Spiders and other creepy crawlers

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  • bcaruthers
    Member
    • May 2011
    • 46

    Spiders and other creepy crawlers

    One of the precepts talks about not killing, I was wondering if this also applies to spiders and insects? My wife hates spiders and every time she sees one she wants me to kill it, but I am not sure if that is the right thing to do or not. The other day I saw a spider in the bathroom and decided to have it crawl on a paper towel and take it outside to avoid feeling guilty and to avoid any negative karma from killing it. How do some of you feel about taking the life of spiders and insects?

    Gassho,
    Bryan
    “And though it is like this, it is only that flowers, while loved, fall; and weeds while hated, flourish." ~ Dogen Zenji ~
  • Undo
    Member
    • Jun 2007
    • 495

    #2
    Re: Spiders and other creepy crawlers

    I have 50 or 60 tarantulas, scorpions and a few other bugs somy view maybe a little off centre
    Spiders do a good job in keeping other insect populations in the house down. if somone is phobic or uncomfortable with them, then a good compromise would be to grab a glass and piece of paper and take them outside ( the spider that is ).
    maybe another solution would be to help your wife with her fear and live and let live?

    Comment

    • Jundo
      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
      • Apr 2006
      • 39474

      #3
      Re: Spiders and other creepy crawlers

      Hi Guys,

      This comes up from time to time ... especially during the summer months, for some reason. :shock:

      Here is what I usually say ...

      Traditionally, Buddhism has made a distinction between sentient life and other insentient life forms. The border between "sentience" and "insentience" is, of course, hard to set precisely (and, in a larger sense, some teachers such as Master Dogen included even mountains and trees and roof tiles as "sentient life"), but we generally do not treat insects with the same weight as more self aware creatures. That does not mean, too, that we are not respectful of all life.

      I have written in the past about how this issue came up at Treeleaf Japan, a group of all wooden buildings, when we had termites ...

      Originally posted by Jundo

      We also faced this when Treeleaf Japan ... a completely wooden building (built without nails, just joined wood beams) ... was infested with termites ...

      A Google search on the subject, and talking to some other Buddhist clergy in various traditions, turned up the fact that (as I suspected), infested wooden Buddhist temples will take countermeasures ... though sometimes followed by a memorial service or the like for the little lives taken (and although some claim not too, and that good chanting is enough to chase the bugs away ... I tried that, no luck.) ...

      The following was also typical advice, and I gave it a try ...

      In the area of prohibitions against killing, one laywoman asked, "What should we do if there are mice and termites at home?" Dharma Master Heng Lyu answered, "You first post a notice asking them to leave. Next, you use insect repellants to chase them out. Avoid insecticides because you want to avoid the karma of killing."

      One layman asked, "How do you avoid harming living beings while mowing the lawn?"

      Dharma Master Heng Lyu said, "You would first post a notice to let the small creatures know that it's best to move, then mow the lawn. While you're mowing the lawn, recite the Great Compassion Mantra at the same time."

      Excerpted from the article, "The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas Holds First Transmission of the Lay Bodhisattva Precepts in the New Millenium", on page 49 of the October 2000 issue (volume 31, series 73) of the Vajra Bodhi Sea.
      And, of course, this is the famous "Dalai Lama kills the Mosquito" video ...

      http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=W083nSzx1Rc

      I really feel the weight of having to kill those termites ... but somehow, whenever there is an earthquake and the heavy roof timbers start shaking over my family's heads ... I know it was necessary. That is the Koan.

      Gassho, Jundo
      ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

      Comment

      • Tb
        Member
        • Jan 2008
        • 3186

        #4
        Re: Spiders and other creepy crawlers

        Hi.

        Yes, if you need to kill it, kill it.
        If you don't, don't.

        The precept of not killing, my my humble view, is all about intention.
        There is some difference between killing, although they are all killing, a mosquito absentmindedly while it is buzzing around you, or with a mosquitolamp or deliberately pulling one wing out at a time...

        Also, if possible, it might be good to help the spiders outdoors, if indoor, as they do alot of good.
        Because in my sense, some people step into cowdung, other use it for fertilizer.
        And they might be great help out there, as i hear they eat a lot of mosquitos...

        That being said, If there were giant ones, Like in the movie Giant spider invasion, and they were attacking me, i wouldnt hesitate to break an precept...
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Giant ... vasion.jpg

        Mtfbwy
        Fugen
        Life is our temple and its all good practice
        Blog: http://fugenblog.blogspot.com/

        Comment

        • Ryumon
          Member
          • Apr 2007
          • 1706

          #5
          Re: Spiders and other creepy crawlers

          We have a fair number of spiders who have residence in our home. However, when we see them, we pick them up by covering them with a cup, then sliding a piece of cardboard under the upside-down cup, then tossing them out the window. Sometimes they can be very big. However, we know that, a) we don't want to kill them, and b) they're actually good to have around, because the eat other insects.

          This said, a book by Douglas Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop, pointed out why mosquitoes and other insects are not sentient, and don't have conscience...
          ---
          Ryūmon (Kirk)
          流文

          SAT/LAH

          I know nothing.

          Comment

          • Jundo
            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
            • Apr 2006
            • 39474

            #6
            Re: Spiders and other creepy crawlers

            Originally posted by kirkmc
            ... they're actually good to have around, because the eat other insects.

            ...
            Ah, sending out these hired killers to do your dirty work for you? 8)
            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

            Comment

            • KellyRok
              Member
              • Jul 2008
              • 1374

              #7
              Re: Spiders and other creepy crawlers

              Hello all,

              I don't like spiders...I mean I REALLY don't like them. But, I don't like to kill them either - I mean it's not their fault that I have a fear of them. I always make an effort to rescue them and put them outside, as I do with all bugs. It is good that I have boys, because they like to help with this .

              Having said this, we decided to have a unique pet. He is a 6 month old, bearded dragon lizard. He is already 14 inches long and will grow to be about 2 feet when he is full grown. His health and wellness depends on eating live food, mainly insects (crickets). Therefore, we have to buy crickets or worms, feed them a vitamin mixture to keep them healthy, in order to feed them to our lizard. At first, I had a really rough time with this. But as my husband pointed out, that in the wild, these lizards hunt out and eat these insects for survival. So in a sense we are sacrificing the life of the bugs for the life of our family pet...and that he would have done that for himself if he were born in the wild anyway. Now, I say a little prayer/metta verse for the crickets before feeding Charlie, our lizard.

              I think intent has a lot to do with it!

              Thank you for this thread,
              May all beings be free from suffering,

              Kelly/Jinmei

              Comment

              • Saijun
                Member
                • Jul 2010
                • 667

                #8
                Re: Spiders and other creepy crawlers

                Originally posted by bcaruthers
                One of the precepts talks about not killing, I was wondering if this also applies to spiders and insects? My wife hates spiders and every time she sees one she wants me to kill it, but I am not sure if that is the right thing to do or not. The other day I saw a spider in the bathroom and decided to have it crawl on a paper towel and take it outside to avoid feeling guilty and to avoid any negative karma from killing it. How do some of you feel about taking the life of spiders and insects?

                Gassho,
                Bryan
                Hello Bryan,

                I'm going to come off as the harsh fundamentalist Buddhist on this one. While it's true that (as I recall) traditionally killing an animal was a lesser offense than killing a human, it is still an offense. Killing is still killing. I am absolutely terrified of spiders (and centipedes, we have those too), but when I come across one in the house, it's the "paper and cup" trick every time. Then I run screaming back into the house.

                However, it's not that I refrain from killing out of a sense of guilt or fear of karmaic punishment; it's a duty. I've taken Bodhisattva vows, and vows I do not take lightly. By choosing, moment by moment, to honor those sixteen precepts and four great vows, I (in my own small way) am granting unconditional protection to all sentient beings, if only from myself and my own ignorance and unskillful action.

                I, at this moment, cannot imagine a scenario where killing is the most skillful action. If one has the power to kill, one also has the power to save a life. If one can kill, one can incapacitate. And it's in dancing carefully along that thin line that beings are saved and the Buddha-Way is realized.

                However, that is just my view, and not a terribly popular one I'm finding out. I think that ultimately each one of us starts where we are, and works with our circumstances as best we can. Of course there will be stumbles along the way, but we just have to get up and keep going. Example: I have trouble keeping my rampant sarcasm from sneaking into conversations at inopportune times. That's what gives me the most fits right now.

                Metta and Gassho,

                Saijun

                EDIT: The first draft, upon a second reading, made it sound like I implying that my way was *THE* way. Oops and sorry ops:
                To give up yourself without regret is the greatest charity. --RBB

                Comment

                • Kaishin
                  Member
                  • Dec 2010
                  • 2322

                  #9
                  Re: Spiders and other creepy crawlers

                  My wife is deathly afraid of spiders. I have been ordered by my wife to kill spiders on sight. I usually do, but sometimes I let them go (like if it's the middle of the night and I know it will be out of sight by morning...). Do I want the spider to live or do I want my wife not to have a severe panic attack? Choices, choices.

                  You're not going to find a detailed list of what's OK to kill and what's not. That's not what the precepts are about. Even the Dalai Lama eats meat.

                  Some spiders get the squish, some get the scoop. I guess just be mindful. It is impossible not to kill. Even walking across your yard, things will die. If you say, that is unintentional! I say, you know that walking across the yard will result in bugs dying, yet you still do it, so it IS intentional! You see the traps?

                  We've got hunters and vegans here, and all of them are correct Probably the inevitable vegetarian flamewar will commence soon! :mrgreen:
                  Thanks,
                  Kaishin (開心, Open Heart)
                  Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

                  Comment

                  • Saijun
                    Member
                    • Jul 2010
                    • 667

                    #10
                    Re: Spiders and other creepy crawlers

                    Originally posted by Matto
                    We've got hunters and vegans here, and all of them are correct Probably the inevitable vegetarian flamewar will commence soon! :mrgreen:
                    Hello Matt,

                    I'd like to think (hope) that there is enough mutual goodwill here to prevent any debate or discussion (even a heated one) from denigrating into a flamewar. What's that simile? Stones polishing each other, isn't it?

                    Metta and Gassho,

                    Saijun
                    To give up yourself without regret is the greatest charity. --RBB

                    Comment

                    • Hoyu
                      Member
                      • Nov 2010
                      • 2020

                      #11
                      Re: Spiders and other creepy crawlers

                      Hi All,

                      I am always faced with much difficulty when it comes to the taking of life of any kind. Most of the time I go out of my way to avoid doing it. I feel that life of any size is a sacred gift and try to avoid placing it into categories of worth. My usual "weapon" is the old cup and cardboard trick many others here have mentioned. But sometimes the weapon becomes lethal. This is one ocassion I went against my normal practice of sparing life whenever possible.

                      Last summer my son was sitting on the lawn playing while I was chatting with the neighbor. After a few minutes he stood up and started screaming. Here he was full of aggressive biting ants. I swatted them off him, got into the house, and cleaned him up. Now I was faced with the difficult task of deciding what to do about the ant mound. I had known they were in the lawn but let them be because I didn't want to bother them. In light of them attacking my son I declared war! However I knew very well that they were doing exactly the same thing as me! When my son sat on or near their hill they were also defending against an attack. They have children too! Even though my son was just sitting there peacefully how would they be able to know his intent? I really was able to empathize with them but still had to make a decision. Needless to say that they lost in the end

                      Gassho,
                      John
                      Ho (Dharma)
                      Yu (Hot Water)

                      Comment

                      • Kaishin
                        Member
                        • Dec 2010
                        • 2322

                        #12
                        Re: Spiders and other creepy crawlers

                        Originally posted by Saijun
                        Originally posted by Matto
                        We've got hunters and vegans here, and all of them are correct Probably the inevitable vegetarian flamewar will commence soon! :mrgreen:
                        Hello Matt,

                        I'd like to think (hope) that there is enough mutual goodwill here to prevent any debate or discussion (even a heated one) from denigrating into a flamewar. What's that simile? Stones polishing each other, isn't it?

                        Metta and Gassho,

                        Saijun
                        Only joking! I would hope for polishing stones here as well.
                        Thanks,
                        Kaishin (開心, Open Heart)
                        Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

                        Comment

                        • Dokan
                          Friend of Treeleaf
                          • Dec 2010
                          • 1222

                          #13
                          Re: Re: Spiders and other creepy crawlers

                          Originally posted by Saijun
                          However, that is just my view, and not a terribly popular one I'm finding out.
                          I share your views. When I read your post I felt as if you were speaking my heart/mind. So much so I shared it with my wife. She is like you with spiders and it took a while before shed take a backwards step and scream for me to come escort the guests out. Now she even does it herself.

                          Gassho

                          S
                          We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
                          ~Anaïs Nin

                          Comment

                          • Jundo
                            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                            • Apr 2006
                            • 39474

                            #14
                            Re: Spiders and other creepy crawlers

                            Originally posted by Saijun

                            I'm going to come off as the harsh fundamentalist Buddhist on this one. While it's true that (as I recall) traditionally killing an animal was a lesser offense than killing a human, it is still an offense. Killing is still killing. I am absolutely terrified of spiders (and centipedes, we have those too), but when I come across one in the house, it's the "paper and cup" trick every time. Then I run screaming back into the house.

                            However, it's not that I refrain from killing out of a sense of guilt or fear of karmaic punishment; it's a duty. I've taken Bodhisattva vows, and vows I do not take lightly. By choosing, moment by moment, to honor those sixteen precepts and four great vows, I (in my own small way) am granting unconditional protection to all sentient beings, if only from myself and my own ignorance and unskillful action.
                            Hi Saijun,

                            This is really something that we will get into a bit more during Jukai preparations, when we 'wrestle' with the Precepts a bit ... find how they fit in our life. Many views on these things, and I dare say, "many 'right views'", not only one (many 'wrong and harmful' views too, not only one).

                            But just let me ask you a question:

                            Then, how would you have handled the termites in our little wooden home if the only option were killing (or moving), assuming there were no other options (such as some new discovery in termite removal)? How would you handle biting spiders in the room of your infant son if you could not catch them all, or chase them all away?

                            This is where the Precepts get a little "rubber meets the road" to the complexities of life.

                            My wife and I also reach for the paper cup, and remove the 'little crawling Buddhas' to the outdoors when we can.

                            Gassho, J

                            PS - We do not have 'flame wars' and the like at Treeleaf.
                            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                            Comment

                            • Kaishin
                              Member
                              • Dec 2010
                              • 2322

                              #15
                              Re: Spiders and other creepy crawlers

                              Let me add that with spiders at least, if you want them to live you should NOT throw them outside. Maybe put them out in the garage. By putting them outside, there's a good chance you are just killing them anyway!!!

                              http://www.burkemuseum.org/spidermyth/myths/comein.html
                              Thanks,
                              Kaishin (開心, Open Heart)
                              Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

                              Comment

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