Mercy killing and kamma

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Mercy killing and kamma

Postby clw_uk » Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:10 pm

Hello

A while ago my cat brought me a bird he had caught. I manged to get the bird free from him, however the bird was clearly in a lot of pain and was near death so I decided to kill it by breaking it's neck, to put it out of its misery.


However I am at a loss if this is negative kamma or not. I didn't act out of any hatred or aversion, yet I killed it.


It has been troubling me, both morally and philosophically, so any comments are welcome
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby barcsimalsi » Wed Sep 04, 2013 4:59 am

Will you be happier to allow it to die slowly in pain?
Will you want someone to break your neck if you are in total misery?

Some Bhikkhu i consulted had condemned such act. They said it would be interfering with kamma which in your case:
-will cause the bird to get a bad rebirth in order to continue receiving what is unfinished.
-you just break the 1st precept, what more need to say...

I'm not clear what is troubling you as you mentioned you did it out of sympathy, not aversion nor selfish reason.
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:25 am

Greetings,

barcsimalsi wrote:Some Bhikkhu i consulted had condemned such act. They said it would be interfering with kamma which in your case:
-will cause the bird to get a bad rebirth in order to continue receiving what is unfinished.

Well, this bhikkhu is trading in superstitious mumbo-jumbo that has no real foundation in the suttas.... so I wouldn't be overly bothered by that, especially when the poor bird was going to die anyway.

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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby chownah » Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:50 am

clw_uk wrote:Hello

A while ago my cat brought me a bird he had caught. I manged to get the bird free from him, however the bird was clearly in a lot of pain and was near death so I decided to kill it by breaking it's neck, to put it out of its misery.


However I am at a loss if this is negative kamma or not. I didn't act out of any hatred or aversion, yet I killed it.


It has been troubling me, both morally and philosophically, so any comments are welcome

You say you are at a loss. You say you are troubled. Seems like the fruits of negative kamma to me.....I guess.....don't know for sure......
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby Aloka » Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:00 am

chownah wrote:Seems like the fruits of negative kamma to me....I guess...


The Buddha said that "the precise working out of the results of kamma" is an unconjecturable.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.077.than.html

:)
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby Coyote » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:40 am

In my understanding, the act of killing is always preceded by an unwholesome mental state, and always breaks the first precept. So it is negative kamma. But we are not monks and so unwholesome things may be 'necessary' in lay life. My take on it is that even though you are putting the animal out of its misery, you are doing great harm to yourself.
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby Nikaya35 » Wed Sep 04, 2013 3:35 pm

The Buddha defined karma in the anguttara Nikaya as a volitional action . So intention is the most important thing discussing karma . Your intention was to end the suffering of the poor bird . The bird was going to die anyways . You should not be too hard on yourself .
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby clw_uk » Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:41 pm

Coyote wrote:In my understanding, the act of killing is always preceded by an unwholesome mental state, and always breaks the first precept. So it is negative kamma. But we are not monks and so unwholesome things may be 'necessary' in lay life. My take on it is that even though you are putting the animal out of its misery, you are doing great harm to yourself.



But Kamma is intention, so how can a mercy killing be negative Kamma?
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby Arali » Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:43 pm

I agree with chownah and Coyote, I think what you're experiencing currently is the kamma from the act.

You didn't act out of hatred or aversion, but was your mercy killing out of selfishness? Not wanting to see and allow the bird to suffer? Not liking the way it made you feel? You acted, but now maybe you're unsure whether or not you did what was best for the bird?

Its a difficult situation, and its over now. If it still bothers you, you've identified what your intentions weren't, maybe pin down what they were?
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby clw_uk » Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:58 pm

I agree with chownah and Coyote, I think what you're experiencing currently is the kamma from the act.


Well I dont feel bad or "negative" just perplexed and curious

You didn't act out of hatred or aversion, but was your mercy killing out of selfishness? Not wanting to see and allow the bird to suffer? Not liking the way it made you feel? You acted, but now maybe you're unsure whether or not you did what was best for the bird?


It was simply "poor thing" and that he/she was better of dead as quick as, rather than suffer. I didnt feel aversion, I wanted to help. To be honest it felt more like something that I had to do.
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby mirco » Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:52 pm

Dear clw,
clw_uk wrote:A while ago my cat brought me a bird he had caught. I manged to get the bird free from him, however the bird was clearly in a lot of pain and was near death so I decided to kill it by breaking it's neck, to put it out of its misery.
However I am at a loss if this is negative kamma or not. I didn't act out of any hatred or aversion, yet I killed it.
It has been troubling me, both morally and philosophically, so any comments are welcome

[irony on]
Oh, clw_uk seems to have trouble, morally and philosophically.
I can't stand watching that, I better break his neck to put him and me out of misery.
[irony off]

Sure this was an unwholesome action. No matter what has been your idea of th situation, you intentionally killed a sentient being. No doubt about that.

Wholesome would have been a hospice action with an uplifted mind.

Don't worry. Forgive yourself for making that mistake. Start again by taking the precepts and meaning it. :-)


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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby clw_uk » Wed Sep 04, 2013 7:58 pm

[irony on]
Oh, clw_uk seems to have trouble, morally and philosophically.
I can't stand watching that, I better break his neck to put him and me out of misery.
[irony off]


It wasnt a case of "I cant stand watching that" but "Poor thing, lets make it quick". I felt sorry, not disturbed.



Sure this was an unwholesome action. No matter what has been your idea of th situation, you intentionally killed a sentient being. No doubt about that.


But the motivation wasnt aversion, greed or delusion

Wholesome would have been a hospice action with an uplifted mind.


The bird would have died, slowly, before the RSPCA arrived
Last edited by clw_uk on Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby santa100 » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:14 pm

It's a tough situation. Have all alternative options been considered before taking that action as a last resort? Bandaging help? Any veterinary office nearby? etc...
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby mirco » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:21 pm

clw_uk wrote:It wasnt a case of "I cant stand watching that" but "Poor thing, lets make it quick"

Us? How do you know that is what the bird wanted? You read birds minds?

clw_uk wrote:
Sure this was an unwholesome action. No matter what has been your idea of th situation, you intentionally killed a sentient being. No doubt about that.

But the motivation wasnt aversion, greed or delusion.

Sure it was aversion, greed and delusion.
Aversion: I don't like the situation of that birdy.
Greed: I want it to be another way.
Delusion: Well, if D. would not have been in there, you wouldn't have killed it intentionally.

clw_uk wrote:The bird would have died, slowly, before the RSPCA arrived

I spot sarcasm?

I meant, it could have been you, making it as comfortable as possible for the bird, wishing it all well, radiating Mettā, letting it know, that everything is all right just the way it is, letting it die all by itself.


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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:22 pm

A reply by Mahāsi Sayādaw on The Practice of Euthanasia

A specific case from the Vinaya:

A bhikkhu, out of compassion, once said to an Execution, “Kill him with one blow.” The execution did as the bhikkhu said. They reported this matter to the Blessed One, who told the bhikkhu: “You have fallen into an offence of defeat.”

The volition at the moment of killing is rooted in aversion (dosa), so it is unwholesome kamma. The right thing to do is to take the bird from the cat, put it in a quiet and safe place, and leave it to die of it's injuries (if you don't have the skill to heal it).
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby clw_uk » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:25 pm

A bhikkhu, out of compassion, once said to an Execution, “Kill him with one blow.” The execution did as the bhikkhu said. They reported this matter to the Blessed One, who told the bhikkhu: “You have fallen into an offence of defeat.”


Wouldnt that be more to do with the appearance of the sangha to the wider society?


The volition at the moment of killing is rooted in aversion (dosa), so it is unwholesome kamma. The right thing to do is to take the bird from the cat, put it in a quiet and safe place, and leave it to die of it's injuries (if you don't have the skill to heal it).


The motivation to heal it would could also be rooted in aversion to the birds suffering (and so be unwholesome) but is classed as wholesome. Yet the want to kill it to put it out of suffering (the same motivation to alleviate it's suffering by healing) is unwholesome?

The outcome is always the same. One scenario has less dukkha and the other scenario has more, but the one with less dukkha is morally wrong and the one with more dukkha is right?
Last edited by clw_uk on Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:32 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby Aloka » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:28 pm

A couple of years ago a young wood pigeon flew into a window, fell onto the ground badly stunned and before I could get outside to help it, a neighbour's cat had leapt out from somewhere, badly mauled and wounded the bird and it was in shock and bleeding. The neighbour put it in a box and took it to the vet, but the vet said it was too badly hurt to live and killed it with a lethal injection .

Craig, your intention was to try to help relieve the suffering of a dying creature in great pain and you did what you thought was best at that time. Taking it to a vet or the RSPCA would have had a similar result anyway.

in my opinion its time to let it go now and move on. It is hard to do that though, I once killed a frog with the lawn mower because I hadn't seen it in the grass. I was upset about that poor little frog for a long time afterwards and still feel sad when I think about it now.

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Last edited by Aloka on Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:49 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: mercy killing and kamma?

Postby mirco » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:40 pm


Dhamma Greetings,
clw_uk wrote:Yet the want to kill it to put it out of suffering is unwholesome?

(According to Buddhist teachings,)

You can't put a being out of suffering by killing it.

Otherwise reaching Nibbana would be quite simple, wouldn't it !? ;)


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Re: mercy killing and kamma?

Postby clw_uk » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:45 pm

mirco wrote:Dhamma Greetings,
clw_uk wrote:Yet the want to kill it to put it out of suffering is unwholesome?

(According to Buddhist teachings,)

You can't put a being out of suffering by killing it.

Otherwise reaching Nibbana would be quite simple, wouldn't it !? ;)


Best Wishes,
Mirco




Well I don't know what happens after death. When I killed the bird it could have faded into oblivion or been reborn as a Buddhist monk somewhere.

All I can go on is the here and now. Animals can't be free from dukkha true, but they can be free from a slow, painful death.
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby clw_uk » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:46 pm

Your also confusing the animal experience of dukkha with the human experience of it. Humans can be free from dukkha, animals can't.
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