Can a Stream-Enterer order the killing of ants?

Hello dear friends,

Recently, I saw a monk in whom I had much confidence kind of directing the killing of ants in the bathroom.

I didn’t hear him “Kill them !” but he brought a layman with a gas gun and was kind of directing from behind the operation.

I didn’t dare saying anything as in that kind of culture going against someone who has more vassas than you is considered inappropriate. But I lose confidence in him.

The irony is that he brought a layman to perform this as if 1) ordering the killing of ants was not against the vinaya and 2) as if killing ants was allowed for laypeople.

When I went to male bathroom, ants were dead. My friend told me that in Thailand, they consider OK to kill ants if it’s on the Sangha property.

Do you know any suttas which says that a Stream-Enterer can’t order a killing ?

Thank you very much.

What the sotāpannais absolutely incapable of doing is the following (M. 115: iii,64-5):—

To take any determination (sankhāra) as permanent,
To take any determination as pleasant,
To take any thing (dhamma) as self,
To kill his mother,
To kill his father,
To kill an arahat,
Maliciously to shed a Buddha’s blood,
To split the Sangha,
To follow any teacher other than the Buddha.

I remember a sutta (possibly in the vinaya rulings ??) where the Buddha is questioned about the status of a hunter’s wife who happens to be a stream enterer. Yet, she unquestioningly hands her husband the bow and arrow when he goes off to hunt. The gist of the Buddha’s statement in that context was that it is the intention behind the act which is to be considered. - very similar to the rulings on eating meat.

(If anyone can help trace the sutta, I’d be much obliged!)

It’s in the Dhammapada Commentary, I think it’s the one that comments the verse 124: “If on the hand there is no wound, one may carry even poison in it. Poison does not affect one who is free from wounds. For him who does no evil, there is no ill.”

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I recommend not to simply assume all the monks you have confidence in are attained.

Or else you might be in for multiple disappointments as you find certain flaws here and there.

It’s speculated that the noble virtues of a stream enterer, unbroken, etc includes the 5 precepts at the very least.

There’s also many factors to killing, mainly intention.

This is how a noble thinks about killing according the sutta’s:

It’s when a noble disciple reflects: ‘I want to live and don’t want to die; I want to be happy and recoil from pain. Since this is so, if someone were to take my life, I wouldn’t like that. But others also want to live and don’t want to die; they want to be happy and recoil from pain. So if I were to take the life of someone else, they wouldn’t like that either. The thing that is disliked by me is also disliked by others. Since I dislike this thing, how can I inflict it on someone else?’ Reflecting in this way, they give up killing living creatures themselves. And they encourage others to give up killing living creatures, praising the giving up of killing living creatures”. .

The ethical conduct of a sotapanna is also here described: SN55.13


Thank you so much Green !! :green_heart:

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Hi Sikkhakamo,

I believe a Stream-Enterer or the other of The Ariya will not do such a thing. And, there is definitely no sutta that encourage us (monks or layman) to do such a thing.

You have to know that we have several kind of monks ie. a Robe Bearer, an Ascetic Monk (who trying very hard to train himself) or an Ariyan Monk (who had the fruit of his training).

In the Robe Bearer category (they may become a monk with different intention, but we don’t care about their own intention), there maybe those who broke the 1st precept (either directly or indirectly kill). So, its humane indeed.

You are doing the right thing, just stay away from this kind of people (although he is a monk). It will surely drag you down. And, do not support him any longer (directly or indirectly), as it is the same as you are encouraging the killing act.

And, that is my personal view.


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Your welcome. I do not want to feed distrust ofcourse.

I feel these issues are really not easy. I know many people make no issue of killing snails that ruin their crops, or ants entering their houses, mice, spiders, bugs. If one does not kill animals that ruin crops and people starve, is that wise? I feel this is all not easy at all. If some bug ruins your house or temple must we tolerate that to happen? At least one can try to remove them and not kill them?

The same with gardening. If you see it, whatever you do, i feel, it is harming, it is hurting. Watering plants might drown small animals, digging might kill them, even moving something disturbs a lot of small animals that have taken shelter. To be honest…i cannot enjoy it anymore.
Also removing socalled weed…also that does not feel good anymore.

I try to be careful but i feel living this life, one cannot really prevent harming and hurting other beings.

Also, the food that Buddha eats, the monks, that is also not blameless ofcourse. There is a lot of hurt, harming, killing involved in all this. They do not do this themselves? And? Are you now blameless?
I feel that is nonsense. That is fooling oneself, i feel.


Yes, when we are born we put a burden on the world. But I think there is a scale of actions.

A monk making a layman take a gas gun and kill the ants, for me it’s too gross. Even at the ordination, the upajjhaya says that a monk shouldn’t kill living beings and he especially says “even ants”.

"A monk who has been accepted should not deprive a living being of life, even if it is only a black or white ant. Any monk who purposely deprives a human being of life, even to the extent of causing an abortion, is not a contemplative, not a son of the Sakyan.

“Just as a solid block of stone broken in two cannot be joined together again, in the same way a monk who has purposely deprived a human being of life is not a contemplative, not a son of the Sakyan. You are not to do this for the rest of your life.”

— Mv I.78.2

Maybe, but Angulimala, according legend, killed 999 humans and was still accepted by the Buddha. Moreover, he even became an arahant! I know he was not just an ordinairy murdener but still…

Also, there is attachment to rules too. Which is a fetter. I think the goal of dhamma is not to become rigid, unflexible. I do not know what all this rules are worth to be honest. They are probably invented to prevent trouble, but i feel it cannot be good when one only becomes rigid and attached to these rules.
But i also feel rules have worth.

If the rule is that a monk may not contact physically a woman, suppose, is it not absurd that one does not do everything to help a woman drowning or helping to escape her from a burning house?
Sometimes rules are really meant to be broken.

Stream winner onwards have perfected their sīla. Without perfection of sīla, it’s not possible to attain.

Given that the enlightened ones are perfect in virtue, and that arahants at least are freed from fetters, one shouldn’t apply attachment to rites and rituals fetter to being strict to following the monastic rules.

There are some rules which can be broken without intention, or knowing, those are likely the rules that the ariyas can still break (due to not being mindful).

Non returners onwards can save the lady without any issue as lust is totally gone from them.

Purposely breaking rules is an obstacle to the practise. Much like the 5 heinous crime is. But good thing it is reversible for this one.


This all worries me. It really troubles my heart that one would let that lady drown because one obeys a rule not to touch women.

Do you really think that the Buddha would see it as a fault and transgression for a monk to rescue that lady?

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I said can, I didn’t imply before non returners, one should let a person drown.

One should be filled with the mind of compassion and urgency to help that lust does not invade the mind, then there’s also no breaking of the rules.


I see no difference in what @Green and what @NgXinZhao are saying in this regard. I’m happy to see agreement between two fellow dhamma friends! Don’t let the lady drown, but if lust develops as a consequence you’ll face the further consequences of that lust. Did you save her out of pure intention of compassion? Did you save her because you’ll get to touch a lady? What was the intention? Completely pure? Completely corrupted? Mixed? The consequences so-follow. Something like that? :slight_smile: :pray:


I try to be careful but i feel living this life, one cannot really prevent harming and hurting other beings.

True. I think that anybody who drives a car has to know that by doing so, many living beings will be killed. It is just inevitable - even on short trips.

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