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Killing a mosquito

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“Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life…”

This is the first Mindfulness Training: Reverence For Life, revised by Thich Nhat Hanh.

I am memorizing all Five Mindfulness Trainings, one by one, thus trying to deepen my understanding of them, and reinforcing my commitment to and love for them.

Yes. I practice the First Mindfulness Training. I shifted to a vegan diet, I started buying vegan shoes (Thanks Teva, for such cute sandals), I sit as silent witness every time a human being is executed by Texas officials.

Image courtesy to c2.StaticFlickr.comAnd yet, I kill a mosquito whenever I see them in the house.

Outside they’re safe. I consider that their home as much as mine.

Inside they’re not.

My husband and I suffer so much from the allergic reactions to the bites and our itching, that I find it completely justified to kill them. Worse, I take pride in the swiftness of my strike and my 80% success rate.

And yet, my consciousness gnaws at me. If I am so aware of our interconnectedness, if I am sincere in my practice of looking deeply into how the mosquito and I interare (which is actually quite easy, when they bite you and carry your blood in their body), how can I kill them?

I make every effort to rescue the silver fish in my bath tub, before I take a shower, to vacuum clean around the spider, to give the ants a chance to flee from the dust pile, before I throw it in the trash bin. Why don’t I extend the same courtesy and support to the mosquito?

The truth is that I feel hurt by the mosquito, and not by the other animals. The truth is that I know how to live peacefully with the mouse and the scorpions, and not with the mosquito. The truth is that I am limited by my inability to stand my feelings, especially the itch. The truth is that I think I already do more than enough to honor the first Mindfulness Training, and that I can happily kill one or two mosquito’s.

Whether or not I do more than enough, the truth is that I’ll keep reciting the first Mindfulness Training till even the tiniest mosquito is safe in my house.

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Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping professionals schedule time for relationships and self-care. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

2 thoughts on “Killing a mosquito

  1. Hi Iektje, I read your suffering as you are aware how much you are terrified of cockroaches, to such an extent that you cannot even look at them, let alone come so close to them that you could actually kill them yourself. You let your husband do that instead.

    I wished I had a wonderful insight to offer you. I don’t. I do know that the more I know of a certain animal/insect/living being, the less likely I am to have an aversion. I often realize I don’t know the name of the insect/animal, nor anything about their nature and way of living. That has helped me a lot with overcoming aversion. Maybe you could read some on Wikipedia, as an easy way to greater understanding.

    And then again, even Thich Nhat Hanh acknowledges that we cannot live without killing. We kill when we walk, when we build homes, when we transport our food and other conveniences, when we travel, even when we eat a vegan diet. There is only so much we can do, and we do our best within our personal limitations. If we are willing to look deeply with compassion, I guess that’s enough. It’s only a journey of expanding our compassionate hearts, not a destination.

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  2. I have struggled with the same issue for years. Not only mosquitoes, but especially also cockroaches. I am terrified of cockroaches. I cannot stand them in my home. I feel very embarrassed to say that I let my husband kill them for me. Sometimes he takes them out of the house, but often he smashes them and throws them in the trash or down the toilet. I am so scared of them that I can’t get close enough to them to do it myself. I feel that this is worse than if I would just do it myself…. I too am a buddhist practitioner and this is something I wrestle with a lot.

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