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killing...
Answer
6/7/11 9:43 PM
...roaches.

i have this little roach problem. since my first goenka 10 day about 3 years ago i have been very firmly committed to not killing ANYTHING. including roaches. my kindness is now being taken advantage by of the little guys, and i have a bit of an infestation at my apt currently.

Its interesting, at first it was funny. Then it was gross. Then very burdensome. Now its funny again, but also gross and burdensome.

I got the idea that i would treat them like one of the hinderances. Just observe them, and not give them any food (ie: keep the trash outside, leave no tasty scraps on the counter or dirty dishes in the sink) until they left on their own, rather than poison bomb the house.

Its really taught me a lot about acceptance. Helped me kill the ego a bit by looking upon them kindly as co-inhabitants instead of as little pests and invaders. Realizing it isnt really MY living space. Taking the ME vs THEM thing out of the equation.

On another level though, its just a problem (they crawl on me in my bed and during meditations making sleep and concentration practice nearly impossible). I think part of why im posting this, is that i hope some very experienced, enlightened person will just assuage my guilt over the matter and say "KILL THEM KILL THEM" so i dont have to make that karmically dubious decision myself. (obviously that last paragraph about acceptance hasnt sunk in All the way. it comes and goes.)

The central goal of my life right now is to attain enlightenment. I aspire to the fastest route there. And my question to those further along the path than myself is, "Is it ok to kill in extenuating circumstances such as this? What effect could it practically have on my progress? (ie: would violating the silas thusly cause tangible setbacks?)"

I know this is not a black and white question, and ultimately the responsibility lies within me, but what would you do here?

RE: killing...
Answer
6/7/11 11:49 PM as a reply to justin scafidi.
I would kill them. But I would do it with as much felicity and sensuousness as possible (sarcasm intended here). Maybe you could practice AF instead - they eat slaughtered beasts, but it's ok because it's not their "I" that does it, it's their flesh and blood body. Big difference.

Did you realize you're already killing things all the time? You kill bacteria, dust mites, viruses, ants. You kill all manner of other living things indirectly through the way you live. Do you own a timber dining table? Well it was probably ripped out of the Amazon forest, leaving native wildlife without habitat and food, causing death of endangered species. Do you use electricity? Then you're contributing to the destruction of the polar ice caps, and indirectly to the destruction of all man kind. I could think of another hundred such examples.

Go back to your teacher and repeat word for word what I just typed here, and see if he has an answer. He will probably take great offense that you challenged his ideas and expel you immediately from the class. Either that or he will be very guarded and suspicious of you. Teachers... aren't they great?!!

RE: killing...
Answer
6/8/11 10:57 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
You could buy yourself an animal which eats them. Maybe some form of lizzard or so...
I used to use my cat for that. When something nasty was flying around my flat and i didn't manage to get it out, my cat prooved to be very effective in catching this stuff.

@ccc
You seem to call bacteria, dust mites, viruses, ants "things". is there a point - on the evolutionary ladder maybe - where living creatures become more than things?

cu
Meggo

RE: killing...
Answer
6/8/11 2:38 AM as a reply to justin scafidi.
justin what a funny situation you've gotten yourself too :-) And gross and burdensome heh :LOL:

justin scafidi:

Its really taught me a lot about acceptance. Helped me kill the ego a bit by looking upon them kindly as co-inhabitants instead of as little pests and invaders. Realizing it isnt really MY living space. Taking the ME vs THEM thing out of the equation.


If you ask me, your ego is the only thing preventing you from killing those pesky roaches once and for all. You take up the buddhist precepts as part of your identity, and this is preventing you from thinking clearly. Killing pests has nothing to do with karma, if someone told you otherwise they have sold out their intelligence to silly dogma.

A roach infestation is a roach infestation. It is unhealthy (they pick up all sorts of stuff in sewers, old pipes, garbage... before maybe going for your food) and damages the house. You have every reason to get 'em out.

RE: killing...
Answer
6/8/11 3:01 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
bruno wrote
You take up the buddhist precepts as part of your identity, and this is preventing you from thinking clearly. Killing pests has nothing to do with karma, if someone told you otherwise they have sold out their intelligence to silly dogma.

1) Is thinking clearly part of your identity?
2) how can anything which happens in this universe, stand on its own, not influence something else, not be part of the ever lasting interaction of cause and effect?

bruno wrote:
A roach infestation is a roach infestation. It is unhealthy (they pick up all sorts of stuff in sewers, old pipes, garbage... before maybe going for your food) and damages the house. You have every reason to get 'em out.


You could easily turn that around. Aren't humans a much bigger threat to everything that lives on this planet (including humans)?

RE: killing...
Answer
6/8/11 4:18 AM as a reply to Meggo mu.
Personally I see no problem in either,

a) if you don't want to kill them, find an alternative way: preventive spraying in where they come from, or pick them up one by one and expel them.

b) if you want, kill them.

whats the issue here? emoticon
hehe

in regards to your 'what would you do' question:
I'd try to get them out without killing them, then if it didnt work, i'd spray some poison in the locations they like to congregate, and expel them one by one.

RE: killing...
Answer
6/8/11 8:40 AM as a reply to Meggo mu.
Meggo Mu Mu:
bruno wrote
You take up the buddhist precepts as part of your identity, and this is preventing you from thinking clearly. Killing pests has nothing to do with karma, if someone told you otherwise they have sold out their intelligence to silly dogma.

1) Is thinking clearly part of your identity?
2) how can anything which happens in this universe, stand on its own, not influence something else, not be part of the ever lasting interaction of cause and effect?

bruno wrote:
A roach infestation is a roach infestation. It is unhealthy (they pick up all sorts of stuff in sewers, old pipes, garbage... before maybe going for your food) and damages the house. You have every reason to get 'em out.


You could easily turn that around. Aren't humans a much bigger threat to everything that lives on this planet (including humans)?


hehe, you say all that, then earlier you recommended
Meggo Mu Mu:
You could buy yourself an animal which eats them. Maybe some form of lizzard or so...


as if that wouldn't be the same thing as killing them. seems to be some cognitive dissonance here - killing them is not OK[1], but buying an animal that kills them is.

[1] you didn't actually say this, so i assumed that's your point, unless you were just trying to point out the flaws in other people's reasoning, in which case i retract my statement.

RE: killing...
Answer
6/8/11 10:08 AM as a reply to justin scafidi.
[Sutta style - written as much to help myself think as to help you. Hope it doesn't offend.]
You have undertaken the training rule to refrain from killing, as the path to enlightenment. In refraining from killing, you cultivated compassion and loving-kindness. Having cultivated loving-kindness, living with rod laid down, the beings against who you have cultivated the loving kindness, acting according to the kamma, disturbed your sleep, disturbed your meditation.
In disturbing your sleep, in disturbing your meditation, these beings caused in you the arising of ill will.

The arahants live with the rod laid down, having extinguished the fetter of ill will, ill will does not arise in them. Thoughts of killing does not arise in them.

Not having extinguished the fetter of ill will, ill will arises in you. Thoughts of killing arise in you. Thus, living with these beings does not lead to detachment, to peace, to cessation.

Practice thus, then. Knowing the killing of these beings, intending the killing of beings, know: This is the arising of doubt. This is the arising of ill will.
[sutta style off]


I'd say in this case the thing to do is to recognize that you have undertaken strict ascetic rules for which you are not yet ready. The training rule does not prohibit eating meat, for instance, it prohibits the act of killing, even if you ask another to do it for you. Too strict training rules, (i'd say) will lead you away from the path almost as easily as too soft training rules.
Thus, in having the roaches extinguished (which i think you should do), recognize that you are not yet ready to undertake these ascetic practices - just as you do not go around with a broom sweeping in front of you, to avoid stepping on anything. In having the roaches extinguished, know how doubt arises and ceases, how ill will arises and ceases, how restlessness arises and ceases, et.c. Knowing this, practice towards the cessation of doubt, the cessation of restlessness, the cessation of ill will.

This answer seems too simple, and too easy, but it's the best i can come up with at the moment. Hope it helps.

Metta
Villum

Edit: The precepts are training rules to guide you towards enlightenment. They are not commandments. When you break them, reflect, resolve to improve you practice, and move on. Not that you shouldn't take the matter seriously, but the goal is to guide you to enlightenment.

RE: killing...
Answer
6/8/11 10:19 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman wrote
as if that wouldn't be the same thing as killing them. seems to be some cognitive dissonance here - killing them is not OK[1], but buying an animal that kills them is.


you are right the end result is the same, but it is a difficult moral territory to navigate through
if the animal kills it, one could say its survival depends on it (assuming it is an insect eating animal), if a human kills some cockroaches, it is more because of an emotional problem (wanting to meditate better, wanting a cleaner place to live in, aversion towards insects ect.), so it is not survival against survival, so it is not "fair".
one could then say i just use this some lizzard to get rid of my emotional problems, so the underlying intention is bad. i could then argue, that with the advent of human buildings the balance between insect eating animals and insects slid to the side of insects (it is easier to prevent bigger animals from entering an appartement) so i am just restoring the natural balance which humanity destroyed in the first place. and so on

beoman wrote
....unless you were just trying to point out the flaws in other people's reasoning, in which case i retract my statement.


yes, it tried to do this too ;)

RE: killing...
Answer
6/8/11 10:19 AM as a reply to Villum (redacted).
Here, bhikkhus, is an arahant that, having extinguished the fetters of doubt, ill-will, and restlessness, while keeping common-sense in his pure and pristine mind, makes, without the arising of doubt, without the arising of ill-will, without the faintest trace of restlessness, a telephone call to the local roach exterminator.

emoticon

RE: killing...
Answer
6/8/11 10:44 AM as a reply to Meggo mu.
Meggo Mu Mu:
you are right the end result is the same, but it is a difficult moral territory to navigate through
if the animal kills it, one could say its survival depends on it (assuming it is an insect eating animal), if a human kills some cockroaches, it is more because of an emotional problem (wanting to meditate better, wanting a cleaner place to live in, aversion towards insects ect.), so it is not survival against survival, so it is not "fair".
one could then say i just use this some lizzard to get rid of my emotional problems, so the underlying intention is bad. i could then argue, that with the advent of human buildings the balance between insect eating animals and insects slid to the side of insects (it is easier to prevent bigger animals from entering an appartement) so i am just restoring the natural balance which humanity destroyed in the first place. and so on

indeed.

what does it matter whether it is "fair" or not? who says it is "fair"? who is offended if something is not "fair"? if the end result is the same - insects dead, plus or minus one well-fed lizard - who is hurt if the underlying intention is "bad"?

RE: killing...
Answer
6/8/11 10:31 AM as a reply to Meggo mu.
Meggo Mu Mu:
if the animal kills it, one could say its survival depends on it (assuming it is an insect eating animal), if a human kills some cockroaches, it is more because of an emotional problem (wanting to meditate better, wanting a cleaner place to live in, aversion towards insects ect.), so it is not survival against survival, so it is not "fair".


The strongest emotional issue happening here is hesitating to solve a pest problem because of allegiance to religious directives (in this case the precepts, but could well be the ten commandments). In fact this issue is so strongly felt that our dear friend has been living with the things for a while, in the name of such allegiance.

One should inform oneself and make the best choice, rather than following directives written before humans understood the mechanisms of disease.

Some website:
Do cockroaches promote diseases? There are probably more than 50 disease causing organisms that have been isolated from cockroach bodies. Cockroaches are considered dirty bugs, signs of filth and disease....

Cockroaches are considered dirty bugs, signs of filth and disease. But is it a fair opinion, or just bad press?

Stoy Hedges, an entomologist and Director of Technical Services at Terminix International, says, "There has been some research with cockroaches. There are probably more than 50 disease causing organisms that have been isolated from cockroach bodies. Although there is no scientific study that has shown there has been direct transmission of these diseases to people, there is always that risk. So that's one of the primary reasons that health officials don't want cockroaches in restaurants. They don't want cockroaches in hospitals because they have diseased organisms. They also have a potential for mechanical transmission. You don't want them crawling or crossing something, and then, they leave their bacteria behind.

RE: killing...
Answer
6/8/11 10:50 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

what does it matter whether if it is "fair" or not? who says it is "fair"? who is offended if something is not "fair"? if the end result is the same - insects dead, plus or minus one well-fed lizard - who is hurt if the underlying intention is bad?


1) it does only matter if you feel a desire to treat other beings fairly.
2) an imprinted intuition can give you a hint about fairness in a situation. some form of the golden rule seems to be genetically hardwired into the human emotional system (as implied in a cross-cultural study i once read)
3) you yourself could be repelled by your own acts (in retrospect), other people could be offended if they perceive your actions as egoic
4) if the intention was good, then point 3) is unlikely to happen

RE: killing...
Answer
6/8/11 11:14 AM as a reply to Meggo mu.
Meggo Mu Mu:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

what does it matter whether if it is "fair" or not? who says it is "fair"? who is offended if something is not "fair"? if the end result is the same - insects dead, plus or minus one well-fed lizard - who is hurt if the underlying intention is bad?


1) it does only matter if you feel a desire to treat other beings fairly.
2) an imprinted intuition can give you a hint about fairness in a situation. some form of the golden rule seems to be genetically hardwired into the human emotional system (as implied in a cross-cultural study i once read)
3) you yourself could be repelled by your own acts (in retrospect), other people could be offended if they perceive your actions as egoic
4) if the intention was good, then point 3) is unlikely to happen


about 4): other people can be offended regardless of your intentions.

the rest of your points point to what i was getting at. 1) is about your desire. 2) is about your desire as well. 3) is about being repelled by your own actions - a reaction to your actions. and indeed those 3 things can cause pain.

so the issue, based on your replies, really isn't whether those cockroaches die, it's how you feel about it. the pain doesn't come from the intrinsic act of killing the cockroach, it comes from clinging or aversion to the fact or mental proliferations about it.

my opinion is that the precepts were designed to reduce such reactions. by not harming other beings, by not lying or engaging in sexual misconduct, you reduce the amount of guilt you have (as well as the amount others might try to harm you), and that is more conducive to practicing. but when following the precepts themselves causes these problems, e.g. by feeling guilty about eliminating a problem which is hazardous to your practice and could very well be hazardous to your health, then that's kind of missing the point.

RE: killing...
Answer
6/8/11 11:20 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
Here, bhikkhus, is an arahant that, having extinguished the fetters of doubt, ill-will, and restlessness, while keeping common-sense in his pure and pristine mind, makes, without the arising of doubt, without the arising of ill-will, without the faintest trace of restlessness, a telephone call to the local roach exterminator.

emoticon


emoticon I wondered about that too. My current theory is that that is actually what the arahant would do. But then, the arahant, having extinguished the fetters, doesn't have to worry so much about things affecting his training.
If you find that following the training rules(precepts) do not lead to enlightenment, having properly reflected (already the case), you should do the sensible thing. And then practice even more towards enlightenment.

Not yet having committed myself to such training rules, i kill bugs infesting my apartment. And i'm pretty sure i would continue to do so if i undertook the precepts, on the understanding that the 0th precept should be "don't be silly".

That said, i do see a point in such training rules, as guides to practice.

RE: killing...
Answer
6/8/11 11:46 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:


so the issue, based on your replies, really isn't whether those cockroaches die, it's how you feel about it. the pain doesn't come from the intrinsic act of killing the cockroach, it comes from clinging or aversion to the fact or mental proliferations about it.


yes, emotion is not intrinsicly incorporated into outside/ inside objects. there is always an emotion arising with it, and then being associated to it

Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

...causes these problems, e.g. by feeling guilty about eliminating a problem which is hazardous to your practice and could very well be hazardous to your health, then that's kind of missing the point.


for me: problem = problem with an emotion. there seems to be no problem which isn't an emotional problem, or no problem outside emotions.
so
hazardous to practice = emotional problem
bad health = emotional problem

but you seem to imply that guilt and/or sadness which could arise by killing insects are self-evidently less important than the emotions which are created by health problems or bad practice. why?

RE: killing...
Answer
6/8/11 12:32 PM as a reply to Meggo mu.
Meggo Mu Mu:
for me: problem = problem with an emotion. there seems to be no problem which isn't an emotional problem, or no problem outside emotions.
so
hazardous to practice = emotional problem
bad health = emotional problem

i agree

Meggo Mu Mu:
but you seem to imply that guilt and/or sadness which could arise by killing insects are self-evidently less important than the emotions which are created by health problems or bad practice. why?

hmm, i didn't mean to say that.

there are two potential emotional problems here: insects causing stress, and killing insects causing stress. something has to change, otherwise you are stressed either way.

you can change the beliefs that cause insects to cause stress, and thus not have stress caused by insects, or you can chance the beliefs that cause killing insects to cause stress, and thus not have stress cause by killing insects.

about insects themselves causing stress, this happens because they do seem to cause a dirty atmosphere, a dirty environment, a physically-diseased atmosphere.

about killing insects causing stress, this happens because of taking up a belief, that the precept against killing any living thing be upheld at any cost. but that belief was taken up precisely to prevent causing stress.

i guess it is a personal choice. to me the latter seems sillier than the former.

but in any case, calling in an exterminator, or buying an animal to take care of the problem for you, seems like just rationalizing around the issue, like irrational thinking which just perpetuates the belief, though i suppose if that causes the least amount of stress you could do that.

RE: killing...
Answer
6/8/11 1:32 PM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:


there are two potential emotional problems here: insects causing stress, and killing insects causing stress. something has to change, otherwise you are stressed either way.

about killing insects causing stress, this happens because of taking up a belief, that the precept against killing any living thing be upheld at any cost. but that belief was taken up precisely to prevent causing stress.
.


ok, this problem is expanding a bit in my mind while i am thinking about it.
if somebody asks what he should do in such an example, i, trying to be objective now, am feeling inclined to take the stress insects feelings into consideration. so, if i am thinking about the possibility of insects being able to feel pain, i must consider the amount of pain being increased or decreased in the world/ reality as a whole after killing these insects. this has nothing to do with following precepts with the goal of decreasing the suffering of an individual (human) being any more.
of course, i don't know if cockroaches feel pain and if i knew it, i wouldn't know how to objectify this pain into comparable units.
e.g. a cockroach killed by some arbitrary way feels = 1 unit of pain. one has to kill 5000 --> so 5000 units more in the world. if on the other hand, the decrease of pain in the human feeling stressed out by these insects is > -5000 units, i would have to say go for it.
i can't seem to find a way to get to such a conclusion, so i guess i have to retract my advice of buying a reptile to get over this problem o_O

RE: killing...
Answer
6/8/11 8:42 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
Here, bhikkhus, is an arahant that, having extinguished the fetters of doubt, ill-will, and restlessness, while keeping common-sense in his pure and pristine mind, makes, without the arising of doubt, without the arising of ill-will, without the faintest trace of restlessness, a telephone call to the local roach exterminator.

emoticon


LOL hahahaha

ah, damn, that's good

RE: killing...
Answer
6/8/11 8:50 PM as a reply to justin scafidi.
So, Justin, a lot of heavy duty reasoning and logic and debate and ethics and morality later... where are you at with the roaches? :-)

I'll tell you what. Of course the roaches would like to go about their business and prefer to continue roaching around to being mushed or poisoned or eaten by you or your proxy. And yet, is it such a big deal that you'd like to continue Justin-ing around sans roaches?

What if the challenge is to avoid two extremes:

1) on the one hand, callously ignoring your sense that, here are these roaches who would just like to continue roaching and if I were them, I wouldn't want to be annihilated;

and 2) on the other hand, the sentimental confusion (don't mean that pejoratively, just descriptively) that's led you to the point of a roach infestation. If you take callousness and sentimental indecisiveness completely out of the equation, for just a few moments, as an experiment: what do you do then about the roaches?
--Jake

RE: killing...
Answer
6/13/11 9:11 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
curiously enough, after seeing the unanimous "kill off the roaches" replies, my resolve not to kill them was strengthened.

mainly because all reasons posted for killing them i had already pored over, and all really just boiled down to comfort zones and selfish drives to maintain the appearance of cleanliness. i just didnt want to be the guy with roaches in his house. and i knew that killing them would have been undertaken merely to uphold this image of myself that i cherish a little.

so they have bacteria on them. im sure one would find a similar spectrum of bacteria under ones fingernail, the bottom of ones shoes, or the doorhandle to the bathroom at work. and yet people still: scratch their eyes, wear their shoes in the house, and touch the doorhandle to the bathroom AFTER having washed their hands.

anyway, their numbers have dwindled to practically nothing after i began squirting bleach down all the drains. they are much less comfortable breeding down there that way. still havent resorted to poison, and a part of me, no matter how deluded or irrational or ego driven or dogmatically clinging to scripture it happens to be, is proud of the fact that i stretched my boundaries wide enough to avoid intentionally killing a single roach. (yes, i realize i may have unintentionally killed a few by squirting bleach down the sinks.)

i really do feel like ive learned a lot from this little ahimsa experiment, and i would urge others to try similar practices. i think a little boundary stretching is good for everyone. (maybe not if you have kids/loved ones in the house.)

all in all i gained some useful habits and dropped some un-useful fears.

(note: if the number of roaches didnt eventually drop off from all the non harmful methods(non 'directly' harmful anyway), i would have eventually resorted to poison. im not so stubborn that id live the rest of my life with the nasty fuckin things.)

RE: killing...
Answer
6/13/11 9:38 PM as a reply to justin scafidi.
p.s.:

by the way thanks everyone for your replies, criticisms, encouragements. I appreciate them.

RE: killing...
Answer
6/13/11 9:44 PM as a reply to Yadid dee.
Yadid dee:
Personally I see no problem in either,

a) if you don't want to kill them, find an alternative way: preventive spraying in where they come from, or pick them up one by one and expel them.

b) if you want, kill them.

whats the issue here? emoticon
hehe



thats really a great point. im not really sure why i made this thread. i think i just wanted to bounce the idea off of people who would understand where i was coming from more than my disgusted family/friends did. the world is a lonely place when you are *too* nice to roaches. lol.

RE: killing...
Answer
6/13/11 10:02 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:


Did you realize you're already killing things all the time? You kill bacteria, dust mites, viruses, ants. You kill all manner of other living things indirectly through the way you live. Do you own a timber dining table? Well it was probably ripped out of the Amazon forest, leaving native wildlife without habitat and food, causing death of endangered species. Do you use electricity? Then you're contributing to the destruction of the polar ice caps, and indirectly to the destruction of all man kind. I could think of another hundred such examples.



yes, i realize this, and try to avoid/limit the above within reasonable limits, but what i was trying to avoid here was: intentionally killing due to purely ego driven reasons. as someone stated, perhaps i was driven to do this due to some 'buddhist ego' (if one keeps at all this ego causing this or that business it starts getting ridiculous) but the end result is that i avoided killing. is there some hidden metaphysical speculation imbedded here about karma, future consequences, etc? maybe.

all in all though ill just take the experiment for what it was worth at a practical level which is: i better learned to withhold committing a perhaps unskillful action (spraying poison all over my living quarters) in favor of an action with less immediate but identical end results.