Avoid Taking the Life of Beings
Almost every morality system on the planet has some denouncement of murder. For Wiccans, it is “harm none.” For Hindus, it is ahimsa or “non-injury.” For Christians, it is “thou shalt not kill.” For Buddhists, it is the first precept, “avoid taking the life of beings.” While Christians, Jews and Muslims often think of a proscription against killing as directed solely at the murder of fellow humans, Buddhists, Jains and some Hindus and Pagans take the refusal to take life even further. These people refuse to take lives other than just human life. They are often vegetarians in order to avoid killing animals. Some Jains are known for taking the proscription against killing to extraordinary levels and wear veils to avoid inhaling bugs. Some stop eating altogether to avoid killing plants.
The merits of vegetarianism are a separate argument, but this Buddhist call for compassion can be extended past merely refusing to commit murder. To practice this, stop killing unnecessarily. Squashing the brown recluse spider that got into a toddler’s room is understandable. The spider could do serious harm to the child and even to the adult. Stepping on the wolf spider that was sitting on a garden rock, however, is unnecessary. It is not a dangerous creature, and it was in its natural environment. Put this precept into practice by considering if killing even the smallest creature is really necessary or if there is a better path.