Cutting the Grass
Q: When I mow the lawn, am I karmically responsible for the deaths of the insects in the grass? During the springs and summers I cut grass for several elderly people in my town, including my grandmother. With spring soon approaching, I find myself torn between helping them and respecting the lives of the sentient beings in the grass.
A: If we examine our lives closely we find that we kill countless numbers of living beings every day. In our carpets, on the highway, in our bodies and in innumerable other locations there are living beings whose demise is caused by the simplest and most innocent of our actions. The key is intention. When actions are done with the intention of doing harm, harmful karma results. We also must consider the consequences of non-action. If someone's grass is allowed to grow unchecked, for example, there is the possibility of an infestation of ants, fleas or other insects which can be harmful to humans and animals.
Aside from not deliberately killing living beings through craving, hatred or ignorance, what we can also do is to extend our compassion to those living beings who are likely to be harmed by our actions, wishing them a fortunate rebirth. I often do this before and after driving my car, for it's a certainty that some living beings will be killed by the simple action of my traveling from one place to another.