There are as many creatures on your body as there are people on Earth!

January 20, 2016: A new study on household bugs added (below the video)

1. Before the simple microscope was invented in the late 1500’s, people could see only those animals visible to the naked eye. Life seemed to explode when Van Leeuwenhoek reported the discovery of micro-organisms in 1676; he first reported numerous “microscopic creatures” in a glass of water.

With the new scientific instruments we can “see” even more minute lifeforms:

2. A new study reveals that there are numerous species of bugs — not counting the actual number–  that live in a house (which has only a few humans):

First study of arthropods in US homes finds huge biodiversity

The pdf file of the publication: Bertone-Arthropods of the great indoors-peerj-2016

3. The number of people on this Earth is insignificantly small compared to the number of other beings (seen and unseen), or even just the animals. As the above video shows, there are a huge number of living beings even on a human body; imagine how many would be on the body of an unclean animal. This is why the Buddha said it is extremely difficult to get a human birth; see, “How the Buddha Described the Chance of Rebirth in the Human Realm“.

4. It must be noted that Buddha’s disciples (and probably other Hindu yogis) were able to “see” such microscopic creatures with their abhinna powers. There is a story in the Tipitaka about a bhikkhu with abhinna powers (but not yet attained Arahanthood) once focused his powers to a glass of water that he was about to drink and saw a multitude of tiny creatures. He kept trying to filter them out and was getting distressed. The Buddha saw this and told the bhikkhu that it is not possible to live in this world without hurting other beings, but that does not count as an immoral act since the intention is not to hurt.

  • For example, if we have a wound on the head, we have to apply medication and get it healed; otherwise one may even die from that. Yet, numerous tiny creatures on the wound die when we apply the medication. There is nothing we can do to avoid it unless we are willing to risk our own life.
  • But the point is that this single human life is much more “worthy” than all those creatures multiplied many times over; see, “How to Evaluate Weights of Different Kamma“.
  • This is an important point because many people get stressed over even cleaning their house for the fear of killing insects. But if we do not keep the house clean, those insects will multiply and make the problem even bigger. One always need to look at things with a deeper understanding. The best thing to do is to keep the house clean so that insects are not attracted in the first place.
  • It is important to clarify these concepts, because it is difficult to attain any kind of calmness (samadhi) in the mind if one’s mind is agitated by such things as “Am I sitting on some unseen tiny insects and killing them?”. As long as our intent is not directed to willfully taking another life with hatred, there will not be any negative consequences.
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