All the windows closed and the fan turned on, I tried getting to sleep. Then I heard that high frequency humming of a mosquito in my ear, and now I’m up again. This usually isn’t a problem I have in California.
When I was younger in Paris, mosquitos would fly in whenever I left the window open. I’d hear that sharp insistent buzzing by my ear, swipe at the air and roll over. But it would always come back. Never mind the precepts, it was tempting to catch and kill the bug. But my uncle had placed a statue of Guan Yin over the bed, and that was double the reason to not send the sucker onto a better life.
The routine I developed was to go downstairs and take a glass from the kitchen back up to my room. Then I’d go sit against the wall, lights off, watching my breath until I heard that shrill buzzing in my ear. As soon as I turned the lights on, without fail, she’d be sitting on the wall. I’d cup the glass over her, and set it on the floor with the mosquito trapped inside. First thing in the morning, I’d open the window and set her free.
I’m no friend of mosquitos, I have no compassion for them. My favorite scientific experiment is the one that plans to eradicate them by sterilizing thousands of males and releasing them into the wild. (Mosquitos generally mate just once.) When I’m meditating, the one sound that irritates me more than anything else is the hum of a mosquito in my ear. When I lived in more mosquito-infested climes, I bought an electric fly trap and tried rationalizing to myself that the mosquitos got zapped out of their own bad karma. (Right…)
What keeps me from killing them is the basic principle. Just find another way to deal with the situation. I’m sure I’d be a better Buddhist if I felt compassion for the mosquito, if I saw that she and I were interconnected, or if I were meditating now instead of blogging about a mosquito that’s keeping me awake. I don’t really care if killing this mosquito means I’ll be reborn as one in a future life. I just don’t want to be the sort of person who thinks that eradicating whatever you dislike is a solution. At that point, there’s really only a difference of scale between swatting an annoying mosquito and bombing an annoying country. There’s a sort of karma that’s easy to see, where the actions I undertake influences future decisions that I’ll make.
Kammassakomhi kamma-dayado kamma-yoni kamma-bandhu kamma-patisarano. Yam kammam karissami kalyanam va papakam va tassa dayado bhavissami. I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and live dependent on my actions. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir.
I guess it’s time to go get a glass and sit against the wall.