Thursday, 1 March 2012

Compassion for the Mosquito

Human evolution and the annoyance of the mosquito has been the topic of a lot of conversations here in Vietnam these days. "Why is it so annoying" someone asked "if it did not sing with a flute and make me itch after it bite I would not care so much about it".

What biologists tell us is that the itchiness and annoyance from the sound is our own body's reaction for dealing with the mosquito. Our ancestors who were the most annoyed and bothered by mosquitos were most likely to survive. - They did not get malaria, did not get sickness and die and therefore they were most likely to reproduce and make more humans. - We are the children of these ancient humans, the ones who were the most annoyed. Our bodies, which get a swelling itchy spot from the bite, and wake up in the middle of the night to swat and scratch are a gift from our ancestors. The bodies that gave them the most happiness and the easiest life are the bodies we have now.

What about fleas, bedbugs, mites, lice. Clearly what they all want is what we want: to be comfortable, to live well, to do what comes next. Are they compassionate in that quest? They sacrifice and risk life to our swatting and scratching so that they can give life to their children. Do they also make sacrifices for us? For the birds? As they die and become food for birds which sing and fly and inspire us.
Do they show appreciation? As they fly away full and singing...

Though the Buddha said this about annoying people, it is still instructive for dealing with mosquitoes:

Five ways to stop being annoyed from the Aghatapativinaya Sutta:

Onlooking equanimity
Forgetting and ignoring
Ownership of deeds

'This good person is owner of his deeds, heir to his deeds, his deeds are the womb from which he is born, his deeds are his kin for whom he is responsible, his deeds are his refuge, he is heir to his deeds, be they good or bad.'

- Buddha (Aghatapativinaya Sutta)
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