Author Topic: Moral Dilemma  (Read 6997 times)

Pacific Flow

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Moral Dilemma
« on: January 06, 2014, 01:44:28 PM »
Today i stumbled upon a moral dilemma. My wife and me have a newborn, 2 weeks old. We are in Bali. It is rainy season hence it has been raining for days. Therefore are plenty of mosquitos. And in our house, it's not the usual Anopheles, but the ones with the white stripes on the body which transmit Dengue Fever.
Now i am a Vipassana meditator and of course i try not to kill. Instead i am trying all possible non deadly measures to keep the mossis away. But there is no way to keep them all out.
What would you do if you discover a mosquito has just landed on your baby's skin and is about to start sucking her blood. (Note these mossis won't even get scared and fly away if u threaten to hit them)
You have only two options:
1. Kill the mossi
2. Let it suck your baby's blood and risk a possible Dengue Fever

Any thoughts?

Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2014, 01:50:24 PM »
Have compassion for mosquito when you kill it. wish it would get a life where it wont die so easily with one shot. Give it some metta. That way your sins are reduced drastically.  ;D

by the way how hard is it to save a 2 week old baby from mosquitoes. he/she doesnt move or roll or do anything.  All u need is a small mosquito umbrella. U can even make one by buying mosquito net if u dont get them at your place.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2014, 01:52:49 PM by siddharthgode »

Pacific Flow

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Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2014, 02:54:50 PM »
Trust me really trying everything possible to keep the mossis away without violence. Not thaaaaaat easy cos they are many, fearless and agressive. Plus you can't always keep the baby under the mossinet.

Apart from that, let's say it would be a thought experiment and there are only these two options.
What would be the right way to act? Kill the mossi or put a baby in a dangerous situation? What would Gotama have said?

And yes if i really have to kill a mossi i will certainly do it with Metta :)

redalert

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Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2014, 04:42:01 PM »
My wife and me have a newborn, 2 weeks old.
Congratulations, PF, babies are assholes, but congrats just the same. (Scottish humor) ;)

Any thoughts?

Sids advice is very similar to what I was told Goenka advised Dhamma workers to do with bedbugs in the Vipassana centres, they simply cannot stay.

Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2014, 07:44:17 PM »
well buddha would have said ' find the answer in yourself'.

i would say kill the mosquito being mindful of body and mind.

Quardamon

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Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2014, 11:29:23 PM »
Yes, there is suffering in the world. I live in the world. I honestly suppose it is impossible to live in this world without inflicting suffering.
I would kill the mosquito's.

Congratulations!

Pacific Flow

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Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2014, 12:52:22 AM »
Thank you guys for the replies :) much appreciated. The answers you have given resonate with the answer i found inside myself, i.e. try everything possible to keep the mossis away with non-violent measures.
However if it all doesn't help, hit 'em hard but with love.

After all, a human baby has a chance of overcoming Dukka and Samsara while the mossi is a hopeless case anyways :p Priority has to be given to the well being of the little human. :)

Much love to all of you who are trying to overcome the suffering. May you all have a happy and successful year 2014.

Renze

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Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2014, 09:54:39 AM »
They are not an endangered species. They're probably too primitive to really suffer. Of course you should kill them if they're in your house and your baby is at risk.

floyd

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Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2014, 12:03:42 PM »
Mob rule. Get consensus and exterminate....

It's the intent you should be interested in.

Can you kill everything that poses a threats?
Where do you draw the line?
If you are worried, why are you exposing your baby to these risks?
Are you prepared for 24hr mosquito watch - or is it the unlucky few you see?

So many questions.

You are probably overreacting anyway. I know I am : )

Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2014, 02:30:40 PM »
Quote
They are not an endangered species. They're probably too primitive to really suffer.

I do not agree to this kind of reasoning.
1) humans are not endangered species so its ok to kill them as many as i want?  ;)
2) I can see that when i try to kill a mosquito it tries to save itself with all its might. i.e., it has fear of death and wants to leave. Same as me. We are also too primitive.  :D

Pacific Flow

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Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2014, 02:30:59 PM »
Lol yeah it looks a bit like mob violence by now. Fact is though managed to not kill one yet but still wanted to reflect about the right thing to do as i was anticipating a situation arising :p and it will sooner or later.
Why i put my baby in such a situation? Very simple. We live here and the mossis too

Pacific Flow

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Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2014, 03:06:20 PM »
But generally i thought it's interesting to reflect on at what point it would be reasonable to break the vow not to kill. It's pretty easy even to construct a situation where one probably should even kill another human to save many more humans or prevent great harm.
I find the approach of Utilitarism interesting in this context. I think it can be a good guideline for ethical questions like this for a vipassana meditiator too.

Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2014, 06:39:42 PM »
But generally i thought it's interesting to reflect on at what point it would be reasonable to break the vow not to kill. It's pretty easy even to construct a situation where one probably should even kill another human to save many more humans or prevent great harm.
I find the approach of Utilitarism interesting in this context. I think it can be a good guideline for ethical questions like this for a vipassana meditiator too.

It really depends on a lot of things if u ask me.

If one is a monk then killing even a mosquito would be wrong.
If one is a house holder and there is a wild animal threat around his house then killing even an animal for protection can be right.
If one is a house holder trying to stop enemies from raping and looting his family and kills a human being (having found no escape and no alternative) can be right.

the law of karma depends and changes from person to person and their progress. like,

If one has walked the path of dhamma deeply in past life and reached great heights in understand dhamma and at a young age steals something very small and irrelevant, then he is punished severely.
But if one who never tasted dhamma and steals something big because he craved it and couldnt get it any other way, then his punishment would be lot less sever.

Also nature takes care that a person who is well established in dhamma is not given situations where he would have to kill or go against the precepts. If he is put into situation like that then nature makes sure that he has the knowledge of coming out of it the right way.

All this is my personal experience and observations.... some things can be wrong..

DarkNightOfNoSoul

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Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2014, 07:23:48 PM »
This is an interesting debate. Couple of quick questions: Can you not use insect repellant and mosquito nets, and brush away any that persist? How do you keep the mosquitoes off yourselves? If you must kill them, how do you manage to keep your mind free of any annoyance or anger when you see them attacking your precious newborn?

Little story. When I stayed at Wat Pah Nanachat, all the monks and lay guests had to do cleaning work for about an hour each morning - often the bathrooms and showers. The monastery was in the forest, and the forest was full of insects (especially ants), so most of the bathroom blocks had little moats of water around them to stop the hoards of ants getting in.

But one block didn't have moats, and the ants totally infested the block; they covered the showers, toilets and sinks. And of course, newbies like myself were assigned to clean this block (monks certainly couldn't do it). You'd spend 10 minutes or so gently trying to sweep away the ants with a soft brush, then try and clean the sink or whatever really quickly before they came back. Seriously, this was not just a couple of ants, there were literally millions of them, and they moved quickly.

So it was an almost impossible task to do without breaking the first precept. To make matters worse, on the days I was cleaning, there were a lot of senior monks from around the world, including Ajahn Sumedho, scheduled to come and stay at the monastery, and every time one of the resident monks walked past me, they would say with a little smile "better do a good job of that in case one of the senior monks has to use this block".

By the second day I was immensely frustrated, taking more than two hours to clean the block and inevitably killing many ants despite my best efforts. I started getting angry at the ants and irritated at the work monk giving me this impossible task, and so on. It took me a while to click that this was almost like a test. Later, when I was talking to one of the monks and asked him whether all the newcomers were given this task, he grinned and said "yes, you need to watch your mind very carefully with that job".

So I had to come to an uneasy compromise - to be able to clean the block at all, many ants had to die, but I had to observe my mind carefully, allowing any anger to dissipate and try to replace it with loving kindness toward these creatures I was killing. A great dhamma practice...I wonder if they'll ever install a moat around that block! Ironically, I probably killed far more insects during my 9 days at this Buddhist monastery than I had in the last few years of my life.

But still, I didn't manage to talk to a senior monk before I left, so I couldn't resolve this fully. Seems to me that I was still killing with intention. And if I was able to retain the balance of my mind when doing so, isn't that a dangerous skill to develop, one that a serial killer might find quite handy?!
« Last Edit: January 07, 2014, 07:37:36 PM by DarkNightOfNoSoul »

floyd

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Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2014, 08:53:10 PM »
Lol yeah it looks a bit like mob violence by now. Fact is though managed to not kill one yet but still wanted to reflect about the right thing to do as i was anticipating a situation arising :p and it will sooner or later.

Not quite armageddon then - phew!

Quote from: Pacific Flow
It's pretty easy even to construct a situation where one probably should even kill another human to save many more humans or prevent great harm.

I genuinely cannot think of such a situation - though I don't know what I'd do under pressure. The problem is that you'd have to be 100% certain it was the right thing to do, being judge, jury and executioner, and as I've never been 100% sure about anything ...

If one is a house holder and there is a wild animal threat around his house then killing even an animal for protection can be right.
If one is a house holder trying to stop enemies from raping and looting his family and kills a human being (having found no escape and no alternative) can be right.

I disagree - one might try to justify killing but it would never be right.

Eye for an eye is no way to behave, just because one person loses control there's no reason for you to join them.

If you are pitted against nature in such a way then all you can do is defend yourself - as you would dodge a rock rolling towards you. You wouldn't try to kill a rock.

Also nature takes care that a person who is well established in dhamma is not given situations where he would have to kill or go against the precepts. If he is put into situation like that then nature makes sure that he has the knowledge of coming out of it the right way.

If by nature you mean that a wise person can naturally avoid getting themselves into such sticky situations then I agree with you. If you are suggesting that nature looks after higher beings and gives them an easier ride then I would suggest you are in fairytale land.

So I had to come to an uneasy compromise - to be able to clean the block at all, many ants had to die, but I had to observe my mind carefully, allowing any anger to dissipate and try to replace it with loving kindness toward these creatures I was killing. A great dhamma practice...I wonder if they'll ever install a moat around that block! Ironically, I probably killed far more insects during my 9 days at this Buddhist monastery than I had in the last few years of my life.

But still, I didn't manage to talk to a senior monk before I left, so I couldn't resolve this fully. Seems to me that I was still killing with intention. And if I was able to retain the balance of my mind when doing so, isn't that a dangerous skill to develop, one that a serial killer might find quite handy?!

I'm not so sure you were killing with intention. It looks to me like you made every effort to avoid killing ants. However you did know you were killing, in the same way I know I kill countless organisms when I put wood on the fire, drive my car, walk in the garden, wash my hands and with every breath.

Cheers

Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2014, 04:41:10 AM »
Quote
If by nature you mean that a wise person can naturally avoid getting themselves into such sticky situations then I agree with you. If you are suggesting that nature looks after higher beings and gives them an easier ride then I would suggest you are in fairytale land.

Nature doest give an opportunity to get caught it mess or the intelligent person who follows precepts can avoid before hand such situations means one and the same if you ask me.

Quote
Eye for an eye is no way to behave, just because one person loses control there's no reason for you to join them.

Well i think eye for an eye is when one reacts with negativity because the other person did. Like someone got angry and started to beat me. I come back home ashamed then boil in anger and plan to beat him somewhere.

Its not eye for an eye when a person is hurting me badly and i react to save myself any way possible. I am not really thinking about the other person here. I am thinking only about myself and my desire to live.

Quote
If you are pitted against nature in such a way then all you can do is defend yourself - as you would dodge a rock rolling towards you

It takes a great deal of mindfulness to remain calm when one is facing fear of death and think of places that will not kill the oppressor but just disable him. Also a lot of training. Only a shavlin monk is trained for that.  :D

Also as i told before i could be wrong. My insights are not 100% proved by myself yet.

DarkNightOfNoSoul

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Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2014, 09:19:25 AM »
Just ran across this video on dealing with pests:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qk2bC0EaCm4

redalert

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Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2014, 12:24:00 PM »
Talked about this at the temple last night, the monks said not to kill. I told them this was not practical for laypeople, my daughter had contacted lice eggs from school we were ordered to have them removed(special shampoo) basically we had to kill them or my daughter would not be allowed back in school.

They said it was not the right conditions to practice the dhamma with children.

Pacific Flow

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Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2014, 12:37:37 PM »
I honestly believe the monks are wrong here. Just imagine this: my brother has gotten himself a nice infection that were caused by worms in his body while travelling in Africa. The sympthoms were much like a flu...fever, severe headache etc. If you follow the first precept stubbornly you gonna have to put up with that forever and eventuallly die from it? That can't be a satisfying answer.
After all i guess we all have to make our own rules. I am pretty certain about mine by now.

Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2014, 06:17:39 PM »
I honestly believe the monks are wrong here. Just imagine this: my brother has gotten himself a nice infection that were caused by worms in his body while travelling in Africa. The sympthoms were much like a flu...fever, severe headache etc. If you follow the first precept stubbornly you gonna have to put up with that forever and eventuallly die from it? That can't be a satisfying answer.
After all i guess we all have to make our own rules. I am pretty certain about mine by now.

That is a very sound argument and very much true. Almost all the diseases are caused by other micro or macro organisms. All they are doing is survive. So its wrong to take medicine and kill them?

We have to at curtain point see that these organisms are born to give others suffering because of their karma and will also have to suffer, I am only a medium to provide that suffering to them.

Pacific Flow

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Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2014, 03:58:03 AM »
They said it was not the right conditions to practice the dhamma with children.

I had to read this line a few times but i am still not sure i understand what it means. Were the monks trying to say that when you have children it's tough luck and you won't be able to practice dhamma properly? If so, that is really silly. I think they might be a bit too caught up in their own respective social environment.
Suppose you didn't have children, suppose you were even a monk yourself and it wasn't your children that have lice but yourself. Would they seriously recommend not to kill them? Sorry but can't really take them serious. It's just a very unworldy and unpractical advice.

The situation described earlier in this thread about the  senior monks in a monastary in Thailand delegating the burden to deal with the ants issue seems to resonate that kind of thinking. They are just lucky they have novices and guest meditators they can load the task on so they won't have to deal with the problem themselves. Cos they know pretty darn well anyone dealing with the problem will have to eventually kill some of those creatures.
If you ask me their solution is quite hypocritical and in the end delegating the task of getting rid of the ants gives at least the same karma as doing it yourself. Probably even worse!

No i think the precepts are to be seen more as a guideline than as a general rule. Try not to harm or kill, try your best. But don't take it to the point where you damage your own health or even survival or that of people your looking after like children.

floyd

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Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2014, 10:46:11 AM »
, my daughter had contacted lice eggs from school we were ordered to have them removed(special shampoo) basically we had to kill them or my daughter would not be allowed back in school.

It's unreasonable for the school to take this stance, I agree. There are still options, though. Nit combs work well or you could shave your daughter's head :)

redalert

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Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #22 on: January 10, 2014, 11:42:47 AM »
I had to read this line a few times but i am still not sure i understand what it means. Were the monks trying to say that when you have children it's tough luck and you won't be able to practice dhamma properly?

Yeah, I think this is exactly what they meant! I also agree to some extent. It is tough to come in contact with the subtle vibrations(depths of mind) you do while on retreat. To fully purify the mind you need to develop Jhanas. Can this be done while one is contemplating killing mosquitos, lice eggs, to protect ones children. I think (one must be reborn into favorable conditions) is what they meant by this statement. I feel this is why retreats are a necessity for both monks and laypersons. It is a time to do serious work and free yourself from these worldly bondages and responsibilities.

The situation described earlier in this thread about the  senior monks in a monastary in Thailand delegating the burden to deal with the ants issue seems to resonate that kind of thinking. They are just lucky they have novices and guest meditators they can load the task on so they won't have to deal with the problem themselves. Cos they know pretty darn well anyone dealing with the problem will have to eventually kill some of those creatures.

Yeah, the saintly ones are very lucky and sneaky(skillful means). :D

floyd

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Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2014, 11:50:17 AM »
I honestly believe the monks are wrong here. Just imagine this: my brother has gotten himself a nice infection that were caused by worms in his body while travelling in Africa. The sympthoms were much like a flu...fever, severe headache etc. If you follow the first precept stubbornly you gonna have to put up with that forever and eventuallly die from it? That can't be a satisfying answer.
After all i guess we all have to make our own rules. I am pretty certain about mine by now.

I think if you were a monk you'd be a good deal less attached to your body.

Knowingly killing worms with medication is a relatively recent phenomenon. We've survived millions of years without doing so.

Quote
No i think the precepts are to be seen more as a guideline than as a general rule. Try not to harm or kill, try your best. But don't take it to the point where you damage your own health or even survival or that of people your looking after like children.

You have a strong, perhaps self righteous, desire to keep you and your loved ones healthy - you're even prepared to bend the precepts to your will : )

It's perfectly feasible to live a life without intentionally killing another being and I'm sure many people, not only monks, are doing just that.

Renze

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Re: Moral Dilemma
« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2014, 12:33:20 PM »
No i think the precepts are to be seen more as a guideline than as a general rule. Try not to harm or kill, try your best. But don't take it to the point where you damage your own health or even survival or that of people your looking after like children.

Agreed. The cognitive dissonance here is caused by the fact that most Buddhists consider the dhamma to be 'the way things are'. This sometimes clashes with our modern world views concerning, for instance, killing animals. I no longer consider the dhamma a perennial philosophy. It's an ideology, a way to make sense of this world, but not the natural way things work.