Day 12: Bees And Mosquitos
--by zilong, posted Feb 27, 2018
Once, the Buddha and his disciples was traveling through a small kingdom. When the people in the kingdom saw the Buddha passing in front of their doors, they all frowned and shut the door. But when they saw Maudgalyayana, one of Buddha's disciples, they all ran out of the house in excitement, bowed to him and made generous offerings.
Other disciples were very surprised by the different receptions, and asked the Buddha, "Why would the people in this kingdom treat you, the fully enlightened one, with such disrespect, but adore one of your disciples?"
The Buddha explained, "Many eons ago, Maudgalyayana was my son. There was a bee hive near our home. I was worried that the bees might sting my son, so I used smoke to drive away the bees. My son, on the other hand, was kind to the bees and made a vow to help those bees if he ever become enlightened. Now, many lifetimes later, the bees from that hive have become the people in this kingdom -- the queen bee has become the king, and the worker bees have become the people. When they see Maudgalyayana and me, our past karma has come into fruition."
Before I embarked on a pilgrimage, I took on a few vows. The first vow is "no killing" -- the same cardinal rule in many world religions. This vow is not just a willing constraint on myself, but the best gift I can offer to all life -- a gift of peace and harmlessness. When I see a bug crawling across the road while I am cycling, I try to swirl the bicycle around it and avoid hurting the insect. Perhaps as a result, over the past two years, I have never suffered any injury -- not even a flat tire -- during the entire ten thousand kilometers through a dozen countries.
However, it sometimes become hard to abide by this vow when I realize that one hungry mosquito has slipped into my enclosed tent. It comes down to "my blood or her blood". It is in those moments that the story above comes to my mind. Still, I've killed a few mosquitos, even knowing the karmic consequence. My aversion to itching and desperation for good sleep sometimes overwhelm the better side :)
Not to mention killing, even if I have generated hatred toward a mosquito, an unwholesome affinity has been created, and would surely yield fruits now and in the future.
The pilgrimage has given me plenty of opportunities to practice the honoring of all life, not just in actions, but also in thoughts. Often I would see roadkills or flattened insects on the road, and I try to send metta (prayers of loving kindness) to the departed souls, or dedicate merits to them for their transition into next life.
There are many reasons to honor all life. Here is one :)