Thinking, ‘As am I so are others,
as are others so am I’,
harm none nor have them harmed.
– Sakyamuni Buddha (Sutta Nipata 705)
For protecting humans upon complaints, does the searching for destroying of animal ‘pests’, such as insects and rodents, create negative karma? Yet, without killing, diseases spread by them might breed out of control? Before answering these questions on the animal realm, let us look closer… In the human realm, there are many militant search and destroy missions upon hateful complaints (and greed). For instance, ‘for’ the approximate 3,000 who perished in 9/11, more than 100,000 were killed in the Iraq war of vengeance, including many innocent civilians. Of course, such killing should not be done. Also unfortunately, in the human realm, there are many humans who are allowed to breed more humans, who spread infectious diseases and even wars such as the above, that kill thousands upon thousands. Humans are also the main culprits for the climate crisis, and the number one cause of murder of billions of other humans and animals. Does this mean all humans with such destructive potential ought to be destroyed, who could be any person on the street? Of course, not. What more, there will be countless innocents. Returning to the questions on the animal realm with these parallel perspectives, the answers are obvious. Are humans not the greatest pests to all other non-human ‘pests’?
Complete prevention of human mistakes that lead to proliferation of potentially harmful animals, via kind and wise education without killing, is the true remedy for the ‘pest’ problem. In secular countries not run purely with Buddhist ethics, it can be hard to implement total non-killing, but why should many innocent beings be punished for human recklessness? As an example, the increase of demand to grow crops to feed the world’s livestock has led to large-scale deforestation, especially in the Amazon rainforests. Beef consumption alone accounts for around 70% of this. As cleared lands pool more rain, more infected insects easily breed, leading to spikes in diseases, including Zika, which recently originated in Brazil. What this means is that breeding for killing of animals (for their meat) is interconnected to more breeding and killing of mosquitoes. The true long-term solution then, similar to that of past Mad-Cow Disease, SARS and Bird-Flu cases, is to reduce, if not abstain from meat-eating, while more stringently preventing unmindful breeding of mosquitoes. As intentional killing with hatred creates heavy negative karma, as above, such a ‘quick fix’ does not really solve the problem of infestation. It can even worsen over time, while negative karma created can manifest in various related ways.
What if ‘unchecked’ animal populations do spin out of control? Well, there are many animals neither killed nor eaten, who cause no problems at all. As we are not the only inhabitants of the planet, we must share it with many other beings. Why should we be so eager to destroy others then? Again, we are interconnected. We even need ants to burrow into soil to create allow roots of crops to breathe well! Counterintuitively, there are so many animals due to so much killing of animals! This is so as they can be reborn multiple times to seek vengeance, while those who had killed many of them might be reborn as similar suffering animals due to karmic retribution. If we abstain from killing animals, karma for becoming animals lessens! Back to the Zika issue, we should protect ourselves physically, such as avoiding hotspots while using repellents. Spiritual protection is always crucial, by creating more positive karma to avoid being harmed, such as by observing the Five Precepts well, which includes the First Precept! Karmically, those who harm little from life to life will be harmed less. Remember – as killing breaks the First Precept, it is always the last resort, only if the one (and not anyone random) to be killed is truly about to harm, and that killing that one truly saves many more lives.
If all beings simply kill whoever
has the potential to harm them,
all beings will simply kill all beings.
How Eating Meat and Climate Change Have Contributed to Viruses Like Zika
Queries On Abstention From Killing & Meat-Eating
The Compassionate Captain’s Skilful Means
(Chinese Animation) How To Respond With Compassion Towards Other Sentient Beings