I don’t kill bugs. Or at least as I lumber my way through creation, I do my best not to. Upon spotting a bug in my house, be it ant, spider, Sliver Spotted Ghost Moth or some other creepy crawly, a mini-emergency task force is immediately dispatched to the scene. Equipped with rescue gear consisting of glass and mid-sized magazine, I gently shepherd the wayward creature into the container, safely cover the opening with the publication, and respectfully show the little beastie the door. They’re set outside to continue crawling, creeping, or scuttling about the remaining corners of planet earth to their tiny hearts’ content.
It’s unclear exactly when this practice became part of my repertoire, but I’ve definitely embraced it. With my immense size and strength (comparatively), I try not to keep my security from being threatened by such a little creature, especially one that, per some of the Eastern spiritual paths, is an evolving life form. How the theory of evolution negates the miracle of life or disproves God’s hand in the process is something I’ve never quite gotten, but that may be a whole other post.
The origin of my bug hugging MAY have been a Zen Archery retreat I attended in Vermont several years back, when I was first exposed to spiritual practice. After noticing several large tufts of spider webs in the corners of the retreat house with oversized spiders included, I asked if Buddhists had a fondness for arachnids. “No, but we do have a reverence for life,” explained the house manager. “And we uphold Ahimsa, the principal meaning non-violence, or to do no harm.”
Like I said, I’m not sure when I adopted the Ahimsa code. But one thing I AM sure of, and that’s that my Mother does not share my belief system.
My Mom will smash perceived pests as fast as she spots them, with a glaring lack of delicacy. “Darn ANTS!” she’ll huff as she lowers the boom of her flattened hand or napkin or broom. She’s like the personification of a can of Raid, as she kills bugs dead. In my head, I hear myself saying, “Mom, you know, there’s an important tenet of the Indian religions called Ahimsa that means kindness toward all living things, including animals. It’s a respect for all living beings as a unity, believing that everything is connected. Gandhi strongly believed in the principle, and so do I. It’s linked to the notion that any kind of violence entails negative karmic consequences.”
In reality, I don’t say any of this. Because by the time my Mom has a bead on a bug, it’s over. So I try keeping the peace between my Mom and the local insect population in alternative ways. Gently sweeping out the garage corners - dirty webs, silk egg sacks and all – I explain to the residents there that there's a new sheriff in town, and they should lay low if they have any hope of seeing the end of the summer. I imagine that if spider’s had a voice, they’d respond in a soothingly warm and intelligent way, like that famous grey barn spider Charlotte. And I’m on the lookout for a gracefully woven “Terrific” or “Thanks man!” sometime soon.