"Our prime purpose in this life is to help others," observes His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. "And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them."
The Dutch translator for His Holiness, Berthe Jansen, brings these teachings down to some of the smallest among us: children's relationship with insects. Some kids have it out for bugs; others are simply unconscious of the these tiny beings' right to live.
Jansen introduces us to Bu, a child walking in the park in hopes of meeting new friends. There Bu meets a boy intent on killing a bee before it stings him, a girl poking a spider with a stick, and a girl who nearly steps on a beetle while she's running, oblivious to the life around her. In each case, Bu stops the harm and encourages the others to recognize that bugs can be scared, just like we can. They deserve our protection.
In her Author's Note, Jansen explains how shocked her daughter was at age five — after they moved from the Dalai Lama's residence back to the Netherlands — to see children on the playground killing bugs even when she begged them to stop. "In the Tibetan community where we had lived back in India, people — inspired by their Buddhist beliefs — were always careful not to harm any living creatures, saving even the smallest, like bugs, whenever possible." Jansen wrote this book to help children ages three through seven realize that they could inspire others to follow their lead in protecting the welfare of all beings, insects included.
Her story reminded us of one of our favorite videos, in which journalist and news commentator Bill Moyers asks the Dalai Lama, "Does this reverence for all living things mean I shouldn't have hit that mosquito that just bit me here?" Listen to the Dalai Lama's delightful and carefully tiered response:
Note: Contrary to the video's title, the Dalai Lama does not kill any mosquitoes in this video.