Two days ago I rescued a wounded dove, it probably got bit by a cat or being shot by a gun. It laid on my front door and ants were eating it like hundreds of them, the eyes were still moving so I picked it up and cleaned it, the wound as well. I fed it for 2 days, gave it a shelter and everything. Looks like it's going well and it's going to recover eventhough I don't know if it's internally broken or not.

But this morning my aunt told me it's a baby bird (which is not) I got confused so I tried to put it under the nests around my house and I went back to sleep, at the moment I started to realize the sun is going to come that way and in my mind I thought, it's ok I got my alarm at 10am which would probably not be too hot? and then I fell asleep. I woke up again and saw the sun is burning hot I ran out of my house to pick it up, it died, overheated.

I have OCD for overthinking and I feel really guilty that I might really go to hell for this, I'm not entirely Buddhism but my parents are so I tend to believe in karma, especially for animals abuse.

I understand that I had good intention to save it but I killed it in the end because of my laziness? careless? stupidity? I don't know what it was, I could've moved it when I realized it but I chose to sleep instead, thinking it would be ok.

Am I right that I might just go to hell 50% for this?

  • I'm not an expert on Buddhism by any means, but from a purely secular perspective, this might help. Oct 4, 2023 at 16:55
  • thank you, yes I've noticed myself being like that many times and it had led everything into bad situation every time. I feel such fool even selfish Oct 4, 2023 at 17:37

5 Answers 5


All of your actions were from good intentions. This is all that matters.

You did not have any intention to hurt the bird.

More importantly, we actually do not know if your actions contributed to the bird's passing away.

When animals are seriously injured, very often, they soon pass away.

I tried to save a kangaroo once, whose back leg was broken by a car. Even though the kangaroo looked like it was fully energy & life, after two hours, it passed away.

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    Thank you so much, I tried to help every injured animal I encountered but most of the time ended up with disappointment or sadness. Sometimes I just want to give up helping because I can't bare the guilt or attachment. So hard to stop overthinking but I will work on it. Oct 4, 2023 at 11:16

Traditionally, karma had been defined as action. Not just any action but backed by intention. This action could be a certain behaviour, a spoken word or a thought. Similarly, the process in which karma results in either good, bad or neutral consequences are traditionally taught with an analogy of a seed being planted and eventually bearing sweet, bitter or tasteless fruits.

Am i right that i might just go to hell 50% for this?

In short, no. Because the bad intention element is missing. Having said, you probably realized by now that good intention alone is often not sufficient for ensuring good outcomes in the real world. It is for this reason that the practice in the Dharma requires reflection and contemplation as the advice given by the Buddha to Venerable Rahula indicated. Thus, besides ensuring that our thoughts, speech and behaviour are without ill-will and greed, we also need to work on overcoming the constant and harmful effects of delusion and ignorance. We do so by taking note of the following (as per the advice to Venerable Rahula) before performing an action:

  1. Will our thoughts, speech and actions lead to our self-harm, harm to others or both?
  2. Will our thoughts, speech and actions lead to our self-benefit, benefits to others or both?
  3. Are there long-lasting harmful consequences in our actions?
  4. Are there long-lasting beneficial consequences in our actions?

I see (1) and (2) as focusing on the short term effects while (3) and (4) are the long term considerations. While or after performing the action, the Buddha further advise that we should review the results.

  1. Are the consequences of our actions beneficial/harmful to ourselves, others or both? Was it skillful or unskillful?

If the subsequent review of our actions proof to be overall beneficial then the advice is to be gladdened and motivated thus persevering onwards. But if the review is overall negative then the advice is to desist from such actions immediately and in the future. In both scenarios, we should always focus on ways that we can improve our actions to get better results (e.g. can I do it better) or to prevent ourselves from making such wrong decisions (e.g. what can I do to prevent this mistake) now and in the future.

So think of ways you could do better. Being a human is tough because we have remorse and guilt. Yet at the same time, we can leverage on these emotions to be better beings.

With Metta!

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    thank you so much for your advice, I appreciated it. Oct 4, 2023 at 6:44

How many ants' lives are worth a bird's life? Nature works by lives consuming each other at some point. It's our human perception that sees a bird as more worth saving than an ant, or a hundred ants. All life is life.

Also, from a less spiritual point of view, this summer I found a wounded house sparrow and tried to help it, but it was clearly injured beyond being able to fly. I asked a bird enthusiast friend of mine what to do. "One less invasive house sparrow?" he said. "More chance for the native birds to come back."

But despite these "big picture" caveats, perhaps the most important takeaway for a young person is: Hold on to your love of nature and concern for life. While you can't put the death of this bird on your conscience as something that will lead to eternal punishment, your reaction of deep care about the fate of a bird is a lovely thing that you should not lose as you get older. Don't become cynical.


Hell is not a geographical location. Neither was it a word used by people on this side of the world.

Buddhism is not one of the religions which says there are hells and heavens. All talk of hells and heavens, in Buddhism, is a way of describing the aspects of mental states. Because mental states/mind becomes more technical to talk about or subtle to understand, most teachers, in their attempt to explain/teach some things, used examples (of hells and heavens) found in the literature of those times so that people could related or understand. 2000 years later, those words have been translated as hells and heavens- which means quite different things in different systems of thoughts.

  • Thank you for your comments, for the understanding of hell, I just have so many guilts in my heart when i did something wrong and here in Thailand people just often talks about if you kill animals or something, karma will come back to you either that someone would do the same things to you in the future or you'll go to hell and so on. I just can't imagine if someone left me in the heat till i die because of their stupidity like i did to the bird, it would be so painful. Oct 4, 2023 at 6:48

Relax. Don’t be nervous. You should understand why you should not kill animals? You should not kill animals because it is not a skilful act. Being compassionate you should not hold any ill will against anyone. Killing animals is a hindrance to becoming compassionate. Unless you steal money or rob a bank or kill somebody intentionally , you are not going to take rebirth in lower realms like that of animals or hell. Every life should be looked upon with an eye of compassion because everyone ,big or small, is going to suffer.

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