Avoiding injury to any sentient creature? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 15 Old 04-16-2004, 01:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a question for people who's religious beliefs include avoiding injury to any sentient creature. How do you do that?

I'm wondering what you do in the case of a cockroach invasion? Or what do you do if you're getting bit by mosquitos? Is there a way to catch and release houseflies?

I've been thinking about the way that i treat insects, and i have a dualistic attitude towards them that i'm not really sure about. Some insects, i'll kill because i perceive them to be pests, and other insects, i dont kill. So, i thought i'd come and ask the people who have the most gentle attitude towards all life and see what they do in practical situations.


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#2 of 15 Old 04-16-2004, 02:26 PM
 
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How is a mosquito or cockroach a "sentient" creature? Do they actually have a brain and thoughts? Just curious.
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#3 of 15 Old 04-16-2004, 02:30 PM
 
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As a long studier of the practices that avoid hurting my fellow creatures, we do extend this to bugs in my home- when possible. I live a west nile virus zone, so sorry, mosquitoes are not given amnesty. However, spiders, other various bugs, are escorted out of the house by myself or the kids. We practice natural pest control- clean home, good screens, sealing holes,....

Now of course when you walk around outside you might be stepping on a bug, but there is not intent there. Walking barefooted on the earth helps
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#4 of 15 Old 04-17-2004, 01:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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How is a mosquito or cockroach a "sentient" creature? Do they actually have a brain and thoughts?
sure, why not? they have to make decisions (which person will i suck blood from?, will i scurry across the wall or the floor?, etc). i think that implies brain, free will and sentience.

In the movie Seven years in tibet the people building a temple actually sifted by hand all of the dirt that was displaced so that they could save the earthworms that were in the dirt. This is the kind of thing that i'm curious about. What lengths do people go to to preserve sentient life?

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live a west nile virus zone, so sorry, mosquitoes are not given amnesty.
i was under the impression that if a person is relatively healthy that the worst that would happen when infected by a west nile carrying mosquito would be flu-like symptoms for a few days, *if* you were to notice anything at all. : Mosquitos have always been on my kill list. I dont like getting itchy red welts.

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#5 of 15 Old 04-17-2004, 02:56 AM
 
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I have heard of people using a broom to sweep bugs out of their way so that they wouldn't step on them.
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#6 of 15 Old 04-17-2004, 03:45 AM
 
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It's impossible to live in this world without killing. Each time you take a step outdoors, boil water for tea, take antibiotics, etc you are going to kill bugs or microbes or bacteria (all sentient beings).
What matters is intention and mindfulness.
I don't kill mosquitos and drives me crazy when Dh does. It doesn't do anything to stop him getting bitten, there are always plenty more, and he just gets so aggravated by them. I just brush them off or ignore them as much as possible.
My dad had mice in his flat and asked his Buddhist teacher what to do. Much to his surprise, his teacher told him to kill them; that first we need to take care of ourselves and our own health to be able to be useful in the world, and having mouse pee and poop on the surfaces we cook on is not healthy.
Hmmm.
It's a real quandary. In Buddhism on the one hand we take vows to not kill, and on the other hand are told that that's impossible. So it's all about being more mindful of our actions and respectful of life, and following the vow to the extent that we possible can.

I recommend Thich Nhat Hanh's book, Peace Is Every Step.

** I believe it's the Jain's in India who sweep in front of them before each step. I met a man in India doing this. Now that's real devotion, but not very practical for most of us.
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#7 of 15 Old 04-17-2004, 11:48 PM
 
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Originally posted by muse
I believe it's the Jain's in India who sweep in front of them before each step. I met a man in India doing this. Now that's real devotion, but not very practical for most of us.
Yes. I couldn't remember when I posted what group did that. I have also heard of very devout Jains who starve to death rather than eat any living thing (including plant life).
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#8 of 15 Old 04-18-2004, 06:29 AM
 
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I don't know that I consider insects sentient, but I do think they desire and deserve life, and so I try not to kill them when they enter my house.

I remove those that I can. I use a clear cup to trap flying insects next to the wall or window and then slide a stiff card behind the cup to make a lid so I can take them outside and release them. I also do the same for spiders.

I ask tiny insects like ants and moths to leave (I ask outloud, in English, and visualize them leaving while I'm saying it). I'll remove the temptation if there is one (i.e. put the honey in the fridge so the ants can't get it) and then do what I can to redirect them outside (put a little honey on the back steps).

I also do what I can to keep insects from coming in, like keeping my screens in good shape, and keeping my kitchen clean. I have very little patience for mosquitos and fleas though. I'm definitely willing the kill bloodsuckers to keep them from biting my babies.

BTW, I don't do this for religious reasons, and I'm not currently a vegetarian ( I have been in the past though). I just think there is far too much senseless killing in this world already, and I'd rather not contribute to it, even if it is just a bug.

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#9 of 15 Old 04-18-2004, 09:18 AM
 
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BTW, I don't do this for religious reasons, and I'm not currently a vegetarian ( I have been in the past though). I just think there is far too much senseless killing in this world already, and I'd rather not contribute to it, even if it is just a bug.
I like this summary, DashsMama.

One of my first conflicts with my MIL as a new parent was when DS1 was about 2 1/2 or 3 and they were outside and she was teaching him to step on ants. Outside on the patio, mind you, not inside in the kitchen!

I took a deep breath and gently explained to her that we were not teaching him to kill bugs unless they were biters or harmful to us in some way. Ants minding their own business were interesting to watch and had their own jobs to do breaking down wastes and such and weren't to be stepped on or killed in front of him.

God bless her, she stared at me kind of blankly and said "well, I hate ants, but okay." And she quit doing it. She totally does NOT get it but I was so blessed that that's all it took for her to quit doing it. Sigh. I wish it wasn't so hard for people to understand the concept, though!
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#10 of 15 Old 04-18-2004, 08:04 PM
 
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Muse, what a great post.

I try not to kill bugs. Whenever possible I escort them out. When we bought our house, however, we had a HUGE ant problem. They lived in the walls and no matter how clean we were, we had ants everywhere!

So I called an exterminator who put some kind of powder in the walls.

I didn't like doing it, and I sent my apologies to the ants, but I think it was the right decision. Well, I hope it was. Where I get hung up is that I don't think ants pose a hygeine problem (like mice). Or do they? I don't know. Either way, the decision to kill them was based on OUR convenience.
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#11 of 15 Old 04-30-2004, 04:31 PM
 
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My husband is Korean Buddhist, and he definitely does not like to randomly kill beasties. However, I am a big wuss when it comes to spiders, and have forced him to become the house spider-killer.

It hurts him to do it, and over time I have realized how much heart pain it causes him, and so sometimes I say that putting the spider outside is OK. Usually depends on the size of the spider and how threatened I feel by it.

We had ants at our old place, and while they weren't causing any harm they were bothering me and our cat (she would freak out if she went near them). So we found some kind of organic powder that had a smell (some kind of spice?) that ants don't like? It doesn't kill them, it just repulses them so they go away. I think some died because we put it in the way of their way out of the condo, which was a mistake we made, but it did eliminate the problem of them coming back in.

We also cleaned the kitchen much more thoroughly than we had been doing.

Over the winter we had squirrels in our attic and were worried about them biting electric cords and killing themselves (and how gross that would be for us, along with fleas, etc), and I was worried about out apt. complexes reaction to it, but they just got some humane traps and with patience got all the squirrels out and relocated to a campground in the area. I was glad (especially being pregnant) that they didn't just run up there with a "bomb" to kill them all.

I'm glad we don't have nearly as many spiders here as we did at the old place, it makes things a lot more peaceful, since I don't have to ask my hubby to do something that sickens him (mind you he was like this even when he was eating meat, which is something I haven't been able to understand yet).
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#12 of 15 Old 05-24-2004, 08:10 AM
 
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I feel bad when I kill bugs (and I do sometimes). I think they have as much right to live as I do, and who am I to rob them of that gift? I feel the same way with plants, and I can rarely pick flowers. Isn't it selfishof me to pluck even a dandelion so that I may appreciate its beauty, but rob it of the feeling of the sweet breeze on its petals? I think if I wasn't som disconnected from where my food comes from, I would have to be into "breatharianism". In the ideal world, maybe we'd all just float around so we didn't step on anything!
I try as much as possible to remove bugs to the outside. And I'm teaching dd an appreciation of the insect world. We always watch bugs we find outside. Once, a mom in my coven squashed a mosquito, and I said lightly "what about 'harm none'?" (half joking tone), and she said something about west nile. I guess you can plead self-defense at some point, but I definitely agree with the idea of intent. If you do it menacingly, it just seems wrong.
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#13 of 15 Old 05-24-2004, 10:45 AM
 
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You know I never put any thought into it until my eldest daughter became terrified of bugs. I realized I was teaching her to be terrified of them by killing them when they came into the house. How awful they must be if mommy feels the need to squash the life out of them.
Now whenever we find bugs we catch them and carry them outside in a bowl or such and watch the bug walk out of the bowl back to his home in the grass. DD is not yet comfortable enough to touch the bugs, but she isn't terrified of them either. She understands that the bugs have a home outside on the earth and that they get lost in our home.
Not only has this helped her approach her fears or bugs- it has helped mine immensely. I used to be incredibly scared of bugs- so scared I would sometimes not sleep at night (silly I know) if one had been near my bed. Now I can touch them and appreciate them, even if I do still find them mildly pestering.
Thankfully we've never had a problem with roaches or mice, but I do think that if there are living beings that are unhealthy to us in our home, it is ok to exterminate them as humanely as possible. But not in their home at all.
There are some stray cats around our neighborhood. I put food out to them in hopes it will help keep such animals away. I don't know if it helps, but I feel better doing this as a preventative of sorts. We own no cats, and many days there are 2-3 lounging on our front porch.
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#14 of 15 Old 05-27-2004, 02:00 PM
 
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interesting...

we have had problems with roaches for a few years now, and i have debated back and forth what i should do about it. i was surprised to read that a buddhist monastery became infested with roaches and they eventually called an exterminator, reason being that the roaches were driving away people who may have wanted to join.

so for me, roaches have to go. i wish it were not the case. i do not kill ants or spiders though. when i see bees outside, i speak gently to them and let them know that i am not there to disturb them. it's a challenge to re-train myself, because i used to freak out when i saw bees or spiders.

btw, i am reading a book now about Spiritual Work (as in your vocation), and it discusses the Jains. the author (whose name escapes me at the moment) says that making a footprint in the earth is unavoidable, and that even if you go as far as the Jains do, you will cause someone else's footprint to be larger (someone will have to kill in your stead).
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#15 of 15 Old 05-27-2004, 03:04 PM
 
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When it comes down to it, pretty much everything alive has prioperception--awareness of self. It's necessary for any living organism in order to maintain homeostasis--their internal environment--and stay alive. This goes for plants and microbes and fungi as well as animals.

So unless you can live entirely off of the waste products of other beings (and even if you try, there will certainly be bacteria who beat you to it which will die), it's simply not possible.

That said, I find it perfectly legit to "pick and choose". Have you ever seen No Cure For Cancer, w/ Dennis Leary? He points out how people always want to save the "cute" animals, like otters etc., but the cow? Get on the truck, you're a jacket.

I for one won't eat what I'm not willing to kill. Then again, I won't eat some things I AM willing to kill (like roaches). So I'm pretty much a vegetarian.

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