From The real world ‘kill the mosquitos’

by Venerable Ajhan Summedho

My instincts say, ‘Kill the mosquitoes! They’re a nuisance, they give you malaria. . . . Kill those blasted midges; get rid of them as quickly as possible!’ But then the human side says that they have as much right to be here as I do. Who am I to think that I, somehow, am more important or have more right to breathe and to live my life than midges do? So then from that position, I’m a little kinder, aren’t I? I’m not so quick to destroy that which I don’t like - which bothers me or is a nuisance - and I am much more willing to give it a chance, to try and understand it, to respect it for what it is, even though I may never like it.

I can’t imagine myself ever liking midges - they are just not likeable to humans. But one can accept them for what they are. When you contemplate the amount of irritation they cause, then it’s not that much; one can put up with it, one can bear it - it’s just the way things are. Their lives are as important to them as my life is to me.


The Buddha reminds us of the right approach in his famous metaphor of the raft from the Majjhima Nikaya.

In it, he describes a situation, where a man standing on the near shore, which is dangerous, needs to get to the far shore, which is safe.

There are no bridges or ferries so he builds a raft; it is not fancy, but adequate to get him across. Once on that far shore it has served its purpose, and a wise man leaves it where it is, without dragging it with him as an encumbrance.

— Buddha