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One City

I heard a fly buzz when I (thwap)



True/False/Cannot Say

Folks really love Obama: True

Folks really love PETA:  False

Obama kills fly: True

PETA complains: True


We, yet again, feel ambivalent about PETA and their PR methods: True


We think however, that of course PETA was asked about their stance by the 24 hour news hungry media and of course their responsibility was to say that they don’t agree with killing flies because they are an anti-animal-of-all-kinds killing organization so they’re really just staying on message: True

We think Obama shouldn’t have killed the fly: Cannot Say.  Firstly because a. we had a hamburger for lunch and b. we try not to judge but c. we think we probably shouldn’t have had a hamburger for lunch and d. if Obama went to the Buddha and said, “should I kill flies?” the Buddha would maybe have said “I’d rather you not.”

We are dreading the comparisons of Obama to Mister Miyagi:  True.

We did not make them in our own brain: False.

We think the next remake of the Karate Kid movie starring Will Smith’s son will be good: Cannot Say.

Comments read comments(12)
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Patrick Groneman

posted June 18, 2009 at 7:55 pm

If killing the fly is for the benefit of all sentient beings…?

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posted June 19, 2009 at 3:30 am

Q: Does a fly have Buddha nature?
A: Thwap! Not any more.

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posted June 19, 2009 at 8:06 am

@Patrick. I can understand if someone wants to kill a fly. But could it possibly be for the benefit of sentient beings? That’s questionable. With all the possible irritants in the world. If you can’t handle a
Now what i said above doesn’t apply to OB he’s not a buddhist.
@clasqm – the fly “was” buddha nature before, during and after the “Thwap”

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posted June 19, 2009 at 8:14 am

there goes my grammar again. “is” not was.

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posted June 19, 2009 at 12:57 pm

To kill a fly or not to kill a fly is typical dualistic thinking. Ultimately, we are human beings that must reason benefits vs. detriments. There is no ONE WAY OR THE HIGHWAY philosophy in Buddhist thinking. Instead, it is based on PRINCIPLES, not RULES (loving kindness, compassion, etc). An act that creates harm is regrettable even if it is unavoidable. Buddhists have fought to defend themselves, their countries, their families, their beliefs. This is NOT WRONG. What becomes wrong thinking is to hate one’s enemies… what is wrong is to deny the inherent nature of a human, a cat, or even a fly.
If all sentient beings followed the advice of the Buddha, there would be no need for war, no need for violence, no need to swat a fly. But they don’t… that is the reality of the world we live in. Those that profess some kind of self-righteous indignation as to the effects of fly swatting are held in the thrall of ignorance and denial.

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posted June 19, 2009 at 12:58 pm

One more thing…
Sometimes it is necessary to take life… but we should NEVER take life for granted.

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posted June 19, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Flies and esp mosquitoes are always coming up in buddhist discussions of nonviolence!
one friend asked me, after a particularly torturous summer concert in DC, whether they even had mosquitoes in Tibet – like no one had ever dealt with troublesome insects before!
I remember early on in my studies, Ethan Nichtern talked a lot about mosquitoes and interdependence, particularly in the context of a mosquito bothering a world leader overnight, when there was an important summit the next day. Would it better to swat the mosquito and ensure a rested world leader? or maintain total ahimsa and not kill the mosquito, but possibly have a less-than alert world leader?
(since he’s on retreat this week, he can’t correct my probably faulty recollection of the discussion, alas)
I’ve heard some folks swat mosquitoes and flies with the reincarnation admonition, as they send them into the fly bardo, “Be reborn a buddha!”
Those PETA questions of total tolerance or intolerance of killing seem hard to me. There is nothing we can consume, as humans, that will not have an impact on the environment in some way. Harm reduction, rather than harm elimination, seems the choice I make most often right now in my practice.

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posted June 19, 2009 at 4:52 pm

i would rather he hadn’t killed the fly but . . . seriously, there are other things going on right now.
on the other hand, if it makes people reflect on the subject a little i guess it worthwhile.

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posted June 19, 2009 at 5:17 pm

i heard that talk Ellen and I couldn’t help but wonder; well if he’s a King can’t he get a mosquito net….
but seriously…. When we look at the world. Aren’t most people trying to do away with the mosquitos in their lives and haven’t there been times when that obstacle was beneficial, although unwanted.

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posted June 19, 2009 at 5:25 pm

oh another thing.
Yes we kill things all the time but have to acknowledge and hold ourselves accountable for what we do, not try to find an escape in some dharma clause. I think that’s where rub is for me.
I eat meat and I’m accountable for the lives that are lost because of it. I kill waterbugs and every time I do I know that I’m responsible for what I have done.

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posted June 19, 2009 at 8:24 pm

I am non-violent, a dharma practitioner but I find PETA to be very heavy handed and reactionary. Trashing people clothes with paint is aggression, no matter ones motivation. I would be disturbed if a PETA member confronted me because I was wearing leather sandals and decided they must be destroyed. They are already lifeless, so what is the point. It isn’t as if I chose an animal to die tor me to wear shoes. Killing flies isn’t something we wake up with as an aim, but sometimes it happens and it’s for us to deal with, not for someone else to determine. I am tired of other people determining my bad karma for me, if I have mice in my house, they have got to go and very soon. I don’t kill them for sport or entertainment, but for health reasons. Releasing them just puts them in someone else’s environment. I am not apologetic about keeping my family healthy, my food safe from disease and my home liveable. I have no intention of having 1000’s of mice, roaches, flies and any other insect on the premises and inhabiting my home. I had a termite problem a few years ago, was I supposed to live with them while they ate my house up. I don’t think so, we need to get a handle on what’s important.
I love all beings and don’t seek to kill anything, but I am not so stupid as to allow other beings to harm my life. That would not be honoring this precious life I have. There has to be some compromise and understanding of the differences. There isn’t a fly on the planet that should take precedence over any human being.5n7b4b

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posted June 20, 2009 at 10:09 am

It is not the fly that matters, but the meaning of the fly and it’s death.
What was the intention that President Obama held while killing the fly? What was the meaning he gave it?
What was the meaning that PETA gave it?
What was the meaning the press gave the killing of the fly, and the report from PETA?
What was the meaning that everyone who read the press reports gave the inicdent?
What meaning do you, dear reader, give this post?
It is never about the thing or situation itself, but the meaning YOU give it.
Please meditate on the underlying meanings; that is where you will find clarity.

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