Clarifying the Truth

Spiritual Consequences of Killing, Abortion, and Taking Animal Life

My Master said the consequences that follow from taking life are so great. When the term “killing” was used in early Buddhism it mainly referred to taking human life, which is the most serious form of it. Later on, the killing of large creatures such as livestock and other larger animals also came to be regarded as serious.

Let’s consider why religious communities have always held the taking of life to be so serious. There is a Buddhist teaching that a life ended prematurely becomes a lost soul or “wild ghost,” and so services have traditionally been performed to save these lives from purgatory. As the teaching goes, were they not rescued from purgatory, they would have to go without food or drink and be trapped in a terrible predicament.

We hold that when a person wrongs someone he gives the other party a substantial amount of virtue as compensation. This applies to regular transgressions. But suddenly ending a life, be it that of an animal or another creature, is a sizeable sin and generates a lot of karma.

Prohibitions against taking life used to mainly apply to taking human life, since the karma that’s made is sizeable. But killing an average creature isn’t minor, either, and it directly generates a lot of karma, too.

The Seriousness of Taking Life

We’ve found that when a person is born, many and many of him are born at the same time within a certain range of the space of this universe. They look the same, have the same name, and do things that are more or less the same. So, it’s fitting to consider them part of his whole being.

This causes a problem, then: if one of the beings (and this goes for other large animals too) dies all of a sudden, and the him in all other dimensions hasn’t finished the course of life that was originally arranged, and they still have a lot more years to live, then the person who died will fall into a situation where he has no resting place, and he’ll float around in the space of the universe.

So this is what people in the past thought of as lost souls or wild ghosts who have nothing to eat or drink, and who suffer terribly. And they may have been right about that. What we can say for sure is that those lives are stuck in a most frightening predicament. They must wait on and on until their counterparts in each dimension have all finished their courses of life, and only then may they go together to their next destination.

The longer the wait, the greater the suffering. And with greater suffering, more karma will go onto the body of the killer, since he caused this pain. You can just imagine how much karma the killer would accrue. This is what we have observed with higher vision.

We have also seen that when a person incarnates in this world, the design of his entire life is present in another, specific dimension, and everything that is supposed to take place in his life is already laid out there. And naturally, it was higher beings who planned it all out.

It is owing to them that when someone is born into this world he belongs to a certain family, attends a certain school, and once he grows up he works for a certain entity, and in this manner becomes linked with society in multifaceted ways. And from this, we can glean that this world, on a larger scale, is in fact well mapped out.

When a life comes to a premature end, however, and no longer follows the designs that were originally in place, it means that a change has occurred. So whoever it was that fouled things up will not be forgiven by the higher being who made the designs. As a person of faith, you wish to reach higher realms, but how could your spiritual efforts take you there if beings above won’t forgive you?

In some cases, the teacher of the person who took life will be in trouble as well, since his level won’t have surpassed that of the higher being [who planned the life of the prematurely deceased]. And so he will be sent down along with the killer. So this is terribly serious, as you can see. Spiritual practice is very challenging for someone who has taken life.

Killing in Times of War

It’s possible that some of you have fought in times of war. Those wars were states of affairs brought about by larger, cosmic events, and you were but one tiny part of those affairs. For cosmic events to unfold there have to be people carrying things out and bringing about certain states of affairs.

Since those affairs had to do with larger changes, you aren’t entirely to blame for what you may have done. The karma we are concerned with is the kind that stems from willfully doing wrong for selfish reasons, for your own gain, or to protect your own things. You won’t be held accountable for things done owing to changes in the greater dimension or to changes in the larger designs of society.

The Nuance of Taking Life

Animals and plants count as lives, just as humans do; everything is alive in other dimensions. When your inner eye has reached the level of the dharma eye, you may find that stones, walls, or any object might speak to you and greet you.

Some people might find it disconcerting to think that the grains and vegetables they consume are alive, and that now they might have to just passively let any flies or mosquitoes that get into their homes bite them and contaminate their food.

While I am saying that we can’t harm living things without reason or on a whim, I’m not talking about being a mister nice guy and fretfully sweat over every little thing, to the point that you jump around as you walk just to avoid stepping on ants.

I’d say it would be so tiring for you to live that way. Wouldn’t that be another attachment? And besides, you might still crush many microorganisms while hopping around trying to avoid ants; there are many microscopic life forms, such as fungi and bacteria, that you might unintentionally kill.

Living becomes impossible if you go to such extremes. So that’s not the kind of person we want to be. A spiritual life would be impossible, in that case. You should focus on the big things and practice with confidence and dignity.

As human beings, we are entitled to sustain our lives, and so our material surroundings should suit our life needs. While we mustn’t harm any living things intentionally, we shouldn’t become overly petty about things either. For example, we shouldn’t stop consuming vegetables and grains just because they are alive. With that approach to life, spiritual practice wouldn’t be possible.

(The above is an excerpt from “Zhuan Falun” (The Seventh Talk) by Master Li Hong Zhi)

Is Abortion Considered Killing and Murder?

Yes, an abortion during pregnancy is killing. It doesn’t matter how human morality has become, or whether humankind or its laws permit it, human laws can’t represent God’s laws. If you’ve killed, you’ve killed. You might argue that according to the law you didn’t kill—that’s what humans say.

We’ve found that in the space surrounding maternity hospitals, there are many babies with nowhere to go—they’re missing body parts, or they do have complete bodies, but they’re all young, small lives of babies. Originally, these lives had reincarnated, and they might have had their own futures and might have lived for a number of years and then entered another cycle of reincarnation.

But you go and kill one of these lives before he’s even born. Then he has to struggle painfully through these long years—that little being all by himself, it’s so sad!

He has to wait until all of his years on earth allotted by heaven are over, and only then can he enter the next cycle of reincarnation. So you suddenly thrust him into such a painful situation—can you say that’s not killing? What’s more, the karma from doing this is quite large.

(Excerpts from Fa Teaching Given at a Meeting in New York by Master Li Hong Zhi)

Why is There Are Many “Him” Simultaneously in Other Dimensions of the Universe?

That’s how complicated the universe’s composition is. At the time when you are born, there is a “you” born in many, many dimensions. You look just about the same, do almost the same things, have the same name, are born at the same time, and die at the same time, but the quality of life is different.

How are they related to you? I just said, they are born at the same time and die at the same time, and other than this there isn’t any other major connection. I said that you are born at the same time, and that means that if they were not born, you couldn’t be born, even if you wanted to be. And if they didn’t die, then it would be very hard to die even if you wanted to.

So the reason those “lonesome spirits and homeless ghosts” that people used to talk about can’t reincarnate is that not all of the “hims” have died. Only one of the “hims” committed suicide and insisted on dying, so he doesn’t have any place to go after dying. He has to wait until all the living ones have completed their life journeys before they can look for their destiny together.

(Excerpts from “Teachings at the Conference in the Western U.S” by Master Li Hong Zhi)