Ticks and fleas

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby Virgo » Mon Oct 14, 2013 6:49 pm

Thanks Mike.

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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:20 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Gethin wrote:Although the Abhidhamma model of the way in which
the mind works can accommodate a set of circumstances where genuine
compassion might play some part in an act of killing a living being, it does
not allow that the decisive intention leading to the killing of a living can
ever be other than unwholesome and associated with some form of aversion
(dosa).

The first is that the very idea that killing a living being might be the solution
to the problem of suffering runs counter to the Buddhist emphasis on dukkha as
the first of the four truths. As the first truth, its reality must be fully understood
(parinneyya). The second is that the cultivation of friendliness and com-
passion in the face of suffering is seen as an appropriate and even practical
alternative that can bring beneficial effects for self and others in a situation
where it might seem that compassion should lead one to kill.



That may be the position of the Abhidhamma and Commentaries and it seems to be the case from what I recall, however, I don't believe there is anything in the Suttas to back that position completely. Yes, the First Noble Truth is dukkha, but also there is release from dukkha. There are also the brahma viharas, which includes karuna (compassion). The Buddha didn't sit idly by and say "it's your kamma to suffer" to a monk suffering from dysentery. In fact he and Ananda helped wash the man.

How does euthanasia have any dosa? If someone really had dosa toward a being, wouldn't they just let him/her suffer an agonizing death? It is to relieve the suffering that one does euthanasia for oneself or another.

In the Channovada Sutta (MN 144), Venerable Channa is sick, in pain and uses 'uses the knife.'

The Commentaries take the position that Ven. Channa was a noble level monk, but not yet an arahant. As he was dying he was able to realize the truth and attain full enlightenment. However, the scholar monk Bhikkhu Bodhi disagrees and has written. "It should be noted that this commentarial interpretation is imposed on the text from the outside, as it were. If one sticks to the actual wording of the text it seems that Channa was already an arahant when he made his declaration [earlier in the Sutta Channa says: 'I will use the knife blamelessly'], the dramatic punch being delivered by the failure of his two brother-monks to recognise this. The implication, of course, is that excruciating pain might motivate even an arahant to take his own life; not from aversion but simply from a wish to be free from unbearable pain." (Bhikkhu Bodhi, trans. Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, 2001, 2nd ed. 1359 n1312)
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby daverupa » Mon Oct 14, 2013 8:04 pm

Hand sanitizers and antibacterial soaps: health, but at what holo-"caust"?

Would Polio still be around but for the genocide perpetrated by researching & developing a vaccine?

Better get out the water filters...
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Oct 14, 2013 8:25 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:
Gethin wrote:Although the Abhidhamma model of the way in which
the mind works can accommodate a set of circumstances where genuine
compassion might play some part in an act of killing a living being, it does
not allow that the decisive intention leading to the killing of a living can
ever be other than unwholesome and associated with some form of aversion
(dosa).

The first is that the very idea that killing a living being might be the solution
to the problem of suffering runs counter to the Buddhist emphasis on dukkha as
the first of the four truths. As the first truth, its reality must be fully understood
(parinneyya). The second is that the cultivation of friendliness and com-
passion in the face of suffering is seen as an appropriate and even practical
alternative that can bring beneficial effects for self and others in a situation
where it might seem that compassion should lead one to kill.



That may be the position of the Abhidhamma and Commentaries and it seems to be the case from what I recall, however, I don't believe there is anything in the Suttas to back that position completely.

Well, that's the interesting question, which Gethin explores at length. As I said earlier, it would be interesting to assemble all of the sutta sources and see how well they do fit the Abhidhamma model. I don't have a fixed view, but I am unconvinced by some of the arguments I've seen on this thread, which seem to be trying to justify the rightness of killing under some circumstances by arguments that to me sound like: "I don't think that the Buddha can have meant that." Let's try to examine carefully what the suttas say, and the arguments from the ancients for interpretating them in particular ways.
David N. Snyder wrote:Yes, the First Noble Truth is dukkha, but also there is release from dukkha. There are also the brahma viharas, which includes karuna (compassion). The Buddha didn't sit idly by and say "it's your kamma to suffer" to a monk suffering from dysentery. In fact he and Ananda helped wash the man.

I don't think anyone is advocating that. Certainly not Gethin, who is advocating compassionate caring.
David N. Snyder wrote:How does euthanasia have any dosa? If someone really had dosa toward a being, wouldn't they just let him/her suffer an agonizing death? It is to relieve the suffering that one does euthanasia for oneself or another.

Again, no-one is advocating letting someone suffer an agonizing death.
David N. Snyder wrote:In the Channovada Sutta (MN 144), Venerable Channa is sick, in pain and uses 'uses the knife.'

The Commentaries take the position that Ven. Channa was a noble level monk, but not yet an arahant. As he was dying he was able to realize the truth and attain full enlightenment. However, the scholar monk Bhikkhu Bodhi disagrees and has written. "It should be noted that this commentarial interpretation is imposed on the text from the outside, as it were. If one sticks to the actual wording of the text it seems that Channa was already an arahant when he made his declaration [earlier in the Sutta Channa says: 'I will use the knife blamelessly'], the dramatic punch being delivered by the failure of his two brother-monks to recognise this. The implication, of course, is that excruciating pain might motivate even an arahant to take his own life; not from aversion but simply from a wish to be free from unbearable pain." (Bhikkhu Bodhi, trans. Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, 2001, 2nd ed. 1359 n1312)

Gethin has quite a long section on this issue. The exact timing of when he became an arahant doesn't make any difference to the statement that since he died an arahant he was blameless.

:anjali:
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Oct 14, 2013 8:30 pm

daverupa, it would seem you are mistaking Buddhism for Jainism. Buddhism does not teach bacteria and virii to be living beings.
- Peter

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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Oct 14, 2013 8:45 pm

mikenz66 wrote:I don't think anyone is advocating that. Certainly not Gethin, who is advocating compassionate caring.


I haven't read his whole booklet yet, but in the quote Gethin mentions dukkha as if someone were supposed to suffer.

Again, no-one is advocating letting someone suffer an agonizing death.


I didn't mean to sound like I was accusing anyone of that. I was speaking in general terms. Others have said that killing is always dosa, so I am questioning that. If someone uses euthanasia on oneself or another who is in excruciating pain and terminal, where is the dosa? (again, speaking generally, not accusatory)

Gethin has quite a long section on this issue. The exact timing of when he became an arahant doesn't make any difference to the statement that since he died an arahant he was blameless.


I think it makes a huge difference as Bhikkhu Bodhi noted. If one is already an arahant and decides to take the knife (i.e., euthanasia) then an arahant is capable of that. If he is not an arahant at the timing of taking the knife, then the issue is still up for debate of what an arahant would do.
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby daverupa » Mon Oct 14, 2013 8:51 pm

kc2dpt wrote:daverupa, it would seem you are mistaking Buddhism for Jainism. Buddhism does not teach bacteria and virii to be living beings.


I was pointing up that some approaches to the issues brought up in this thread appear Jain-esque, to me, so I referred to water filtration.

Buddhism teaches animals and humans to be two sorts of sentient life, and this category 'animal' is very broad, covering royal elephants to birds to ants, at least.

So, is our criterion to be that we have to be able to see the being with the unaided eye for it to 'count'? Maybe this is true, because we have to sense the being in one way or another in order to be culpable in its death, e.g. blind people walking on insects are blameless.

But I wonder, then, if the fact that we know bacteria are alive changes our ethical obligations... or, perhaps it points up the ludicrous nature of certain earlier obligations...
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby Mr Man » Mon Oct 14, 2013 8:57 pm

David what do you think a person's mind state would be when performing euthanasia? Can euthanasia ever be an action in isolation? If there is no aversion where is the need for euthanasia?

From "Revata's Farewell"

I don't delight in death,
don't delight in living.
I await my time
like a worker his wage.
I don't delight in death,
don't delight in living.
I await my time
mindful, alert.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/thag/thag.14.01.than.html
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:05 pm

Mr Man wrote:David what do you think a person's mind state would be when performing euthanasia? Can euthanasia ever be an action in isolation? If there is no aversion where is the need for euthanasia?

From "Revata's Farewell"

I don't delight in death,
don't delight in living.
I await my time
like a worker his wage.
I don't delight in death,
don't delight in living.
I await my time
mindful, alert.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/thag/thag.14.01.than.html
A lovely verse, but no mention is made of mind searing pain, etc.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby Mr Man » Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:16 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Mr Man wrote:David what do you think a person's mind state would be when performing euthanasia? Can euthanasia ever be an action in isolation? If there is no aversion where is the need for euthanasia?

From "Revata's Farewell"

I don't delight in death,
don't delight in living.
I await my time
like a worker his wage.
I don't delight in death,
don't delight in living.
I await my time
mindful, alert.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/thag/thag.14.01.than.html
A lovely verse, but no mention is made of mind searing pain, etc.


Which is neither here nor there.
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:28 pm

Mr Man wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Mr Man wrote:David what do you think a person's mind state would be when performing euthanasia? Can euthanasia ever be an action in isolation? If there is no aversion where is the need for euthanasia?

From "Revata's Farewell"

I don't delight in death,
don't delight in living.
I await my time
like a worker his wage.
I don't delight in death,
don't delight in living.
I await my time
mindful, alert.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/thag/thag.14.01.than.html
A lovely verse, but no mention is made of mind searing pain, etc.


Which is neither here nor there.
Except you are the one that quoted this verse in the context of euthanasia. Bringing one's life or another's life to an early end is usually in a context of the sometimes excruciating nature of the dying. So, the question of mind searing pain, etc is here and it is there.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:29 pm

Mr Man wrote:David what do you think a person's mind state would be when performing euthanasia?


I don't know, possibly compassion, loving-kindness for wanting the being to free from pain.

If there is no aversion where is the need for euthanasia?


Aversion from what? Suffering? Then is following the 8-fold path an aversion of suffering too?
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby Mr Man » Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:36 pm

Tilt, to me the quote is an expression of equanimity and dispassion, which can be applicable to all conditions but maybe it was a mistake and a distraction. How about the questions that proceeded the quote?
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Oct 14, 2013 9:49 pm

Mr Man wrote:Tilt, to me the quote is an expression of equanimity and dispassion, which can be applicable to all conditions but maybe it was a mistake and a distraction. How about the questions that proceeded the quote?
An interesting consideration may be the monk who killed himself because of the pain he was suffering and attained nibbana?

The commentaries point out that the monk who is suffering from a debilitating illness with severe pain putting a great strain on his fellow monk, to stop eating is acceptable. The question as motivation is key, and I do not think that there is a simple, absolute answer to it.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby Mr Man » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:02 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Aversion from what? Suffering? Then is following the 8-fold path an aversion of suffering too?
Yes.
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby Mr Man » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:07 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Mr Man wrote:Tilt, to me the quote is an expression of equanimity and dispassion, which can be applicable to all conditions but maybe it was a mistake and a distraction. How about the questions that proceeded the quote?
An interesting consideration may be the monk who killed himself because of the pain he was suffering and attained nibbana?

The commentaries point out that the monk who is suffering from a debilitating illness with severe pain putting a great strain on his fellow monk, to stop eating is acceptable. The question as motivation is key, and I do not think that there is a simple, absolute answer to it.


I wonder if this is the same kind of non-eating:

I'd like to relate to you an account I once came across of the way that people in the time of the Buddha prepared for death. For those who kept the Precepts of Virtuous Conduct fasting was not at all difficult because they were used to abstaining from an evening meal on Uposatha [26] days. When their illness reached the point that they felt that they had no more than ten days left to live they would stop eating. Not like us. These days, if someone is close to death we go out and look for the most expensive and delicious foods, so that some people even die prematurely from the food. Their efforts to avoid food were for the purpose of having a mind completely undisturbed. When the body starts to run down it loses its ability to digest food and so anything consumed turns to poison, making the mind restless and confused.

So they prepared themselves for death by abstaining from food and taking only water or medicine. As death got closer, they would stop taking even water or medicine in order to focus their mindfulness and self - awareness, so as to die in the way of remainderless extinction.

From Ajahn Buddhadassa, Heartwood of the Bo Tree http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/books/bhikkhubuddhadasa_heart_wood_from_the_bo_tree.htm
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:12 pm

Mr Man wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Mr Man wrote:Tilt, to me the quote is an expression of equanimity and dispassion, which can be applicable to all conditions but maybe it was a mistake and a distraction. How about the questions that proceeded the quote?
An interesting consideration may be the monk who killed himself because of the pain he was suffering and attained nibbana?

The commentaries point out that the monk who is suffering from a debilitating illness with severe pain putting a great strain on his fellow monk, to stop eating is acceptable. The question as motivation is key, and I do not think that there is a simple, absolute answer to it.


I wonder if this is the same kind of non-eating:

I'd like to relate to you an account I once came across of the way that people in the time of the Buddha prepared for death. For those who kept the Precepts of Virtuous Conduct fasting was not at all difficult because they were used to abstaining from an evening meal on Uposatha [26] days. When their illness reached the point that they felt that they had no more than ten days left to live they would stop eating. Not like us. These days, if someone is close to death we go out and look for the most expensive and delicious foods, so that some people even die prematurely from the food. Their efforts to avoid food were for the purpose of having a mind completely undisturbed. When the body starts to run down it loses its ability to digest food and so anything consumed turns to poison, making the mind restless and confused.

So they prepared themselves for death by abstaining from food and taking only water or medicine. As death got closer, they would stop taking even water or medicine in order to focus their mindfulness and self - awareness, so as to die in the way of remainderless extinction.

From Ajahn Buddhadassa, Heartwood of the Bo Tree http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/books/bhikkhubuddhadasa_heart_wood_from_the_bo_tree.htm
It is a form of suicide.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby daverupa » Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:56 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Mr Man wrote:Tilt, to me the quote is an expression of equanimity and dispassion, which can be applicable to all conditions but maybe it was a mistake and a distraction. How about the questions that proceeded the quote?
An interesting consideration may be the monk who killed himself because of the pain he was suffering and attained nibbana?


The Ven. Godhika (but surely this sort of story must have been fairly common...). He kept falling away from jhana due to physical pain, in fact, and so could not await his time as one might wait for a paycheck.

The Ven. Channa also comes to mind. He and Sariputta & Maha Cunda actually had a discussion about suicide on that occasion (MN 144).
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby Ben » Tue Oct 15, 2013 1:26 am

But there are no absolutes in human misery and things can always get worse

-- Suttree, Cormac McCarthy
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby seeker242 » Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:48 am

mikenz66 wrote:Again, no-one is advocating letting someone suffer an agonizing death.


I don't know. It doesn't appear that way to me. If a dog and it's living area contracts a serious flea infestation you generally only have two choices. Kill the fleas or let the dog suffer and die an agonizing death. If you say "no you should not kill the fleas", you are by default saying "yes you should let the dog suffer and die an agonizing death".
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