Buddha talked about NO KILLING

Update: 28/09/2021
Buddhism appeared nearly 2600 years ago. Buddha's teachings are based on compassion; therefore, compassion and love are spread around whenever Buddhism is propagated. Compassion is not only for human beings but also for living beings. When Buddha set the precepts, He respected the one: NO KILLING of living beings. In 5 precepts for laymen and 10 precepts for the monks and nuns, the one of NO KILLING is put in priority. His purpose is to respect equality, and express compassion to living beings. No killing frees you from suffering.

Buddha talked about NO KILLING


Firstly, it is to respect Buddha-mind equality among living beings. According to Saddharma – pundarika sutra: “Buddhism is to enlighten living beings to learn Buddha’s viewpoint”. Thus, the nature of living beings, from human to animals, are of genetic Buddhism. It means that we equally can become future-Buddhas. We respect ourselves as we have Buddhism’s seeds, as well as we should respect Buddhism’s seeds in living beings. If you know this but you still kill living beings, is that a future-Buddha who kills another future-Buddha? Therefore, when we clearly see the Buddha’s seeds equally in living beings, we might wish to stop killing them.

 Secondly, as we respect fairness, we stop killing animals. It is said that: “Human have the right to eat living beings”, it means that living beings are food for humans. Is it fair? Suppose you got lost in the forest and there would be tigers or lions. If they could talk and say: “We have the right to eat human” (human is the food for them), are you ready to lie down for their meals? For that reason, it should not be “Human uses living beings” or “Living beings use human”. We are all equal. However, humans are considered to be the best and the most powerful and intelligent ones in the world, ranked above other living beings, then killing and eating them. We are the Buddhist practitioners, we should respect equality. Do not use the power to hurt living beings. 

Thirdly, Buddha set the precept: “NO KILLING” as the compassion to living beings. It is said that: “There is no class in the same red blood; there is no class in the same tears”. We pursue happiness and are scared of suffering. Don’t you think living beings feel the same? Supposing that you were pushed down, beheaded, disemboweled, could you suffer that hurt? So how can you do that on living beings? They cannot talk and we think that they are not scared of death. Some animals cry and scream very loud, but we also ignore that. Do you feel compassionate? A Buddhist practitioner full of compassion cannot kill living beings.

Fourthly, if you are scared of bad effects, you should not kill living beings. We can see there are still wars in some nations in the world. People may think the reasons for wars are: nation dispute, natural resource dispute, authority dispute, etc. But there is a deep reason not everyone knows. It is killing living beings results in resentment. The living beings being killed are full of resentment. After death and regeneration, they become human and take revenge back. That is the deep reason. Otherwise, Buddha set NO KILLING precepts as He does not want people being suffered. According to Suramgama sutra, “A man eats a goat, the goat regenerates and becomes human and the man reborns and becomes a goat”, it is a flow of resentful reborn forever. According to Antara-kalpa Vibhaga, sutra number 135, Maphima Nikaya, there is a paragraph: “Here, there is a woman or a man who always kills animals cruelly and does not love living beings. As the bad actions, after death, he or she would be reborn in hell. If he or she reborns a human, he or she has a very short life”. Thus, we can see that the one killing living beings in this life will have illness, and go to the three bad ways after death.

There are many sutras about killing deeds. According to Suramgama sutra, there is a paragraph: “A right meditation practitioner hopes to deliver from the prison. If he does not stop kill living beings, he cannot escape although he meditates very well. He could go into hell. Ananda! Suppose you practice meditation and wish to reach enlightenment but you do not stop killing living beings, it is the same that a man covers his ear and shouts very loud, everyone has to hear that voice whether you want or not. The monk walking on the street does not intend to step over the grass, not to mention weeding it. A monk with great compassion cannot eat living beings”. This paragraph shows that if a practitioner does not stop the intention to kill living beings, he will just fall into the Asura world (one of the six rebirths). So if we want to deliver from rebirths, we have to follow and learn from Bodhisattva and Arhat who are so compassionate that they do not want to hurt living beings, not to mention killing them. According to Ksitigarbha sutra, there is a paragraph: “Killing to offer the god does not benefit anything for the dead, you may cause more bad deeds for that dead person. Suppose the dead person can reach enlightenment, but the relatives cause bad deeds, which results in the late good regeneration. Let alone before death, he did not do anything good, he has to rebirth following his bad deeds. His relatives cause more bad deeds for him. For example, a hungry man for three days carrying over a hundred kilos of things meets another man who asks him to help, does it weigh more?”. When someone in your house dies, there is usually a big funeral in which many animals are killed to offer food. As has been mentioned, killing animals to offer food for the dead benefits nothing, in contrast, the dead have more bad deeds. 

The Buddhist practitioner who stops the intention to kill living beings, he or she can reach enlightenment. According to Antara-kalpa Vibhaga, there is a paragraph: “If a man or a woman stops killing animals, he or she turns to love all living beings. Thanks to those good deeds, he or she could rebirth in a good world. If he or she rebirths in the human world, he or she can have a long – living life”. In the Ten Good deeds sutra, “Stopping the action of killing animals can benefit: stopping anger; no illness; long – living life; God protection, no nightmare, happy life, stopping resentment; no falling into hell; rebirthing in the paradise”. These are the benefits we can have when stopping killing animals.

We should broaden the precept of no killing. Not only using sticks or knives to kill living beings, saying bad words is the same. This action does not create any scars on living beings’ bodies, but it hurts in our minds. The scar can be cured, but the hurt in mind or heart cannot be cured fast.

 For example, if two people hate each other, they can use the worst words to talk to each other, which hurts the opposite unmeasurably. It is said that: “Stone stele can be worn out, but mouth – stele would not be.” Buddha said: “Killing each other by mouth weapon”. 

Similar to the family, if family members cannot understand and sympathize with each other, the family will be broken. Parents do not understand their children and usually scold them, or children do not understand and obey parents, which makes them feel hurt too. The Buddhist practitioner should meditate and be cautious of the words. When bad words are said, he or she kills others in mind. 

If someone nearly dying is saved, he or she will be very happy. Living beings are the same. When they are saved at the time they nearly die, they will be extremely happy. To humans and animals, the happiness to live and the hurt to die are the same. Understanding the value of life, we wish not to kill living beings but to love them. If human and living beings live peacefully, there are no more resentment or wars in the world.


Tâm Thiện

Translated into English by Nguyen Hoang Thoai

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