Ticks and fleas

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Mr Man
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by Mr Man » Mon Oct 14, 2013 2:09 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:
To take the First Precept as a "Ten Commandment" is a misapplication, in my view. My view may be Wrong View, but this is my kamma to accept. I found this quote which, to me, is helpful:

"Karma Lekshe Tsomo, a professor of theology and a nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, explains,

"There are no moral absolutes in Buddhism and it is recognized that ethical decision-making involves a complex nexus of causes and conditions. ... When making moral choices, individuals are advised to examine their motivation--whether aversion, attachment, ignorance, wisdom, or compassion--and to weigh the consequences of their actions in light of the Buddha's teachings."
Okay, but to suggest taking a life may in fact make merit goes some what beyond.

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Aloka
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by Aloka » Mon Oct 14, 2013 2:44 pm

Virgo wrote: If you put a lit match to your finger (I don't suggest you or anyone else actually do this) even for a single second, you will find you are not able to bear the pain. The pain in hell is much worse than this, is unremitting, and lasts for extremely long amounts of time - potentially last for aeons. Just imagine the length of your human life lived there. How unbearable would that be for you? I doubt you will be able to enjoy your beer there, sorry. :namaste:

Kevin
Been there and done that, have you Kevin ?

:)

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Anagarika
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by Anagarika » Mon Oct 14, 2013 3:26 pm

Mr Man wrote:
BuddhaSoup wrote:

Okay, but to suggest taking a life may in fact make merit goes some what beyond.
What you say may be true.

My own sense is that by applying the standard so well articulated by Ven. Tsomo "whether aversion, attachment, ignorance, wisdom, or compassion--and to weigh the consequences of their actions in light of the Buddha's teachings," ending the life of an animal that one accidentally runs over seems to me to be an act imbued with compassion and wisdom. Are all acts that are driven by wisdom and compassion merit making? Can some kammas be neutral, or have the quality of being innately negative yet counterblanced by wisdom and compassion?

One of the posters on DW has an avatar/ photo of a monk self immolating. If I'm in the market square, and see a monk dousing herself with fuel, I'm looking for a bucket of water or a firehose. No matter how noble some ideas may be, they may not be wise and compassionate. Ethical responses may run counter to firmly held beliefs. The example of self-immolation is a severe analogy and maybe not spot on to the present discussion, but so long as we continue to discuss and argue these issues, we as Buddhists get a chance to expand our understanding of Buddhist ethics. Iron sharpens iron, as they say.

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Mr Man
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by Mr Man » Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:49 pm

If I were to run over an animal and decided to end it's life I know my mind would be full of turmoil. There would be aversion and grief and remorse. I'm not sure if compassion would be there even though most would consider it a compassionate act.

Do dying beings open to death? Do they want to die or do they want to live even though the suffering is intense? Is that my decision?

I can kill ticks and fleas (although I prefer not to) because to me their life is not so important.
Last edited by Mr Man on Mon Oct 14, 2013 6:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mikenz66
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Oct 14, 2013 6:44 pm

Here's an old post by Ven Dhammanando that may be of interest:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... &start=240

And the article that he links to by Rupert Gethin: Can Killing a Living Being Ever Be an Act of Compassion? The analysis of the act of killing in the Abhidhamma and Pali Commentaries? http://www.urbandharma.org/pdf/geth0401.pdf has some detailed analysis, concluding, in part:
Gethin wrote: In the particular case of killing a living being, I have argued that for
Theravada Buddhist thought — and probably mainstream Indian Buddhist
thought — intentionally killing a living being can never be considered wholly
an act of compassion. 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).

I have suggested two reasons why such an outlook should be character-
istic of the Buddhist perspective on ”mercy killing.” 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
f 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.
:anjali:
Mike

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Virgo
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by Virgo » Mon Oct 14, 2013 6:49 pm

Thanks Mike.

Kevin

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DNS
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by DNS » 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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daverupa
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by 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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mikenz66
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by 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:
Mike

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kc2dpt
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by 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

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by DNS » 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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daverupa
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by 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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Mr Man
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by 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 ... .than.html

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tiltbillings
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by 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 ... .than.html
A lovely verse, but no mention is made of mind searing pain, etc.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Mr Man
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Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by 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 ... .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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