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How to Get Rid of Pests and Bugs the Buddhist Way

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Don't know what's the matter with all you guys-------- have you all turned Buddhist? I hate ants,rats and mice and those sort of creatures and I will kill them the same as I did in my "home" country. Have you not seen the canine re-action to a Fly thats buzzing around him.He would I doubt not relish eating it but would quite happily kill it just to stop it from annoying him----------------- I AM THE SAME

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On 10/3/2017 at 7:46 AM, biplanebluey said:

Don't know what's the matter with all you guys-------- have you all turned Buddhist? I hate ants,rats and mice and those sort of creatures and I will kill them the same as I did in my "home" country. Have you not seen the canine re-action to a Fly thats buzzing around him.He would I doubt not relish eating it but would quite happily kill it just to stop it from annoying him----------------- I AM THE SAME

 

This is the Buddhist section of the forum. Hadn't you noticed? :smile:

 

A major goal of Buddhism is to get rid of all hate. Religions at their best tend to advise people that there are standards of behaviour which are better than the standards instinctively used by animals, and that such better standards will lead to greater happiness if we practice them.

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On 10/3/2017 at 11:48 AM, VincentRJ said:


 

 

This situation highlights the problem of strictly adhering to all the precepts of a religion that was founded many centuries ago when the general understanding of the environment around us, our biology, our planet and the universe, was so different or so limited compared with our modern scientific understanding.

 

 

Now it's obvious that 2,500 years ago, during the life of the Buddha, there was no knowledge of bacteria, microbes and viruses. The microscope did not exist in those times. It would therefore be impossible for the original Buddhist precepts to even mention such life forms as bacteria and microbes.

 

 

 

Don't forget that the Buddha was not setting down a collection of absolutes written in stone by God. The precepts were practical training rules to facilitate attaining enlightenment. The actual word used in the Pali Canon is either "living" or "breathing" (as in "Abandoning onslaught on breathing beings..."). Presumably it is easier to know if a creature is living and breathing than if it is "sentient." Perhaps because of this, in his commentary, Buddhaghosa says that to violate the precept one must "perceive the being to be living," which would be impossible in the case of bacteria.

 

IMO, and in line with Ven Buddhadhasa's thinking, what's important is the effect of actions on one's mental states. Would we really care much about killing an invisible microbe compared to, say, a kitten? The Canon says that the reason for not killing is that all creatures fear suffering and death, but that is not the observable behaviour of bacteria.

 


 

Quote

 

I interpret the Buddha's message here as, 'Do not kill or harm sentient creatures unnecessarily, or wantonly, or without compassionate regard to their suffering.'

 

It is possible to kill animals humanely.

 

 

I don't think that's what he really meant. As Ven Thannissaro says about the lay precepts:

 

" The precepts are formulated with no ifs, ands, or buts. This means that they give very clear guidance, with no room for waffling or less-than-honest rationalizations. An action either fits in with the precepts or it doesn't. Again, standards of this sort are very healthy to live by. Anyone who has raised children has found that, although they may complain about hard and fast rules, they actually feel more secure with them than with rules that are vague and always open to negotiation. Clear-cut rules don't allow for unspoken agendas to come sneaking in the back door of the mind. If, for example, the precept against killing allowed you to kill living beings when their presence is inconvenient, that would place your convenience on a higher level than your compassion for life.

Convenience would become your unspoken standard — and as we all know, unspoken standards provide huge tracts of fertile ground for hypocrisy and denial to grow. If, however, you stick by the standards of the precepts, then as the Buddha says, you are providing unlimited safety for the lives of all. There are no conditions under which you would take the lives of any living beings, no matter how inconvenient they might be. "

 

IMO, the message is that not killing/harming at all is the most skillful way to live life and attain enlightenment. But the Buddha recognized that this would not be possible some of the time, and that negative kamma would attach to the killing according to various factors (the intention, the relative virtue of a human victim, the size of a creature, etc).

 

At a Dhamma talk I attended, Ajahn Pasanno said that a major function of the precepts is to create mindfulness. i.e. The stopping and thinking when about to swat a mosquito cultivates mindfulness. I personally catch mossies in a plastic box and release them outside, but I don't have any problem spraying the place when the neighbour's cats bring fleas in because I can't see them and I can't catch them.

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14 hours ago, VincentRJ said:

 

This is the Buddhist section of the forum. Hadn't you noticed? :smile:

 

A major goal of Buddhism is to get rid of all hate. Religions at their best tend to advise people that there are standards of behaviour which are better than the standards instinctively used by animals, and that such better standards will lead to greater happiness if we practice them.

No I have not noticed-------- I got on to this discussion in my normal way in the general forum,so what makes this a specialbuddhist section ???

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You might want to have a look at the Buddhism Forum guidelines:

 

All are welcome "provided what you have to say is relevant to Buddhism." In answer to your question, yes, most of the regular posters in the Buddhism forum over the years have been Buddhists discussing Buddhism.

 

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On 10/4/2017 at 2:12 PM, camerata said:

 

The actual word used in the Pali Canon is either "living" or "breathing" (as in "Abandoning onslaught on breathing beings..."). Presumably it is easier to know if a creature is living and breathing than if it is "sentient." Perhaps because of this, in his commentary, Buddhaghosa says that to violate the precept one must "perceive the being to be living," which would be impossible in the case of bacteria.

 

 

As I've already mentioned, Camerata, nobody during the times of the Buddha was able to preceive bacteria in any shape or form. It is only through the development of modern scientific instruments that we have become aware of the existence of bacteria and thousands of other larger, but still very tiny species of living creatures, such as various microbes, which are also invisible to the naked eye.

 

All of these microscopic creatures breathe or transpire, but of course they don't have lungs. Worms breathe through their skin, which must be kept wet for the oxygen to pass through. Insects breathe using a network of tiny tubes called tracheae. Air enters the tubes through a row of holes along an insect's abdomen. 

 

Bacteria breathe a great variety of different substances. Those that take in oxygen are called aerobic bacteria. Those that breathe in other gases in order to survive, such as carbon dioxide, are called anaerobic bacteria.

 

Most species of fish don't have lungs.They have gills which can extract oxygen from the water.
Plants breathe through spores on their leaves. All living creatures or  organisms 'breathe' in some manner, or through some process. The only exception would appear to be viruses, and for this reason viruses are not considered to be true life forms, although the jusry is still out on this.
http://www.popsci.com.au/science/medicine/are-viruses-alive-new-evidence-says-yes,409690
 

"Scientists have long argued that viruses are nonliving, that they are bits of DNA and RNA shed from other cells.....But within the last decade, developments in virology have started to reveal more and more that viruses might in fact be alive."

 

"The precepts are formulated with no ifs, ands, or buts. This means that they give very clear guidance, with no room for waffling or less-than-honest rationalizations. An action either fits in with the precepts or it doesn't.


Clear-cut rules don't allow for unspoken agendas to come sneaking in the back door of the mind. If, for example, the precept against killing allowed you to kill living beings when their presence is inconvenient, that would place your convenience on a higher level than your compassion for life.

 

There's nothing that's clear-cut in reality. Clear-cut is just an idea in the mind, but we can talk about what appears to be generally true, based upon the observed evidence.

 

For example, it appears to be true, although not clear-cut, that no life-form, whether human, insect, worm or bacteria, can survive without either directly or indirectly causing the death of some other form of life. Life exists, and nature in its natural state exists, as a result of a continuous balance between prey and predator.

 

The Buddhist monk puts himself in the position of trying to do the least harm to the other visible and living creatures that he can imagine and is aware of, even to the extent of refusing to grow his own food in case he accidentally or unwittingly kills worms and insects in the ground.
But the reality is, the monk cannot live without others killing on his behalf. The rule that monks are allowed to eat meat as long as they have no reason to believe the animal was killed specifically for them, sound a bit too convenient to me. Obviously, any member of the public who is trying to gain merit by placing food in the monks' alms bowls, is not going to say, 'Dear, venerable monks, I have killed the best and the fattest of my chickens specifically for you.'  :smile:

 

This is why the Santi Asoke Buddhist communities in Thailand insist on being true vegetarians or vegans. However, the farmers in the Santi Asoke communities who produce food for the monks, will still unavoidably tend to kill worms and insects on behalf of the monks, and, as I've already explained, plants are breathing forms of life with some degree of sentience, so one cannot even be a vegetarian without killing, or without someone else killing one one's behalf a breathing, living form of life.

 

Perhaps we could claim that the only true Buddhist is a plant because plants do not harm either directly or indirectly any other life-form. But even this is not clear-cut. Some plants trap and consume insects. Other plants indirectly kill predator insects by emitting certain chemicals which attract other species of insects which then attack and kill the initial predator of the plant.

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The Buddha must have been well aware that there were living beings smaller than the eye can see but I think he would have laughed at the idea of trying to figure out whether they were sentient or breathing, or how to avoid killing these unseen creatures. It's just the kind of distraction that has no practical value in reaching enlightenment, and that he was at pains to avoid discussing.

 

It's the same with the monastic rule about not eating meat that you know has been killed specifically for you. All meat we eat is - indirectly - killed for us, yet we know he rejected mandatory vegetarianism. He had to draw a line somewhere that takes into account intent and control of the situation, and that was it.

 

The lay precept not to kill and the monastic rule about eating meat were in fact practical guidelines for achieving a specific objective.

 

As I am sure know, unwittingly killing worms in the ground is not bad kamma in Buddhism because there is no intent. There are several puzzling monastic rules (i.e. not growing food) that were devised because Buddhists were criticized by their over-zealous rivals, the Jains.

 

 

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10 hours ago, camerata said:

The Buddha must have been well aware that there were living beings smaller than the eye can see but I think he would have laughed at the idea of trying to figure out whether they were sentient or breathing, or how to avoid killing these unseen creatures. It's just the kind of distraction that has no practical value in reaching enlightenment, and that he was at pains to avoid discussing.

 

 

I see a contradiction here, Camerata. The Buddha might well have speculated or surmised that there existed smaller creatures than the eye can see, but to claim that he 'must have been well aware that there were living beings smaller than the eye can see', is a bit like claiming the Buddha must have been well aware that there existed an almighty, creator God. 

 

However, I agree that speculating on such issues, without the reasonable possibility of becoming well aware of the reality, could be viewed as having no practical value in relation to the Buddhist goal of cessation of suffering.

 

The lay precept not to kill and the monastic rule about eating meat were in fact practical guidelines for achieving a specific objective.

 

Again, I see this as contradictory and confusing, as indeed the founder of the Santi Asoke movement must have. Mammals such as cows, sheep, rabbits, kangaroos, and so on, are closer on the evolutionary scale to human beings. Such creatures can express in their braying, moaning and screeching, what we humans would interpret as suffering.

 

We can empathize with their suffering, so the principle of  'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you', can also make sense on a broader and more inclusive scale.

 

If one is trying to teach the general population not to kill, then surely one's message is significantly weakened if one allows the highest representatives of one's teachings, the Buddhist monks, to eat the products of such killing.

 

As I am sure you know, unwittingly killing worms in the ground is not bad kamma in Buddhism because there is no intent. There are several puzzling monastic rules (i.e. not growing food) that were devised because Buddhists were criticized by their over-zealous rivals, the Jains.

 

That is itself an interesting topic, the historical reasons for certain rules, which in the light of modern knowledge might appear to be seriously flawed.
I agree that unwittingly, or accidentally, or unavoidably killing worms, or other creatures in the soil, in order to produce food in order to survive, should not be viewed as resulting in bad Karma. 

 

However, if one is aware that tilling the soil, or digging a hole with a spade in order to plant something, is very likely to result in the killing of worms or other soil organisms, then perhaps unwittingly is not the best word, and a degree of intention is involved. 

 

If the soil is healthy, in an organic-gardening situation, there will always be a multitude of worms, insects and microbes. Modern science tells us that the total quantity of life in the few metres of soil below the surface exceeds by far the total quantity of life above the surface. To quote:
"In a single handful of soil there are a billion organisms, 10 million species and more DNA than in a human body. "

 

When I first heard of the Santi Asoke movement, and that the communities produced their own organically-grown food, did not accept donations from the public, and allowed the monks and nuns to do useful work within the communities, I was very impressed.
When I visited such a community, in Ubon Ratchathani, and discovered that the monks and nuns did not engage in any farming activity, in case they killed a few worms and insects, I was not so impressed.

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However, I concede the point if one doesn't know what sort of creatures one might kill when tilling the soil, and how many of them, and to what degree one's Karma might be affected, then it might be wiser to completely refrain from all gardening activities which include digging or tilling the soil,  if one is on the path to Buddhist enlightenment.

 

After all, it's not just worms, tiny ants and microbes one might kill, but possibly the occasional larger animal in its burrow.

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12 minutes ago, VincentRJ said:

However, I concede the point if one doesn't know what sort of creatures one might kill when tilling the soil, and how many of them, and to what degree one's Karma might be affected, then it might be wiser to completely refrain from all gardening activities which include digging or tilling the soil,  if one is on the path to Buddhist enlightenment.

 

After all, it's not just worms, tiny ants and microbes one might kill, but possibly the occasional larger animal in its burrow.

Starving our way to enlightenment or letting others do the killing for us.

Something is fundamentally wrong if those are the choices.

How can killing by proxy be more acceptable than personally killing?

 

I think we just have to accept the sad fact that in order to survive we will have to kill other beings.

All we can try is to limit the killing and to kill in a "humane" way.

Not because animals have rights (they don't) but because humans have obligations.

Ideas from 2500 years ago can of course inspire us, but they can not be strict  guidelines.

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16 hours ago, oldhippy said:

Starving our way to enlightenment or letting others do the killing for us.

Something is fundamentally wrong if those are the choices.

This is why the Santi Asoke Buddhist communities in Thailand insists that all members, whether laypersons or monks or nuns, be true vegetarians or vegans. The only exceptions are pregnant women and young children, which raises the question whether a strict vegan diet can actually be completely healthy on a long term basis, without vitamin supplements such as B12 in particular.

 

Perhaps the Buddha intuitively understood that humans are basically omnivores and that creating rules to impose a strict herbivore diet was not wise.

 

How can killing by proxy be more acceptable than personally killing?

 

This is how. The teachings tend to discourage the layperson from killing. The behaviour of the monks, who are supposed to represent the teachings in their highest form, cannot be put into full practice in the lay community because some degree of killing has to take place in order for us to survive. However, the examples of the monks behaviour in refusing to even till the soil in case they accidentally kill some small creatures, emphasizes the importance of the concept of refraining from killing as much as possible.

 

Without such examples, it is reasonable to suppose that more killing would take place and more meat would be eaten, as is the case in the West where hamburgers and steak are a major part of the diet and obesity results.

 

One should also bear in mind that the monk does not really kill by proxy because the monks' teachings advise the laypersons not to kill. However, the monk is caught between a rock and a hard place because the teachings also advise the monks to accept whatever food is freely offered by the Buddhist lay people, and that he does not have the right to pick and choose.


I think we just have to accept the sad fact that in order to survive we will have to kill other beings. 


All we can try is to limit the killing and to kill in a "humane" way.

 

Agreed. However, I think there is a hierarchy of degrees of wrong killing. I think most people, whether Buddhist or not, would consider it a greater 'wrong' to kill a human being than kill a chimpanzee or a cow. If one is a Buddhist, I presume it would also be considered a greater 'wrong' to kill a bird, rabbit or mouse than a worm or insect, and a greater wrong to kill a mosquito or fruit fly than kill an invisible microbe or bacteria, excluding known health issues of course. I can't think it would be wrong in any way to kill a mosquito in an area rife with the malaria parasite. :smile:

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On 10/6/2017 at 8:50 PM, VincentRJ said:

 

I see a contradiction here, Camerata. The Buddha might well have speculated or surmised that there existed smaller creatures than the eye can see, but to claim that he 'must have been well aware that there were living beings smaller than the eye can see', is a bit like claiming the Buddha must have been well aware that there existed an almighty, creator God. 

 

 

I was just talking about logical extrapolation here. If we see creatures that vary in size down to what old eyes can see, and remember there are smaller creatures that only our young eyes can see, it's logical to assume there are creatures too small for anyone to see.

 

On 10/6/2017 at 8:50 PM, VincentRJ said:

Again, I see this as contradictory and confusing, as indeed the founder of the Santi Asoke movement must have. Mammals such as cows, sheep, rabbits, kangaroos, and so on, are closer on the evolutionary scale to human beings. Such creatures can express in their braying, moaning and screeching, what we humans would interpret as suffering.

 

Sure, but the Buddha warned against the killing, not the eating, even though that is a result of killing. The bad karmic result land on the killer. Regarding the killing, orthodox Buddhism regards the killing of larger animals as karmically worse, because greater effort is required to do it. I think this comes from the Commentaries rather than the suttas. A modern rationalist would see it differently, perhaps arguing that it is worse to kill a more intelligent animal or an animal with a longer lifespan, or as you say, an animal that seems to suffer more. Fortunately - for Buddhists anyway - we are OK as long as we don't kill the animals.

 

On 10/6/2017 at 8:50 PM, VincentRJ said:

However, if one is aware that tilling the soil, or digging a hole with a spade in order to plant something, is very likely to result in the killing of worms or other soil organisms, then perhaps unwittingly is not the best word, and a degree of intention is involved.

 

Yeah, I remember that scene in Seven Years in Tibet where the monks don't want to dig the foundation for a building because they might kill insects and worms in the soil. This question of whether bad karmic results attach to what we would call "negligence" has always intrigued me. If I drive while very tired or very stressed, and hit a pedestrian, is that bad karma? Since there was no intent, Buddhism says no. But a modern, rationalist perspective would be, "Yes, you are responsible because of your negligence."

 

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I recall that at Ajahn Brahm's temple in Western Australia, the lay council in charge of the temple's affairs encourages people to offer the monks vegetarian food. But it's no simple matter to get enough B12 from a vegetarian diet, so I guess the monks' health benefits from a small amount of meat.

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On 10/7/2017 at 3:27 PM, oldhippy said:

Starving our way to enlightenment or letting others do the killing for us.

Something is fundamentally wrong if those are the choices.

How can killing by proxy be more acceptable than personally killing?

 

I think we just have to accept the sad fact that in order to survive we will have to kill other beings.

All we can try is to limit the killing and to kill in a "humane" way.

Not because animals have rights (they don't) but because humans have obligations.

Ideas from 2500 years ago can of course inspire us, but they can not be strict  guidelines.

"How can killing by proxy be more acceptable than personally killing?"

 

Agree 100%, killing by proxy is more often than not even worse IMO.

 

But I'm not a Buddhist so do my best (with many failures) to live within my own, personal code of ethics.  Genuine Buddhism appears to be pretty much in line with my own, personal beliefs - i.e. not supposed to be a religion with a deity/try not to cause harm etc.  But then I have limited knowledge on the subject.

 

Arguing whether or not viruses/bacteria and the like are sentient beings - and therefore a 'good' Buddhist wouldn't dig/till the soil to grow vegetables, at this point in time is more than a step too far.....

 

Incidentally, as a gardener I was always horrified when digging to see that I'd accidentally cut a worm in half, as they are 'good friends' for gardeners.  But they rarely die, as the front half survives and re-grows - in the same way gekkos can lose their tail and grow another.  I'm far more careful and concerned here in Thailand about toads that are 'buried' in the soil.

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Back on topic - multitudes of ants in the garden are a constant problem if you're not prepared to kill them.  But it's easy to keep them out of the house (in my experience) by NEVER leaving food or scraps of food lying around.  And if they do start venturing into the kitchen looking for food - wipe the work affected areas down with a Dettol solution every day - they soon give up on the exploration :smile:.

 

Rats are more of a problem, as they don't give up so easily.  I'm still working on making them realise there's no food available - as every few days I forget to ensure dog kibble/bananas are always where I can see them or, during the night, somewhere inaccessible.  Shame really, as I'm one of the few people that like mice and rats - but realise one or two can quickly turn into a 'plague' if there is available food in the house!

 

Nobody likes mossies or ticks, and they are the 2 species I kill as they can seriously harm me (dengue) or my dogs (tick-borne blood parasites) :sad:.

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BANGKOK 13 December 2017 08:23
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