Killing Karma – belabouring the point further
The super nagger is back again. Reports of rising tension between America and North Korea and bird flu in China are reminders of the prediction of Guru Padmasambhava. According to Ogyen Tulku:
Guru Rinpoche has prophesied that in this degenerate era, so called ‘modern times’ — when the thoughts and actions of beings go astray from the virtuous path of holy dharma — diseases, famine, warfare, and strife will befall. The inner and outer elements of nature will become unbalanced, giving rise to diseases never known before, diseases like Ebola, AIDS, Hepatitis A, B & C, SARS, Bird Flu, H1N1 Flu, new kinds of Cancer, and others which will come in the future. Furthermore, he has predicted that one-fourth of the human populace on this earth will perish due to the occurrence of eighteen different kinds of infectious diseases. Similarly, he has also foreseen a time in the future when the world will be plagued by cattle diseases, epidemics, negative influences of planets, Nagas, Gods and spirits, and elemental spirits, failures of crops due to drought, frost bite and hailstorms, war and conflict, floods due to heavy rainfall, tsunamis, earthquakes, typhoon, volcanoes, forest fires, and fires that destroy villages, cities and towns. Thus, whenever the destructive forces of the four elements occur, whosoever prays to Guru Rinpoche with unshakeable faith, Guru Rinpoche himself has promised that he or she will not be affected by these destructive forces of nature and will be saved.
I do not like to play on peoples’ fears but I do think that we are in very negative times now. Compared to 1 or 2 decades ago, the rate of killing animals have accelerated beyond belief. Recently, in order to stop the bird flu, China culled another 20,000 birds. Of course, from a Buddhist point of view, killing will only make the situation worse and intensify the suffering and anger energy in this world, thereby bringing more problems. I have always been nagging on this blog in several posts on this very big problem of killing we have.
Many people are also developing all kinds of strange illnesses, the nutrition level of our food is fast diminishing, herbs are losing their power. We are relying more and more on chemicals that harm our health further. In hospitals, all kinds of strange procedures are being invented to “help” people, but in fact, it oftentimes creates more suffering in a person who is going to die soon anyway. There are more and more cases of mental problems. In my humble opinion, all these happenings which increase suffering everywhere are very related to the fast mounting killing debts we have incurred collectively.
Yin Guang, a famous Chinese Mahayana master who was the emanation of Bodhisattva Mahastamaprapta said :
Most sicknesses that are dangerous and serious are the results of killing karma in the present or past lives.
In the Sutra of Causes and Effects of Actions, the Buddha said:
For the sin of killing, the person falls both into hell and into the existence of animals and pretas; then, when later born human, acquires two kinds of retribution: one is that the person is short-lived, and the other is that the person is sickly.
In the Cula-Kammavibhanga Sutta we are told of the results of killing living beings:
Some man or woman kills living beings and is murderous, has blood on his hands, is given to blows and violence, is without pity for living beings. Because of performing and carrying out such action, at the breaking up of the body, after death he reappears in a state of misfortune, an unhappy destiny, a state of aﬄiction, hell
In the Lam Rim Chenmo, we learn of the factors that make the karma of killing even weightier:
1. Killing with a mind that delights in it
2. Engaging in the act yourself, causing others to do it and praising it
3. Doing it with a mind that is pleased when such a thing is seen, and doing it after prolonged premeditation and preparation
4. Doing it constantly and diligently
5. Killing your victim by torture
6. Killing after frightening your victim into performing inappropriate actions
7. Killing when your victim is weak, suffering or impoverished, or while the victim is moaning, or piteously lamenting
8. Killing without any sense of shame, embarrassment or contrition
9. Killing without clear understanding of the teaching or due to relying on the wrong view for instance that it is positive to kill, or that animals exist to be killed and eaten, or that there is no repercussions from killing
We can see that when we kill animals for food or whatever other reason, we fulfill many of the criterias above that makes it an even more severe karma. For instance, we enjoy our steak and chicken pie very much, therefore we inadvertently delight in the killing (point 1). The rearing of animals goes on for a while before they are killed, therefore it is premeditated and long prepared for (point 3). Killing of animals go on regularly. We eat our meat regularly too (point 4).
I have seen people steam crabs slowly to death, sometimes the execution is not carried out well, the animal is half-dead, half-alive. We can only imagine what excruciating pain they go through (point 5). When animals are killed, they are already weakened by the captivity, hellish living conditions, insufficient nutrition, poor feed, and on top of that, they hear cries of their fellow animals dying and go through the immense fear of being slaughtered assembly-line style. This is taking advantage of a weak and suffering victim in point 7.
We do not think there is anything wrong with eating meat and sponsoring the killing with our grocery budget (point 8). We are thinking we are good Buddhists in spite of it all, or that we will not need to suffer the consequences, or that eating meat is not killing, or that we can’t survive in this world without meat etc. There are many possible wrong views (point 9).
Further the same text describes the environmental effect of killing karma:
From the non virtuous action of killing, such things in the external environment as food and drink, medicine, and fruits will have little strength, be ineffective, have little potency and power, or, being difficult to digest, will induce illness. Hence, most living beings will die without living out their expected life spans.
Sounds very familiar nowadays…
When you kill sentient beings, you are going against the training in the refuge vow. When we take refuge in the Dharma, we also resolve not to harm sentient beings. In killing animals, you cause their families to break up, thus in the ripening of karma, problems in your own family such as disharmony, separation, divorce, illnesses that devastate the other family-members but which turn your own life topsy-turvy etc may occur. These are karmic results.
Spirits of animals that you killed may become aggrieved and bitter, they may seek all means and ways to take revenge on you. Don’t take this lightly, these guys are dead-serious about making you pay. Don’t think that animals are stupid. Some of them have very strong awareness of what is happening to them. Some of them may only acquire clarity after they die but when they see the cause of their past sufferings, they may not let it go so easily. One may not notice it immediately but life slowly starts to encounter all kinds of small obstacles here and there, psychologically you are never happy, people around you are also affected. You may just attribute it to your poor luck. But even poor luck has a cause. Then later, even bigger problems arise.
Even if your karmic creditors are not able to harm you immediately, they may bide their time and wait for your weak spots to arrive. These can be when you fall ill, or when you are on the verge of death, or in bardo or in your astrologically weak years or times (which all of us have). At such times, they can manifest many ways to create intense sufferings for you, accidents, sicknesses, negative emotions etc. Finally, they may try their best to lure you to the lower realms and create a negative rebirth for you.
If you are making money at the expense of the suffering of sentient beings, then you can expect the karmic result of not being able to truly use or enjoy the money. The money will be exhausted in some way, whether you are cheated of it, or you will dump it into endless medical bills to cure some illness, or you may even die before you get to use it. There are endless ways this karma works out. We can understand this very easily. When you make use of animals without their permission, you are actually stealing from them. In fact, you are bartering the flesh which you stole from them. Having stolen the most precious resource from other beings – their very life – the karmic results of stealing will result.
In some sense, killing animals are also related to the karmas of stealing, deception, covetousness and harmful intent among the ten non-virtuous acts. When we contribute to the animals being captured, caged, reared in downright abhorrent conditions, going insane then we also create the causes for us to experience a lack of freedom, poor living conditions, stress, mental imbalance and such similar sufferings.
I know some people may not believe me when i say all these. After all, such things are not often talked about in the modern world. We are not educated about such phenomenon but some intelligent inference can tell us alot. For instance we are all familiar with the intensity of hatred. Therefore, do not underestimate the power of hatred when you have killed another being. You may think that such a negative energy is only limited to their minds. But in Buddhism and some areas of science, it is very well known that the energy of thought can have repercussions in the physical world. For instance, in many forms of spirituality, we know that when many people are thinking negatively about us, the accumulated force can have a very detrimental effect on us psychologically and in our lives physically. It can start to become something akin to a curse. So when one has created many enemies through killing, it is no wonder all kinds of problems result.
For the above explanations, they are not baseless, such cases have come to my knowledge.
The more you participate in killing directly or indirectly, to that extent your merit in this life dwindles further more. When merit dwindles, you can expect good luck to say good bye. You can expect health, career prospects, happiness, enjoyments to diminish. Killing a sentient being is among the most serious of negativities you can commit apart from wrong views. There is nothing more detrimental to your own spiritual path, your ordinary life and your future than killing. It will also manifest its results very clearly near the end of this life. For instance, in many cases, cancer cells are manifestation of karmic creditors. Some karmic creditors take rebirth as your children to extract their debts, some take rebirth as microscopic sentient beings that wreak havoc in your body. Where do wars and fighting come from, if not from the energy of aggression mirrored in killing?
Frankly, I do not know why it is so difficult for Buddhists to stop killing, to eat less meat, to be vegetarian either full-time or as much as possible. It is pure common sense. If we are always talking about higher teachings like recognizing the nature of mind to attain liberation, but we are not willing to even deal with our simple attachment for the sake of preventing suffering to another being, then I don’t know what else on earth it is that we are trying to liberate.
The whole point of Dharma is to address and liberate the three poisons of attachment, aversion and ignorance. Then some people say, we should not be attached to vegetarianism. That is fine, if you can switch places with the animal and still feel unattached while people are taking a swipe at your neck with a chopper. We should not just fantasize with the theories but see if we are truly unattached. If you are not done with attachment, then don’t use non-attachment as an excuse.
Some people feel that to avoid killing is an insignificant practice when compared to meditations on emptiness, yidam practices etc., they feel that discipline and virtuous conduct is ‘relative’, ‘conceptual’, a ‘sutra’ or ‘hinayana’ practice etc etc If that is the case, then they should take a leaf out of Shri Singha’s advice to Padmasambhava when Padmasambhava was practicing meditation on the nature of mind under his guidance:
“If you think ‘I will have no karmic ripening even if I engage in the ten unvirtuous acts,’ you should be able to accept the ten unvirtuous acts of others directed towards you — even if it might result in your death, can you do that?
If you think ‘Even if I were to engage in the ten virtues, there would be no benefit,’ you should not have any sense of joy when you are benefited by others who are practicing the ten virtues– even if your own life is saved. Do you?”
Anyway, the reason for all this grousing is because i think it is time for us to take some action. WE MUST DO SOMETHING. And even a little change is much much better than nothing. If, for instance, you choose to eat less meat, say, be vegetarian for 3 meals a week. That would be wonderful! If you can advise others to do so, then you are truly a jewel! If more people do this, there is hope for improvement to take place in this world.
We must understand this simple fact, that unless we start from ourselves, we cannot expect change to occur. The other important point is that no matter how many billion dollars we pour into medical research, all kinds of technologies to prevent all kinds of sufferings, we will never be freed from the extremely terrifying and overwhelming sufferings of killing karma if we do not reduce killing and adopt means to purify this karma and accumulate merits. If the causes are accumulating, just doing something about the result is futile and bound for failure.
Now that on many fronts, there are much suffering and many obstacles to peace and happiness for beings, we should also pray to Guru Rinpoche and recite his mantra. I hereby pledge to recite 10,000 repetitions of the 7-lines Prayer to Guru Rinpoche to pray for alleviation of suffering and the causes of suffering for all beings. Please feel welcome to join me. Forgive me for this long sanctimonious tirade, i am incorrigible.
May there be peace, joy and wisdom in the hearts of all beings!