Life from what period

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Re: Life from what period

Postby beeblebrox » Mon May 12, 2014 4:01 pm

Hi all,

I dislike involving myself in this discussion, but in the quote above (if interpreted strictly) the offence is really for the bhikkhu giving an abortive preparation which killed the child (or the fetus; the embryo; or whatever you call it).

In any case, I think that abortion is a difficult issue, and it's still always a choice for those involved... but my feeling is that it's still inappropriate for Ven. Brahm to try to make an analysis like this. (More for the difficulty that it would cause himself and the sangha that he is involved with.)

:anjali:
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Re: Life from what period

Postby Jetavan » Mon May 12, 2014 4:11 pm

waterchan wrote:
James the Giant wrote:By the way, I think it was Bill Maher who said that he doesn't believe embryos are alive because they can be stored in freezers.
...as can tardigrades and bacteria.
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Re: Life from what period

Postby ArkA » Mon May 12, 2014 4:35 pm

beeblebrox wrote:Hi all,

I dislike involving myself in this discussion, but in the quote above (if interpreted strictly) the offence is really for the bhikkhu giving an abortive preparation which killed the child (or the fetus; the embryo; or whatever you call it).

In any case, I think that abortion is a difficult issue, and it's still always a choice for those involved... but my feeling is that it's still inappropriate for Ven. Brahm to try to make an analysis like this. (More for the difficulty that it would cause himself and the sangha that he is involved with.)

:anjali:


Appreciate if you read properly the OP and my post before posting. I posted the Vinaya story (pg. 144) to make it clear that the question "how long has that lady been pregnant?" is irrelevant in this rule. I also add the original rule for your reference, so you can see "incitement" also not allowed in this rule.

Thank you.
I'll restart my yearlong meditation retreat on 15th June 2014, hence will not be here.

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- Anguttara Nikaya, 3.131, Paticchanna Sutta

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Re: Life from what period

Postby beeblebrox » Mon May 12, 2014 4:44 pm

ArkA wrote:Appreciate if you read properly the OP and my post before posting. I posted the Vinaya story (pg. 144) to make it clear that the question "how long has that lady been pregnant?" is irrelevant in this rule. I also add the original rule for your reference, so you can see "incitement" also not allowed in this rule.


Hi Arka,

The part about the incitement wasn't in your post when I read it. Thank you for sharing it.

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Re: Life from what period

Postby waterchan » Mon May 12, 2014 5:21 pm

Jetavan wrote:
waterchan wrote:
James the Giant wrote:By the way, I think it was Bill Maher who said that he doesn't believe embryos are alive because they can be stored in freezers.
...as can tardigrades and bacteria.

Luckiliy they aren't considered "life" from a Buddhist point of view, AFAIK. That is, one cannot be reborn as a micro-organism.
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)
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Re: Life from what period

Postby waterchan » Mon May 12, 2014 5:25 pm

ArkA wrote:robertk, in order to prove your viewpoint, the reference from Vinaya Piṭaka is posted below. Anyone can clearly see in those incidents, starting from the highlighted one, Buddha never asked the question "how long has that lady been pregnant?" Note that a question like a 3-month fetus or not never arised!

Image from The Book of the Descipline, Volume I, page 144 (Vinaya Piṭaka, Pārājika Pāḷi, Pārājika 3)

Original rule:
3.Should any bhikkhu intentionally deprive a human being of life, or search for an assassin for him, or praise the advantages of death, or incite him to die (saying): “My good man, what use is this evil, miserable life to you? Death would be better for you than life,” or with such an idea in mind, such a purpose in mind, should in various ways praise the advantages of death or incite him to die, he also is defeated (parajika) and no longer in affiliation.

- page 74 of BMC I (Vinaya, Parajika 3)


The counterargument to this is that a very young fetus is not considered a "human being" or "life". Thus, this Vinaya quote is irrelevant, since it pertains to depriving a human being of life.
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Re: Life from what period

Postby beeblebrox » Mon May 12, 2014 5:34 pm

waterchan wrote:
Jetavan wrote:...as can tardigrades and bacteria.

Luckiliy they aren't considered "life" from a Buddhist point of view, AFAIK. That is, one cannot be reborn as a micro-organism.


This is a picture of tardigrade (aka waterbear, or moss piglet; article here):

Image

Their size is approximately .5 mm long... a grain of table salt (or one of the sand grains in the Ganges River) is .3 mm.

:anjali:
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Re: Life from what period

Postby waterchan » Mon May 12, 2014 5:35 pm

Ah, so the tardigrade does not classify as a micro-organism. :smile:
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Re: Life from what period

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon May 12, 2014 5:55 pm

I forget the reference, but the Buddha mentioned that killing a being we can't see (such as a tardigrade) is not an offense. It is about intention with the Dhamma.

An embryo or fetus cannot be seen, although the physician performing the abortion can see the embryo or fetus with the medical equipment and there is intention to kill. Definitely a difficult issue. I guess it can be focused down to when does a human (or animal) life begin?
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Re: Life from what period

Postby Jetavan » Mon May 12, 2014 7:25 pm

waterchan wrote:Ah, so the tardigrade does not classify as a micro-organism. :smile:
Well, technically, they are micro-organisms, since they are microscopic (pretty much invisible unless aided by a microscope).
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Re: Life from what period

Postby mikenz66 » Mon May 12, 2014 7:32 pm

Robert,

I think this is an important and complex issue.

It would be helpful to discuss the vinaya and sutta references in Ajahn Brahm's article that I referenced here:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... ead#unread


1. What Did the Buddha Say?

1a. “(Human life begins) when in the mother’s womb, the first citta
(‘mind’ or ‘thought’) arises, when the first consciousness
manifests”.1

1b. “Bhikkhus, the descent of the gabbha (misleadingly translated
as embryo by Bhikkhu Bodhi) takes place through the union of
3 things – the union of mother and father, the mother is in
season, and the gandhabba (stream of consciousness) is
present.”2

1c. “If viññāṇa (consciousness) were not to descend into the
mother’s womb, would nāma-rūpa take shape in the womb?
Certainly not, Venerable Sir.”3
Nāma-rūpa = feeling (vedana) perception (saññā) contact
(phasso) will (cetanā) attention (manasikāro) and material
form (rūpa ).

1d. Nāma-rūpa and consciousness are like two sheaves of reeds
standing leaning against each other. If one were to remove one
of those sheaves of reeds, the other would fall. So, with the
cessation of nāma-rūpa comes cessation of consciousness, and
with the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of
nāma-rūpa. 4

Notes
1 From Pārājika 3, the rule about deliberately killing a human being, repeated at Vinaya Mahāvagga 1.75.
2 From Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of Sutta #38 of the Majjhima Nikāya..
3 Mahānidāna Sutta, DN15.
4 Abridged from Nidana Saṃyutta No. 67.


2. What Did the Buddha Mean?

2a. Human life begins when the stream of consciousness (s.o.c.)
enters the embryo-fetus and the first consciousness manifests
therein.

2b. Such an arising of consciousness is caused by the combination
of 3 conditions: parental union, fertility and an s.o.c. being
available.

2c. The above causal link is not necessarily instantaneous.
Buddhist causality includes results that appear a long time
after their cause. A prime example is “when there is birth,
there is old age, sickness and death.” It is a mistake to assume
that the s.o.c. descends into the mother’s womb at the very
moment of parental union. Such a belief would beg the
question into what does the s.o.c. descend? Into the lucky one
of the millions of sperm, or into an egg that might well remain
unfertilized? The Buddha meant that some time after
parental union, with the other two factors also being fulfilled,
there is descent of the s.o.c. into the mother’s womb.

2d. Point 1d, above, shows that there cannot be consciousness
without feeling + perception + contact + will + attention +
material form (nāma-rūpa). When one manifests, so does the
other, immediately.


There are another three sections...

:anjali:
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Re: Life from what period

Postby James the Giant » Mon May 12, 2014 8:36 pm

Here is the rest of the article that MikeNZ posted the first part of. It has some very relevant sutta references although some of them are not related to abortion - they talk about IVF instead.

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books7/Ajahn ... _Begin.pdf
3. When Does A New Human Life Begin?

3a. The embryo designates the unborn being in the first 8 weeks of
development, the fetus designates the unborn being after 8
weeks of development.

3b. A single embryo may split into 2 or more viable embryos after
a certain number of days. Prior to such an event, there cannot
be 2 s.o.cs. co-existing in a single embryo, nor can a single
s.o.c. split into two separate streams. Such propositions are
excluded by the Buddha’s doctrine of Paṭicca-Samuppāda.
Either a second s.o.c. enters one of the divided embryos after
the separation, or two karmically connected s.o.cs. enter the
twinned embryos at the same time shortly after division. In
either case, this shows that the s.o.c. can descend into the
mother’s womb several days after parental union.

3c. The Buddha consistently stated that human life in this body
begins when consciousness first manifests inside the mother’s
womb. The Pāli word here rendered as “manifest” is Pātubhūta,
which also means to be open, visible, apparent. To be precise,
human life in this body begins not when consciousness first
exists in the mother’s womb, but when it first shows its
existence in the mother’s womb (these two events, I believe,
are simultaneous).

How does consciousness first manifest its existence? Point 2d,
above, states that when consciousness first manifests then
nāma-rūpa also shows its first appearance. Two essential parts
of nāma-rūpa are vedana (feeling, the ability to distinguish
between painful or pleasurable or neutral sensations) and
cetanā (will, deliberate reactions to such sensations). So, when
vedana and will first manifest in the unborn being, then one
knows that nāma-rūpa has first manifested; and when nāmarūpa
has first manifested, then consciousness has first
manifested and human life has begun anew!
In conclusion, only when the embryo-fetus first shows
sensitivity to pleasure and pain (vedana) and first shows
will (such as by a purposeful shrinking away from a
painful stimulus) has consciousness and nāma-rūpa first
manifested and the new human life started.

4. Further Discussion

4a. Such a definition for the beginning of human life has been
argued tightly from the earliest teachings of Buddhism, those
as close as we can get to what the Buddha actually said. Thus
the definition has textual authority.

4b. Such a definition is pragmatic, because it gives us a discernible
measure by which we can know when a human life has begun
anew. Procedures such as the ultrasound scan can convince
neutral observers that the fetus at a certain stage of
development shows experience of pain and moves deliberately,
but before such a stage does not manifest feeling or will.
Neurologists can also confirm that prior to a certain stage of
development, the fetus’s nervous system is absent and
therefore pain and pleasure cannot be felt. Thus such a
definition is workable.

4c. When there is no sure-fire method of discerning the beginning
of a new human life, many will err on the safe side, meaning
they will push the beginning of human life impractically early,
even to the stage of parental union. The above definition
avoids such sloppiness based on fear.

4d. The ethical quality of karma has much to do with the happiness
or suffering that one deliberately inflicts upon another. When
the other is incapable of feeling pleasure or pain, such
considerations become irrelevant.
Indeed, there is a widespread revulsion at viewing a film of an
abortion where the fetus manifest pain during the procedure,
but such a revulsion is absent at the destruction of an embryo,
in a Petri dish, that does not manifest any feeling at all. The
above definition is in harmony with the ethical foundation of
such revulsion. In other words, many non-Buddhists, especially
those rationalists with no religious affiliations, would easily
support such a Buddhist definition of the beginning of human
life.

5. IVF.

5a. The above definition clarifies the ethics of destroying fertilized
human ova that are yet to be implanted into the mother, or
using them to begin a line of stem cells. Since these embryos
do not show feeling or will, then consciousness also has not
been manifested, and so it is not reckoned as human life.
Scientifically speaking, the nervous system has certainly not
developed yet and therefore such an embryo is incapable of
manifesting consciousness. Other ethical considerations may
be relevant here, but certainly not that concerned with
destroying a human life.

5b. A further clause in the Buddha’s consistent definition for the
beginning of a human life is the location of the manifested
consciousness – in the mother’s womb. Thus, there is a
strong logical argument that states that even if consciousness
did manifest somehow in an embryo in the lab, it still has not
appeared in the mother’s womb, and therefore does not fulfil
the Buddha’s definition of a human life. Only when that
embryo–with-consciousness has been implanted in the
mother’s womb, then can one say that consciousness has
appeared within the mother’s womb and human life begun.

5c. There are some skilful meditators who can remember their
past lives, and also those who can recall past lives through
other means. Those who recall the passage from their previous
life into their present existence are remarkably consistent in
their recollection of being drawn irresistibly into their future
mother’s womb. To them, it is implausible that one could be
drawn into a bunch of cells in a Petri dish in a laboratory. One
of the unstated but necessary ingredients for rebirth is the
sight of one’s future mother, which acts as a magnet to draw
the stream of consciousness in. Such an attractor would be
absent in a laboratory.

Conclusion: embryos outside of a mother’s womb are not
reckoned as human life, and thus the ethical considerations
specific to human beings do not apply.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Life from what period

Postby Mkoll » Mon May 12, 2014 10:52 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:I forget the reference, but the Buddha mentioned that killing a being we can't see (such as a tardigrade) is not an offense. It is about intention with the Dhamma.

An embryo or fetus cannot be seen, although the physician performing the abortion can see the embryo or fetus with the medical equipment and there is intention to kill. Definitely a difficult issue. I guess it can be focused down to when does a human (or animal) life begin?

:goodpost:

I think your question is unanswerable right now. Perhaps technology will advance to the point where we can confirm the beginning of life in a fetus. But even then, one could still argue that the first indication of life as seen by an observer doesn't mean life wasn't already present before that indication manifested itself.

Really thorny issue.
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Re: Life from what period

Postby SarathW » Mon May 12, 2014 11:26 pm

When the embryo is established (deposited) in the womb, there is a potential for life to grow.
The intention to stop that growth is killing.

As David said what matters is the intention.

All killings are not the same.
They have different effect depend on their weight.
Arahant will not do an abortion but run of the mill person might do it and face the consequences.
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Re: Life from what period

Postby Virgo » Tue May 13, 2014 1:09 am

robertk wrote:Dear kevin
It would be great if you could dig out some references on this issue.

Of course.

Vsm (Visuddhimagga) Chapter XVI.32 wrote:
"Now, this word birth (játi) has many meanings...

...In the passage, “His birth is due to the first consciousness arisen, the first cognition manifested, in the mother’s womb” (Vin I 93) it is rebirth-linking."


This obviously refers to rebirth-linking consciousness (patisandhi citta), which always directly follows the cuti citta (dying consciousness) as per the Abhidhamma.

And from the next section (Vsm XVI.33):

33. Here it should be regarded as the aggregates that occur from the time of
rebirth-linking up to the exit from the mother’s womb in the case of the wombborn,
and as only the aggregates of rebirth-linking in the case of the rest. But
this is only an indirect treatment. In the direct sense, however, it is the first
manifestation of any aggregates that are manifested in living beings when they
are born anywhere that is called “birth.”


Best,

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Re: Life from what period

Postby robertk » Tue May 13, 2014 7:24 am

3c. The Buddha consistently stated that human life in this body
begins when consciousness first manifests inside the mother’s
womb. The Pāli word here rendered as “manifest” is Pātubhūta,
which also means to be open, visible, apparent. To be precise,
human life in this body begins not when consciousness first
exists in the mother’s womb, but when it first shows its
existence in the mother’s womb (these two events, I believe,
are simultaneous).

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books7/Ajahn ... _Begin.pdf
How does consciousness first manifest its existence? Point 2d,
above, states that when consciousness first manifests then
nāma-rūpa also shows its first appearance. Two essential parts
of nāma-rūpa are vedana (feeling, the ability to distinguish
between painful or pleasurable or neutral sensations) and
cetanā (will, deliberate reactions to such sensations). So, when
vedana and will first manifest in the unborn being, then one
knows that nāma-rūpa has first manifested; and when nāmarūpa
has first manifested, then consciousness has first
manifested and human life has begun anew!
In conclusion, only when the embryo-fetus first shows
sensitivity to pleasure and pain (vedana) and first shows
will (such as by a purposeful shrinking away from a
painful stimulus) has consciousness and nāma-rūpa first
manifested and the new human life started


This idea from the article by teh venerable Bhikkhu
that consciousness only "manifests" or arises in an embryo when one can perceive the embryo reacting to pain "such as by a purposeful shrinking away from a
painful stimulus" is not supported by the texts .

The term Pātubhūta, manisfests , is just a way it say it appears or arises. We see in the quote given by Kevin that
Vsm (Visuddhimagga) Chapter XVI.32 wrote:

"Now, this word birth (játi) has many meanings...

...In the passage, “His birth is due to the first consciousness arisen, the first cognition manifested, in the mother’s womb” (Vin I 93) it is rebirth-linking."
In fact I seem to remember other passages note that in the early stages of life in the womb the being is mostly in bhavanga, deep sleep, and no reactions would be noticed at all. Also when the embryo is still very tiny would any reactions be easily seen by an outside observer.
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Re: Life from what period

Postby Sylvester » Tue May 13, 2014 9:21 am

Thanks Mike for the article by Ajahn Brahm.

The text in question is this -

Tiṇṇaṃ kho pana bhikkhave sannipātā gabbhassāvakkanti hoti: idha mātāpitaro sannipatitā honti, mātā ca na utunī hoti, gandhabbo ca na paccupaṭṭhito hoti, neva tāva gabbhassāvakkanti [PTS Page 266] [\q 266/] hoti. Idha mātāpitaro ca sannipatitā honti, mātā ca utunī hoti, gandhabbo ca na paccupaṭṭhito hoti, neva tāva gabbhassāvakkanti hoti. Yato ca kho bhikkhave mātāpitaro sannipatitā honti, mātā ca utunī hoti, gandhabbo ca paccupaṭṭhito hoti, evaṃ tiṇṇaṃ sannipātā gabbhassāvakkanti hoti.

Bhikkhus, the descent of the embryo takes place through the union of three things. Here, there is the union of the mother and father, but the mother is not in season, and the gandhabba is not present—in this case no descent of an embryo takes place. Here, there is the union of the mother and father, and the mother is in season, but the gandhabba is not present—in this case too no descent of the embryo takes place. But when there is the union of the mother and father, and the mother is in season, and the gandhabba is present, through the union of these three things the descent of the embryo takes place.

trans. BB, per MLDB


AB's gripe's is with BB's translation of gabbha. By itself, gabbha means womb, although when inflected into the genitive gabbhassa, it can mean that which pertains to the womb, ie the embryo. This appears to be the Ven T's understanding of the meaning of a similar passage in MN 93 -

Jānanti pana bhonto yathā gabbhassa avakkanti hotīti?

Do you know how there is the descent of an embryo?



But, we need to be very, very careful with the genitive inflection. It has absorbed the dative case into its form, so that gabbhassa avakkanti can also be correctly translated and mean "descent into the womb".

What descends into the womb, if not the stream of consciousness?

:anjali:
Last edited by Sylvester on Wed May 14, 2014 3:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Life from what period

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Tue May 13, 2014 9:38 am

Isn't a nod to current knowledge appropriate?

What descends into the womb is the fertilised ovum.

The debate to me seems to hinge on when precisely that fertilised ovum gains Consciousness (in the "Awareness" sense).

:namaste:
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Re: Life from what period

Postby beeblebrox » Tue May 13, 2014 2:26 pm

Hi all,

It seems like there's an assumption that the "first consciousness arisen" refers to the embryo's consciousness... but I think it also could easily mean the first consciousness which arose that there was an embryo.

During the Buddha's time, that could mean the awareness that the woman's period was missing... and today, this could mean a birth test which came out positive. There is an awareness that life is forming within the womb.

This is just an idea that occurred to me recently... I don't know how valid it is.

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Re: Life from what period

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Tue May 13, 2014 2:39 pm

beeblebrox wrote:Hi all,

It seems like there's an assumption that the "first consciousness arisen" refers to the embryo's consciousness... but I think it also could easily mean the first consciousness which arose that there was an embryo.

During the Buddha's time, that could mean the awareness that the woman's period was missing... and today, this could mean a birth test which came out positive. There is an awareness that life is forming within the womb.

This is just an idea that occurred to me recently... I don't know how valid it is.

:anjali:

For my own ignorant part, I don't think that's a valid assumption; if you cannot be Consciousness for another being while they are an individual, I do not believe you can assume consciousness for an ovum in its embryonic stages while it's in the earliest stages of development....

At that stage, one embryo looks very much like any other from other mammals, too... that is to say, it is indiscernible as a human existent, as it is from a canine, or simian existent....

But you could be right.

I am no-one to say, really...

:namaste:
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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