Three summers ago I visited a monastery in California for a week long retreat. I informed the Abbot that I was concerned because, while doing my yogi job of sweeping the streets, I was almost certainly injuring, or even killing, many ants. Given the Buddha’s teaching about not killing, I inquired about my dilemma. The Ajahn offered me a softer broom, then added: “…but we do have to keep the place clean.” I took that to mean that “intent” was part of this equation. It was not my intent to hurt the ants. Thus, no bad karma was generated? Sadly, I did not clarify that with the ever wise Ajahn. So, I pose that question here: If there is no negligence, ill will, or ill intent, and yet one’s actions inadvertently but directly injure or kill another being, is bad karma generated? I have applied that question as well to, say, the SWAT Team sniper: does he/she generate bad karma by taking the life of a criminal and thus saving a young child from imminent harm or death? Two vastly different “killing / karma” scenarios I know but perhaps related. Any thoughts or resources on this matter would be greatly appreciated.
Metta to all!