Right Livelihood and being a biologist

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby jeff144 » Sat Jun 30, 2012 6:30 pm

Hi Everyone,

Over the past two years I have been adopting more and more of the Buddhist philosophy and precepts into my life. I would not yet say that I am a full convert, but I am 80% of the way there and acknowledge that I still have much to learn.

One issue that I have been contemplating often recently is how the concept of Right Livelihood applies to my own career as a biologist. While my work may lessen the suffering of other humans in the long run, I have had to kill (literally not figuratively) millions of sentient beings (mostly invertebrates such as insects but also a few thousand vertebrates such as mice and fish).

I can share my own thoughts on the issue, but I think what would be most useful to me is to have others' thoughts on the issue of killing sentient beings while (hopefully) helping humans. I would also appreciate any teachings that you could direct me to on this issue. I will say that working so intimately with the natural world has been a powerful driver in starting me on my path toward Buddhism.

:thanks:

-Jeff
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby SamKR » Sat Jun 30, 2012 8:36 pm

Hello Jeff,

I have also been pondering about similar issue (though not related to killing but to entertainment).

Killing sentient beings even for helping humans cannot be justified in the Buddha's teachings. I have never come across any sutta or Buddha's words where he says the breaking of sila (the precepts) is okay if it helps many people.

I think it is quite possible to remain a biologist and not kill any sentient beings knowingly.

:namaste:
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby manas » Sat Jun 30, 2012 9:24 pm

Hi jeff,

maybe your employer could change your duties so that you can do the analysis of the research, but where you are not the one actually experimenting on the creatures?

I also can relate, in a way. As a musician I am happy to play songs that are about romance, although it can be a tiresome business... :| ) But I won't play songs that glorify things such as improper sexual activity, or drug-taking. So I've had to 'tweak' my occupation a little, to remain in line with Dhammic principles.

with metta,

manas.
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby jeff144 » Sat Jun 30, 2012 9:30 pm

Hi Sam and Manas,

To be truly honest, there are probably alternate jobs I could find and still make a similar income. Perhaps even a higher income. However, giving up the years of training/education would be quite difficult for me (perhaps an attachment I need to overcome). The type of research I do necessitates the taking of animal lives and I wouldn't easily be able to become another type of biologist that could avoid killing. PhD-level biologists (and most any other scientists) are so specialized that they can't easily change focus.

One thought that keeps me from changing careers is that I would likely choose to benefit from medical research regardless of whether I was participating. Every new drug goes through animal testing and animals are always euthanized after testing. There is also much suffering that is imposed outside of merely killing animals. For example, inducing tumors in mice for cancer research.

In some ways, I suppose it parallels the concept of eating meat versus being a butcher. Why is it acceptable (in the eyes of some) to mindfully consume meat but not mindfully take an animal's life? I don't want to get sidetracked though since I know that there has been much discussion on meat eating.

Perhaps the taking of lives for human benefit outside of food/clothing is an issue more Buddhists should contemplate. It is easy to look at a leather shoe and associate it with a dead cow, but have you ever thought of how many animals suffered to develop chemotherapy? Outside of medicine, chemical compounds in numerous products are tested for lethality against a range of different organisms before being approved for use.

It is a predicament and I don't know the "right" answer. I would be very interested in any more thoughts that the board has or if you have seen any teachings from lamas that address these issues.

:thanks:

-Jeff
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby ringo » Sat Jun 30, 2012 9:32 pm

Hi,

If there is any guilt in connection with your past deeds then remember the following words from the sutta pitaka. A guilty state of mind is unwholesome, leads to the arising and growth of restlessness and other unskilful qualities, and should be abandoned.
"These two are fools. Which two? The one who doesn't see his/her transgression as a transgression, and the one who doesn't rightfully pardon another who has confessed his/her transgression. These two are fools.
These two are wise. Which two? The one who sees his/her transgression as a transgression, and the one who rightfully pardons another who has confessed his/her transgression. These two are wise." — AN 2.21

"It's a cause of growth in the Dhamma and Vinaya of the noble ones when, seeing a transgression as such, one makes amends in accordance with the Dhamma and exercises restraint in the future." — DN 2


As for the present and the future, as you pursue and develop metta and compassion, you should find yourself becoming less inclined to taking life and getting others to do so.

Abstaining from taking life is very difficult for a householder because activities like brushing one's teeth, use of antibiotics, antifungicidals etc., heating food, drinking water and so on...in most cases, involve a violation of the precept. Such unskilful kamma is the result of pure delusion (when a person is not aware that he is taking life) or of aversion(for pathogens)+delusion(wrt the dhamma). I am inclined to believe that the second case is less unskillful. Such reflection can also be used to aid satipatthana during the mentioned activities.

Another suggestion - it might be more practical for a householder to observe the uposatha which isn't a daily observance.
See here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .khan.html
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby jeff144 » Sat Jun 30, 2012 9:38 pm

Hi Ringo,

Do Buddhists generally consider bacteria/fungi/etc. that are killed when we brush our teeth or use antibacterial soap to be of karmic consequence? Plants are much more specialized and "intelligent" than these organisms. My impression was that there had to be some minimum of a neurological system for a being to be considered sentient in the Buddhist view (nevermind the scientific view).

-Jeff
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby manas » Sat Jun 30, 2012 9:54 pm

jeff144 wrote:Hi Sam and Manas,

To be truly honest, there are probably alternate jobs I could find and still make a similar income. Perhaps even a higher income. However, giving up the years of training/education would be quite difficult for me (perhaps an attachment I need to overcome). The type of research I do necessitates the taking of animal lives and I wouldn't easily be able to become another type of biologist that could avoid killing. PhD-level biologists (and most any other scientists) are so specialized that they can't easily change focus.

One thought that keeps me from changing careers is that I would likely choose to benefit from medical research regardless of whether I was participating. Every new drug goes through animal testing and animals are always euthanized after testing. There is also much suffering that is imposed outside of merely killing animals. For example, inducing tumors in mice for cancer research.

In some ways, I suppose it parallels the concept of eating meat versus being a butcher. Why is it acceptable (in the eyes of some) to mindfully consume meat but not mindfully take an animal's life? I don't want to get sidetracked though since I know that there has been much discussion on meat eating.

Perhaps the taking of lives for human benefit outside of food/clothing is an issue more Buddhists should contemplate. It is easy to look at a leather shoe and associate it with a dead cow, but have you ever thought of how many animals suffered to develop chemotherapy? Outside of medicine, chemical compounds in numerous products are tested for lethality against a range of different organisms before being approved for use.

It is a predicament and I don't know the "right" answer. I would be very interested in any more thoughts that the board has or if you have seen any teachings from lamas that address these issues.

:thanks:

-Jeff


Hi jeff,

yes, we are all implicated in all kinds of things, if you want to look at the entire picture. Using my car to drop the kids to school, I indirectly support the oil industry, who are often so careless with regards to how they extract the oil, often causing much environmental damage. So what do I do, stop using my car? How am I going to get them safely to school and back? It would be an hour walk there, and back again. It would be ridiculous to ask them to walk two hours a day, just to not support the oil industry. So, I use my car, knowing that I am thus indirectly supporting an environmentally destructive industry. But, it's within the five basic precepts for me to do so.

The five precepts are not about perfection, they are a basic standard only. A kind of 'bare minimum' so that we can avoid directly causing the worst kinds of harm to ourselves and others, with the aim to be able to actually walk the Path. I use leather shoes, but I won't kill a cow. There is a tiny bit of hypocrisy in that, I admit. But we have to begin from somewhere. The five precepts are that 'beginning point'. They are not perfection. But by not killing, our mind will be less troubled, than if we directly kill. If we follow all five precepts, our mind becomes even less troubled. With a mind less troubled, we can begin to sit meditation and find some inner peace. It's not perfection yet, but it's a good start.

with metta.
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby ringo » Sat Jun 30, 2012 10:11 pm

Jeff,

Why is it acceptable (in the eyes of some) to mindfully consume meat but not mindfully take an animal's life? I don't want to get sidetracked though since I know that there has been much discussion on meat eating.

It is possible to eat meat with a mind devoid of passion, aversion and delusion - this could be the belief of those for whom the eating of meat is acceptable.
(The Buddha always spoke of 'cooked' meat.)
It is impossible to take life with a mind devoid of passion, aversion and delusion.

Perhaps the taking of lives for human benefit outside of food/clothing is an issue more Buddhists should contemplate.

The issue had come up before.

The Buddha to a soldier, from the Yodhajiva Sutta (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html)
When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, his mind is already seized, debased, & misdirected by the thought: 'May these beings be struck down or slaughtered or annihilated or destroyed. May they not exist.' If others then strike him down & slay him while he is thus striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the hell called the realm of those slain in battle. But if he holds such a view as this: 'When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle,' that is his wrong view. Now, there are two destinations for a person with wrong view, I tell you: either hell or the animal womb."


And also the simile of the saw (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html)
"Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding.


Do Buddhists generally consider bacteria/fungi/etc. that are killed when we brush our teeth or use antibacterial soap to be of karmic consequence? Plants are much more specialized and "intelligent" than these organisms. My impression was that there had to be some minimum of a neurological system for a being to be considered sentient in the Buddhist view (nevermind the scientific view).


Scientifically speaking, bacteria and fungi respond to external stimuli - there exist for even these creatures the external media, internal media, volition, consciousness, form, feeling, perception etc. If not by contact, feeling, perception and consciousness, how else would you describe it?

The Buddha modeled reality using a set of variables and concepts rather different from what materialists and scientists use. Although there might be a strong co-relation between properties of the entity we understand as the CNS and sentience, the two are not to be assumed to be identical. The aggregates exist for all beings regardless of their 'form'. The Buddha even spoke of formless beings, without material existence, only minds.

Also, the Buddha prohibits acceptance of uncooked food. - circumstantial evidence

Regards,
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Jun 30, 2012 11:08 pm

Hi, Jeff,
The discussion over what are "sentient" beings is as long-running as the one over vegetarianism and the one over the kammic consequences of incidentally/accidentally causing suffering in daily life.
You won't find many references to research biology in the suttas :tongue: but if being a soldier can be Right Livelihood then so can many other occupations which cause death or suffering. I tend to take a pragmatic approach (maybe it comes from having grown up on a farm!) and simply try to minimise the harm I cause, and maximise the good I do, but without tying myself in knots over it. That, for me, covers 90% or more of the situations with 10% or less of the effort.
In those terms, the question about your livelihood reduces to, "Does it do more good than harm?" If the answer is yes, a supplementary question could be, "Can I reduce the harm it does, while still achieving the good?"
In those terms, research which necessitates the death of insects but saves human lives is Right Livelihood; research which which necessitates the death of rabbits and only produces new cosmetics is not.

:namaste:
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Jun 30, 2012 11:24 pm

jeff144 wrote:One thought that keeps me from changing careers is that I would likely choose to benefit from medical research regardless of whether I was participating. Every new drug goes through animal testing and animals are always euthanized after testing. There is also much suffering that is imposed outside of merely killing animals. For example, inducing tumors in mice for cancer research.

In some ways, I suppose it parallels the concept of eating meat versus being a butcher. Why is it acceptable (in the eyes of some) to mindfully consume meat but not mindfully take an animal's life? I don't want to get sidetracked though since I know that there has been much discussion on meat eating.

I think that an animal (if it were capable of forming such thoughts) probably wouldn't care who, several links down the chain of command, is perhaps adding incentive to its destruction. The guilt lies in the hands of the being who decides, of his or her own free will, to hurt another living creature.

We are responsible for our own actions; if, by doing something, we create suffering, then it's not an appropriate action to take. If I kill an animal for my own sustenance, I am responsible directly for causing that animal to die. In the same way, if I go to a butcher or a seafood shop and pick an animal to be slaughtered for me, then I am directly responsible there as well. If not for my actions, that animal would not have suffered at that moment.

If I go to a restaurant where I order a steak, however, my biggest sin is offering a slight financial incentive for the restaurant to continue stocking meat; however, because a) the being is already dead and my refusal will not in any way bring it back to life, and b) because the meat is already there and will simply be eaten by someone else or thrown out should I refuse, I don't think it's reasonable at all to say that I have culpability in the destruction of the creature I am eating.

The rules the Buddha gave to monks in regard to meat are as follows:

Monks, I allow you fish and meat that are quite pure in three respects: if they are not seen, heard or suspected to have been killed on purpose for a monk. But, you should not knowingly make use of meat killed on purpose for you.


The only reason I'm digressing here is to point out two things. First, you shouldn't feel guilty or culpable in any way for the suffering animals have felt in order to bring you medicine or clothing because those industries have nothing to do with you and would continue just fine without you. You do not make those animals suffer by taking insulin or some other medicine; the people who inject the poison into the creatures themselves do.

Secondly, you can use the Buddha's prohibitions on meat as a guide for other things. It is definitely against the Buddha's teachings to intentionally kill or otherwise harm sentient beings for any reason. That is not up for debate. However, if you got a position as any kind of analyst or supervisor, you would be free from blame so long as the animals were not directly killed for you or so long as you did not direct others to kill them. I'm not sure on the specifics of your position as a biologist but perhaps this is possible?

Either way, the joy of renouncing violence and developing compassion is far greater than the joy of any paycheck. I know that sounds trite, but it really is true. I would urge you to commit yourself to living harmlessly and enjoying the gift of non-violence.

Sidenote: I don't think bacteria are considered sentient in traditional Buddhist thought, but as the existence of bacteria is a recent discovery, it's hard to say what the Buddha would have declared. I think the scientific evidence suggests that bacteria cannot know or experience in a direct way, so I doubt their destruction would be bad kamma.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby Alobha » Sat Jun 30, 2012 11:44 pm

Either way, the joy of renouncing violence and developing compassion is far greater than the joy of any paycheck. I know that sounds trite, but it really is true. I would urge you to commit yourself to living harmlessly and enjoying the gift of non-violence.

Well said LonesomeYogurt! :goodpost:

More food for thought jeff:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ssage.html

Best wishes,
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby jeff144 » Sun Jul 01, 2012 12:18 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:Hi, Jeff,
The discussion over what are "sentient" beings is as long-running as the one over vegetarianism and the one over the kammic consequences of incidentally/accidentally causing suffering in daily life.
You won't find many references to research biology in the suttas :tongue: but if being a soldier can be Right Livelihood then so can many other occupations which cause death or suffering. I tend to take a pragmatic approach (maybe it comes from having grown up on a farm!) and simply try to minimise the harm I cause, and maximise the good I do, but without tying myself in knots over it. That, for me, covers 90% or more of the situations with 10% or less of the effort.
In those terms, the question about your livelihood reduces to, "Does it do more good than harm?" If the answer is yes, a supplementary question could be, "Can I reduce the harm it does, while still achieving the good?"
In those terms, research which necessitates the death of insects but saves human lives is Right Livelihood; research which which necessitates the death of rabbits and only produces new cosmetics is not.

:namaste:
Kim


Hi, Kim. Thank you for your thoughts. And I also grew up on a farm! I remember when I was a child I'd have no problem watching my father kill chickens, but I could not handle pigs being slaughtered. :(

I agree that trying to minimize harm is the best guiding principle. I think the reason why I am tying myself in knots, as you put it, is that refraining from killing is as close to a dogma as there exists in Buddhism. In actuality, I am not at all bothered by the act of putting down an animal and I feel as if I am being mindful and compassionate, but perhaps this is an illusion since it seems so contrary to the Buddha's teachings. I have no guilt for my actions and I am contemplative when I kill animals, but I don't know if this is a trap that my mind has created.


LonesomeYogurt wrote:We are responsible for our own actions; if, by doing something, we create suffering, then it's not an appropriate action to take. If I kill an animal for my own sustenance, I am responsible directly for causing that animal to die. In the same way, if I go to a butcher or a seafood shop and pick an animal to be slaughtered for me, then I am directly responsible there as well. If not for my actions, that animal would not have suffered at that moment.

If I go to a restaurant where I order a steak, however, my biggest sin is offering a slight financial incentive for the restaurant to continue stocking meat; however, because a) the being is already dead and my refusal will not in any way bring it back to life, and b) because the meat is already there and will simply be eaten by someone else or thrown out should I refuse, I don't think it's reasonable at all to say that I have culpability in the destruction of the creature I am eating.

The rules the Buddha gave to monks in regard to meat are as follows:

Monks, I allow you fish and meat that are quite pure in three respects: if they are not seen, heard or suspected to have been killed on purpose for a monk. But, you should not knowingly make use of meat killed on purpose for you.


Perhaps this is only my ignorance, but I see little difference between picking an animal to be slaughtered and ordering meat. While your individual steak is a drop in the bucket of global demand, it is nevertheless adding to the demand for meat. 1,000,000 Buddhists eating a few servings of meat a day IS causing the destruction of millions of animals a year. If the steak was a whole rabbit, would the case be any different? In that case, you are demanding/destroying a full unit of sentience. This is not meant to be judgmental in any way if you do eat meat since I do recognize that the consequences of my own actions in directly killing animals are more dire.

In my mind, the last line of the quote you referenced says that you should not create demand for meat, even indirectly.

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Sidenote: I don't think bacteria are considered sentient in traditional Buddhist thought, but as the existence of bacteria is a recent discovery, it's hard to say what the Buddha would have declared. I think the scientific evidence suggests that bacteria cannot know or experience in a direct way, so I doubt their destruction would be bad kamma.


These are my thoughts as well.

Alobha wrote:
[/quote]

Thanks, Alobha. I just skimmed that reading quickly and plan on reading it closely.
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sun Jul 01, 2012 12:48 am

jeff144 wrote: agree that trying to minimize harm is the best guiding principle. I think the reason why I am tying myself in knots, as you put it, is that refraining from killing is as close to a dogma as there exists in Buddhism. In actuality, I am not at all bothered by the act of putting down an animal and I feel as if I am being mindful and compassionate, but perhaps this is an illusion since it seems so contrary to the Buddha's teachings. I have no guilt for my actions and I am contemplative when I kill animals, but I don't know if this is a trap that my mind has created.

Well putting down an animal to end its suffering is far different from killing an animal to earn a paycheck. It's one thing to compassionately end a being's life and another to take a healthy animal and intentionally make it sick or kill it. What exactly does your job entail?

Also, please remember that mindfulness does not immediately justify an action. You could rape or murder mindfully and it would still be terrible. Obviously I'm not accusing you of doing anything like that but just keep in mind that mindfulness is no replacement for ethical behavior.

Perhaps this is only my ignorance, but I see little difference between picking an animal to be slaughtered and ordering meat. While your individual steak is a drop in the bucket of global demand, it is nevertheless adding to the demand for meat. 1,000,000 Buddhists eating a few servings of meat a day IS causing the destruction of millions of animals a year. If the steak was a whole rabbit, would the case be any different? In that case, you are demanding/destroying a full unit of sentience. This is not meant to be judgmental in any way if you do eat meat since I do recognize that the consequences of my own actions in directly killing animals are more dire.

In my mind, the last line of the quote you referenced says that you should not create demand for meat, even indirectly.

I am personally in agreement with you; I'm a vegan myself. I just mean to say that ordering a steak does not amount to an act of killing. I definitely think it is unwholesome for a layperson to seek out meat. However, it is at least allowable for laypeople. In the same way, if you could somehow just observe or otherwise interpret the data taken from others as they themselves kill, it would not be perfect but it wouldn't constitute an act of killing in and of itself. Baby steps I guess haha.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby jeff144 » Sun Jul 01, 2012 1:15 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Well putting down an animal to end its suffering is far different from killing an animal to earn a paycheck. It's one thing to compassionately end a being's life and another to take a healthy animal and intentionally make it sick or kill it. What exactly does your job entail?

Also, please remember that mindfulness does not immediately justify an action. You could rape or murder mindfully and it would still be terrible. Obviously I'm not accusing you of doing anything like that but just keep in mind that mindfulness is no replacement for ethical behavior.

I am personally in agreement with you; I'm a vegan myself. I just mean to say that ordering a steak does not amount to an act of killing. I definitely think it is unwholesome for a layperson to seek out meat. However, it is at least allowable for laypeople. In the same way, if you could somehow just observe or otherwise interpret the data taken from others as they themselves kill, it would not be perfect but it wouldn't constitute an act of killing in and of itself. Baby steps I guess haha.


I do basic research on human and animal diseases, but I do not develop vaccines or cures. The goal is to characterize the transmission dynamics of diseases to better control emerging diseases. I study diseases in animal populations in the field and must kill specimens and bring them into the lab for analysis. I also do controlled studies on lab animals where I may expose them to different diseases (some transferable to humans). Unfortunately, after each experiment I must put down all of the animals even if they do not carry human diseases and are in good health. Also, there is no way that I could transition to just interpreting the data from others. At the point I am in my career, switching gears would be next to impossible as I would need to secure new funding and would be unlikely to get funding for a different avenue of research. I would have to make a large career change, which I am not ruling out but which would be impractical to do for at least a year or two.

Your point on mindful rape or murder is well taken and part of me acknowledges that my thoughts are not quite on the right track.
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby manas » Sun Jul 01, 2012 1:36 am

Hi jeff,

going to a butcher and purchasing meat supports the butcher, and the butcher buys that meat from a slaughterhouse, where animals are killed against their will, often in much distress. So in terms of resultant suffering for other living beings, yes I see your point; it makes less difference whether one kills the animal oneself, or merely purchases the meat for consumption.

But in terms of one's resultant state of mind, there is a big difference between purchasing a piece of dead meat lying on the butcher's table, as compared with personally restraining a living, sentient being against it's will, and killing it. The resultant effects on the mind are not the same.

with metta.
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby Ben » Sun Jul 01, 2012 4:46 am

Greetings Jeff,

Just continue to practice as best you can given your circumstances.
Kamma, according to the Buddha, is intention.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby rowboat » Sun Jul 01, 2012 8:37 am

Hello Jeff, on the subject of taking life I would advise you to consider the following:

Five faultless gifts
"There are these five gifts, five great gifts — original, long-standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated, unadulterated from the beginning — that are not open to suspicion, will never be open to suspicion, and are unfaulted by knowledgeable contemplatives & brahmans. Which five?

"There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones, abandoning the taking of life, abstains from taking life. In doing so, he gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings. In giving freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, he gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression. This is the first gift, the first great gift — original, long-standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated, unadulterated from the beginning — that is not open to suspicion, will never be open to suspicion, and is unfaulted by knowledgeable contemplatives & brahmans...


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... asila.html
Rain soddens what is covered up,
It does not sodden what is open.
Therefore uncover what is covered
That the rain will not sodden it.
Ud 5.5
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jul 01, 2012 8:51 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:You could rape or murder mindfully
I don't think so.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:00 am

jeff144 wrote:... refraining from killing is as close to a dogma as there exists in Buddhism. In actuality, I am not at all bothered by the act of putting down an animal and I feel as if I am being mindful and compassionate, but perhaps this is an illusion since it seems so contrary to the Buddha's teachings. I have no guilt for my actions and I am contemplative when I kill animals, but I don't know if this is a trap that my mind has created.

Hi, Jeff,
When you look at the teachings, you find that there aren't many that say, "You must (or must not) do such-and-such." Far more often - and IMO more sensibly - they say such-and-such is undesirable, unskillful or bad for your spiritual health (i.e. actions have consequences) and that we should always think carefully about what we do and why we are doing it (that's mindfulness, of course). Take it from there, not from the (over) simplified dogma, and see what you think.

:namaste:
Kim
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby robertk » Sun Jul 01, 2012 1:44 pm

jeff144 wrote:Hi Ringo,

Do Buddhists generally consider bacteria/fungi/etc. that are killed when we brush our teeth or use antibacterial soap to be of karmic consequence? Plants are much more specialized and "intelligent" than these organisms. My impression was that there had to be some minimum of a neurological system for a being to be considered sentient in the Buddhist view (nevermind the scientific view).

-Jeff

Plants, bacteria, virus, fungi are not alive in the Buddhist sense as they have no mentaility. They are sinply complicated types of rupa.
Animals , fish and insects do have mentality and thus are alive.
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