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Dear Matthew:

A while ago I was trying to figure out what to do about a huge ant infestation in my house. I got to thinking that when most people have a house full of ants or cockroaches, they can go to the store and buy a spray or something or they can call an exterminator. But what do Buddhists do when they have a house full of bugs?

-- Ant Buster, San Diego

Ah, grasshopper, you have come to the correct universal source for all obscure knowledge. No profound fountain of facts is complete without a direct connection to the wisdom of the Buddhadharma, though most of you seem to ask questions better answered by Caltrans or the DMV. No matter. The Buddhist priest on Team Matthew Alice is nothing if not patient. Finally, his moment has come, and he does not disappoint.

When placed in the situation you describe or any other in which human health or life is at stake, one must ask, which sentient being stands the greatest chance of reaching Enlightenment and leading others there? Our answer, of course, is not the cockroach or the ant but the human being. "But all creatures have been, countless times, our mother, protecting and loving us, and we naturally wish them not to suffer," says our priest. So "one respectfully makes this painful choice and prays that the creatures that are killed may quickly achieve conditions in which they can take on human form and respond to the Buddhadharma. There are prayers to advance these unfortunate creatures on their journey and by which we do not take on negative karma for the act.... It [is] best to pray before, during, and after the act of killing," and in fact pray this every day "as part of our intention to help all beings transcend suffering and reach Enlightenment."

So, grasshopper, your answer seems to be, they pray, they squish, they pray.

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