In societies whose principles were formed by the mythology of the second chapter of Genesis, mankind is considered the crown of creation, the species with the right to dominate all the others. Even in other traditions, some classes of sentient beings can be considered of greater value than others. Both types of idea lead to a hierarchical view as expressed in the children's old circle game called "The Farmer in the Dell." Accordingly, small animals in general, but insects in particular, are at the very bottom of the pyramid of power.
Buddhists, and some others who believe in reincarnation and/or the transmigration of spirits, view each body as a temporary dwelling of aggregates housing consciousness. Each stream of consciousness has the potential to manifest Buddha Nature. Therefore, there is greater wrong done in harming a multitude of small beings than in consuming a part of a large one.
Mind Your Step
There is a daily mantra to help the living creatures that almost inevitably will die beneath your feet, so they might be reborn in the divine realm of "The Thirty-three." It is recited 3 times, and then the soles of your feet are blessed by spitting on them (if you can reach them!) Om, kraytsara gana, hung hri, soha !
Acharya Nagarjuna, in The Precious Garland of Advice For the King, suggests:
"Just before taking refuge 17 years ago, I asked my teacher if I could
still take refuge, because I would not let spiders live in my house when I
See an ant, think Impermanence.
One of the most famous episodes in Indian mythology is the story of Indra and the Ants.
The Lord of the god realm, Indra, having saved the earth from a great disaster, decided that he deserved the finest residence ever built. He called for the services of the greatest architects, and finally chose one to do the work.
As soon as the extravagant palatial compound neared completion, Indra appraised the situation and thought up another luxurious addition. When that was almost finished, he would imagine something more. This process went on and on, and even the builder was running out of patience. He understood that unless he were to do something to put a stop to the King's folie, he would be caught forever.
He took his case to Brahma, who was seated in the Lotus creating the World. Brahma looked down along the stem that led to the navel of Vishnu who was lying asleep on the Cosmic Ocean dreaming up the Universe. He told Lord Vishnu what the trouble was, and received some assurance that it was all going to be fine. The builder returned to Indra's endless work-in-progress.
The next day, there appeared at the entrance, a most beautiful blue-black boy. The porter stationed there tells his master, and proud and magnanimous Indra instructs him to invite the boy inside.
Seated high on his golden throne, the King asks the boy what he can do for him.
The boy, speaking with a voice like rolling thunder said, "I have been
told that you are
While the boy was speaking, an army of ants emerged from some crack and began
to parade across the floor. At the sight, the boy laughed such a laugh as
made the hair on Indra's head stand on end. Finally he asked, "Why are you
finding this so funny?"
During this discourse, a hairy old yogi appeared on the scene. He was wearing nothing but a loincloth, and he carried a banana leaf for a parasol. In the centre of his bare chest was a funny patch of hair, and it seemed as if all the hair in the middle of it had fallen out.
It was the boy who greeted him, and he was the one to ask the old man, "Who are you and where do you come from? Who are your people, and where do you live? And what is that curious arrangement of hair on your chest?"
The yogi replied, "They call me Hairy. I have no home nor family, and all I own is this this sun shade. Life is far too short for me to do anything but to meditate on the feet of Vishnu, and to notice how time keeps slipping away.
"You see, whenever an Indra dies, a world disappears, and then a single hair is shed from the circular patch on my chest. See? Half the hairs are already gone, and soon not a single one will remain. Life is so short, why take up home building?"
At that, both the guests just vanished. (We know that the boy was an avatar of Vishnu, and Hairy, the ascetic, was none other than Lord Shiva.)
Indra, very disturbed by the vision of the parade of ants and the yogi's explanation, took his troubled mind to his dear wife (but not before dismissing the Builder.) He told her that he was going to become a yogi and devote himself to meditation, just like Hairy.
But the Queen knew that there was something not right with that choice, and she had him consult a Rishi. The sage reminded the king that long ago he had written a text on on the art of politics just for him.
At that, Indra is dissuaded from becoming a yogi and realizes that by mindfully and responsibly fulfilling his role, he is fully participating in the Universal Way of Dharma.
For us, there is at least one clear lesson. Don't kill ants.
Discouraging Pests From Taking Up Residence
Thoroughly wash the area.
MEALY BUGS, ROACHES, FLEAS
Putting a couple of bay leaves in large jars that are used to store dry grains will eliminate manifestations of those types of bugs that all too often travel with the grain or find their way into the grain from the kitchen. This is especially true in hot sticky climates like Florida and in places where air conditioning is minimal, like here. I buy rice and oat meal in 50-pound bags and store it for up to a year without any major problems.
. . . .
The last 10 years has seen a major infestation of Asian cockroaches in Florida. There are a couple of things that can be done. Know that they fly towards light. At night you can keep the inside lights down and put a couple of brighter outside lights on to draw them from the house. Also, keep all dead vegetation away from the perimeter of the house. Things like pine nuggets and ground mulch should be kept up to a 100 or more feet away from the house. They love those ornamental things.
The last thing is to be absolutely anal about cleanliness in the kitchen. That means under the ice box, behind the stove, under the stove top, keeping burner trays clean, stove itself must be clean, keeping the crud filter in the dishwasher clean (a hot water and vinegar wash once a week helps) and cleaning the grease trap in the exhaust fan above the stove at least once a month or more and a final rinse in vinegar.
In the summer, I wipe all counters with a vinegar solution at night or if I am going to gone all day.
If all this fails, never turn on a light in the kitchen at night without keeping your eyes closed for the first 10 seconds. This will give them time to hide and you will never know how great your problem is. A couple of years ago, I came into the kitchen one morning prior to sunrise and found over 50 of them on the counter tops. The above steps have wiped them down to very few and only in the heat and humidity of summer.
Termite control will do nothing for Asian roaches because they live in the woods and come to the bright lights every night. They find a good home and they move in.
There are three cats and two dogs here and they help keep the insects down.
To date I have never had a flea in the house and all animals come and go as the
spirit moves them.
Edited from the The Kagyu Mailing List. See also the Bugs file at that list.
Genesis: The first part of the "Old Testament" in The Bible. In chapter one of this scripture, this pyramid of power is not present. Eve does not come from Adam, and they are not "given" the animals for food.