Recently I got into a long debate with some people on Reddit about killing pestilent, poisonous insects. Feel free to read it. There are some interesting scientific findings.

Whatever the word is for people who go over-board with their compassion/ahimsa trip... I think they are doing that, considering it was a poisonous spider (about to give birth to 100 more) I dispatched.

So what does Buddhism say about intentionally killing dangerous (poisonous) and/or pestilent insects? Specifically dangerous insects in one's personal and community environment. Surely, the suttas, aimed towards forest-dwellers, must have some guidelines on harmful insects and animals.

  • Honestly, the chosen answer for that question is rumination on the accidental killing and NOT an answer to that question nor my question. Bad answer IMO, but I guess questioner chose it as satsifying his question. – Ahmed Feb 9 '15 at 3:24
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    Venerable Yuttadhammo's reply here answers this question – Sankha Kulathantille Feb 9 '15 at 5:55
  • Yeah similar meaning as andreis answer. Basically: not creating poisons, making dure conducive to better 3 trainings. – Ahmed Feb 9 '15 at 6:06
  • Andrei's was the answer you chose: i.e. you quoted it on Reddit, to justify your argument that your killing was Right Action, while comparing yourself to "bodhisattvas exercising skillful means". – ChrisW Feb 9 '15 at 11:19
  • Haha yep. There is more overall good in the universe than bad. There are a few angry people on Redit and SE though. ;) – Ahmed Feb 9 '15 at 16:49

Surely, the suttas, aimed towards forest-dwellers, must have some guidelines on harmful insects and animals

Yes: there is a sutta in which the Buddha tells forest-dwelling monks to practice a mind of good-will towards other beings -- see Ahina Sutta: By a Snake.

Perhaps if you were practising good-will you might be careful not to stand on or disturb them.


This is not justifiable in terms of the precepts. Also any action like killing will be rooted in hatred, hence is counter-productive to achieve the Buddhist goal of Nirvana or peace for one self. Also you have to look at the possible effect on subject of the action. Will the subject be happy about it.

  • Not all killing is rooted in hatred. Some killing is rooted in justice and compassion for the overall community. One loose psychopath can massacre hundreds. It makes one question if the extreme of compassion... is just another imbalanced extreme. – Ahmed Feb 9 '15 at 3:25
  • An example or two might be helpful, including details why it is necessary to kill them as opposed to other control methods. I think killing such creatures just becomes the easiest method. – user3169 Feb 9 '15 at 3:28
  • Sure, read the Reddit link and my arguments and the majority who stubbornly disagreed with me as to why I chose to kill the pregnant black widow laying in my community garden area. In any example, any control method is preferable to killing, especially if the insect is not poisonous. – Ahmed Feb 9 '15 at 3:34
  • But what was the danger to you? Most people, including children if they are taught, know to watch out for spiders and snakes and such. That is why clothing and gloves were invented. – user3169 Feb 9 '15 at 5:23
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    @Ahmed If the "opposite wholesome quality" to 'aversion' is 'compassion' (i.e. non-aggression, loving-kindness), then perhaps that would the better attitude to have towards beings who you might perceive as ignorant. In this comment Andrei argued that aversion is a type of Taṇhā, and is therefore too a root cause of dukkha. – ChrisW Feb 9 '15 at 17:11

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