A Misconception On Killing

Without ants’ burrowing into the earth
to allow the roots of plants to breathe,
would life even be possible on Earth?


Unfortunately, some ill-informed Buddhists have the grave misconception that they should simply kill insect or animal sentient beings, so as to to shorten their miserable lives and hasten their better rebirths. Such was the case of one I have heard, who was adamant that squishing ants and bugs is totally alright. Obviously, this is heavily biased thinking applied on other beings only. There would be no need to humanely reflect on or mourn the deaths of anyone if death always equals to some form of ‘release’.

To force others to die abruptly and reluctantly is simply murder. It is a kind of extremism or terrorism inflicted upon sentient beings, as all crave to live and fear death. When the shadow of a threatening finger looms above an insect, he will scramble away. Even the tiniest of beings wants to live on. When a being dies unhappily, the last thought moment is thus unwholesome, filled with pain, fear and regret, which will link them to a corresponding plane of existence. As such, how can violent deaths lead them to better rebirths? In fact, it is more likely to lead to worse rebirths. It is kinder to live and let live, to allow beings to live out their natural lifespans peacefully. If it is indeed in the karma of a being to have a ‘premature’ death, this will happen without the need of one’s intervention, via some other way. However, if one wilfully kills and rejoices in it, one surely creates negative karma for oneself, even if one happened to be expressing the deadly karma of the being to be killed.

It could be that the ill rationalisation, which disregards the First Precept of abstaining from taking sentient lives, arises from deep aversion and attachment disguised as compassion. Aversion to the bugs, which leads to killing on sight, and attachment to animals’ flesh, if one is a heavy meat-eater too. Some even entertain the idea that meat-eating is perfectly okay as long as mantras are chanted for the deceased animals, which ‘can’ send them straight to Pure Lands — even if they are not great masters. Once again, if this is so easy, why not kill one another now, so as to deliver all? Shouldn’t such strong believers attest to their rationalisation by offering themselves to be killed? If they are reluctant, why should they imagine it is alright for others to be killed for them instead? Animals would rather have mantras chanted for them without being killed! Though vegetarianism is not a must for all Buddhists, it is encouraged as a practice of compassion. To simply dismiss it is simply uncompassionate.

Though continual meat-buying and meat-eating
do not break the First Precept of ‘not killing’,
butchers are indirectly paid to break it directly… and continually.

[Without demand, there is no supply.
When the demand reduces, the supply reduces.]

The practice of vegetarianism needs not be all or nothing.
Some mindful reduction of meat consumption
is better than total mindless meat consumption.

— Stonepeace

Related Article:
Vegetarianism is Not All or Nothing


  • What then do you do to ‘harmful’ insects aka pests? e.g. insects like locusts taht destroys harvests, aedes mosquitoes, cockroaches

    Do you live and let live? Or live and let die? Knowing fully well that your own lives can be destroyed by them. While it is morally ‘right’ to live and let live, yet is it practical to do so?

  • What should insect ‘pests’ do to pesky creatures called humans who keep trying to kill them? Should they kill them? Should they live and let live?

    For so-called ‘pests’, humans should just buck up in not creating conditions for them to multiply.

  • Sometimes it’s simply not just not creating conditions. Say, cockroaches eat just about anything and everything. Conditions are not there, yet they can still survive. You tolerate them, they multiply exponentially.

    Another example. Plant pests. How do you control them without the use of pesticides? Grow organic. Sure, but do you know how difficult it is for organic farming?

    Plus, by not creating conditions for them to multiply, it’s similar in a way to ‘killing’ them. E.g. mama mozzie is pregnant, she desperately needs water to give birth, finding none, she goes into labour, and had a miscarriage. There goes her baby mozzie. Isn’t this then indirectly ‘killing’ them? Not by your hands for sure, so you win on the moral high grounds.

  • Cockroaches can’t kill humans. Just catch and release the occasional one that comes by. I live in a flat all my life and never had to kill any insects.

    Growing organic is simpler than imagined. Bad press paints a difficult picture. Recent reports show poor countries’ organic yields are HIGHER than richer ones that use pesticides.

    Not giving conditions is not the same as having the intention or action of killing. If a kid who is not a doctor doesn’t actively help delivering babies, can anyone say the kid is a killer?

  • Food that is contaminated by cockroaches are harmful to humans. Cockroach faeces and urine ca trigger asthma attacks and other severe illness.

    Growing organic IS difficult. I do not subscribe to bad press. I used to grow plants organically. One by one, they died due to attacks by pests like white flies, thrips, mealy bugs, whatever bugs that you can name. I do not create conditions that are viable for them to survive, and I am growing them correctly. Until I had no choice but to use pesticides have I managed to grow my plants healthily.

    Your analogy of the kid is wrong. The kid does not know how to help in the first place, so how can he be involved? A more proper analogy is: I know this fella is a very troublesome guy who will bring lots of problems for me. He smokes in the house, he talks and swears loudly, literally, what he does for a living is harmful to me. His character is such that he cannot be changed for the better (how do you tell a mozzie not to bite a human anyway?). Yet he needs a place to stay desperately and wants to move into my house. Do I welcome him graciously? Or do I create barriers so that he will not choose to stay in my house? I am aware that if I do not take him in, he might die outside. Can I safely say that I’m innocent if indeed he died outside searching for a home?

  • I have never heard of food contaminated by cockroaches till sickness spread rampantly yet. Not that it is not possible but is there a need to kill every cockroach on sight just to prevent this?

    How about killing all of the biggest pests of all that operates like a virus on the planet, that murders other being en masse, destroys nature… called humans? Since every human is a potential source of murder, war and such, should we play safe and commit suicide or murder en masse? Even if MOST humans won’t pose a deadly threat? This is called terrorism. And humans terrorise other weaker sentient beings too – needlessly.

    If everyone do their best to keep their place clean, it will be alright. Yes, live and let live. The occasional cockroach let off won’t take over the world.

    Growing organic is not just about planting as a hobby based on trial and error. There are definite techniques. Am not an expert on this but we all know going organic is good – for the planet too in terms of the environment.

    If the analogy is replaced by an adult stranded with the woman, who also does not know how to help the woman about to birth, is he a murderer? Many adults really don’t know how to help.

    According to your logic, we would all need to leave stray water around to breed mosquitoes or we would all be ‘murderers’. How about not keeping homes clean too? We would need to feed and breed mosquitoes and such too.

    The analogy on the troublesome fella is wrong. Because you are suggesting to kill the fella at home. Would you kill the fella you describe if he is human? If not, why discriminate insects and kill them instead? Because it is legal? Because it is more excusable? How about inviting the fella out of the house, just as you would a troublesome human? We’re talking about insects, they are not as troublesome or stubborn as humans. Invite them out and they tend to stay out, even if new ones pass by later. We share a common living space. Let them move through – in and out. Just invite them out when needed.

    If this fella as a human might die outside, it’s better to kill this human at home? That’s worse. That’s murder plain and simple – applies to insects too. If this makes sense, you should shelter all potential murderers (humans, insects, wild beasts) and kill them at home, instead of letting them roam out there, because every potential murderer might perish out there for this or that reason, and in the mean time murder more. Compassion is to do one’s best to live and let live, and to protect lives as much as possible on the whole. There is a whole world of difference between setting a sentient being free and murdering in cold blood.

    Let’s not be too arrogant to think of so many other beings as pests. We need ants to create spaces to allow plant roots to breathe. We even need bees to pollinate plants for crops. So what if ants bite once a while and bees sting once a while? Interdependence. The wiping out of an entire species can spell disaster for other species.

  • You’re missing the point. I’m not saying food contaminated by cockroaches will spread disease RAMPANTLY, but it is a fact that consuming food contaminated by them is harmful.

    Organic farming involves killing of insects too, just that it does not involve chemicals. I know that NOT cos I’m involved in HOBBY farming.

    The difference between humans and insects is: humans can think and rationalise, but insects can’t. I’m using a mozzie as an example, doesn’t mean that I’m breeding mozzie.

    And invite and insect out and they tend to stay out?? It’s laughable. How often do you find a fly that’s been chased out, only to find them back again buzzing around you? It is in an insect’s nature that they are attracted to sources of light, warmth and food. If you want to make sure they stay out, lock up your windows, cover every possible gaps in your house.

    And with regards to my analogy. What has it gotta do with killing bad humans at home? I’m saying, by not inviting them in does not mean that I am innocent if the fact that I know they’re going to die outside. The argument is about how less ‘guilty’ are you if you leave them outside to die.

    Compassion used wisely is good. Compassion used indiscriminately is foolishness.

    However, I agree with the topic of the title that it is wrong to think that to quickly kill a lesser being is equal to delivering it to a better life.

  • Is consuming of food contaminated by cockroaches a big enough problem to kill every cockroach on sight? Some organic farmers NEVER kill any insects on purpose. True, some might be killed accidentally. But we’re talking about intentional action here. Even so, organic farming kills the least.

    You’re missing the point that insects can’t be touched by loving-kindness to think. For example, insects never bother the Buddha due to his strong metta. We can all do with more. If the Buddha who lived in the open a lot did not need to kill any insects, this is point for reflection… Why should we ‘need’ to keep killing?

    I’ve invited countless insects out of my house for more than 20 years, and they stay out. I don’t have persistent flies bothering me. Maybe it’s just different karma, but maybe it’s the attitude to make peace, such that the occasional one doesn’t bother me. I say hi and chant. It is severely lacking in loving-kindness to feel a need to kill every insect on sight. Why not give it a shot? To lovingly invite them out?

    If by inviting insects out of your house does not mean you are innocent (according to your logic, which is not based on intentional killing, which is what creates karma), I hope you remember that intentional killing of them in your house makes you definitely not innocent. Compassion used widely is good. Compassion with excess gaps is not good enough.

    From the Mata Sutta:

    There the Blessed One said: “From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. A being who has not been your mother at one time in the past is not easy to find… A being who has not been your father… your brother… your sister… your son… your daughter at one time in the past is not easy to find.”

    Metta Verse:

    “For those without feet, I have love.
    I have love for all with two feet.
    For those with four feet, I have love.
    I have love for all with many feet.

    May those without feet do me no harm.
    May none with two feet do me harm.
    May those with four feet do me no harm.
    May none with many feet do me harm.

    May all beings, all living things,
    All who’ve come to be — one and all —
    May they see every blessing!
    May no evil at all come to them!

    Without limit is Buddha.
    Without limit is Dhamma.
    Without limit is Sangha.”

  • The following story is quite inspiring. The page cannot be found anymore but I’ve saved a copy of it.



    Ocean Robbins, son of John Robbins, shared an amazing story at a VegSource conference about an encounter he and his family had with a mass of fruitflies.

    Ocean had been reading the first chapter of his dad’s book, Diet for a New America, where he writes about strong animal –human bonds. Around this time the Robbins household had a large problem with fruit flies inside their house. They couldn’t leave any food set out because it would get attacked by the flies. The problem had been going on for several weeks.

    Finally Deo, Ocean’s mom, ha reached her limit. She left the house to go purchase a fly swatter. In light of Ocean’s whole upbringing and especially what he had been reading in his dad’s book, a fly swatter coming into their house was a bit traumatizing for him.

    Ocean went out to meet his mom when she arrived home. “Stop!” he exclaimed, “You can’t bring that thing in here!” He proceeded to ask his mom for 24 hours to figure out a non violent method to get rid of the fruit flies.

    By the afternoon Ocean had composed his solution in the form of a letter to the fruit flies. It went something like this: “Dear fruit flies, We wish you the juiciest cow dung piles and biggest compost piles for you and all future generations… We pay rent here, you don’t. We buy the food, you don’t. Our stomach’s ingest limited types of food, you can eat a lot of other foods that we can’t…There’s a compost heap outside that I take stuff to everyday… We ask, no, we demand that you go out and eat from it… We have purchased a fly swatter and will use it if you are all not gone by dawn tomorrow.” (He had an arrow pointing to the window telling them to “go out there.”)

    Ocean read the letter out loud, in case there were any illiterate young flies, and taped it on the cupboard. The Robbins family went to sleep that night. When they woke up in the morning there was not a fly in the house.

    After a few weeks with the sign up they decided to take it down. When they did, the flies came back. So they put up the note again and the fruit flies were all gone. They took the sign down again… and the flies came back. Put the sign backup and the flies were gone.

    Ocean reflects on this event thinking that if he could communicate respectfully as a child with fruit flies how much more could people and nations be able to communicate with one another respectfully.

  • Definition on organic farming:
    Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and control pests on a farm. Tell me an organic farm whereby pests are not killed. Ask the farmer, he sees a pest crawling on his crop, does he kill them or not? Organic farming alos includes hand picking of pests and killing them manually, rather than with chemicals. Often, the use of other natural predators to control pest population are used.

    Let me give examples of how pests, if left on their own can bring havoc.

    The plague, that devastated europe. Cause: rats.

    Locusts attack on crops. They have been well documented and need no further explainations.

    On these scenarios, what do you do to the pests? You pray and talk to them to please go away? You emit huge loving kindness and signal to them to go rampage elsewhere? Sure, if you have such huge powers (maybe you’re part of X men team, I’m not sure). But to the normal people, what can they do? Watch their lives destroyed by pests? Please think carefully, and weigh the situations, don’t give an idealised scenario where it won’t happen. Simply saying, it’s not big anough a problem to call for killing pests, just shows your lack of understanding of the suffering of the people who had indeed suffered under the destruction of pests.

    Suppose a kind man who had done much to society, suffered from dengue. He did not create any environment that is conducive to breed mosquitoes. It happened that at a nearby park, there’s a tiny drop of water on a dry leaf, that allowed the mozzie to breed. If you had the powers to kill these mozzies before it bit the man. What will you do? Eradicate the mozzies? Or just blame it on the man’s karma?

    Do not use karma as a reason. Cause and effect, yes. Tell that to the layman, this thing happens cos of your karma. It’ll only show that you’re a religious fanatic. Some people just genetically do not attract pests (e.g. mozzies). But, it’s comical to say it’s because of the person’s karmic effect that flies are not attracted to him/her.

    With regards to insects not bothering the Buddha. It’s more likely that the Buddha is not bothered by them rather than them not bothering the Buddha. Being an enlightned being, He could probably take things ‘as it is’.

    Lastly, I do not advocate total extermination of bugs. Bugs that are beneficial to the environment, by all means, salvage them and love them (e.g. ladybirds). Bugs that do not have any benefits (e.g. mozzies), but instead bring harm to humans/ecosystems, control their population (calling for total eradication would be too extreme) where possible. Altough some scientists believe that eradicating mosquitoes would not have serious consequences for any ecosystems.

    Besides, your points have not answered my questions at all. I’ll leave it to others to judge who’s more rational or logical.

    To simply continue on this conversation is useless, as you’re too fixed in your idealised perfect world. Please open your mind and feel the ground first before preaching the moral high grounds.

  • So I’ve heard, an organic farm in Singapore called Firefly doesn’t kill insects intentionally. You might want to check it out and support their produce. Many monasteries that do their own farming don’t kill too.

    Why try so hard to highlight extreme scenarios? Extreme cases need extreme solutions. I’m no expert. All I wish to highlight is that killing should be minimised, if at all. If you don’t believe in this, I can only empathise with all the sentient beings you continue to kill. You were talking about the occasional mosquito that flies into the house. Now you jump to the plagues by many rats and locusts. How about controlling what you can for a start? I have no 100% guaranteed solution for such plagues.

    This is a Buddhist website and I shall continue to use Buddhist points of view to discuss. Yes, radiate metta – mass metta by the masses to the insects. The Buddha in his time was able to solve the problem of pestilence in the Ratana Sutta. Mass prayer can be powerful. Pray for a miracle. Why not? It is Buddhist practice to struggle to try to treat all beings with equanimity, challenging as it can be.

    On your kind man killed by mosquito example, how about killing every other insect on sight too, as they too might somehow contaminate his food? Sounds extreme? Right, because it is. What’s comical about the idea that karma affects genes, that affects how attractive one is to mosquitoes? If you believe the Buddha could take things as it is in terms of being irritated by insects, not that it happened, good. Why not learn from him?

    Is there truly such thing as a certain bug that has no benefit to the ecosystem at all? I don’t believe so. Scientists are almost always short-sighted on hindsight. Only within the last ten years, did they realise how important bees and sharks are for instance. You can believe what you choose, but as in the Mata Sutta, all beings could had been our precious mothers in our previous lives. Na Mo A Mi Tuo Fo.

  • Hmm…why is it that insects that eat up our food or plants are pests and why is it that human who eat up other life are not known as pests…? :blink:

  • In all those scenarios that I’ve raised,
    I’m simply trying to highlight to you the exact opposite of the perfect world that you described. I’ve based my analogies on the other extreme end, to show you that perfect world does not exist. I know your reply is the perfect world exists in the Pureland, however, we’re practising in this mortal world. Then I think you will say that we should strive to live in the Pureland. See? I can give you the views of the perfect world and perfect answers. But is this applicable to the masses that practise Buddhism or just to someone that idealises the perfect world?

    The Middle Path should be tread, and compassion should be practised wisely.

  • I dun see how your analogies work, because if there’s an extreme end of imperfection, why can’t there be an extreme end of perfection? If there’s no perfection why do you even practise? Practise for…? Before we even go further to talk about perfection, do you actually recognise that the Buddha is perfect? All cultivating Buddhists are supposed to strive towards enlightenment and be like the Buddha – a perfect being.

    Middle path does not mean kill some and save some. For killing is always at the most extreme end of the spectrum, nothing ‘middle’ or moderate. NEVER should one say killing is the middle path. Never is there in the scriptures that the Buddha agree killing any sentient for any reason is middle path. Please do not corrupt the holy teachings.

    Yes, compassion should be practised wisely, but killing a certain species or to consider them as pests is not compassion to them at all. The Buddha never agreed killing this or that species is compassion. Compassion in Buddhism encompasses all beings and not just to homo-sapiens.

    The ‘pests’ you mentioned are unfortunate beings whose negative karma happened to be ripen. If you are a roach, you too won’t want to be killed.

    Compassion in Buddhism is not speciesism. We are not perfect with compassion yet, but at least we try to avoid or minimise any killing.

  • There is no other way to advance towards a perfect world, other than to increase compassion and wisdom for all beings, difficult as it might be. This is the only way to create a Pureland. All Buddhas were able to become Buddhas because they had high ideals. Even if the whole universe can’t be transformed into a Pureland instantly, it can be done bit by bit.

  • Hmmm….what about euthanasia? Thats legal in a few countries here in Europe.
    Is that okay or shall we let the desperate ones ‘suffer naturally’ to their end? And what do u tell em then? Hey, man I know u go through hell every second of your day and night, but thats ur karma, ur fault…u have to endure that now????? Questionnable too, isnt it….

    Me myself I have no clear answer, but in such a case I think, my empathy would be bigger than my morale…
    Modern times bring modern problems^^

  • I can see things from both Mike and Romanot’s point of view.

    True, killing for any reason is generally karmically unwholesome. So is selective killing in the guise of compassion and so on.

    Based on what I have read so far, I don’t feel that Mike is trying to advocate killing every insect that he considers to be pest.

    Speaking of the Buddha’s stance on killing, I wish to add what I have just recalled:

    There was a man who had wanted to kill about more than 10 men aboard a ship or something. Another man, who happened to be an enlightened Bodhisattava, knew these group of men about to be killed were Arahants and killing so many at one time would bring about a sorrowfully long time of suffering in the evil realms. So this Bodhisattva decided to kill the evil man and willingly suffered the consequences of falling into the evil realms. As his intention was not due to aversion/anger/hatred, he was about to gain quick deliverance from hellish suffering unlike the evil man. That Bodhisattava was said to be one of the previous rebirths of Buddha Sakyamuni.

    Anyway, I somehow feel that killing need not be restricted to the physical act of taking life per se.

    When fellow practitioners ‘give up’ on one another due to aversion of any degree in discussions such as these, negative affinity is created and probably both parties ‘killed’ the range of chances to empathise with one another better.

  • Here is the actual story, of the captain who killed one to save many:

    This should not be unskilfully rationalised for the needless killing of any other being. Humans, being the most pest-like being desecrating the planet, is a pest too, from the perspective of other beings, yet many of them simply label any other being in the way as a pest.

    Fellow practitioners should not condition one another to give up one another in discussions too, if that discussed is circular, merely theoretical and leading nowhere, missing the point of just doing one’s best in direct practice, as guided with as much compassion and wisdom as possible. Those who can’t satisfy their urge for more discussion should take the intiative to approach more learned teachers too.

    Sometimes, people don’t give up on each other – they just move on when they realise they have exhausted their means at the moment – till better conditions arise. Life is short. May all realise this and plunge into sincere Dharma practice.

  • Thank you for the link, Livare.

    I remember that a word of caution was laid down for this particular story:

    One has to be an enlightened Bodhisattva like the Captain Great Compassionate. He was definitely no ordinary human being, for he could be 100% sure at that instant the group of men about to be killed would gain spiritual enlightenment soon.

    This would solve the dilemma of what is deem as unrationalised skilful means or needless killing.

    ‘Move on when they realise they have exhausted their means at the moment…’

    The advice is sound indeed. However, I can’t help but wonder aloud, when can we be sure we are moving on and not giving up?

    Waiting for better conditions to arise is wiser or proactively creating those better conditions to arise is?

    When we say we move on upon the exhaustion of our skilful means, do we cut off contact with that particular person? Do we wait for such a person to contact us again or do we continue to maintain regular contact?

  • Not need to wonder if is giving up or not; just don’t give up. Take a break if needed, but maintain 平常心. Good to remind oneself… If one gives up, who will help the person? If one is unsure anyone else will, one should not give up.

    Moving on means thinking out of the box, and caring for others who are more receptive too, while being open to ways to help the first person.

  • No need to wonder if it is giving up or not? If I’m not clear on that, I could be giving up even when I don’t think I am.

    I can identify with Livare’s understanding about moving on. I think it is a good advice. However, when one says one will continue to be open to ways to help the first person, does it mean cutting off contact with that first person while thinking of new ways to approach him?

    The question of ‘waiting for better conditions to arise is wiser or proactively creating those better conditions to arise is’ seems to be unanswered.

    From my understanding of Livare’s explanation, I feel one should not have to give up or move on at all if one ‘continues to be unsure’ that anyone else would help?

    When we deem someone to be less receptive, could we also be responsible to the some extent for being out of touch with our own flaws during the entire process of reaching out to that particular person?

    For example, we were only interested in pointing out mistakes and guiding them to find solutions, but there’s little empathy involved.

    If such flaws are not noticed in time, one may continue to find the need to move on quite often perhaps, as there will always be others who appear to be more receptive at any point in time.

  • Not need to wonder if is giving up or not; just don’t give up.

    The Bodhisattva path is about creating more and more positive karmic affinities; never about giving up on any single being, much less to say, to cut off contact.

    Ideally, everyone should struggle to help everyone awaken as proactively as possible, with perfect empathy and all the works. But realistically, unenlightened people get tired at times and need to take breaks. Unenlightened Bodhisattvas can have burnout. Better a break now and then than to give up totally.

    While we should be ever diligent and enthusiastic, we should not expect any other person to be like so for us – unless they are true Bodhisattvas and Buddhas already. It’s amazing when some expect unenlightened beings to behave like enlightened beings for them. The truth is, the real Bodhisattvas and Buddhas are ALREADY doing their best for us, while it is we who should proactively learn and PRACTISE the Dharma they embody and share. The proverbial ball is in our court. The only reason why these beings can’t appear in the flesh in the way we prefer is that we lack the good karma – while some unexpected and even ignored sources of advice might already be equivalent to manifestations of their advice.

  • Perhaps it is not important for Livare to know clearly about what can be safely seen or known as giving up or not. If the message is so, I hear and shall say no more on that.

    I see. Thanks for the clarification on not contacting off contact with people who are deemed to less receptive. It would offer some hope for such people, I guess.

    I unreservedly agree that spritual practitioners themselves can suffer from burnouts. However, I personally feel it’s better that we do not see ourselves as Bodhisattvas, even if unenlightened. From personal experience, it helps in one way or another to mitigate the conditions leading to possible burnouts.

    The truth is, we will never know who are the real Bodhisattvas and Buddhas. We seem to rely much on the visions by revered Buddhist monks and layman practitioners. If we can easily tell who are real Bodhisattvas and Buddhas, we might as well very possibly be one at the very instant. Then congratulations, you will no longer backslide in your spiritual progress. It is a possibility for some, but not for the majority of spiritual practitioners.

    When we meet people who expect unenlightened beings to behave like enlightened beings for them, how should we react? Should we avoid such people at all costs?

    Sakyamuni Buddha appeared in the flesh thousands of years ago. Adding a bit to what you have just said, many in ancient India still lack the good karma to even hear of his name, much less see him in the flesh.

    If some beings really require the physical manifestation of real Bodhisattvas and Buddhas to be truly convinced, but yet lack the good karma to see this materialise, I guess such beings can only continue to do their best for such conditions to appear naturally, but yet should not over-burden themselves while doing so.

  • Real Bodhisattvas would not entertain questions about whether they are real Bodhisattvas or not, as they are not attached to their titles. Once we doubt if we are real Bodhisattvas or not, we are shaky on the Bodhisattva path. Good to just do what one can in the moment to align to the Bodhisattva path, without thinking so much on the above.

    We will know who are the real Bodhisattvas and Buddhas when we become like them. As above, the moment one doubts if one is one of them, one is not one of them. This is not to say all who think they are them are definitely so, as some are deluded into thinking they are like them, without checking the teachings to see if their conduct and wisdom is similar.

    When we meet people who expect unenlightened beings to behave like enlightened beings for them, we should remind them that we are not enlightened, that we are still practising, what may we PRACTISE together, instead on harping on unrealistic expectations.

  • I beg to differ. When Sakyamuni Buddha first achieved full enlightenment, the first person who approached asked him who he was. He replied that he was Awakened. There are other sutra verses where Bodhisattvas and Buddhas answer directly and simply about their true identity.

    Doubt itself is not necessarily harmful if well-harnessed. Remember the teaching that we can transform defilements into Bodhi seeds and fruits through diligent practice?
    The problem is when we do nothing to address doubt. We let it linger or fester inside us.

    It is true that if one doubts one is one of them, one simply isn’t. Therefore I mentioned if we can tell instantly who are real Bodhisattvas and Buddhas at one glance without relying on anyone’s feedback, we are indeed one of them.

    The teachings passed down are but a very small part of the boundless wisdom of Bodhisattvas and Buddhas. It is not sufficient for unenlightened beings like us to use for judging accurately at all times and hence should not be used as a yardstick for all situations. As a reference point, yes. As an absolute one, it would be quite dangerous or unwholesome.
    Even Arahants dare not judge another sentient being as to whether he or she has the sufficient karma to become Buddha’s disciple, much less unenlightened beings like us.

    I agree with Livare on reminding people with such unrealistic expectations in such a manner. The issue is, how we actually go about reminding them. Not just the words, the body language is just as important.

    We also have to consider whether we had a role to play in contributing to the development of those unrealistic expectations.

    If we did not claim to be enlightened beings in the first place, what really led them to think that we would act like one?

  • On ‘Real Bodhisattvas would not entertain questions about whether they are real Bodhisattvas or not’ refers to that they don’t ask themselves, because they know for sure if they are or not.

  • I know this may sound selfish but as human beings living on this planet, we have to take care of our own interest first. If certain animals, such as mosquitoes and crop destroying locusts, which are a threat to us, then it a necessary evil to kill them. Elements which are harmful to society, such as terrorists and hardcore criminals who cannot be rehabilitated, must also be put away permanently before greater damage is done.
    In Tibetan Buddhism, Bodhisattvas are reborn as Lamas. In Taoist tradition, Bodhisattvas possessed the body of mediums, who help and serve the common folks. I personally believe that Buddha and Bodhisattvas sometimes manifest in our minds as loving and compassionate thoughts

  • Words from an alien from outer space:

    ‘I know this may sound selfish but as an alien who need to come live on this planet, I have to take care of my own interest first. If certain beings, like selfish humans are a threat to me, then it a necessary evil to kill them…

    I used to think this way, till I came across teachings of the Buddha, who taught that killing is an act of extreme evil, especially if done selfishly, because all want to live. As such, I decided to live in harmony with humans and other beings.’

    Who decides who cannot be rehabilitated? Second chances should be given – even if behind bars. No criminal can be put away permanently as the unrepentant can be reborn with vengeance. Rehabilitation is the answer. Buddhism is against the death sentence unless it is 100% certain that killing one is really needed to save many, which is seldom the case.

    In orthodox Buddhism, Bodhisattvas never possess any beings to be messengers. This prevents false claims of frauds saying they bear messages from the enlightened.

  • @Livare

    Yes, of course. The real ones won’t ask themselves nor others.

  • Buddhism advocates compassion and I can understand why it is against the death sentence, since everybody deserve a second chance. However, is this a practical way of dealing with troublemakers in the real world? Is it a strong enough deterrant (no death sentence) to evil doers?
    Regarding the issue of animal killing, I am not suggesting senseless killing or killing ‘for fun’. I am saying that sometimes we are left with no choice but to get rid of certain animals, such as pests like Aides mosquitoes, which spreads dengue fever, or chickens infected with SARs, etc.
    Lastly, spiritual possession by gods in medium’s body are believed by many (especially Taoist) to be real. It’s just that this is something not accepted by orthodox Buddhism, which relies more on logic and reasoning.

  • Unless we are able to read minds to determine who should be killed because they are very dangerous and unrepentant, there should be no killing. Simple as that. There can be life sentence with hard labour. No need to let the guilty go scot-free without making oneself useful. The death sentence is murder.

    Not many die from Aedes mosquitoes nowadays, while their lifespans is just a few days. It is human responsibility not to leave stagnant water around. Why blame the mosquitoes? Just pull up the human socks.

    Chickens are killed due SARS? No – they are bred due to greed for their meat, and bred so closely that they get sick. Again, humans are guilty. Just eat less animals, if any at all, to support less cruel breeding.

    This is a Buddhist website. Why state about what another religion believes to be true here? In the Buddhist perspective, many ghosts (and some unenlightened gods) like to possess mediums and pretend to be this and that. They are not always who they claim to be. If they are really enlightened beings, let’s hear some profound Buddhist scriptures being taught by them. No – this never happens. Some ghosts are helpful but some just playful. And some mediums are just frauds. This is why Buddhists never go to ghosts and gods for refuge, but only in the Triple Gem.

  • I know this is a Buddhist website. I bought up Taoism just for the sake of discussion. Moreover, both religions share alot of common ground, with just subtle differences.
    Furthermore, I think it’s too limiting to say that just beacause you could recite some profound Buddhist scriptures, it means you are enlightened.
    Dharma exists everywhere, even in the lowliest of places, not just in Buddhist scriptures.

  • There are many differences between Buddhis and Taoism. For instance, true Taoists seek immortality as gods as the ultimate goal, but the Buddha clearly taught that this is impossible as the gods have limited good karma as long as unenlightened, and are still bound to rebirth. Th Buddha taught the ultimate goal as Buddhahood instead – the transcending of rebirth while being able to guide others to do the same.

    Was not referring to reciting of scriptures. ‘let’s hear some profound Buddhist scriptures being taught by them.’ Was refering to teaching about them in detail, clearly and accurately – which is what no Taoist medium does, because there will be differences with Buddhist teachings due to different fundamental perspectives.

    If we truly respect inter-religious harmony, we also have to see the differences and not just lump the different together to say they are similar. This loses respect for each religion’s real unique teachings.

  • Recognising and understanding differences and similiarities will help any individual to make his own assessment. True respect will naturally grow bit by bit from that point.

  • Could I suggest one to reflect oneself by asking oneself one question when facing pests or insects like ants, cockroaches, lizards, etc? Let’s switch to the other perspective by standing from the insects or pests point of view. The question is “could I crush this human like how he/she crush me?”

    We could prevent the insects or pests by keeping our dwelling place clean, hygiene, neat and tidy. Eg. to prevent mosquitoes from breeding, one could ensure no water stay or change the water everyday. One need not leave the water there and wait for the mosquitoes to come and breed. Next, clear and throw away all rubbish, food, etc into rubbish chute before going to sleep. Wipe and clean the tables and floor, etc. Even if they come, they could not really find and trace of food. They will slowly go away. Or one may want to tell insects like ants be gone to other more suitable places after having the food here. Wish them well & happy. Same for spiders, one just need to clean away the webs and they will move to elsewhere. Even more bees, one has to protect others from being stung accidentally.

    One need not worry about contaminated food. Just handle food well, clean and hygenic. One should be mindful, stay at the present moment. When one fall sick, take it as detox and time to loose weight, etc. One need not be so tense and upset about being sick.

    If one finds tedious to plant organic vegetables, why not consider getting from the market? Then one need not be frustratd about whether how to handle the vegetables properly since we’re not professional farmers? I remember some farmers grow garlic to make the insects stay away from the crop.

    Wherever we are, we must remember we are interdependent of one and other. Be it the human, plants, animals, insects, the environment, the sun, moon, sea, universe, etc. We are not alone.

    None of practioners are perfect yet but one should remind oneself to strive for perfection. No one is perfect except Buddha. One need not be as perfect as Buddha, one could aspire to be Arahat.

    The fact is all sentient beings wish to be well and happy. Let’s treat one and other with loving-kindness (Metta). Open oneself to true and real loving-kindness practises, one could realize more Dhamma together with mindfulnes practises and meditation. Look internally, not externally. One will grow in wisdom and move nearer to Nibbana.

    Do remember, Kamma arise with one’s mind, speech or action, be it good or bad (Dhammapada verse 1 and 2).

    Let’s walk and practise the middle path well with wisdom. 🙂

  • Wonderful advice. However, the path to perfect compassion and wisdom necessitates becoming a Bodhisattva who will become a Buddha. Let’s work towards it. Only the Buddha is on the true Middle Path perfectly, while the rest of us are Buddhas in the making. Even Arhats can give rise to Bodhicitta to aspire for Buddhahood. Wonderful!

  • If we follow this argument to Reducto Absurtum then one should not take antibiotics as one is intentionally killing. Yes, killing is wrong and one should not do so. However, being rigid on a idea, such as vegetarianism is also against the Dharma. One should practice the “Middle Way.”


  • The microscopic killed by antibiotics, being structurally simple, is seen generally by Buddhists as not sentient; unlike complex animals like cows and pigs.

    (Antiobiotics abuse can be dangerous: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/01/10/antibiotic-dangers.aspx )

    Veganism is not about being rigid at all. It is about being committed. Vegetarianism is one of the Bodhisattva precepts in the Brahma Net Sutra, for how can a Bodhisattva keep wanting to save all beings while keep wanting to devour some of them?

    Here is why vegetarianism is not extreme, and is part of the true Middle Way:

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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