Buddhism and Mosquitoes

by Meia Geddes

I cannot bring myself to kill mosquitoes (which, in part, draws me to explore Buddhism and Jainism), so in China – where there are a lot of mosquitoes – my housemate would always be the one killing them.

Below is a fun video (the title of which is awfully misleading). I dislike that Bill Moyer/others sort of suggests that not killing mosquitoes is a radical and unnecessary extension of environmentalism. While both are based on empathy and respect, I believe that the consciousness in not killing a mosquito more closely and specifically represents the Buddhist way of living a peaceful life. It is not an extreme tangent of the more general save-the-environment attitude – which of course is a good attitude to have, but one that seems somehow less conscious if it does not embrace all of life…and so we must have the consciousness of not killing a mosquito in the same way we approach the environment as a whole, applying the very basic principal of recognizing a small being to recognizing the whole being of the earth and all around…and so environmentalism could in fact be seen as an extension of our attention to a little mosquito and all other little and large lives.

I lately have loved to learn about the Buddha’s original teachings and have compiled a list of various things/characteristics I now associate with Buddhism. I am typing this up having, in the last few weeks, heard a talk introducing Buddhism at the local temple, read the chapter on Buddhism in Huston Smith’s “The Illustrated World’s Religions,” and seen PBS’s two-hour documentary “The Buddha.”

-the miracle of life – there need not be any other miracle greater (i.e. magic, etc)
-living in the moment
-being aware
-compassion for all creatures (bugs included)
-mindfulness of all
-reason/rationality/freedom to debate (the Buddha wanted followers not to blindly follow, but experiment for themselves and challenge things they disagreed with)
-lack of ritual (original Buddhism)
-having humor
-the path, not the end
-hopefulness (the end of suffering* is possible, in recognizing and addressing the cause of suffering, desire*)
*suffering = along the lines of dissatisfaction
*desire = many forms, and not necessarily bad, like the desire to attain enlightenment; the kind that causes harm is what we want to end
(these are two words that are often misconstrued and taken too literally in the simplistic teaching of the basic Four Noble Truths; the words turned me off at first)