Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Killing Bugs and Inner Peace

 by Bennett Gordon


Tags: Spirituality, bugs, anger, Buddhism, Shambhala Sun,

Killing CockroachesA cockroach scuttling across the floor sends most people in search of an exterminator (or a rolled up newspaper). Gabriel Cohen, writing for Shambhala Sun, went looking for spiritual peace: “Something primal overwhelms me and I want to kill it, this nasty invader of my space. Instead, I pause and think.” 

This urge to kill stems from fear, according to Cohen. Thinking logically about the threat posed by this tiny cockroach, and seeing the world from the cockroach’s point of view, Cohen finds other ways of dealing with the infestation. Admitting that he doesn’t know if his approach is the correct one, Cohen instead opts to ward off bugs with citronella candles and scoop up any bugs he finds and toss them outside. It’s part of an approach that, Cohen writes, “challenges us to be just a little less cruel, a touch more kind, a tad less angry, a sigh more patient.”

Image by Daniel Gomez, licensed under Creative Commons.

Source: Shambhala Sun (article not available online)

rick raab-faber
5/25/2009 3:31:48 PM

The last place i lived was a single story four-plex that had a roach problem -- not from a cleanliness issue. It was just in one of those parts of Albuquerque (like around the arroyos) that tends to have roaches. We have many areas of town were, at night, they just come out across your lawn and hang out on the patio. Anyway, in this apartment, I would get an average of 4 to 8 of them come in through a crack under the baseboards in the bathroom. They didn't get in my food or bedroom. I only ever saw them in the bathroom and the hallway. So I made a deal with them. I left a compost heap out in the back by the patio. Then i laid down the law with them. I would leave them the heap to hang out in, but if they came in the house, they were mine. For a couple of months the roaches held up their part of the bargain. Every now and then, some young punk would wander in. I'd apologize as I'd scoop them into the dustpan. "Sorry, dude. You know the rule." then I'd dump it in the toilet and flush. I figured that, survivors that they are, roaches could probably hold their breath for a while. Or not. It was their choice entirely. In the whole course of the thing, I came to some sort of cosmic understanding of the little buggers. I wasn't revolted, or angry, or freaked out. They were just insects; Foreigners who'd crossed my borders. They had different customs than me. Eventually, we'd meet up in the hallway in the wee hours as I stumbled to take a leak. "Take a hike, pal," I'd mumble. And that was that.