How do i avoid killing bugs while walking

Im trying to kill the least bugs posible while living how do i avoid killing bugs while walking without making it too obsessive i notice i check my shoes too much or look at the ground the whole time how do monks do it


Better to asks the Jains. This really isn’t a Buddhist thing.


by not having intention to kill as you walk.

action in buddhism occurs when there is intention. in the absence of intention, there is no kamma created - there was no volition for the result to occur.

it’s impossible to live in samsara and for another being not to suffer as a result of your existence at least indirectly, but even directly. that’s the nature of samsara. to eat, even only vegetables, beings die in the process of growing and harvesting.

the buddha’s teaching focuses on the intention and purification of that intention. if you refrain from actions that harm others (i.e., keep the five precepts), and undertake all actions you can do with an intentional mind of loving kindness, the action would be blameless.


This morning I walked the dog and I was paying more attention to my phone than to the ground.
It had rained last night and all of a sudden I heard a loud crunching sound, I had stepped on a snail.
As said: I paid more attention to my phone than the ground, lesson learned.

When I was more strict with my meditative practices I would likely not have stepped on a slow animal the size of such a snail. Just looking ahead you can see it from afar and avoid stepping on it. It’s a matter of being on a clear path and paying a little attention.
It does not require looking at the ground all the time, it just requires paying a little attention to what’s in front of you. It’s a skill which has many uses outside paying attention to animals: cars, motorcyclists, bicycle riders or even other pedestrians are not hit when you pay a little attention.

I think you exaggerate the effort required to avoid killing at least the larger kind of animals, including many kinds of bugs. When they are of the size that you can’t distinguish them from stones/gravel on the ground I am bothered in a different way:
if I don’t want to hurt such animals I’d better not be born again…

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As you said, walking slowly and watching where you step is the only way - and even doing so every now and then you may kill some insect. You cannot go fast, but there’s no need to go that slow like if you were doing walking meditation. I walk barefoot constantly watching to the ground and I don’t feel there’s anything obsessive with that. If you try to walk “mindfully” your mind won’t get agitated or obsessed.

I understand that intention is what matters, so it seems that walking with the intention and effort of not killing, is not the same than walking without the intention and effort of not killing. In the Manusmriti, it is advised to watch where one steps, so it seems that in ancient India trying no to kill small animals was the expected proper behavior.

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It’s thoughts like these that many Bodhisattvas have to face when considering to be reborn for the sake of all sentient beings. To be purely harmless, the quickest way for a Buddhist, generally, is to attain Parinibbana.

There are so many things in life that one has to face when considering rebirth, and there are many Bodhisattvas who consider an infinite amount of rebirths in order to save all beings.

That is why the Teaching of the Elders is to be treasured among Buddhists, as it produces candidates that don’t have to return again to this world of suffering.

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Have you read the commentary on Dhp 1? :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

How do you interpret the commentary? Do you suggest that people should not care to use their eye faculties to avoid killing insects?

From the commentary, I interpret that a bhikku (or anyone following the first precept) must actively try not to step into insects when walking. It seems quite clear that the point raised by Buddha is that the bhikku in question, Cakkhupala, is blind, and so unable to not step into insects while walking.


I just assume they’re not on the ground in front of me unless I see any. I have a habit of looking at the ground though.