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.

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Comment by Deb on August 21, 2015 at 9:38am

I know this is an old post, but I happened upon it today and it blew me away.  I think this is a cross-road that all seekers come to as some point, in some way.  Moving on past the philosophy of it, the pigeon(s) have given you a great gift, so you must thank them for this, and reflect on the magnitude of their gift, however large you feel that to be.  In a way, perhaps you drew them to you, to provide an opportunity for growth for you.  In any case, I looked up something about pigeons as spirit guides or power animals - whatever.  I thought it very interesting:  

Dove Pigeon Power Animal Symbol Of Peace Love Maternity Gentleness ...

Dove/Pigeon’s gifts include – bringer of peace and love, understanding of gentleness, spirit messenger, communication between the two worlds, maternity, femininity, prophecy.

The Dove represents peace of the deepest kind. It soothes and quiets our worried and troubled thoughts, and enables us to find renewal in the silence of mind. In these moments of stillness we are able to appreciate the simple things in life. 

You can Google "spirit animal pigeon" and find the above site and others as well.  I often read many and kind of get a synthesis of what they are all driving at when I'm hunting for understanding about a spirit animal.  Anyway I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents even if I'm nearly 3 and a half years late!  LOL  :-D

Comment by John on March 10, 2012 at 8:55am

on a slightly different note.

The way theosophy would work here is: 1) the bird forms an image in the mind 2)  the object (bird) also reflects the mind back, and 3) the two identify with each other (to a smaller or greater extent) so that even the emotions can be an experience..
This is part of the various uses of Imagination (Imaging, magining) which lead to an identification.

Comment by andrasnm on March 10, 2012 at 8:24am

My cat is very much of a coward - THAT is a personality trait. He is not an outdoor cat.He ventures out of course, If I leave the door open he is calmer and happier. If I close it, often he gets agitated and panicy. Don't you have a pet like a Dog or a cat? with them it is easy to see individual traits that go beyond instincts or pure animalistic behaviour,

Comment by Cees Slob on March 10, 2012 at 8:18am

I do not understand when you talk about the '' personality" of an animal.

Comment by John on March 10, 2012 at 1:17am

every animal in our house (we have a lot of different types. Dogs, cats, Birds) has a distinct personality, intelligence and emotions.
Surprisingly - The Birds are the most intelligent.  (surprising to me). They can do anything, include making tools and solving complex problems. Never use a combination lock on a bird cage. Do so at your own risk.

Every bug in our house goes outside - carried. However - the spiders do not (I won that with my wife. spiders in a house are good; except for two species - they can stay depending upon their personality).   

since we are hitting speculation now...
I believe they have soul and spirit.  A human is not special. Consciousness, developed into free will, cannot be distinguished as having any separate properties to "weed out" the truly dead ones.

The only "piece" of esotericism that I have found that deals with this is theosophy. The ability to use image, imagination, magination etc., and couple it with matter is somewhat special. However - do we use that as the required item to have a soul and spirit? (and, do all humans have this...?)

Comment by andrasnm on March 10, 2012 at 12:16am

My cat has a distinct personality and we "communicate" telepathically (do not laugh we have a limited vocabulary, mainly, he tells me what he wants and I usually get it, others seldom do) but that is not the same as possessing a spirit, is it? 

Comment by andrasnm on March 9, 2012 at 11:35pm

As a side note...do animals have a spirit? I suspect, they have a group soul per species. I am not sure...in a way I am lead to believe that all things - animate or inanimate have a slice of a divine, but that is not the same as Spirit. Is it?  What do you think?

Comment by John on March 9, 2012 at 10:00pm

Some things done, long ago, are hard to forgive myself for.

Currently, my approach to these things is to let nature balance.

too many mosquitoes? build more bat houses in your yard.

Pigeons a problem? They have natural predators. pick one one you can live with. (I think our local raccoons here eliminate pigeon problems, not sure. We have hawks too). 

I also have trapping cages for everything from mice to foxes to racoons.

Spring Solution for Pigeons (T. Lehrer)

Comment by ornamentalmind on March 9, 2012 at 3:13pm

While killing is approached philosophically on different levels even within Buddhist traditions, the personal wisdom shared here is the Truth.


In that spirit, when I was about 3 years old and was playing in the back yard in a garden, my mother came out to see what I was doing. I had found a night crawler and was learning about it by moving it with a stick. My mother in her wisdom told me to be careful with it “…so it can go home.” I took this in. After she had returned to the kitchen, in the process of continued experimentation of worm reactions to stick prodding, I severed it into two pieces. I watched in fascination at both parts wiggling there in the dirt. And then, in a thunderstrike my consciousness flashed on the truth that I had killed it! In abject horror, I ran as well as my little legs could carry me to the back door crying and sobbing to my mother that “Worm can’t go home!”

Comment by andrasnm on March 9, 2012 at 10:08am

Thanks for all who responded. Kirk, that bridge I will cross when I come to it...right now I will kill them no more, especially, if they are next door and do not poop all over us.....

I must learn to be more discriminating because when I was shooting them next door I was enjoying it at times, that what got to me, also when I shot one and I break their wings...they suffer for days.  

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