The first precept makes it clear that we should refrain from killing.

However let's say you have an animal (or worse, a human) who is going to die anyway (say from being attacked by another animal, or some incurable disease). He can either die on his own in agony, or you could end his life quickly.

The intention is not to end his life out of hate or anger, but out of love and compassion - and anyway, nothing you or anyone will do will change that their going to die.

Looking through the other questions on the topic, it's clear that you're going to get bad karma for killing something, even if it's (in your head) justified by self-defence or whatever - but in those cases you have a choice of killing vs something bad happening , while in this case you have a choice of killing vs watching die.

  • What exactly is your question?
    – THelper
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 8:21
  • Are you asking if it's still bad Karma? Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 9:31
  • euthanizing dogs and pets are very common in US. All are done under compassion.
    – user4951
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 8:19
  • 1
    @J.Chang The question isn't about what's common in the US, but about Buddhism.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 12:37
  • I am just pointing out how important this question is. I keep trying to cure my old and dying cats till they died anyway. I wonder if it's a good idea.
    – user4951
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 16:13

3 Answers 3


I've been to a lecture in which a Tibetan Buddhist monk (specifically, a nyingmapa) was asked the same question by a teenage girl. Basically, his answer was, such killing would both end some existing suffering and create some new suffering. Because regular person does not see all complexity of karma network spanning multiple lives, his or her acts are very likely to make the karmic situation even worse.

According to that monk, compassionate killing should be left to either dakas/dakinis (the crazy yogis capable of "eating icecream and shit at the same time" -- i.e. skilfully dealing with consequences of the bad karma they take on) or omniscient buddhas who can grant liberation at the time of killing, or at least create a favorable karmic condition in subsequent lives.


The precepts as protection for one self are simply as they are.

Abstaining from taking live. It's not possible to have an skillful intention for an act of killing, to tell someone to kill or to accept or appreciate killing. All three doors, body, speech (sign), thoughts, are unskilfull an bad kamma, while the first to are a break of the precept.

Actually, in this frame, there are even many (sadly even encouraged by "buddhist" teacher, even monks) who do Abhithanani by killing even mother or father in this frame of ideas. Since such fatal bad deeds lead directly to hell, it's actually a very serious topic. Such a person is also incapable to progress further in Dhamma, meaning that he/she has less ways to lighten the fruits perception of his/her deed.

Here are two talks which might be useful to understand and learn:

It's good to avoid people who develop what ever kind of ideas and justifying which require the break of the basic precepts. Such a person, whether layman, monk, high respected... has to be seen as an outsider, a person not relayable in regard of Dhamma and liberation with even great lack of faith and confidence into the Juwels.

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma, not meant for commercial purpose or other low wordily gains by means of trade and exchange.]


I am not a buddhist. But there is an article in wikipedia


Both talk about 2 people

Vakkali and Channa

Both committed suicide

And both seems quite okay

  • Apparently these acts were acceptable because they were already enlightened and/or blameless. I think most Buddhists wouldn't assume that of themselves. Also perhaps there's a difference between suicide and killing ... and killing (and recommending suicide) is described as (very) blameworthy, in the Vinaya for example.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 1:24
  • Also in another comment you wrote, "I keep trying to cure my old and dying cats till they died anyway. I wonder if it's a good idea" ... people make similar decisions with their own loved ones and family members. Maybe there's a middle way -- to neither kill nor cure but to try to provide comfort, ease, safety.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 1:26
  • 1
    @ChrisW, a mind-blowing practice at Nánshān sì (南山寺) Guangdong China, there patients with terminal illness wait many days for their lives terminations, chanting Amitabha. Some peacefully gone, some miraculously recovered return home. The monastery headed by Ven. Dharma Master Rén-huàn (仁焕法师). This is the dying, a dying with dignity, imo. Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 15:33

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