I'm not very experienced in Buddhism but while reading some articles and few books about it I wonder about one key thing..

If I am not mistaken, the compassion with other species is one of the key pillar of Buddhism. It teaches us that everything is relative and feeling the compassion with others can help us from the anger and so on (perhaps it's very vague claim and I know there's much more to add but to keep this question brief..)

I really do like the idea however I'm "lost" when it comes to confrontation with laws of nature. Biologically, the human is just an animal. Everyone is trying to survive. The stronger eats weaker (we see it in nature every day and every second - tigers, sharks..everyone just hunts for weaker in order to feed itself and survive). I mean - where is the compassion here?

When I look around and think of the nature I can't help my self but - it's brutal. For example, what about an elephant stepping over the mouse without even realizing it just killed the poor mouse? Or bird mommy flying out of the nest to find some food for the young ones and getting caught by cat? The young birds will die brutally by hunger..and nature has millions such examples every day. Technically, the mouse will die because it wasn't strong/fast enough to escape. The same for those birds. That's how nature gets rid of the weaker ones. It's brutal. The morality and ethics teaches us to value the life while in fact the nature seems to possess no value for life.

These days, we, the humans can simply call a pizza service and feed ourself. It is the science and technology allowing us to survive the harsh conditions. The development of our civilization. But the core is the same - the struggle for survival where the compassion doesn't really help much. How can I possess a compassion to someone who tries to kill/eat me?

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe this question doesn't have any sense. But still - I'd like to ask you - does the Buddhism say anything on this topic?

4 Answers 4


Samsara can be quite brutal and there is suffering. The Buddha acknowledged this in the First Noble Truth. And his last words urged his disciples to strive on with diligence toward their enlightenment. Only through Nibbanna will one escape the suffering of Samsara.

Nature is full of examples of suffering such as you detailed. The animals involved have no evil intentions. They simply eat to stay alive. This is why humans are so very fortunate. We generally don't have to live such a brutal life and we can think things through and form intentions and take actions with as much wisdom and compassion as we possess. This is a blessing.

Treating all beings with metta (loving kindness) creates peace in one's mind. Treating other beings with cruelty creates conflict and discord in one's mind. One is clearly better than the other for living a peaceful life and for creating better conditions for one's meditation and eventual enlightenment.

A sutta which explains this idea of taking care of others by taking care of yourself is the Sedaka Sutta. SN47

  • Thanks. One question though - what if I am e.g. fishing and catch a fish. How am I supposed to kill it? Personally, I probably can't if I'd like to treat it with loving kindness..
    – Ivan Sivak
    Jan 8, 2015 at 8:05
  • 1
    If you take the first precept, you agree to refrain from killing a living being; so you would not kill or harm a fish.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Precepts
    – Robin111
    Jan 8, 2015 at 12:38
  • 1
    I like the Sedaka Sutta, thank you for linking it. Very much in the spirit of Nonduality.
    – user2341
    Jul 25, 2015 at 17:04

Human belongs to a separate realm other than animal's according to Buddhism's realm classification (the 6 realms are: hell, afflicted spirit, animal, human, asura, and heavenly beings). It doesn't mean we're inherently more compassionate than the animals. It just means we possess much greater potential to either do a lot of evil or a lot of good. You won't find anything in the animal realm like Hitler, PolPot, GenghisKhan, nor you'll find the Buddha, mother Teresa, or Jesus Christ. So, the question is which direction we want to go given our enormous potential? This is where the teaching of the Buddha comes in to play to help us and guide us..


If you step back from this one life and look at the totality of Samsara then no being is better or worse than any other being. Samsara is so vast that any being that kills you in this life, is sure to have died for you in another life. A soldier kills his enemy but he most likely killed a enemy that was at one time his brother. If a being steps on another being without the intention in mind to kill, then it is not a violation of the first precept. On the other hand if one intends to kill but doesn't go through with it for some reason then that is a violation of the first precept. Hope this helps. 😊


In a nutshell, Buddhism is the art of living in harmony with the laws of nature and our own psychology. When this is achieved you will be unperturbed by all the worldly scenarios you have mentioned.

If we do not understand the universal characteristics of existence and expect something else or do not understand the true nature of our cognitive process and do something which is non-conducive, misery follows. Buddhism aims at understanding this at the experiential level. Being compassionate is a cornerstone of Buddhism but in so far as to maintain a healthy mind as when one becomes uncompassionate you generate negativity. Being over-attached to companion also generates negativity this is one of the contemporary view which was rejected by the Buddha.

  • Buddhas Dhamma has just the purpose to escape suffering, but yes, it also serves those who still have no Samvega, even make the Dhamma their means for harming on. So "Buddhism is the art of living in harmony with the laws of nature and our own psychology." might be Nyoms idea but not that of the Buddha, who didn't thought on giving manager courses and bussiness courses... and so possible do not serve the question well in shadow of the Gems.
    – user11235
    Feb 20, 2020 at 5:20
  • Maybe the now corrected "freudscher misspelling" 'off' into 'of' took now away all possibilities to approve.
    – user11235
    Feb 20, 2020 at 5:23
  • @SamanaJohann I think people assume that the Buddha also gave advice to lay people, the Sigalovada Sutta (DN 31) and so on.
    – ChrisW
    Feb 20, 2020 at 9:32
  • Yes, he also adviced how to good wander on for those not ready to look for a path out of danger, no Samvega yet, but the questioner actually sees already the pointlessness in the world, or? Missery always follow if not up to take the path, the Ariya-dhamma.
    – user11235
    Feb 20, 2020 at 11:03
  • @SamanaJohann Reading the question closely, it seems to be asking about compassion -- and not samvega, or don't you read it that way? The literal questions were, "I mean - where is the compassion here?", and, "How can I possess a compassion to someone who tries to kill/eat me?".
    – ChrisW
    Feb 20, 2020 at 12:48

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