As part of a volunteering job where endangered animals are taken care of they have to feed them with dead chicks recuperated from the agro industry, which is blameless and doesn't break precepts, though they also feed them worms that are alive. Is it breaking the first precept since they don't kill them ?

4 Answers 4


though they also feed them worms that are alive. Is it breaking the first precept since they don't kill them ?

Sure. While you do not actively terminate life by your own hand, handing it over to others to take care of the bussiness requires the volition to end life. And since volition is kamma, you'd incur the appropriate kammic consequences. You wouldn't send over some live worms to that endangered animal to keep company or with the hope that they'd become best buddies, right?

  • Thank you santa100 for your answer, I may have dodge a bullet by refusing to feed them, most grateful. In a similar light, I wonder for instance if bringing chickens into a garden for a healthy soil through manure and regulating insects involve the volition to end life as well ? As one wouldn't be involved in the process this time but simply letting nature take its course Commented Sep 9, 2020 at 14:20
  • @AliochaKaramazov, I guess you're right. At some point, we'll just have to let nature takes its course. Reminds me of that philosophical dilemma about a person in the jungle seeing a female leopard about to hunt down a deer, wondering what s/he should do: stop the leopard, hence preventing it from bringing home the much needed food source for its 3 hungry cubs? OR let it does it business and the deer is killed? Anyway, I guess one should try his best if possible, ie. in your example, see if you could use natural plants as insect repellents first, instead of the chickens?
    – santa100
    Commented Sep 9, 2020 at 14:34
  • The dilemma reminds me of someone citing a passage from the Vinaya on this for wherein it was stated that if a monk where not to save a man drowning he wasn't committing any fault. Yes association of plants is a good way to repel insects. Commented Sep 9, 2020 at 15:41
  • Thanks Santa for the good answer.
    – user2424
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 17:19

Repeatedly we find people who are confused about conduct with regards to killing insects and animals. Precepts are clear on this ,as a monk you should not kill insects or animals. But as a householder you need to first commit to the Nobel eight fold path otherwise it will hard for you to live. In fact as a householder you may have to commit violence against fellow human beings to survive. I won’t recommend you to commit suicide by following Buddha half heartedly. Holding Dhamma the wrong way could lead to serious moral and existential problems.

  • I was reading the comments on the 3 karmas of Body Speech and Mind, and I found all very detailed, but I was wondering about the realistic aspect of practice for most laypeople. Here is my example. Even vegetarians, who kill no animal on purpose, do they incur the karma once they realize that the trucks that deliver their vegetables and fruits to the market are killing billions of insects every year and possibly other creatures, too. How does one explain the karma of this indulgence? Eating food and knowing insects die every day because of food deliveries? Please put this into practice terms.
    – Pasquale
    Commented May 15, 2023 at 2:07

Good householder,

regardless of precept (it would actually require cross-questioning the doer if he/she is willing, to know for sure in regard of the deed; technical it might be in most cases even no break of precept, depends all on perception, intention, victim, actually actor...): there are three doors of Kamma, deeds: by body, by speech (signs of order, written...) and by mind (thoughts of wish, approve, rejoice...). It's in all cases good here to start to seek not even mental for ways of approve.

But better then to check other's ways is to be clear and on an improving way for oneself. Soon then, if serious in reflection, good householder would find out that there is actually only one kind of holly live which is apart of all kinds of trades and house.

Sila does not only lead to well earned happiness, but also to wealth and at least, and most importand toward the path and release. So the more looking on "rules" in ways to act perfect and lesser like an advocate searching for ways to go around for ones wishes, the more one will turn toward the bliss of going forth form suffering and pain.

[Note that this isn't given for stacks, exchange, other world-binding trades but for escape from this wheel]


So, Your intention is to so much good as a volunteer, or as a worker, with the endangered species. That wish, that intention, that emotion, and mental and physical activity is creating some karma that will mature in the future, for better or worse. Cleverness was not rejected by the Buddha. He would sometimes encourage the layman, who asked questions, to solve the problem, creatively. So, say you have so much good aspiration to help others, and only .05% intention to destroy life? Should you give up your job? Did you know that when you drive your car or take a bus or a train, or a plane, there are billions of insects killed by these vehicles moving through the air? What if you cut the worm into two parts? And put one part in the ground, and feed the other part to this endangered animal, would the buried worm part regenerate? I think it might. Then you created life. Please do not worry so much. Find a good group and do the New Moon and the Full Moon called uposatha. Please do this with sincerity and let the Dharma transform you. Let the peace of Dharma pervade your entire body and mind. Let your judgment and good restraint increase. Find a good teacher. May you awaken in this very life. Sarvam Mangalam.

  • Thank you for your answer Pasquale. While I resonate with most of your words, willingly ending a life by splitting a worm in half or feeding it to animals is still breaking the first precept, even if the outcome is to help other beings. It reminds me of a story where Ajahn Chah advised a fisher to fish less and susbequently got rid of fishing as means of livelihood seeing how he depended on the business of meat and killing. One could argue that he is feeding human beings and his family thus helping them, yet still breaking the first precept. Commented Sep 14, 2020 at 13:39
  • Thank you very much. I see, I think what your basis for the judgment is. Cutting the worm in half is considered an act that causes suffering. I just thought that this is not as bad as killing since many worms can either regenerate the tail, if lost, or Even the Head if lost. Thank you, though. Let me ask you this? If a fisherman has many people to feed, and he uses worms to catch the fish, and if these people did not eat, they would stare. If his motivation was to remove the pain of the starving people, but not to cause any pain to the worms or fish, would his mixed karma be mostly positive?
    – Pasquale
    Commented May 15, 2023 at 1:59

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