Ticks and fleas

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Oct 13, 2013 7:32 pm

Virgo wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
What about compassion for the flea who dies by the press or your thumb and possibly reappears in a hell? Is that compassion? Many beings are reborn in hell. if you had not killed it, would it be in hell now?
Geez, Kevin, if you get a tape worm, you will let it have its way in your body, even as it makes its way to your brain to it damage up there?

Or how about an infection of the acanthamoeba parasite that would eat your cornea, causing considerable pain and likely blindness? You would not kill it, cause its demise?

And you would not kill the fleas that would be harboring the Black Death, letting them spread it far and wide?

And if some random human infected with fleas, lice, ticks, and other personal livestock, the person should just suffer and possibly die from bacterial, viral, and parasite infection mediated by these pest?

Your position makes no sense.

You'd be better off not killing it. Of course, I do not know whether I would be able to actually do that or not. Nevertheless, killing even such a creature would still be akusala kamma pattha, not as bad as killing for some other reasons, but akusala kamma none-the-less, and the result would be unwholesome.
So, you would be better off letting another living creature destroy your life, and in the process making it impossible for you not to practice the Dhamma in the process of your life becoming a well of pain. As I said, your position makes no sense.
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 » Sun Oct 13, 2013 8:05 pm

tiltbillings wrote: As I said, your position makes no sense.

Is this another Seng-Ts'an moment?
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Oct 13, 2013 10:09 pm

Mr Man wrote:
tiltbillings wrote: As I said, your position makes no sense.

Is this another Seng-Ts'an moment?
You have to ask?
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 Ben » Sun Oct 13, 2013 10:35 pm

Sometimes, in life, we are forced to make some very difficult decisions. And it is apparent that some here already have.
In those situations where one is compelled to end another creature's or another person's life its quite often a heart-wrenching decision and is often the least-worst option available.
No doubt, I have attracted some heavy kamma as a result of some of the things that I have done. But I am confident that whatever negative kamma I have inherited is somewhat attenuated by my reluctance to perform the action, my compassion for the beings in question, and by acknowledging responsibility for the kamma.
kind regards,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby Kamran » Sun Oct 13, 2013 11:14 pm

Ben wrote:Sometimes, in life, we are forced to make some very difficult decisions. And it is apparent that some here already have.
In those situations where one is compelled to end another creature's or another person's life its quite often a heart-wrenching decision and is often the least-worst option available.
No doubt, I have attracted some heavy kamma as a result of some of the things that I have done. But I am confident that whatever negative kamma I have inherited is somewhat attenuated by my reluctance to perform the action, my compassion for the beings in question, and by acknowledging responsibility for the kamma.
kind regards,

Ben


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When this concentration is thus developed, thus well developed by you, then wherever you go, you will go in comfort. Wherever you stand, you will stand in comfort. Wherever you sit, you will sit in comfort. Wherever you lie down, you will lie down in comfort.
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 13, 2013 11:23 pm

Adding to Ben's excellent post, I think this:
Virgo wrote:The intention to help the dog, when there is metta, is wholesome, and would create wholesome kamma. Intentionally killing any of the bugs, however, would be unwhsolesome, with dosa (killing is always with dosa), and would result in the creation of the unwholesome kamma of killing in relation to those living creatures.

neatly encapsulates the difficulty we face in samsara. Often we are faced with making a "lesser of two evils" decision.

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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby Anagarika » Mon Oct 14, 2013 12:39 am

Ben wrote:Sometimes, in life, we are forced to make some very difficult decisions. And it is apparent that some here already have.
In those situations where one is compelled to end another creature's or another person's life its quite often a heart-wrenching decision and is often the least-worst option available.
No doubt, I have attracted some heavy kamma as a result of some of the things that I have done. But I am confident that whatever negative kamma I have inherited is somewhat attenuated by my reluctance to perform the action, my compassion for the beings in question, and by acknowledging responsibility for the kamma.
kind regards,

Ben


Ben, your comments reminded me of the story of Claude Anshin Thomas, whom I met via video during a hospice volunteer training last week. Anshin states that by his own count, he killed hundreds of people in Vietnam when he was deployed there as a soldier. He has spent the balance of his life as an ordained priest, working on peacebuilding issues, prison Dharma, and other very positive life=affirming concerns. http://youtu.be/oru42N3pBgc The best we can do is to be mindful of the negative kamma all of us have created, and do what we can to mitigate that. Even someone like Anshin, who has taken lives, exists now to benefit lives, including his own, and be a voice for the possibility of redemption in this life.
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby Ben » Mon Oct 14, 2013 12:42 am

Thank you, Buddhasoup.
I look forward to checking out the video link a little later today.
with metta,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Oct 14, 2013 12:43 am

Sanjay PS wrote:Even in the Tipitaka , there is a clear mention by Lord Buddha , that having to resort to this base deed , so long as it is in self-defence does not will the force of kamma .

Could you be more specific? I do not recall any sutta in which the Buddha says this.
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby cioranfan » Mon Oct 14, 2013 1:33 am

The main question that comes to mind reading this thread for me, and it seems like a rather important one for Dhamma practice in general (not just this specific case), is this: can kamma be made through not taking action? If it is within one's power to change a situation, and one does not, does that create kamma? To me, it seems most likely that it would, but I would be very interested to know what those better versed in the teachings than I am would say about it- I can't recall any direct statements on this question, but I think it's implied that it does- the kammic rewards for keeping the precepts are spoken of in the suttas, for example, and the precepts are mostly matters of restraint rather than active action. If that's the case, it seems logical that inaction in certain situations could create bad kamma as well- and in that case, letting a living being die in a horrible way when one had the power to prevent that outcome would seem to me to be a pretty clear-cut case of something which would create bad kamma.

I have to say that I find Kevin's position in this thread impossible to stomach, and I don't think it's just because of attachment to cute animals or the like. If it's really the case that the proper Buddhist thing to do in this situation is to sit back and allow an animal (or a human- it seems to me that the logic applies just as much in both cases) to die in agony, when one is perfectly capable of preventing this from happening, all I can say is that I want no part of any religion that advocates that- I would say exactly what tiltbillings did, above, that I'd walk away from Buddhism and never look back if this is actually what it teaches.

I don't believe it does, though, so far as I understand it- assuming all the premises of Theravada Buddhism are correct, I don't at all deny that some degree of dark kamma would be made by killing ticks and fleas- but what I find extremely difficult to believe or accept is that dark kamma wouldn't also be made by sitting back and letting a living being die horribly when one had the power to change that outcome. Kamma that is "dark and bright with dark and bright results" is specifically referred to in the suttas- a black-and-white approach seems to me to be not only not true to the realities of life, but not true to what the suttas say, either. Killing fleas to save an animal would seem to me to be pretty obviously "dark and bright", and which one was the greater would depend on lots of things- however, I would guess that if it were done based on compassion towards the animal, it would create significantly less bad kamma than letting an animal die in agony because one feared the effects of bad kamma would. All this implies that there's essentially no way of avoiding making bad kamma in this situation- but I think life contains many situations where it's not really possible to avoid it, and that this is part of the reason why we're trying to get out of samsara in the first place.

(And yes, an arahant wouldn't kill, but one thing that puts a very different light on this entire discussion when it comes to the question of what action an arahant would take is the fact that, according to all the traditional teachings, siddhis exist. And, as I understand the teaching, they are most easily learned by Noble Ones. Needless to say, this would give an arahant ways of handling situations like this which are not available to the rest of us. I don't believe that an arahant would kill the fleas, but I also don't believe that an arahant would just sit back and watch a living being die in agony when they had the power to prevent it- and this is where the siddhis would come in, most likely. The existence of siddhis is another debate, but if one accepts kamma and rebirth, they hardly seem like much of a leap, and if one has faith in the teaching of the Pali Canon as a whole, they're pretty much a given.)
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Oct 14, 2013 3:02 am

cioranfan wrote:I have to say that I find Kevin's position in this thread impossible to stomach, and I don't think it's just because of attachment to cute animals or the like. If it's really the case that the proper Buddhist thing to do in this situation is to sit back and allow an animal (or a human- it seems to me that the logic applies just as much in both cases) to die in agony, when one is perfectly capable of preventing this from happening, all I can say is that I want no part of any religion that advocates that- I would say exactly what tiltbillings did, above, that I'd walk away from Buddhism and never look back if this is actually what it teaches.


Welcome to Dhamma Wheel. Great first post! :)

mikenz66 wrote:Often we are faced with making a "lesser of two evils" decision.


Yes, and I think this is the difficulty. We all would like to follow the first precept to the extreme Kevin advocates, but in real life there are occasionally those difficult positions where 2 or more alternatives are all potentially unwholesome; so we look for the lesser of evils, the least violence and unfortunately that sometimes requires value judgments, such as human life more important that a mammal, a mammal more important than a blood-sucking insect who only lives a few days anyway, etc.

I believe Kevin's position is an extreme one that may be closer to the Jain position than the Buddhist position.

MN 58:

The Buddha speaking to a follower of Nigantha Nātaputta (Mahavira):

Now at that time a baby boy was lying face-up on the prince's lap. So the Blessed One said to the prince, "What do you think, prince: If this young boy, through your own negligence or that of the nurse, were to take a stick or a piece of gravel into its mouth, what would you do?"

"I would take it out, lord. If I couldn't get it out right away, then holding its head in my left hand and crooking a finger of my right, I would take it out, even if it meant drawing blood. Why is that? Because I have sympathy for the young boy."
(Majjhima Nikaya 58)

The Buddha advised that it is okay to even draw blood, in the name of compassion, to save the baby.
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:10 am

cioranfan wrote:can kamma be made through not taking action?

Intentional thoughts create kamma.
One may intend through thought, word, or deed.
So the thought "I will let this being die through restraining myself from taking action" would, I would think, create kamma.
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby Sanjay PS » Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:16 am

kc2dpt wrote:
Sanjay PS wrote:Even in the Tipitaka , there is a clear mention by Lord Buddha , that having to resort to this base deed , so long as it is in self-defence does not will the force of kamma .

Could you be more specific? I do not recall any sutta in which the Buddha says this.


Hi Peter ,

The same is a narration in Dhammapada of Bhadda Kundalakelasa , she was conferred the title of a Bhikkuni to have achieved the fastest Arhantship . In her laity years , she had to resort to self-defense when her robber husband tried killing her on a cliff . i have read the narration in the "Great Chronicles of The Buddha " , will look to leaf and copy out the page , when i get to access the journal again .

It is not for us to condone or approve any kind of killing , however , trivia it may be , but to walk on the middle path , to the best of ones ability and situation . I had a bout of dengue fever , which left me falling unconscious on the bathroom floor in middle of the night resulting in a slightly cracked and bleeding skull , and woke up later on the floor, by the early dawn realizing this . This does not in any way make me or my family kill mosquitoes of any kind , or to have developed an aversion to its kind . Many times we happily and gratefully save ants that find themselves in swirling pools of the toilet . If there are any found dead , they are taken out before the use of the toilet . We became happy vegetarians when we delved deeper inside us , but find no bones at all with people who eat meat . Yes , eating greens helps that much more , just as avoiding any kind of killing .

The Noble Eightfold Path is the middle way , but we must be conscious in not altering it suitable for our own convenience , nor pull it down to just an absolute .

Yes , if some one attacks us mercilessly , and instead of defending , we bear the infliction with great forbearance, compassion and goodwill , the kamma of such a mind goes far beyond..........

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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:26 am

"Is it OK?"
"Is it dark and bright mixed kamma?"
"Is it the lesser of two evils?"
"Is it in act compassion?"
"Is it black and white?"
"Is it wholly good or wholly bad?"
"Is it the proper Buddhist thing to do?"

These are some of the varied questions being asked/implied/assumed in this thread. They are different questions.

Is killing taught by the Buddha to be always unwholesome? As far as I can tell, yes.
Is it always the worst of available options? I don't know.
Is it sometimes counterbalanced by other wholesome thoughts or deeds in close proximity? Maybe.
Would I do it? I don't know; I am not perfect and as such my judgement is often impaired.

Still, any time a person claims killing is wholesome, leads to peace, sanctioned by the Buddha... to this I object.

A question like "Is it the proper Buddhist thing to do?" or "Is it OK?" these are bad questions I think. Bad questions which lead to unfruitful discussions.

The Buddha taught killing as unwholesome. GIven this, and given we wish to follows the Buddha's teachings, given we wish for peace, and given that we often find ourselves in difficult situations... how do we proceed? This is the type of question I wish was asked more often. This is the kind of question I think leads to spiritual growth.
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:37 am

kc2dpt wrote:The Buddha taught killing as unwholesome. GIven this, and given we wish to follows the Buddha's teachings, given we wish for peace, and given that we often find ourselves in difficult situations... how do we proceed? This is the type of question I wish was asked more often. This is the kind of question I think leads to spiritual growth.

Great idea. Rather than trying to argue some technicality that makes killing "OK in circumstance X" we should seriously ask the question:
kc2dpt wrote:in difficult situations... how do we proceed?


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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:52 am

mikenz66 wrote:Adding to Ben's excellent post, I think this:
Virgo wrote:The intention to help the dog, when there is metta, is wholesome, and would create wholesome kamma. Intentionally killing any of the bugs, however, would be unwhsolesome, with dosa (killing is always with dosa), and would result in the creation of the unwholesome kamma of killing in relation to those living creatures.

neatly encapsulates the difficulty we face in samsara. Often we are faced with making a "lesser of two evils" decision.

:anjali:
Mike
"killing is always with dosa" Is 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 Sanjay PS » Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:33 am

i think the path is first and foremost about being honest in observing oneself , which sooner or later gives rise to morality , which then goes on naturally to strengthen right concentration, , in turn supporting the arising of wisdom .

What is truly beautiful and most sacred , is the quality of "here and now ", inviting all to experience this for oneself and then to lead life accordingly . A life lead due to a fear of retribution will miss out the practical aspect of " ehi pasiko" ( come and see ) . That much we bring down and stop doing unwholesome actions , to that much, we first help ourselves by way of having more often than not , a quite , calm , contended and happy mind , irrespective of whatever be our backgrounds . It is more of a scientific observation , by doing this, that happens , by not doing that , this happens. Hence, for our own well being , we start living a wholesome life . Just as we find that by giving metta , our happiness , our content , the gentleness of our heart , blooms open in its humility and loving embrace of all beings .

i am grateful to all you , for giving the nectar of metta . May we all share our merits equally and with out any boundaries .

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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:50 am

tiltbillings wrote:"killing is always with dosa" Is it?

Good question. Obviously it is according to the Abhidhamma model used in the Classical interpretations of the Suttas. The suttas so seem to support this model:
Through greed a covetous man kills breathing things, takes what is not given, commits adultery, and utters falsehood, and he gets another to do likewise. Will that be long for his harm and suffering?" — "Yes, venerable sir." — "What do you think, is there hate?" — "Yes, venerable sir." — "Ill-will is the meaning of that, I say. Through hate a malevolent man kills breathing things... Will that be long for his harm and suffering?" — "Yes, venerable sir." — "What do you think? Is there delusion?" — "Yes, venerable sir." — "Ignorance is the meaning of that, I say. Through ignorance a deluded man kills breathing things... Will that be long for his harm and suffering?" — "Yes, venerable sir."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html

though I'm not aware of a sutta that says "killing always implies dosa". It might be interesting to investigate that.

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Re: Ticks and fleas

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Oct 14, 2013 6:12 am

mikenz66 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:"killing is always with dosa" Is it?

Good question. Obviously it is according to the Abhidhamma model used in the Classical interpretations of the Suttas. The suttas so seem to support this model:
Through greed a covetous man kills breathing things, takes what is not given, commits adultery, and utters falsehood, and he gets another to do likewise. Will that be long for his harm and suffering?" — "Yes, venerable sir." — "What do you think, is there hate?" — "Yes, venerable sir." — "Ill-will is the meaning of that, I say. Through hate a malevolent man kills breathing things... Will that be long for his harm and suffering?" — "Yes, venerable sir." — "What do you think? Is there delusion?" — "Yes, venerable sir." — "Ignorance is the meaning of that, I say. Through ignorance a deluded man kills breathing things... Will that be long for his harm and suffering?" — "Yes, venerable sir."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html

though I'm not aware of a sutta that says "killing always implies dosa". It might be interesting to investigate that.

:anjali:
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That is the greedy, hateful, ignorant man.
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 mikenz66 » Mon Oct 14, 2013 6:26 am

Is there a case where killing is not described that way? I know there are descriptions of rescuing a child by pulling a stick out of its mouth, out of compassion:
"What do you think, prince: If this young boy, through your own negligence or that of the nurse, were to take a stick or a piece of gravel into its mouth, what would you do?"

"I would take it out, lord. If I couldn't get it out right away, then holding its head in my left hand and crooking a finger of my right, I would take it out, even if it meant drawing blood. Why is that? Because I have sympathy for the young boy."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Are there any descriptions of killing out of compassion?

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