine etc etc.
I will leave it there and wish you well.

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

Postby fabianfred » Sun Oct 03, 2010 7:21 am

Individual wrote:To clarify this, let's first discuss human suffering:

When you have any sensation, it is the result of receptors in your tissue. By "receptors," I mean actual tiny physical objects embedded in your tissue, that can be all kinds of funny shapes. And their specific shape and chemical make-up is what determines their function. So, for example, pressure-receptors are shaped like little bubbles, so that when your skin is compressed, the contents of the bubbles is also compressed, triggering a reaction which is detected by a neuron (receptors have neurons connected to them to communicate that reception has occurred). Receptors for temperature occur because their shape is altered by temperature and your taste & smell receptors are like little keyholes which only certain molecules fit into (sugars fit into sweet receptors, salts fit into salty receptors, etc.).

Pain receptors -- called nocireceptors -- are receptors that transmit a signal when tissue has been damaged (literally drastically altered chemically or physically). When you feel pain, it travels up nerve fibers to your spine, travels up to the brain, and there, the pain is registered. Emotional anguish (which you may feel because of physical pain or just all by itself) is governed by the limbic system of the brain, called the "emotional center".

So, you understand me so far?

OK, now imagine you're an insect:
-You have no nocireceptors that detect pain
-Even if you did, you have no spine (insects are invertebrates) to carry the signal to the brain
-And even if you had a spine, your brain is not sophisticated enough to experience something like "emotional anguish".

Instead, insect intelligence is mechanical, like a venus fly-trap. When a fly lands in a venus fly-trap, it has receptors that detect something is there, causing the plant's leaves to close. But would anybody here say that a venus fly-trap is "aware", that trimming its leaves causes "suffering"?


It is irrelevant whether a being suffers when being killed or not...... to all beings life is precious and we have no right to take that life away.
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby ground » Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:52 am

Sanghamitta wrote:T Mingyur I understand that yoiu are a student of Tibetan Buddhism, and as such I see little point in dialogue. We could perhaps find a form of words that could bridge this present wee gap...but there would still yawn the giant chasm of Tulkus , Docetic Buddhas, " Buddha Nature ", the Trikaya doctrine etc etc.
I will leave it there and wish you well.

Valerie. :anjali:


That's okay. Although none of the items you are listing actually directly touch the issue under discussion and the concepts of "Tulkus" and "Buddha nature" are irrelevant for my personal practice we possibly do not share the same kind of "middle way" view.
Best wishes for your progress on the path.

Kind regards
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Lazy_eye » Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:07 pm

Individual wrote:Science has also shown the same of plants and bacteria, though, too. Microbial intelligence is an example that springs to mind which is readily found on Google.


Yes, and that raises some interesting questions. Should Buddhists encourage the use of antibiotics?

Going back to what Dan suggested earlier, I'd say that common sense applies. This is not Jainism, but the "Middle Way". We do our best.

My point was simply that we can't use the "automaton" theory to excuse the heedless and frequently unnecessary killing of animal or insect life. For most of the 20th century, and much of the 19th, scientists confidently assured us that animals do not have intelligence or a meaningful experience of the cosmos (as defined by us, of course). This patently self-serving assumption has had dangerous consequences, and it has now been largely debunked.

LE
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Hanzze » Mon Oct 04, 2010 2:21 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:24 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 Hanzze » Mon Oct 04, 2010 2:49 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:24 pm, edited 2 times 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 ground » Mon Oct 04, 2010 3:09 pm

I don't think it is appropriate to ridicule ethical conduct. Better to strive to perfect it and encourage others to strive so too.

Kind regards
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Lazy_eye » Mon Oct 04, 2010 4:16 pm

I'm not sure the previous poster was ridiculing anything. Tone can sometimes be misunderstood on discussion boards.

I think he's actually raising an critical point. Although we can strive to perfect sila, that goal actually can't be realized short of liberation. Because samsara by nature brings up ethical dilemmas (one being's gain is always at another's loss; subject/object relations are unavoidable) as long as we have any attachment to it, or to a sense of self, questions like this will inevitably arise.

As I understand it, Zen would advocate attention to the fundamental problem (self-construction) as opposed to endless wrangling over the meaning of precepts. Of course, we're not on a Zen forum...but it's not a frivolous idea.

Is it far-fetched to say that a bodhisattva could manifest as a mosquito (or any other being)?

Where do you draw the line, TMingyur? Should a Buddhist brush his/her teeth, use antibiotics, or put disinfectant on a wound? All these actions are done with the intent to kill tiny organisms that would otherwise harm us. Plants are not sentient life according to the dhamma; cats and lemurs and humans and wasps are. But there's a large gray area where it's a bit hard to tell.

Really an excellent illustration of the defects of samsara if you ask me.
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Individual » Mon Oct 04, 2010 4:56 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
Individual wrote:Science has also shown the same of plants and bacteria, though, too. Microbial intelligence is an example that springs to mind which is readily found on Google.


Yes, and that raises some interesting questions. Should Buddhists encourage the use of antibiotics?

Going back to what Dan suggested earlier, I'd say that common sense applies. This is not Jainism, but the "Middle Way". We do our best.

My point was simply that we can't use the "automaton" theory to excuse the heedless and frequently unnecessary killing of animal or insect life. For most of the 20th century, and much of the 19th, scientists confidently assured us that animals do not have intelligence or a meaningful experience of the cosmos (as defined by us, of course). This patently self-serving assumption has had dangerous consequences, and it has now been largely debunked.

LE

I agree with this point, but disagree that it is the Middle Way.

The Middle Way falls between anthropocentrism (regarding humans as the center of the universe, the only thing of value) and committing the anthropomorphic fallacy (regarding non-human, even inanimate objects as humans or equal in value to humans, merely because they have certain shared qualities or similarities).

Furthermore, in this discussion people focus so much on conduct without regard to intent. People do not necessarily kill insects merely out of malice, but also out of regard for their own well-being. In this sense, it is no more unethical than a carnivore hunting its prey. In other words, has anybody here thought to ask whether it's immoral for the mosquito to bite people or fly in people's houses, uninvited? If yes, then perhaps death is the fruit of that action. If no, then why is it wrong for HUMANS to also act skillfully, for one's own well-being?
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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Annapurna » Mon Oct 04, 2010 5:05 pm

Individual wrote:To clarify this, let's first discuss human suffering:

When you have any sensation, it is the result of receptors in your tissue. By "receptors," I mean actual tiny physical objects embedded in your tissue, that can be all kinds of funny shapes. And their specific shape and chemical make-up is what determines their function. So, for example, pressure-receptors are shaped like little bubbles, so that when your skin is compressed, the contents of the bubbles is also compressed, triggering a reaction which is detected by a neuron (receptors have neurons connected to them to communicate that reception has occurred). Receptors for temperature occur because their shape is altered by temperature and your taste & smell receptors are like little keyholes which only certain molecules fit into (sugars fit into sweet receptors, salts fit into salty receptors, etc.).

Pain receptors -- called nocireceptors -- are receptors that transmit a signal when tissue has been damaged (literally drastically altered chemically or physically). When you feel pain, it travels up nerve fibers to your spine, travels up to the brain, and there, the pain is registered. Emotional anguish (which you may feel because of physical pain or just all by itself) is governed by the limbic system of the brain, called the "emotional center".

So, you understand me so far?

OK, now imagine you're an insect:
-You have no nocireceptors that detect pain
-Even if you did, you have no spine (insects are invertebrates) to carry the signal to the brain
-And even if you had a spine, your brain is not sophisticated enough to experience something like "emotional anguish".

Instead, insect intelligence is mechanical, like a venus fly-trap. When a fly lands in a venus fly-trap, it has receptors that detect something is there, causing the plant's leaves to close. But would anybody here say that a venus fly-trap is "aware", that trimming its leaves causes "suffering"?


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:

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Re: How bad is killing a mosquito?

Postby Hanzze » Mon Oct 04, 2010 5:22 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:23 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 Hanzze » Mon Oct 04, 2010 5:36 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:23 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 ground » Mon Oct 04, 2010 6:27 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Where do you draw the line, TMingyur?

Intention, correct perception of the object, affliction, performance and culmination of the action.

Lazy_eye wrote:Should a Buddhist brush his/her teeth, use antibiotics, or put disinfectant on a wound? All these actions are done with the intent to kill tiny organisms that would otherwise harm us. Plants are not sentient life according to the dhamma; cats and lemurs and humans and wasps are. But there's a large gray area where it's a bit hard to tell.

From a Mahayana point of view a buddhist should train to give his own life. But giving his own life should be compliant with wisdom and right purpose. Until wisdom is mature killing must be avoided considering the above criteria that determine what killing is and considering circumstances where there are alternatives to killing even if these cause additional burden and suffering for oneself.

Kind regards
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