how many errors?
- Dear Venerable Monks,
Recently I was walking near my home doing a chore when I suddenly
felt an object hit the back of my neck. Startled, I grabbed for the
object and then found it to be a small beatle, a "lady bug".
Regretting the action I checked to see if it was alright but found it
to have damaged wings. I observed it some more and percieved that it
was struggling, suffering.
I accept that I have committed an offence and broken a precept by my
lack of mindfulness. If I had only paused before reacting I would not
have injured this being. I am very sorry for this. But I fear my
transgressions do not end there. I felt responsibilty for this tiny
creatures suffering and did not wish it to suffer any longer. I
reluctantly decided that I should end it's life to end the suffering
I had caused.
I asked it's forgiveness and explained my reasoning and said a prayer
that it may be reborn as a higher life form.
Was this final action even worse than the first? I felt I took it's
life out of compassion, but am I just deluded in this? Is "mercy
killing" wrong? What would the Buddha have said?
- Only one, the error of ignorance.
Injuring the insect was not breaking the precept, nor unwholesome kamma,
as that was not the intention. Killing the insect was both breaking the
precept, and unwholesome kamma because the intention was to kill.
See Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw's article on "Mercy Killing" and vivisection:
The first intention is compassionate and wholesome, but the second is
cruel and unwholesome. You already thought this was so, hence your doubts
and question. To be mindful always to avoid injuring or hurting other
beings is ideal, but very hard to achieve. Even the Buddha was hated by
some because of what he said.
If we monks preach the truth that many people do not wish to hear, they
make unwholesome kamma by bearing ill-will towards us. "Do not drink
intoxicants, do not indulge in sensual pleasures, get up early, study
hard, meditate strenuously." Such admonishments are unpopular these days,
but we should not be silent. If we only flatter people by praising their
generosity and virtues we may be popular, but those who listen to us will
miss the true Dhamma. They will accumlate potential for wealth and
prosperity, but not for insight and liberation from attachment.