A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Forum for discussion of Tibetan Buddhism. Questions specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
Aspiring.Monk
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 10:16 pm

A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by Aspiring.Monk »

So recently I have been thinking of starting to raise reptiles such as snakes and lizards. Most of these types of animals require either rodents (frozen or live) and others can eat crickets and other insects.

I am concerned about the feeding aspect of having such animals as pets. The first Precept is to not kill another sentient being either directly or indirectly. Seeing as how I would need to, at the very least, purchase frozen mice as food, does this violate the first precept? The mouse would not have been killed specifically for my use as food for the snake. Is it kind of the same principle as monks that eat meat regularly? As long as the cow/chicken/pig was not killed specifically for the monks use, it does not violate the precept.

I'm pretty sure using live food would violate the first precept as I would be creating the cause for the death of the mouse by simply putting it into the enclosure.

I would appreciate any input that this community has.

I should clarify why I want to start this hobby. I hope to have these animals in my practice area. I hope that having them hear me recite mantras and recite sutras will help then to have a human rebirth close to the dharma. Along with them being able to see the thangkas on the wall and the Buddha on my shrine.

Thank you.
User avatar
Aryjna
Posts: 1266
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:45 pm

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by Aryjna »

Aspiring.Monk wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:09 am So recently I have been thinking of starting to raise reptiles such as snakes and lizards. Most of these types of animals require either rodents (frozen or live) and others can eat crickets and other insects.

I am concerned about the feeding aspect of having such animals as pets. The first Precept is to not kill another sentient being either directly or indirectly. Seeing as how I would need to, at the very least, purchase frozen mice as food, does this violate the first precept? The mouse would not have been killed specifically for my use as food for the snake. Is it kind of the same principle as monks that eat meat regularly? As long as the cow/chicken/pig was not killed specifically for the monks use, it does not violate the precept.

I'm pretty sure using live food would violate the first precept as I would be creating the cause for the death of the mouse by simply putting it into the enclosure.

I would appreciate any input that this community has.

I should clarify why I want to start this hobby. I hope to have these animals in my practice area. I hope that having them hear me recite mantras and recite sutras will help then to have a human rebirth close to the dharma. Along with them being able to see the thangkas on the wall and the Buddha on my shrine.

Thank you.
Feeding live animals to other animals is killing, and the karma of killing is both for you and for the reptile that will be doing the actual killing. As for frozen, I don't think it is a violation but doesn't sound that great either.

You may as well start leaving the window open at night so that various insects come in the room. They will be many more in number and will be seeing the images and hearing the mantras. Why does it have to be a handful of reptiles?
Aspiring.Monk
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 10:16 pm

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by Aspiring.Monk »

Aryjna wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:15 am Why does it have to be a handful of reptiles?
I feel drawn to reptiles. I feel that they are deeply misunderstood and in some cases, feared. I do not plan to only have snakes and reptiles. I also plan to have fish, a cat or two, probably a dog and possibly even a bird.

I love animals of all types and hope to one day to be able to have pets of many different species.
User avatar
Grigoris
Former staff member
Posts: 21590
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by Grigoris »

I am always delighted to observe the range of problems that people have existential issues over...
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde
User avatar
Aryjna
Posts: 1266
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:45 pm

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by Aryjna »

Aspiring.Monk wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:29 am
I feel drawn to reptiles. I feel that they are deeply misunderstood and in some cases, feared. I do not plan to only have snakes and reptiles. I also plan to have fish, a cat or two, probably a dog and possibly even a bird.
:D I don't think they mind or are even aware of being misunderstood.
User avatar
Grigoris
Former staff member
Posts: 21590
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by Grigoris »

Aryjna wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:00 am
Aspiring.Monk wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:29 am
I feel drawn to reptiles. I feel that they are deeply misunderstood and in some cases, feared. I do not plan to only have snakes and reptiles. I also plan to have fish, a cat or two, probably a dog and possibly even a bird.
:D I don't think they mind or are even aware of being misunderstood.
Which is typical of the slimy bastards! :)
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde
Aspiring.Monk
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 10:16 pm

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by Aspiring.Monk »

Grigoris wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:54 am I am always delighted to observe the range of problems that people have existential issues over...
Well, if I had access to a teacher or fully understood these things, I would not have to ask the questions here. Since this is really, my only resource, I turn here, to people that possibly know more than I to help me get an answer.
Simon E.
Posts: 7652
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by Simon E. »

In my opinion the problem starts with keeping reptiles as pets..period.
Snakes and lizards are sensitive sentient beings that occupy a particular ecological niche. Tearing them out of that environment and keeping them in vivariums or tanks is an act of violence even before considering how to feed them. Reptiles are not domesticated like cats or dogs. They will always be prisoners kept in an alien environment..and for what? A hobby?.......

I think your time and money would be better spent in joining those organisations that work to conserve reptiles in the wild. They need all the help they can get.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.
User avatar
Grigoris
Former staff member
Posts: 21590
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by Grigoris »

Aspiring.Monk wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:30 am
Grigoris wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:54 am I am always delighted to observe the range of problems that people have existential issues over...
Well, if I had access to a teacher or fully understood these things, I would not have to ask the questions here. Since this is really, my only resource, I turn here, to people that possibly know more than I to help me get an answer.
No offence intended: :smile: Just that in my daily life (work) I have to deal with people that are victims of war, sexual and physical violence, torture, child soldiers, ex-torturers, etc... so many things seem so insignificant to me, even though they have grand importance to others. I have a slightly skewed perspective.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde
User avatar
Mantrik
Former staff member
Posts: 2232
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:55 pm
Contact:

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by Mantrik »

Simon E. wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:12 am In my opinion the problem starts with keeping reptiles as pets..period.
Snakes and lizards are sensitive sentient beings that occupy a particular ecological niche. Tearing them out of that environment and keeping them in vivariums or tanks is an act of violence even before considering how to feed them. Reptiles are not domesticated like cats or dogs. They will always be prisoners kept in an alien environment..and for what? A hobby?.......

I think your time and money would be better spent in joining those organisations that work to conserve reptiles in the wild. They need all the help they can get.
:good:

The problem is then compounded when someone decides not to keep them any longer and they may be released into an environment where often die.

Anyone who has seen footage of reptile importation and smuggling will be aware of the massive cruelty in their capture and transportation. For each one which makes it, dozens die an awful death.
http://www.khyung.com ཁྲོཾ

Om Thathpurushaya Vidhmahe
Suvarna Pakshaya Dheemahe
Thanno Garuda Prachodayath

Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ (मिच्छामि दुक्कडम्)
Simon E.
Posts: 7652
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by Simon E. »

Yup. It nearly wiped out certain species of tortoises in the wild.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.
kausalya
Posts: 268
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:52 pm

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by kausalya »

Aspiring.Monk wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:09 am So recently I have been thinking of starting to raise reptiles such as snakes and lizards. Most of these types of animals require either rodents (frozen or live) and others can eat crickets and other insects.

I am concerned about the feeding aspect of having such animals as pets. The first Precept is to not kill another sentient being either directly or indirectly. Seeing as how I would need to, at the very least, purchase frozen mice as food, does this violate the first precept? The mouse would not have been killed specifically for my use as food for the snake. Is it kind of the same principle as monks that eat meat regularly? As long as the cow/chicken/pig was not killed specifically for the monks use, it does not violate the precept.

I'm pretty sure using live food would violate the first precept as I would be creating the cause for the death of the mouse by simply putting it into the enclosure.

I would appreciate any input that this community has.

I should clarify why I want to start this hobby. I hope to have these animals in my practice area. I hope that having them hear me recite mantras and recite sutras will help then to have a human rebirth close to the dharma. Along with them being able to see the thangkas on the wall and the Buddha on my shrine.

Thank you.
Don't let others discourage you if this is what you want to do in your heart. The only thing that will change your heart are the fruits of practice and reflection. It can be good to get ideas from others, but none of us have the answers. You alone walk your path and decide what karma to accept. I believe your motivation is pure.
"For as long as space remains,
For as long as sentient beings remain,
Until then may I too remain
To dispel the miseries of the world."
(Shantideva)
User avatar
Mantrik
Former staff member
Posts: 2232
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:55 pm
Contact:

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by Mantrik »

Grigoris wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:02 am
Aryjna wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:00 am
Aspiring.Monk wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:29 am
I feel drawn to reptiles. I feel that they are deeply misunderstood and in some cases, feared. I do not plan to only have snakes and reptiles. I also plan to have fish, a cat or two, probably a dog and possibly even a bird.
:D I don't think they mind or are even aware of being misunderstood.
Which is typical of the slimy bastards! :)
I think I understand Komodo Dragons and they would get along fine with fish, cat, dog and bird. For the main course I would like to introduce them to dinner with my neighbours.
http://www.khyung.com ཁྲོཾ

Om Thathpurushaya Vidhmahe
Suvarna Pakshaya Dheemahe
Thanno Garuda Prachodayath

Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ (मिच्छामि दुक्कडम्)
User avatar
Aryjna
Posts: 1266
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:45 pm

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by Aryjna »

Simon E. wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:12 am In my opinion the problem starts with keeping reptiles as pets..period.
Snakes and lizards are sensitive sentient beings that occupy a particular ecological niche. Tearing them out of that environment and keeping them in vivariums or tanks is an act of violence even before considering how to feed them. Reptiles are not domesticated like cats or dogs. They will always be prisoners kept in an alien environment..and for what? A hobby?.......

I think your time and money would be better spent in joining those organisations that work to conserve reptiles in the wild. They need all the help they can get.
I think this is partly true, but in practice the life of a reptile in the wild is terrible. They live in constant fear/tension that they will be eaten or killed, they themselves eat hundreds or thousands of other beings during their lifetime. This causes them to be reborn in similar situations, eating and being eaten, until they finally end up in a hell realm where they will undergo unimaginable torture.

Even if they are uncomfortable in a tank, they are safe, if they are fed dead animals they do not accumulate the karma of killing, and they also create a strong connection to the dharma.
Simon E.
Posts: 7652
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by Simon E. »

I suspect that we have a very different idea of the way that the animal world functions, and of the way that vipaka is accrued Aryjna.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.
User avatar
Aryjna
Posts: 1266
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:45 pm

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by Aryjna »

Simon E. wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 2:07 pm I suspect that we have a very different idea of the way that the animal world functions, and of the way that vipaka is accrued Aryjna.
Maybe, but the idea above is the one taught in Mahayana/Vajrayana.
Aspiring.Monk
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 10:16 pm

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by Aspiring.Monk »

Grigoris wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 11:06 am
Aspiring.Monk wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:30 am
Grigoris wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:54 am I am always delighted to observe the range of problems that people have existential issues over...
Well, if I had access to a teacher or fully understood these things, I would not have to ask the questions here. Since this is really, my only resource, I turn here, to people that possibly know more than I to help me get an answer.
No offence intended: :smile: Just that in my daily life (work) I have to deal with people that are victims of war, sexual and physical violence, torture, child soldiers, ex-torturers, etc... so many things seem so insignificant to me, even though they have grand importance to others. I have a slightly skewed perspective.
No offense Grigoris. You and I come from very different circumstances. I am sure that if I dealt with those things, something like the karma of feeding one sentient being to another would seem like the farthest thing from important.

I am just frustrated by not having access to a teacher and feeling completely alone in the Dharma and the fact that when I ask a question here, I get questions from others asking why I need the answer or criticism for not already knowing the answer.

I do my very best to come to the answer to my questions on my own. I want to help as many sentient beings as I can and this is one way that I can do so.

The reptiles that I would be keeping, would all be captivity bred and not pulled from the wild. I would never pull something from its habitat just for my own whims.
kausalya
Posts: 268
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:52 pm

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by kausalya »

Aspiring.Monk wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 5:12 pm
Grigoris wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 11:06 am
Aspiring.Monk wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:30 am

Well, if I had access to a teacher or fully understood these things, I would not have to ask the questions here. Since this is really, my only resource, I turn here, to people that possibly know more than I to help me get an answer.
No offence intended: :smile: Just that in my daily life (work) I have to deal with people that are victims of war, sexual and physical violence, torture, child soldiers, ex-torturers, etc... so many things seem so insignificant to me, even though they have grand importance to others. I have a slightly skewed perspective.
No offense Grigoris. You and I come from very different circumstances. I am sure that if I dealt with those things, something like the karma of feeding one sentient being to another would seem like the farthest thing from important.

I am just frustrated by not having access to a teacher and feeling completely alone in the Dharma and the fact that when I ask a question here, I get questions from others asking why I need the answer or criticism for not already knowing the answer.

I do my very best to come to the answer to my questions on my own. I want to help as many sentient beings as I can and this is one way that I can do so.

The reptiles that I would be keeping, would all be captivity bred and not pulled from the wild. I would never pull something from its habitat just for my own whims.
You know best. Follow your reasoning to its outermost conclusion without regard for where it takes you, and then let karma teach you the rest of the way. This is a lesson for you to absorb for yourself.
"For as long as space remains,
For as long as sentient beings remain,
Until then may I too remain
To dispel the miseries of the world."
(Shantideva)
User avatar
Jangchup Donden
Posts: 346
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:44 am

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by Jangchup Donden »

As someone a soft spot, and with 4 cats, I'd recommend about not going too overboard taking care of pets. It can be a lot of work and costly. If you want to ever move for a job or to get closer to dharma, it also really complicates things. Taking in an animal is a long time commitment, and you want to make sure you don't lose out on opportunities because of it.

I think time being spent taking care of animals (especially if that involves killing to feed them, or being involved in the selling of animal trade) could be better spent taking care of yourself via practice. If you want to benefit animals, there are other things you can do like life release. Buy 100 crickets and set them free, saving them from being fed to and eaten by other peoples lizards, for example. If you want to talk about misunderstood animals, insects have it even worse than reptiles. Most people don't even think twice about crushing and killing them for being nearby.

That being said, there are a number of reptiles which are vegetarian. Then you don't need to worry as much.

On a personal note, I have a bit of trouble keeping anything which requires it to be confined. I don't know if there's negative karma involved with that if it's for their protection, etc. But it still doesn't sit right with me. My wife had a number of hamsters (all of which passed away from rather nasty diseases) and I never liked the fact they were stuck in a cage their entire life, except for the times they were let out to play in a ball or for some free running.
kausalya
Posts: 268
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:52 pm

Re: A question on raising reptiles and the first precept of no killing.

Post by kausalya »

Jangchup Donden wrote: Fri Jun 29, 2018 5:33 pm As someone a soft spot, and with 4 cats, I'd recommend about not going too overboard taking care of pets. It can be a lot of work and costly. If you want to ever move for a job or to get closer to dharma, it also really complicates things. Taking in an animal is a long time commitment, and you want to make sure you don't lose out on opportunities because of it.

I think time being spent taking care of animals (especially if that involves killing to feed them, or being involved in the selling of animal trade) could be better spent taking care of yourself via practice. If you want to benefit animals, there are other things you can do like life release. Buy 100 crickets and set them free, saving them from being fed to and eaten by other peoples lizards, for example. If you want to talk about misunderstood animals, insects have it even worse than reptiles. Most people don't even think twice about crushing and killing them for being nearby.

That being said, there are a number of reptiles which are vegetarian. Then you don't need to worry as much.

On a personal note, I have a bit of trouble keeping anything which requires it to be confined. I don't know if there's negative karma involved with that if it's for their protection, etc. But it still doesn't sit right with me. My wife had a number of hamsters (all of which passed away from rather nasty diseases) and I never liked the fact they were stuck in a cage their entire life, except for the times they were let out to play in a ball or for some free running.
I see where you're coming from, but teachings in the normal sense that we think of them only exist to establish the seed of Dharma, nurture it, and prevent obstacles. The real practice starts when the teacher enters your heart and you comprehend their purpose in your life. At that point, you can be trusted to move forward without creating undue obstacles for yourself. If this is so, anything you do will be virtue, since you'll talk yourself out of doing anything that your mind perceives to be harmful. This process will establish a continuation of your teacher's mindstream, to the extent that you esteem the Dharma they have imparted to you.

This is just to say that, although it's auspicious to have easy access to a teacher, that's the fruit of previous actions, rather than something to be strived for, necessarily. It's not entirely a prerequisite for practicing Dharma, and some may have other priorities based on a genuine motivation to do good for others. Maybe this is the opportunity that Aspiring.Monk wants...

Above all, one must consider the merits of being genuine. The teacher won't leave your side this way, even before you meet them.

Edited (several times) for clarity!
"For as long as space remains,
For as long as sentient beings remain,
Until then may I too remain
To dispel the miseries of the world."
(Shantideva)
Post Reply

Return to “Tibetan Buddhism”