I am not a devout Buddhist. While I subscribe and love much of the tenets of Buddhism, especially the Mahayana sect, I cannot be part of any organized religion. So naturally, when killing nuisance pests was the question posed to his holiness the Dalai Lama, this came to mind. Someone asked him what he thought about swatting a mosquito and he evasively smiled and gave some answer that naturally did not offend either sides. The philosophy of non-killing can also be done dogmatically as we very well know. My first spiritual teacher often said that he would have killed defending the life of his guru. Why not? After all, non-action, in this case can be damning as well, and as the result the wrong party could perish. We all incur some negative Karma throughout our lives "so when make a mistake, make a big one", he often said.
As a friend to Buddhist philosophy, I was a committed non-violence subscriber until my house was invaded by feral pigeons.
For quite a long time I did nothing. I did some research on the Internet, and started to get violent thoughts.
There was a nest of a pigeon family right above the side entrance way and a fair amount of pigeon poop was on our doorstep daily. There were several generations born into that nest and they come back to the same place to nest, following their honing instinct.
So, I've bought an air rifle. There were some other alternatives, like placing some unfriendly spikes and objects on the top of the roof where they like to land. But that seldom works, plugging the nest with these substances may have worked but we live in a rental house. We cannot alter things willy-nilly. We have a great absentee landlord, living in Colorado and we cannot ask them to come back and make the pigeons somehow magically go away.
So, I have started shooting them. That works. There is no more pigeons poop and diseased feathers and dirt. I have made two nests on our roof empty and they have been empty for quite sometime.
First, I felt no remorse at all. Pigeons are rats with wings after all. Why was I doing something bad? The last time I shot down a family of birds, frequenting the house next to us, something has happened. I have realized that I was killing a family of creatures, that mate for life. There are the papa pigeons and mama pigeons and the little ones, too many of course. Pigeons breed rapidly and they love sex.
So why was I feeling remorse? Well, after some contemplation I have realized that I was killing pigeons on the neighbours house and those pigeons bothered me none. After I've killed one the other came back looking for his mate. He waited there looking, and I shot him. They have a right to live just as much as I have the right to live; philosophically speaking of course. Also I have realized that I was becoming more morose and inward looking, unfriendly...I was losing my mojo. I have realized that we are creatures driven mainly by our hidden, subconscious mind. Killing pigeons was not good for me. I did not realize it first but it had become quite apparent - I've achieved my goal, the pests were gone but I was becoming more miserable by the number of pigeons I was shooting down. By killing pigeons I was slowly killing my own soul. This is when I realized the truth the old saying holds. By harming others you also harm yourself. As we are all one, a big hodgepodge of life and souls, all in it together.