Is the Buddhist lifestyle harmless to living beings? Lot's of creatures are being killed in various human activities (walking, farming, building, etc.) Did Buddhists found a way to live while not harming other living beings? If yes, how?

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5 Answers 5


Buddhism focuses on our intentions, and therefore intentional killing is adviced against.

Obviously, the consequences of our actions may sometimes lead to harm despite our good intentions. In buddhism we are - arguably - primarily accountable for the latter, our intentions, even though consequences also matter.

Also, see this answer written not long ago:

Selling an animal to butcher will break first precept?


Some Buddhists -- especially ordained monks and nuns -- don't kill to eat, and don't even participate in farming or other industries.

They have rules of behaviour -- e.g. not digging earth, except if it's clean builder's sand, and drinking carefully-filtered water -- to avoid accidentally killing.

They eat what's given to them (i.e. donated in charity) -- including meat, like beggars, with another rule that they don't accept meat that killed especially for them.

You perhaps might think of "scavengers" on your Worldbuilding question -- eating what's already dead. I've read that monks won't eat fruit unless a lay-person first ritually damages the fruit (to make it "allowable").

The diet of non-ordained (lay) Buddhists varies, some eat meat but wouldn't want to be people who kill animals, some are vegetarian. There are stories from old Tibet of people trying to dig (the foundations of new building) carefully to avoid hurting worms.

The principle scruple seems to be against intentionally killing. There may be some doctrine which says that some accidental killing is inevitable, and is an example of the fact that the world is a kind of imperfect place, which is a motive for pursing enlightenment instead of re-becoming.


OP: Is the Buddhist lifestyle harmless to living beings?

Following Buddhism, one can ensure one does not intentionally kill.

Did Buddhists found a way to live while not harming other living beings?

This is by following the Buddhist training.

If yes, how?

Buddhist training has the following elements:

  • Sila - this constraining one's actions and speech. Here one may get the intention to kill but because on follows certain rules or precepts or a code of conduct where one does not harm oneself or other
  • Samadhi - one develops mastery over the mind where one can suppress any unwholesome thoughts. This way one can suppress any unwholesome intentions like killing.
  • Panna - here one develops true understanding whereby achieving a state one does not create any unwholesome/wholesome thoughts. Here wholesome thoughts are also eliminated ans these will bring future rebirths. Panna can eliminate eliminate the unwholesome roots which motivate one to kill.
  • And how do you never harm anything in farming, building, walking, etc.? I have seen Buddhist villages and they are fully complete with houses, temples, agriculture... How come no anta get destroyed? Oct 5, 2019 at 9:12
  • Buddhists are not supporsed to harm with intention If you are walking and you step on an ant without knowledge and inention then this is OK in Buddhism. Oct 6, 2019 at 4:00

Abuse is a form of misunderstanding and communication. And the essence of the Nobel truths determines life contains suffering. So "No" but to emancipate yourself and others from suffering is a great deed and is the go. Just like an arrow the impact comes from letting go.

  • From pulling it out, householder.
    – user11235
    Sep 30, 2019 at 23:50

Buddhist monks don't kill; exemplifying the benefits of non-violence.

Buddhist laypeople, if taking moral precepts, training to minimize harming.

Obviously, if Buddhist laypeople did not kill insects & worms when farming, they would not have a "life-style". Instead, it would be a "death-style" (for the Buddhists).


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