Ticks and fleas

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by tiltbillings »

mikenz66 wrote: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?
Probably not, but this text is suggestive. One time I hit a rabbit with my car. Do I leave it on the road, writhing and screaming in pain? It would eventually die from the injuries, meanwhile screaming in pain. I took it home and shot it. While I feel badly about the rabbit being hit by my car as it ran out into the road, I do not feel badly about ending its life, because I had sympathy for the rabbit.
>> 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
cioranfan
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Oct 14, 2013 1:10 am

Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by cioranfan »

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.
User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18438
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by Ben »

tiltbillings wrote:
mikenz66 wrote: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?
Probably not, but this text is suggestive. One time I hit a rabbit with my car. Do I leave it on the road, writhing and screaming in pain? It would eventually die from the injuries, meanwhile screaming in pain. I took it home and shot it. While I feel badly about the rabbit being hit by my car as it ran out into the road, I do not feel badly about ending its life, because I had sympathy for the rabbit.
Yes.
Samsara sucks!
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..
User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by tiltbillings »

Ben wrote: Samsara sucks!
Sometimes.
>> 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
Feathers
Posts: 262
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2013 6:14 pm

Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by Feathers »

Ben wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Probably not, but this text is suggestive. One time I hit a rabbit with my car. Do I leave it on the road, writhing and screaming in pain? It would eventually die from the injuries, meanwhile screaming in pain. I took it home and shot it. While I feel badly about the rabbit being hit by my car as it ran out into the road, I do not feel badly about ending its life, because I had sympathy for the rabbit.
Yes.
Samsara sucks!
Just to clarify, are you saying yes he should have left it to die slowly in pain?

Cioranfan, great posts!

And someone mentioned earlier about the possibility of generating karma through not intervening when we could help - I'd be interested to hear more about the Buddhist position on this? In Christianity I recall there is a prayer where you ask forgiveness which includes the lines:

"We have left undone those things
that we ought to have done;
and we have done those things
that we ought not to have done;"
(http://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-w ... tence.aspx)

So for someone raised with a Christian background (like me) I suspect there is a pretty well-ingrained feeling that moral behaviour includes not only refraining from doing evil but also actively doing the right thing. I know there is the idea of making merit in Buddhism, but how about more generally the importance of acting for good?
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dhammawheel thread on tools for managing depression
User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by tiltbillings »

Feathers wrote:
Just to clarify, are you saying yes he should have left it to die slowly in pain?
Ben is clearly expressing empathy/sympathy for me in my having to deal with a diffucult, painful situation.
>> 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
Feathers
Posts: 262
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2013 6:14 pm

Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by Feathers »

Ah k . . . I thought the blunt 'yes' seemed a little out of character, but you can see how it could be read that way? Hence why I wanted to clarify :smile:
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dhammawheel thread on tools for managing depression
User avatar
Mr Man
Posts: 3646
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am

Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by Mr Man »

If we do take a life though I'm not sure if we can ever say it was the "right" thing to do. Taking a life is always at odds with the ideal. At best a lesser wrong.
User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by tiltbillings »

Mr Man wrote:If we do take a life though I'm not sure if we can ever say it was the "right" thing to do. Taking a life is always at odds with the ideal. At best a lesser wrong.
Does the ideal actually exist?
>> 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
User avatar
Anagarika
Posts: 915
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:25 pm

Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by Anagarika »

Mr Man wrote:If we do take a life though I'm not sure if we can ever say it was the "right" thing to do. Taking a life is always at odds with the ideal. At best a lesser wrong.
In my view, taking a life that is reduced to severe, intractable pain and suffering, and a hopeless prognosis, may in fact make merit. To stand on idealistic grounds and suggest that never assisting in a death is the ideal means that one may not have faced a situation where a sentient being is approaching certain death in great pain and suffering. These are not easy ethical questions, but the keen reality of these situations suggests to me that there are cases where assisting in a death generates positive kamma. I can't prove this, nor is there Canon authority for this view, but I'm willing to accept the kamma that comes from supporting euthanasia (for example) in limited cases.
User avatar
Mr Man
Posts: 3646
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am

Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by Mr Man »

tiltbillings wrote:
Mr Man wrote:If we do take a life though I'm not sure if we can ever say it was the "right" thing to do. Taking a life is always at odds with the ideal. At best a lesser wrong.
Does the ideal actually exist?
Well from a Theravada point of view I would say that the ideal is the first precept.
User avatar
Mr Man
Posts: 3646
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am

Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by Mr Man »

BuddhaSoup wrote: In my view, taking a life that is reduced to severe, intractable pain and suffering, and a hopeless prognosis, may in fact make merit.
I think that is a rather dangerous view to hold.
User avatar
Anagarika
Posts: 915
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:25 pm

Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by Anagarika »

Mr Man wrote:
BuddhaSoup wrote: In my view, taking a life that is reduced to severe, intractable pain and suffering, and a hopeless prognosis, may in fact make merit.
I think that is a rather dangerous view to hold.
As I mentioned earlier, so long as they serve beer in hell, I will be OK. :)

Not to be glib, but as Buddhists we also seem to be inclined toward science, toward ethics issues, and toward using intellect over dogma. To quote the much used and abused Kalama Sutta, I try to seek the counsel of kalayana mitta, of recognized experts, of the wise, and try to see what is occurring in the world that is successful, is useful, and is perceived as proper and ethical. Then, I apply these tests to a fact pattern and use it to guide me in ethical decision making.

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."
Last edited by Anagarika on Mon Oct 14, 2013 1:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Virgo
Posts: 1538
Joined: Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:52 pm
Location: United States

Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by Virgo »

BuddhaSoup wrote:
Mr Man wrote:
BuddhaSoup wrote: In my view, taking a life that is reduced to severe, intractable pain and suffering, and a hopeless prognosis, may in fact make merit.
I think that is a rather dangerous view to hold.
As I mentioned earlier, so long as they serve beer in hell, I will be OK. :)
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
The Hunger Site

________________
User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Ticks and fleas

Post by tiltbillings »

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
Oh, my. Buddhist fire and brimstone.
>> 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
Post Reply