To Kill Or Not To Kill?

  • Kay Urlich

*I do my best to love all creatures, however I don’t love flies! I don't know about you, but I cant stand flies buzzing around my head and over my legs when I’m trying to read, crawling all over the food when I’m trying to eat, leaving germs and deposits everywhere they go that could seriously affect my health.

I’ve tried to eradicate flies without harming myself or my family. Therefore I seldom use sprays and insect repellents; I do my best to squash them with a fly swatter. Whether I spray, stomp or squash them, however I do it, it feels right. I am more than happy to exterminate flies.

My happiness at having a fly free home however is fleeting, because very quickly my mind is invaded by an army of guilty thoughts; these thoughts torment me with the story of the Buddhist Monks who in their loving kindness, scrambled over themselves to save a lone fly that had fallen into someone’s cup of tea.

Why do you think only of yourself, why can’t you be more loving to all creatures; why can’t you be as loving as a Buddhist Monk?” my accusing mind demands answers even as I raise my arm, my hand gripped tightly around the swatter, to whack at a fly - that sees me coming and casually lifts off from its place on my chair. As I watch it go, my intent to be as loving and compassionate as a Buddhist Monk completely evaporates - my desire to eradicate the fly nudges itself fully inflamed to the surface - in a relentless frenzied state with arm still raised, I rise to attack, and chase that fly around the room.


As my rampage ends, the guilt I feel begins to consume me: night and day, my thoughts are tormenting me worse than the flies ever did. Then to justify my behavior, because in all fairness to my self and anyone else who has ever killed a fly, I know; I talk to my friends and they agree, that its easier for Buddhist Monks to refrain from violence toward flies, because they don’t have the same problems with flies that we have! This is because:

1. Buddhist Monk’s live high in cold mountains where flies are few and far between!

2. Flies do not come in the big swarming masses there, as they do in warmer climates like here!

It sounds good to me, but still, I pray constantly for the universe to ease my troubled mind and to get rid of my problems.

But neither prayer nor justification are working: I cannot control my own thoughts; my troubled, fragmented mind responds of its own volition and begins to answer its own accusations…

Meanwhile, to gain some control and to calm my distressed state, I tell myself – that, I’ve tried hard to catch flies as harmlessly as I do with spiders; by putting a glass jar over them then putting them outside, but they see me coming and fly off just before I get there! ..... I’ve tried throwing a towel over them as I would with a frightened bird, but the flies became squashed anyway!

But nothing relieves me from the ugly truth: nothing can relieve me from the fact that – I am a fly killer!


With this new realization I began to worry about my eternal damnation. I wonder how I can put things right. I also began to ask myself - where I had gone so wrong - then I remembered a quote by American poet Edward Hodnet who said: "If you do not ask the right question you do not get the right answers. A question asked in its right way often points to its own answer."

I realized I needed to change the question! Instead of asking, what’s the best way to get rid of flies? I began to ask:

Could I possibly, ever, be as loving toward flies as a Buddhist Monk?

• Or, failing that, if I couldn’t love them, could I at least learn to live harmoniously with them?

With teeth grinding and hands now gripping my knees, I try to ignore the flies buzzing around me, while still listening out for the universe to send me my answer. But time stretched and the answer to my dilemma continued to elude me. I was about to give up on my quest for the universe to teach me how to be as thoughtful and kind as a Buddhist Monk and resolve my murderous tendencies, when at last they sent the solution in the form of a child.


It’s a bit like the story you all know about the man whose house was surrounded by flood water. He went onto the roof and prayed for god to save him. A helicopter flew by and the pilot said we will lift you off. "Don’t worry," said the man "god will save me." Moments later the house broke up and he found himself clinging to a tree. A police boat came by but again he told the police, "I’m okay God will save me." Finally, the tree gave way and the man drowned. When he got to heaven he questioned God, “I’m glad to be here, but why didn’t you answer my prayers and save me?” God replied, “I did, I sent you a helicopter, and I sent you a boat …!

A few years ago I bought my grandson a little fishing net. He ran joyfully, swishing it around the room and quite by accident caught a fly. With no harm done, we went into the garden and turned the net inside out and released the fly, to my relief, alive. The answer to my dilemma was right under my nose.


Chasing flies with a net might sound like hard work to your mind. But amazingly, as we continued to catch flies in this gentle way, a strange thing began to happen – we began to get fewer flies.

The adult mind goes too far when it ignores the simple, innocent answers that the universe constantly sends us; that are right under our nose. Like the man in the flood, real solutions are far closer than we expect, and they can come from a child. I found that my adult mind can save me from falling out the window or getting run over while crossing the road, but its fearful thoughts can seduce me into thinking that to be happy I must eliminate all my problems. I’ve found in the long run, that this is not wholly conducive to my mental health. 



Life has taught me that what goes on in our personal environment expands with collusion, into global action: such as terrorists who begin their rein of terror as domestic abusers.

Or, like the people with their personal fears and predatory agendas who got together and called themselves Nazi’s and tried to exterminate the Jews.

Just as Muslims and Christians, or the Jewish and Palestinian peoples cannot eradicate  each other, no matter how long and hard they try.

None of us can forcibly eliminate our problems; we just cause more misery to our own hearts and minds and prevent the continuation of our own evolution - and this is the legacy we would leave our children.



The Universe is right here within us and around us, working through us, and it is by changing the dynamics of our own energy and environment that we will create real and permanent change to the age-old problems that have plagued humanity. Like living with flies, those answers are to be found within consciousness that connects us on much deeper levels to our environment and to the process of our evolution.

To create workable evolutionary change, we need to ask the right questions now, such as:

• Do we want peace and evolution or do we want to be right?

• Do we want safety from warlike technology and pollutants?

• Do we want to pass the legacy of horror, death and destruction to our children and their unborn children and their children?



What were once relentless personal and social burdens, not to mention extremely bad for everybody’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health, can become peaceful and uniting exercises. It starts right now with just one person, me, deciding to make the change.

Universal Wisdom can work through each of us in its mysterious, wonderful and magical ways... Gentle, workable answers are found and new loving ways forward formed.

Ask the right questions and you can find the right answers: answers, that the fearful human mind can only dream of.

Try it, it works, even with flies!


(*Edited. Article previously published)


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