Two Quick Trivial Questions on Killing

  1. Is it considered possible for a “private buddha” to be killed? I know it is typically inferred from the 5 heavy acts that it is simply impossible to do more than draw a fully awakened buddha’s blood, but does this also imply that the same is true of a “private” buddha?

  2. Are monks allowed to kill preternatural beings? Bu Pj 3 forbids killing humans, Bu Pc 10-11 forbids gardening type activities (~ killing earth-dwelling life forms), Bu Pc 20 & 62 ~ forbid killing living beings in water, Bu Pc 61 forbids killing animals, but what about killing a ghost, hell-denizen, subject of the four great kings (nagas etc.), deva, brahma, etc.? It’s strongly implied monks are allowed to fight them, as we have stories of the Buddha & Sāgata defeating dragons in fire breathing contests, and Mahamoggallana goes to Sakka’s house and shakes it (presumably with many beings inside of it) without admonishment for the violence. But if a monk got carried away and intentionally struck a death blow against some sort of preternatural being, and then shared this news with his community, would it be viewed as an offense?

Obviously, these questions are pretty irrelevant to practice - apologies if that bothers anyone. I just suddenly got curious about it and figured this was probably a novel question.

  1. Yes, there are several narratives of them being killed in texts of the jātaka and avadāna genres. E.g., Sumaṅgala Jātaka.

  2. In the Theravada Vinaya killing an amanussa is a thullaccaya offence. So that means it’s reckoned weightier than killing an animal (a pācittiya offence) but less weighty than killing a human.

The Vibhanga states that bhikkhu who kills a “non-human being” --a yakkha, nāga, or peta-- incurs a thullaccaya. The Commentary adds a devatā to this list, and goes on to say that a spirit possessing a human being or an animal can be exorcised in either of two ways. The first is to command it to leave: This causes no injury to the spirit and results in no offense. The second is to make a doll out of flour paste or clay and then to cut off various of its parts (!). If one cuts off the hands and feet, the spirit loses its hands and feet. If one cuts off the head, the spirit dies, which is grounds for a thullaccaya. A bhikkhu who intentionally kills a common animal is treated under Pc 61.
(Ajahn Thanissaro, Buddhist Monastic Code I)