Stem-cells

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Stem-cells

Postby clw_uk » Wed Mar 11, 2009 7:16 pm

Is stem cell research in line with buddhist ethics or not?
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Re: Stem-cells

Postby cooran » Wed Mar 11, 2009 8:05 pm

Hello clw_uk,

What is your understanding of what stem cell research involves?

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Re: Stem-cells

Postby cooran » Wed Mar 11, 2009 8:16 pm

Hello all,

'No Harm' Applies to Stem Cell Embryos: One Buddhist's View
Reprinted from the April 2004 issue of Science & Theology News.

Embryos bear the karmic identity of a recently-deceased individual, and so are entitled to the same moral respect as adults.

Scientists see great potential for the use of human stem cells in the treatment of many medical conditions, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, diabetes, spinal cord injuries and degenerative heart conditions. Given the emphasis that Buddhism places on the central virtues of knowledge (prajña), compassion (karua) and its long tradition of practicing medicine in the monasteries, the prospect of developing cures and treatments that alleviate human suffering should be welcomed. Buddhism, however, also places great importance on the principle of ahimsa, or non-harming, and therefore has grave reservations about any scientific procedure that destroys life - whether human or animal.

While Buddhism has no central authority competent to pronounce on ethical dilemmas, like other religions, it would appear that there is no ethical problem in principle with the therapeutic use of adult stem cells. But research involving the intentional destruction of human life, such as harvesting embryonic stem cells, is morally impermissible.
Buddhism believes in rebirth and teaches that individual human life begins at conception. The new being, bearing the karmic identity of a recently deceased individual, is therefore as entitled to the same moral respect as an adult human being. For this reason, Buddhism would see the moral issues raised by stem cell research as similar to those raised by IVF treatment involving the destruction of spare embryos and abortion, regardless of the researchers' benevolent intentions or the subsequent positive consequences of the experiments.

It would therefore be immoral for stem cell researchers to use either surplus, unwanted or frozen embryos created for IVF treatment - regardless of whether they would eventually be destroyed - or cloned human embryos specifically created for research purposes, such as the 30 blastocysts recently created in South Korea from which one new stem cell line was derived.

There are a number of different views regarding the use of stem cells taken from aborted fetuses. Some believe it is permissible since the central objection that a living being was harmed through the cell harvesting would not apply because the donor is already deceased. The situation may be analogous to cadaveric organ donation for transplantation where legally valid consent has been obtained from the next of kin. The criterion here is similar to that President Bush employed in his 2001 decision allowing U.S. government-sponsored research to utilize 60 existing embryonic stem cell lines but not to use or develop new ones.

The alternative position takes a stricter view on the question of complicity, stating that the cells obtained through abortion would be tainted by the immorality of the abortion itself and should therefore not be used. The analogy of organ donation would be challenged because the person providing the consent (usually the mother) is the same person directly responsible for the donor's death. A better analogy is with stolen money from a bank robbery used for charitable purposes, something which would still be wrong regardless of the good achieved.

There is scope for legitimate disagreement on this particular point, though the majority of Buddhists may incline toward the former position. It is interesting that Buddhists are the religious majority in the country where the latest breakthrough in stem cell research occurred. Despite the traditional Buddhist opposition to abortion, however, and the fact that abortion for social reasons is illegal, South Korea has been called an "abortion paradise," and figures of more than 1.5 million abortions yearly are often quoted. This suggests there is unresolved dissonance between Buddhist teachings and practice on the moral status of embryonic life.

Damien Keown is a reader at Goldsmiths College in London.
http://www.beliefnet.com/News/Science-R ... -View.aspx

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Re: Stem-cells

Postby clw_uk » Wed Mar 11, 2009 8:24 pm

Thanks for that Chris, adult stem cells im fine with but embryonic stem cells i have more of a moral dilema with, since its either the result of an abortion of created simply for research, however there are massive benefits to be had for the whole human race, while not justifying stem cell research i dont think one can say its evil since good does come from it


Its a difficult topic and one i cant seem to find a satisfying answer for



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Re: Stem-cells

Postby green » Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:00 pm

Food for thought...can real medicine and healing come about from intentionally taking life?

I remember in my college biology class, we had to take a frog and bang it's head so that it dies, then hook it up to measure nerve electrical currents. Only a dumb frog, right?

I wonder if it's because of this that most of the medicine that comes out from drug companies have such severe side effects.
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Re: Stem-cells

Postby Ben » Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:26 pm

green wrote:Food for thought...can real medicine and healing come about from intentionally taking life?

I remember in my college biology class, we had to take a frog and bang it's head so that it dies, then hook it up to measure nerve electrical currents. Only a dumb frog, right?

I wonder if it's because of this that most of the medicine that comes out from drug companies have such severe side effects.


That would suggest that the patient would inherit the kamma of the research scientist. We know from Buddhist doctrine that isn't the case.
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Re: Stem-cells

Postby Rui Sousa » Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:27 pm

One source for stem cells, that would not involve the destruction of life, is the umbilical cord.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umbilical_cord
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Re: Stem-cells

Postby green » Fri Mar 13, 2009 12:02 am

Ben wrote:
green wrote:Food for thought...can real medicine and healing come about from intentionally taking life?

I remember in my college biology class, we had to take a frog and bang it's head so that it dies, then hook it up to measure nerve electrical currents. Only a dumb frog, right?

I wonder if it's because of this that most of the medicine that comes out from drug companies have such severe side effects.


That would suggest that the patient would inherit the kamma of the research scientist. We know from Buddhist doctrine that isn't the case.
Kind regards

Ben


Kamma outside of the patita samutpada is non-Buddhist doctrine. We are "interrelated" through kamma.

Someone taking your medicine is directly relating himself to you.
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Re: Stem-cells

Postby jcsuperstar » Fri Mar 13, 2009 12:29 am

green wrote:
Ben wrote:
green wrote:Food for thought...can real medicine and healing come about from intentionally taking life?

I remember in my college biology class, we had to take a frog and bang it's head so that it dies, then hook it up to measure nerve electrical currents. Only a dumb frog, right?

I wonder if it's because of this that most of the medicine that comes out from drug companies have such severe side effects.


That would suggest that the patient would inherit the kamma of the research scientist. We know from Buddhist doctrine that isn't the case.
Kind regards

Ben


Kamma outside of the patita samutpada is non-Buddhist doctrine. We are "interrelated" through kamma.

Someone taking your medicine is directly relating himself to you.


would that make me somehow apart of the holocaust because i drive a VW? it was a product of nazi germany just as the medicine you talk about is a product of that doctor...
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Re: Stem-cells

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Mar 13, 2009 12:37 am

Hi Green,

green wrote:Kamma outside of the patita samutpada is non-Buddhist doctrine. We are "interrelated" through kamma.


Agreed.

Someone taking your medicine is directly relating himself to you.


This sounds more like a Hua Yen take on dependent arising (such as that popularized by Thich Nhat Hanh) than a Theravadin one.

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Re: Stem-cells

Postby green » Fri Mar 13, 2009 2:29 am

'This venerable one is the doer of his actions, heir to his actions, born of his actions, related by his actions, and has his actions as his arbitrator. Whatever action he does, for good or for evil, to that will he fall heir.'
AN 5.161

In other words, we are all born and related to one another through our actions.

Are you guys saying that :
IF Dr. making medicine through hurting other living beings
THEN someone TAKING A MEDICINE BY THAT PERSON or organization (drug company),
and both are putthujana. :smile:

They ARE NOT RELATING eachother TO ONE ANOTHER's kamma?

Are you saying Kamma is not dependantly coarising and that is NOT patitya samutpada. That is an incorrect understanding of kamma. Buddha clearly states, we are related through our kamma.
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Re: Stem-cells

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:10 am

Greetings Green,

green wrote:Buddha clearly states, we are related through our kamma.


You and I aren't related through our kamma, but each isolated nama-rupa complex (Green or Retrofuturist, for example) is related to its own previous states (and conventionally speaking, previous lives) by kamma.

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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Stem-cells

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:41 am

Hi Green,

green wrote:In other words, we are all born and related to one another through our actions.



That's not how "kammabandhu" is understood in the Theravada. If the word is translated according to the commentarial understanding it would not be "related by one's actions", but rather, "having kamma as one's relative." In line with the stock commentarial gloss:

    kammaṃ mayhaṃ bandhu ñātakoti kammabandhu

    "Kamma is my relative, my relation, thus I am kammabandhu."

Are you guys saying that :
IF Dr. making medicine through hurting other living beings
THEN someone TAKING A MEDICINE BY THAT PERSON or organization (drug company),
and both are putthujana. :smile:

They ARE NOT RELATING eachother TO ONE ANOTHER's kamma?


One can certainly trace a connection between the producer of the medicine and its consumer, but this connection is not a matter of kamma and its vipāka.

Are you saying Kamma is not dependantly coarising and that is NOT patitya samutpada.


No, I'm saying that you are extending the scope of kamma beyond that which was taught by the Buddha. To get a proper idea of its scope I would suggest you read the suttas on kamma at Access to Insight and chapter 5 of the Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
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Re: Stem-cells

Postby Mawkish1983 » Fri Mar 13, 2009 7:19 am

Dhammanando wrote:I would suggest you read the suttas on kamma at Access to Insight

Do it! There is a whole section at Access to Insight about Kamma with loads of relevent suttas! It's a great learning tool, takes out the guess work!
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Re: Stem-cells

Postby green » Sat Mar 14, 2009 12:02 am

First and foremost, the only reason we are discussing this is because this is a forum...no Buddhist really wastes time on matters of Kamma or claims to understand it's working. Anyone who claims to have understood the workings of kamma as Buddha taught it, is incorrect.



§ 22. "These four imponderables are not to be speculated about. Whoever speculates about them would go mad & experience vexation. Which four? The Buddha-range of the Buddhas [i.e., the range of powers a Buddha develops as a result of becoming a Buddha]... The jhana-range of one absorbed in jhana [i.e., the range of powers that one may obtain while absorbed in jhana]... The results of kamma... Speculation about [the first moment, purpose, etc., of] the cosmos is an imponderable that is not to be speculated about. Whoever speculates about these things would go mad & experience vexation."

— AN 4.77



Now having said this, let us speculate... :smile:

When a doctor kills, or experiments with living beings -- he does create mixed kamma (some bad (he hurt beings), some good(to help save lives))

- How Dr.s kamma affects the medicine -- it can be good or bad.
- a person who then takes this medicine -- can also be affected (serious side affects or not affected (lucky this time)

Only a Buddha has the capability of seeing the full interactions. But to say that kamma works in isolation is also incorrect.
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Re: Stem-cells

Postby Dhammanando » Sat Mar 14, 2009 2:49 am

Hi Green,

green wrote:First and foremost, the only reason we are discussing this is because this is a forum...no Buddhist really wastes time on matters of Kamma or claims to understand it's working. Anyone who claims to have understood the workings of kamma as Buddha taught it, is incorrect.


Note that in the sutta that you then quote it is not kamma, but rather vipāka, that is designated acinteyya. The meaning is that determining whether such and such result was the ripening of this or that past action as beyond the scope of ratiocination. (That does not mean, however, that it is beyond all possible modes of cognising).

Now having said this, let us speculate... :smile:

When a doctor kills, or experiments with living beings -- he does create mixed kamma (some bad (he hurt beings), some good(to help save lives))

- How Dr.s kamma affects the medicine -- it can be good or bad.


The medicine is just inanimate rūpa. Only animated rūpa (i.e. the bodies of sentient beings) can be (partly) kamma-produced. In the Theravadin understanding inanimate rūpa, such as medicines, rocks, rivers etc. has no relationship with kamma whatsoever. This was a major point on which the Theravadins differed with other schools at the Third Council: the Theravadin list of things due to kamma was a great deal shorter than those of most other schools.

- a person who then takes this medicine -- can also be affected (serious side affects or not affected (lucky this time)


No. Kamma accumulates in the mental continua of living beings, not in external matter.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
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    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
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Re: Stem-cells

Postby green » Sat Mar 14, 2009 1:28 pm

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Green,

green wrote:First and foremost, the only reason we are discussing this is because this is a forum...no Buddhist really wastes time on matters of Kamma or claims to understand it's working. Anyone who claims to have understood the workings of kamma as Buddha taught it, is incorrect.


Note that in the sutta that you then quote it is not kamma, but rather vipāka, that is designated acinteyya. The meaning is that determining whether such and such result was the ripening of this or that past action as beyond the scope of ratiocination. (That does not mean, however, that it is beyond all possible modes of cognising).



Good morning (or evening depending on where you are) Bhante :anjali: :

Kamma and vipaka cannot be discussed independently. In this discussion we are indeed discussing vipaka, the result of different kamma of a dr. and a person who might be taking medicine.

Now having said this, let us speculate... :smile:

When a doctor kills, or experiments with living beings -- he does create mixed kamma (some bad (he hurt beings), some good(to help save lives))

- How Dr.s kamma affects the medicine -- it can be good or bad.

The medicine is just inanimate rūpa. Only animated rūpa (i.e. the bodies of sentient beings) can be (partly) kamma-produced. In the Theravadin understanding inanimate rūpa, such as medicines, rocks, rivers etc. has no relationship with kamma whatsoever. This was a major point on which the Theravadins differed with other schools at the Third Council: the Theravadin list of things due to kamma was a great deal shorter than those of most other schools.



Food/medicine is not inanimate rupa, these products are derived from sentient beings and many times tested on sentient beings. Drugs are mostly derived from plants, animal products which are further chemically isolated and refined (particularly modern drugs). And of course, here we are talking about the possibility of using drugs/chemicals derived from human embryos.
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/ ... ekey=52324

Since medicine for the most part, is derived from sentient beings, it is subject to kamma vipaka interactions.

:anjali:
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Re: Stem-cells

Postby Dhammanando » Sat Mar 14, 2009 2:01 pm

Hi Green,

green wrote:Food/medicine is not inanimate rupa, these products are derived from sentient beings and many times tested on sentient beings.


I suggest you look up "inanimate" in a dictionary.

And I repeat my advice that you make a careful study of what is taught about kamma and its ripening in the Suttas and Abhidhamma, for you appear at the moment to be rather clueless about these things.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Stem-cells

Postby green » Sat Mar 14, 2009 6:07 pm

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Green,

green wrote:Food/medicine is not inanimate rupa, these products are derived from sentient beings and many times tested on sentient beings.


I suggest you look up "inanimate" in a dictionary.

And I repeat my advice that you make a careful study of what is taught about kamma and its ripening in the Suttas and Abhidhamma, for you appear at the moment to be rather clueless about these things.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu


You have such a perfect understanding of kamma, I am astounded because clearly you have stated your argument so coherently that I am left speechless. :smile:

First you pronounced your argument that medicine is not sentient therefore not subject to kamma, when I showed you that drugs are derived from sentient beings, you are annoyed.

So are you saying, embryos and medicine derived from human embryos carries no kamma/vipaka?

Food too is considered medicine, is inanimate when we receive it and like food it is ingested, let us make a study of food and kammic interactions.

1)If I kill a turkey for a group of monastics, why won't the monastics eat it?-- Buddha states, meat in such an instance should not be eaten even if it's suspected that it's been killed for a monk/nun.

meat should not be eaten under three circumstances: when it is seen or heard or suspected (that a living being has been purposely slaughtered for the eater); these, Jivaka, are the three circumstances in which meat should not be eaten, Jivaka!
—Jivaka Sutta, MN 55

2)If I kill a turkey to feed the hungry "in general, to give in a supermarket" or give to charity, will you eat such a turkey?

Why is my intent of killing a turkey just for you affecting the turkey you are eating in the first instance, but not in the second? The meat is inanimate...it's dead.

People say the second instance is wrong because of the following passage:

Vanijja Sutta, AN 5:177 [2].

Monks, a lay follower should not engage in five types of business. Which five? Business in weapons, business in human beings, business in meat, business in intoxicants, and business in poison. These are the five types of business that a lay follower should not engage in.



It is wrong because essentially it is trading in death or enslavement and promoting killing and intoxication.

So, is killing in medicine (animal experimentation), medicine is ingested, also trading in death and have kamma/vipaka consequences...is this new drug derived from death of innocents a business essentially trading in bad medicine (poison)?
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Re: Stem-cells

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Mar 14, 2009 8:26 pm

green wrote:when I showed you that drugs are derived from sentient beings, you are annoyed.

I'd just like to say: I didn't detect any annoyance :). We're all friendly here.

:anjali:
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