Sunday, June 3, 2007

Buddhist Compassion and Bugs

Photograph and text © 2007 by Julius Lester

I'm not sure how long it has been since I started feeling guilty about killing bugs. For much of my life, my unthinking reflex was to smash with my hand or step on any insect that came near me. But once as I mashed some flying/crawling/biting whatever, I realized: one day I will be going about my business, and wham! a heart attack, stroke, truck, and before I know it, I'm as dead as that flying/crawling/biting thing I just killed.

Since that day I try not to unthinkingly mash or step on insects. If they are in the house, I try to catch them and take them outside. And if one alights on me when I'm outside, I will gently brush it away. However, in this new phase of having Buddhist compassion for all life, I am not a sentimentalist. Wasps and bees can hurt; ticks and other insects can carry diseases. And mosquitoes? Mosquitoes suck your blood and whine in your ear at 4 a.m.

Maybe the Dalai Lama has compassion for mosquitoes, but me? I smash every one I can! Still, I hope my death will not be so sudden and unexpected that I go from life to death and miss the dying.


"Today more than ever before life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life."

The Dalai Lama


In case saying "Shoo!"to a bothersome creature is not effective, you can try saying it in

Pashto (a language of Afghanistan and Pakistan) - Tsheghe Tsheghe
Spanish - Sape, or
German - Husch


Bug and Peony

Photographs are for sale:

$25 - 4x6 on 8x10 archival paper
$65 - 12x16 on 13x19 archival paper

Prices include postage and handling.