Building of viharas and life of insects

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
char101
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Building of viharas and life of insects

Post by char101 » Wed Oct 23, 2019 2:13 pm

When building viharas or any construction in general, it is inevitable that a lot of insects, worms, etc. will die, due to the digging of grounds and other works. While there is no intention of killing these animals, and therefore no transgression of the first precept, it still bring disbenefit to these animals. Knowing this, what should be the ideal action, to pursue building it or to stop, and what logic or reasoning is used to support that decision?

On a more mundane scale, I was planning to buy a robotic sweeper, but was taken aback due to the fact that it will sometimes suck ants on the floor. Can the same logic be used in this case?

chownah
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Re: Building of viharas and life of insects

Post by chownah » Wed Oct 23, 2019 2:36 pm

If one wants to not build something for the reasons you give then they are free to not build something.
If one wants to comment on others who want to build something then one should comment that they are doing so without intention to kill anything.
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Re: Building of viharas and life of insects

Post by dharmacorps » Wed Oct 23, 2019 6:48 pm

kamma is intention. Intending to build a vihara is a good intention. Your intention is not to kill insects, although this may happen inadvertently. The ideal action is to foster practice of the dhamma, whereby one can escape samsara, where harming is put to an end.

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Re: Building of viharas and life of insects

Post by SarathW » Wed Oct 23, 2019 8:06 pm

This is a good question.
This line of thinking comes very closes to Jain practice.
We can kill insects even wehn we walk.
Just imagine a giant man 70000 bigger than us walking in our city.
We all will crush to death.
Perhaps we have to be mindful of our every movement.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Building of viharas and life of insects

Post by salayatananirodha » Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:07 pm

not digging into the ground is a virtue
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/wp-conte ... _Heart.pdf
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

chownah
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Re: Building of viharas and life of insects

Post by chownah » Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:16 pm

salayatananirodha wrote:
Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:07 pm
not digging into the ground is a virtue
Yeah, the discovery of agriculture was the start of the long slide to virtuelessness.......
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Re: Building of viharas and life of insects

Post by DNS » Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:43 pm

chownah wrote:
Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:16 pm
salayatananirodha wrote:
Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:07 pm
not digging into the ground is a virtue
Yeah, the discovery of agriculture was the start of the long slide to virtuelessness.......
chownah
Yes, I think so. Back when humans were simple hunter-gatherers, there was far less killing of animals in general (insects are animals too). The clan would gather fruit to eat and occasionally kill an animal for its meat, but that animal would feed the whole clan for several days.

Now with agriculture there is quite a bit of collateral killing in the harvesting of crops and then also insecticide. And with houses and other buildings, there is further collateral damage in the construction. And then after people start living there, people are very intolerant of "pests" aka insects in their homes and will go to great lengths to keep it insect-free. In some cases, the insects could literally take over your home if you don't do something to eradicate them. For example, roaches, termites, and fleas will multiply very rapidly for those who live in high humidity areas.

Bottom line; although the Jain ideal is very good, in theory, impossible in practice with modern agriculture and buildings. The best we can do, in my opinion, is to lessen the violence and collateral damage as much as possible.

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Re: Building of viharas and life of insects

Post by chownah » Fri Oct 25, 2019 2:44 am

DNS wrote:
Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:43 pm
chownah wrote:
Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:16 pm
salayatananirodha wrote:
Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:07 pm
not digging into the ground is a virtue
Yeah, the discovery of agriculture was the start of the long slide to virtuelessness.......
chownah
Yes, I think so. Back when humans were simple hunter-gatherers, there was far less killing of animals in general (insects are animals too). The clan would gather fruit to eat and occasionally kill an animal for its meat, but that animal would feed the whole clan for several days.
I'm not sure that you actually do think that the discovery of agriculture was the start of the long slide to virtuelessness. To me what you are saying implies that hunter-gatherers were highly virtuous and that eating food that is grown from the earth is showing great lack of virtue. I guess that vegans must be the least virtuous of all if we consider what I say your post implies to me.

Also, note that my reply was made to the assertion that "not digging into the ground is a virtue"....to me this is talking about individual actions since individuals do the digging not society. To me this implies that all farmers (except perhaps those who raise animals) are greatly lacking in virtue....I'm a farmer, I dig up the ground almost every day, am I lacking in some virtue because I do that?......are you saying that I am greatly lacking in virtue because I am a farmer?....and that my virtue level would improve if I stopped being one?
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Re: Building of viharas and life of insects

Post by DNS » Fri Oct 25, 2019 2:57 am

chownah wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 2:44 am
chownah
None of the above. I'm just saying there is collateral damage in virtually any diet or lifestyle, so the best we can do is seek the least amount of violence and actions that do that.

I like the Agricultural Revolution (advent of agriculture). It may not be perfect, but it allowed humans to get more organized into communities and led to what we have now with the information age. And due to that, we get to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables where although there may be some collateral damage, it can be kept relatively low with organic farming and no killing to large animals (with mostly vegetarian or vegan diet).

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Re: Building of viharas and life of insects

Post by chownah » Fri Oct 25, 2019 4:59 am

DNS wrote:
Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:43 pm
chownah wrote:
Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:16 pm
salayatananirodha wrote:
Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:07 pm
not digging into the ground is a virtue
Yeah, the discovery of agriculture was the start of the long slide to virtuelessness.......
chownah
Yes, I think so...........
Do you think that not digging into the ground is a virtue? That is the issue I intended to address, not about any "collateral damage" or dietary preferences.
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Re: Building of viharas and life of insects

Post by salayatananirodha » Fri Oct 25, 2019 5:12 am

it's a more refined virtue, but yes it would be an improvement not to dig into the ground

this is about a non-returner who is not an ordained monastic
http://www.yellowrobe.com/component/content/article/120-majjhima-nikaya/336-mn-81-ghakra-sutta-ghakra-the-potter.html wrote:He does not dig the ground for clay using a pick with his own hand; what is left over from embankments or thrown up by rats, he brings home in a carrier
i thought i remembered reading more about digging into the ground in this sutta but haven't found it. i only found
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.02.0.than.html wrote:"He abstains from damaging seed and plant life.
[...]
"Whereas some brahmans and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, are addicted to damaging seed and plant life such as these — plants propagated from roots, stems, joints, buddings, and seeds — he abstains from damaging seed and plant life such as these. This, too, is part of his virtue.
regarding op, it's more important to keep very strong virtue than build a vihara, because this does a better job of preserving the dhamma
dhamma doesnt need a building
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/wp-conte ... _Heart.pdf
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

chownah
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Re: Building of viharas and life of insects

Post by chownah » Fri Oct 25, 2019 12:20 pm

salayatananirodha wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 5:12 am
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.02.0.than.html wrote:"He abstains from damaging seed and plant life.
[...]
"Whereas some brahmans and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, are addicted to damaging seed and plant life such as these — plants propagated from roots, stems, joints, buddings, and seeds — he abstains from damaging seed and plant life such as these. This, too, is part of his virtue.
I'm wondering whether the abstaining from certain things are to be considered virtues in and of themselves or if the abstaining within certain contexts can be a sign of virtue in general.....if we look at this link you present and consider abstaining from what things would be considered a virtue in and of itself there would be a very long list of things which monks are not allowed to do and I will pick some of what I consider to be prime examples to illustrate that it is unlikely that abstaining from these things in and of themselves is rightly called a virtue:

Eating an evening meal
Accepting money
Delivering messages
Buying and selling
Buying food to keep to use later(same for clothes and bedding)
dancing, singing, instrumental music
turning somersaults
couches with red cushions for the head and feet
turbans
talking about relatives
forcasting lunar or solar eclipses
meteorology
epidemeology
accounting, counting, calculation
writing poetry
making investments or giving loans
curing women who have undergone miscarriages or abortions
eye surgery
general surgery
pediatrics
herbal medicine

Is abstaining from each of these things in and of itself to be considered a virtue? I think that to think so is a misconstrual of the concept of virtue. I think that generally a virtue is the presence of some quality or qualities.....I don't think that the abstaining from things is rightly a virtue but rather it is the reason for abstaining from certain acts which should be examined.....in the case of this sutta it is the renunciation of monkhood.....the abstaining from all of the acts mentioned in the sutta taken in aggregate within the context of a renunciate monk that constitues the virtue of the monk and not that each of the abstentions in and of itself should be viewed as being a virtue.
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Re: Building of viharas and life of insects

Post by salayatananirodha » Sat Oct 26, 2019 4:13 am

note that many of the virtues in dn 2 are also practiced by exceptional laypeople. it's apparent to me reading thru that list why many of them are to be avoided, but i reiterate some of these are highly refined virtues to keep. if you can't master the five precepts then that should be a priority. however, dancing and singing are compared to madness and wailing for a noble trainee. they are connected to desire and delusion. i personally avoid them and recommend the practice to others; it allows the mind some quiet and stillness. i also abstain from the evening meal and i consider this fairly indispensable to my practice. for more on that i recommend mn 70. i accept money but it is obviously a burden on the mind. i notice that i spend a lot of time counting what i have, worrying what will come of it, and letting it affect my decision making. running errands for people there is less time for mental development, more activity
none of these are arguments in and of themselves i guess but even tho there are fewer rules regarding lay people, there is fruit and result of action. it just depends what you want from your practice. there are probably very good lay people who have a relaxed standard of virtue but for me i'm unhappy with that. i remembered this btw, one example of how what is allowable for lay people is still to be avoided
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.31.0.nara.html wrote:(c) "There are, young householder, these six evil consequences in frequenting theatrical shows. He is ever thinking:

(i) where is there dancing?
(ii) where is there singing?
(iii) where is there music?
(iv) where is there recitation?
(v) where is there playing with cymbals?
(vi) where is there pot-blowing?[4]
definitely the motivation for abstaining from something is key and it's not the case that most if any of the actions is arbitrarily listed
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/wp-conte ... _Heart.pdf
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

chownah
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Re: Building of viharas and life of insects

Post by chownah » Sat Oct 26, 2019 5:32 am

salayatananirodha wrote:
Sat Oct 26, 2019 4:13 am
note that many of the virtues in dn 2 are also practiced by exceptional laypeople. it's apparent to me reading thru that list why many of them are to be avoided, but i reiterate some of these are highly refined virtues to keep......
.....
.....
You talk about virtues.....you talk about many different virtues. Note that in DN2 the word virtue is never used in the plural.....it says "this is part of his virtue"....it does not say that "this is one of his virtues" nor does it say "these are some of his virtues."

Certainly some of the things listed will be seen by many lay people as things to be avoided. I don't think that because some people find avoiding some things to be BENEFICIAL to their practice that these things can rightly be called VIRTUES.

Since the sutta does not seem to be presenting individual virtues but rather some sort of singular virtue then what is this singular virtue?......my answer is that it is the virtue of the consumate renunciate monk. For the renunciate each of the abstentions is part of the renunciate's practice and so is part of the basis for his virtue.

Perhaps we just have very different ideas about what "virtue" means. I'm not wanting to change your mind on this....I'm not wanting to change anyone's mind on this....I'm just wanting to try to give people more information so they can understand in their own lives what the buddha taught.

For me it seems misguided to think that to abstain from killing people is a virtue but it would seem that this would be a result of considering that abstaining from unhelpful things is a virtue.
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Re: Building of viharas and life of insects

Post by greenjuice » Sat Oct 26, 2019 2:05 pm

DNS wrote:
Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:43 pm
Bottom line; although the Jain ideal is very good, in theory, impossible in practice with modern agriculture and buildings. The best we can do, in my opinion, is to lessen the violence and collateral damage as much as possible.
Jains have a developed sravakacara literature, which contains rules for lay life, regarding ahimsa they say:

Himsa may be arambhaja - occupational, or anarambhaja - unrelated to one’s occupation, which is also known as samkalpaja - intentional. The former is allowed, the later isn't. Hunting, offering animals in sacrifice to please the gods, killing for food, for sport etc. are some of the instances of non-occupational, intentional himsa. Occupation himsa is of three types: (1) udyami, (2) grharambhi and (3) virodhi.
(1) Udyami himsa: Harm committed in a normal course of doing business. Occupations which are permissible to a Jain are: asi (sword), masi (ink), krsi (agriculture), vanijya (trade), silpa (crafts), and vidya (knowledge).
(2) Grharambhi himsa: Harm involved in the course of one’s carrying out the domestic duties. Preparation of food, use of water in bathing and washing clothes, keeping of cattle, cleaning the house, maintenance of gardens, cutting fruits and flowers, digging of wells, construction of buildings etc.
(3) Virodhi-himsa: Harm involved in defense and in the protection of persons or property.

They also give five 'transgressions' (aticaras), ways in which harm can be done: (1) restraining (bandha), (2) beating (vadha), (3) cutting or mutilating (chavi-cchedda), (4) overloading (ati-bhararopana), (5) depriving of food and drink (bhakta-pana-vyavaccheda).

Himsa it is said can committed in speech, in body, or in mind, the offender may himself be guilty of the act (krta), may cause it to be done (karita), or may approve of its being done (anumata), there are also three possible stages in the commission of the offence: preparation (samrambha), initiation (samarambha), and doing (arambha).

And additional rules related to avoiding inflicting harm are to avoid water which wasn't strained, meat, and honey, alcohol, and eating at night (at dark).

Pretty detailed stuff. And also, all lay people are expected to do various ascetical and charitable stuff to counter-act the bad karma which is necessarily involved in living a lay life, and are then expected to transition towards being a monk as they grow older, passing though 11 stages, and the 11th stage becoming a full renunciate, an interesting system.

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