David N. Snyder wrote:
Welcome to Dhamma Wheel. Great first post!
Thanks- I've lurked for a long time here, but usually haven't felt I had much to say. Also I feel a little unsure of participating in many discussions since I'm not technically a Buddhist, as I haven't taken refuge or precepts yet- long story there, but it basically comes down to only wanting to make that commitment when I'm sure I can live up to it, combined with the effects of being brought up and living in a secular Western culture (which does not lead to a mindset conducive to faith- doubt for me is one of the greatest hindrances)- still, barring unforeseen events, I think that a much more serious commitment is in my future, quite possibly to the level of ordination.
kc2dpt wrote:Still, any time a person claims killing is wholesome, leads to peace, sanctioned by the Buddha... to this I object.
I definitely am not saying that killing is wholesome, leads to peace, or is sanctioned by the Buddha- I'd absolutely agree that, if one accepts Theravada premises, it always creates dark kamma, and there's no wriggle room as far as that goes. I may be wrong in assuming that killing fleas to save an animal would be mixed dark and bright kamma- perhaps killing is always purely dark kamma. I certainly am not one who could say how kamma works. What I don't believe is that knowingly letting die is not also a form of killing- and if this is the case, then it becomes clear that there can be situations where there is essentially no possible course of action in which one does not accrue the kamma of killing (unless one has siddhis, which I think it is quite safe to say most of us don't.) It is not that this makes killing okay in a given circumstance, but what it does mean is that there can be certain situations where there simply are no okay options. And as for how one proceeds in such a situation- I don't feel I'm a spiritually advanced enough person to say much especially helpful, but the best I can figure is that if one cultivates the brahmaviharas and strives to rid oneself of the defilements, whatever action one takes will reflect that- even if there are no courses of action available which are not unwholesome, this will naturally lead one towards the least unwholesome course of action in any given case.
As far as the subject of this particular thread goes, if there is some way to neither kill the fleas, nor kill the animal through knowingly letting die, that is obviously best- if not, then it's a matter of coming to terms with the fact that there are no good options and determining which is the more compassionate choice. Every situation is different, but by and large I would be quite strongly inclined to see killing the fleas as the less unwholesome course of action than killing the animal through inaction in almost all cases, a position I base on a combination of general moral intuition and the fact that a distinction definitely seems to be made in the teachings between different classes of being, as David discussed earlier in the thread. That is certainly not to say that it's therefore a wholesome action- it is still killing- but in considering how we would proceed in such a case, that distinction is very relevant and important to keep in mind, I think, as are some of the implications of MN 58. Nothing about this, though, is easy, and as I said in my last post I'd consider situations like this to be examples of why we're trying to escape samsara in the first place.