I lived in a house with a swimming pool. Every day I found bees drowning on the surface of the water. I got the skimmer and swept them out and dropped them on the grass. They revived and stumbled around, as I walked away. I don’t know how many bees’ lives I saved. When I saw a centipede crawling in the yard, I sprayed it with pesticide. I saved bees because they made honey and were endangered. I killed centipedes because I heard stories about them biting and they looked creepy. Do I get to choose who and what I kill?
One of the main things we realize in our Buddhist practice is that we are connected to every single person and being and thing in the universe. It is a nice thing to hear, but we live it. We live it because Buddha said we are all one, and when we kill, we separate ourselves from everything else and that causes pain and trouble.
Buddha said that a person practicing Buddhism does not kill, encourage, help, or praise others who kill, kill with a curse, or create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of killing. Under no circumstance, does anyone intentionally take the life of another living being.
So, what am I doing killing cockroaches, mosquitoes, mice, and even flies that annoy me? The answer is that I practice not killing. I am aware of every time I face the possibility of taking a life. I am aware of every time I break my commitment and kill. I see the situation as clearly as I can and try hard to do better. I practice so that I might be able to never again destroy the life force of another living being.