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).

Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:42 pm

tiltbillings wrote:I don't think so.

I don't think there's any reason to assume that mindfulness is impossible when inhumane actions are being committed. A thief must have incredible concentration to pick pockets and a tyrant must exert incredible effort to oppress his citizens. It's just wrong concentration or wrong effort. I think that goes for mindfulness too. Is there something I'm missing? I'm certainly no expert.
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 tiltbillings » Sun Jul 01, 2012 8:00 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:I don't think so.

I don't think there's any reason to assume that mindfulness is impossible when inhumane actions are being committed. A thief must have incredible concentration to pick pockets and a tyrant must exert incredible effort to oppress his citizens. It's just wrong concentration or wrong effort. I think that goes for mindfulness too. Is there something I'm missing? I'm certainly no expert.
It is not mindfulness as the Buddha taught it.
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 cooran » Sun Jul 01, 2012 8:29 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:I don't think so.

I don't think there's any reason to assume that mindfulness is impossible when inhumane actions are being committed. A thief must have incredible concentration to pick pockets and a tyrant must exert incredible effort to oppress his citizens. It's just wrong concentration or wrong effort. I think that goes for mindfulness too. Is there something I'm missing? I'm certainly no expert.



Hello LY, all,

It isn’t mindfulness (right or wrong) – it is Wrong Concentration as taught in the Sallekha sutta:

Wrong Concentration (18)
''Wrong concentration is focussing the mind on a misdeed that one intends to commit by body or speech. It is concentration that enables one to do unwholesome deeds successfully. For example, when you intend to tell a lie, your intention will materialise only if you fix your mind on the words that you have to utter falsely. If your mind wanders, you are likely to speak the truth unwittingly. It is said that in courts the truth about some cases comes to light when witnesses who have agreed to give false evidence are tricked by lawyers whose cross-examination is designed to create confusion. This is due to lack of concentration on the part of the witnesses, so concentration is vital when doing an evil deed. Wrong concentration is very powerful when men plan a massacre, a big robbery, or produce lethal weapons.’’
http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Sal ... ffort.html

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby perkele » Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:11 am

tiltbillings wrote:
LonesomeYogurt wrote:You could rape or murder mindfully
I don't think so.

Image
:jumping:

Just a little joke.

But returning back to topic I will share my ineffable wisdom with you: I would recommend you don't stray from the issue at hand to theoretical considerations or sidetracks, consideration of how many animals are killed by consuming this and that product or have been killed during the research for this and that technology and medicine that you yourself may and would or would not benefit from later or now or not. Your foremost consideration should always be what is done by yourself, not what is done by others or even has been done long time ago. If there's medicine available that helps to cure a sickness it would be stupid not to use it. Whether thousands of rats have been killed during the research for its development or not has no bearing on its useful and wholesome function in the present. Whether bacteria and funghi are sentient beings is a question that they should investigate themselves.
But your problem is different: Whether you can brush your teeth mindfully and with right concentration or not that is a thing only you can see for yourself.

I hope you get my point. I'm not meaning to make fun of you but only of many silly considerations.

The Buddha was very clear about not killing. And he didn't argue about it and provide complicated justifications other than the simple fact that all sentient beings want to live and are afraid of death.
The Dhamma is simple (in the basics of right conduct at the least). Your life is complicated. But the purpose of the Dhamma, especially the moral precepts, is less for comfortable accomodation in complicated affairs than for simplification of affairs to the point where clarity about all things can emerge.
I suggest that you do your job mindfully as long as you have not chosen to quit. Mindful of the fact that all sentient beings want to live and are afraid of death while doing what you have to do, and mindful of whatever else is important in your life to consider. Of course your life is complicated. You need a job, you need to support yourself. You need to be mindful of these things as well.
I'm not saying you should quit your job. See for yourself what is the best. So I second Ben's advice:
Ben wrote: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 tiltbillings » Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:38 am

perkele wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
LonesomeYogurt wrote:You could rape or murder mindfully
I don't think so.
. . .
Interesting, but it really did not address what I said, at all.
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 perkele » Tue Jul 03, 2012 9:18 am

tiltbillings wrote:Interesting, but it really did not address what I said, at all.

Sorry for causing misunderstanding. Nothing what I said was meant to address what you said. I just saw an opportunity for a silly joke and could not resist and that was completely unrelated to the rest of my posting by which I was just trying to show off my ineffable wisdom, which is of course difficult, because it is ineffable.
Okay, just don't take me too serious.
:coffee:
:buddha1:
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby santisasana » Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:35 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:

tiltbillings wrote:I don't think so.


I don't think there's any reason to assume that mindfulness is impossible when inhumane actions are being committed. A thief must have incredible concentration to pick pockets and a tyrant must exert incredible effort to oppress his citizens. It's just wrong concentration or wrong effort. I think that goes for mindfulness too. Is there something I'm missing? I'm certainly no expert.

It is not mindfulness as the Buddha taught it.


Indeed, according to the Abhidhamma, mindfulness/sati is a wholesome, beautiful mental factor which is only associated with wholesome, beautiful mind/citta (kusala citta). When there is sati, the mind is pure.
Doing such deeds like killing, stealing, torturing ect... implies unwholesome minds (akusala citta), devoid of sati. There can be volition (cetana), one-pointedness (ekaggatâ), attention (manasikâra)..., but no mindfulness/sati as defined by the Buddha.

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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby santisasana » Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:46 pm

Jeff,

Earning a livelihood is not easy. And at times, to make choice may be difficult.

In the Sallekha Sutta explained by Mahasi Sayadaw, there are many explanations about killing, what are the conditions for an act to be considered as killing, the kamma and the results of killing...
Understanding more about that, and according to your own conditions and spiritual aspirations, you may be able to make a more conscious and wise decision.

http://www.aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Sal ... ml#Killing

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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby Eccedustin » Mon Jul 09, 2012 4:33 am

It is far more important to consider the suffering, feelings, emotions and thoughts of animals than it is to consider the karmic consequences of causing suffering or death. Killing/inflicting suffering is bad because it produces this negative feeling/loss of life in other beings.

Reduce suffering/death at all costs. This is always possible no matter what career you are in. Treat ALL BEINGS with respect and love.

:buddha1:
The universe is awake, conscious and aware of itself! The universe is awake, conscious and aware of itself because we are awake, conscious and aware of ourselves. We are the not just in the universe, we are the universe.
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby Hanzze » Mon Sep 24, 2012 4:56 am

robertk wrote:
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.

Is there any reference about this beside of comentaries and teaching as usal? "Complicated types of rupa" could be very hurtful for some.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby Radman622 » Wed Oct 10, 2012 3:37 pm

As previously noted, the knowledge of bacteria and microscopic organisms did not exist in the Buddha's time. You'll have to excuse me, but apart from encouraging mindfulness about the consequences of your actions, even mentioning the fact that in brushing your teeth and using anti-bacterial soap you "kill bacteria" seems like utter silliness to me. Your immune system undoubtedly kills innumerable bacteria, and nothing you do can ever change that. It is necessary for your immune system to kill bacteria in order for you to live. Identifying this as bad Karma would be similar to saying that you should not breathe.

Similarly, you unknowingly swallow dozens of insects in your sleep over the course of your lifetime. I am a strict vegetarian, but this does not bother me. It is done without malicious intention, or even knowledge of the doing and is therefore, harmless. It is probably impossible to live your life in a way that creates absolutely no animal suffering, even if you are a vegan. You step on insects unknowingly, andch in the harvest of your organic vegetables, countless insects are killed. You should not feel one ounce of guilt for this - the point of vegetarianism or veganism, and, by my understanding, Buddhism, is to lessen the amount of suffering you cause as much as humanly possible, since suffering is an inevitable and unavoidable part of existence.

Furthermore, I can't see how you can condone the consumption of plants if you seriously consider the destruction of bacteria to have any kind of Karmic weight. Although it is true that plants lack any kind of nervous system like multicellular animal organisms do, and that they don't move in visibly notable ways, if one watches accelerated footage of plants they can see that the plant moves in response to light and grows towards it. Also, scientists have been able to gauge a chemical response in plants by lighting them on fire. So while we do not know whether plants experience a sensation akin to pain and suffering, it is entirely possible. The reason why it is not forbidden to eat plants is because it is unreasonable to expect anyone to have this level of pious devotion to the point of self-detriment. I feel abstaining from eating plants and starving oneself, viewing this as the only way to avoid causing suffering, contradicts the Buddha's teaching of "the Middle Way."

However, in my view, killing and performing experiments on animals in a way which causes them suffering (as differentiated from euthanasia to prevent suffering) is Wrong Livelihood, and is not necessarily justified by the argument that it would bring about medical benefit to future people. The medical experiments performed on Jews and other prisoners by the Nazis in their concentration camps have also produced benefits of a medical nature and data that was of use in the construction of high altitude planes, and so forth. But to condone the actions of these men by using the good that resulted from their actions would be considered monstrous by almost anyone. To my knowledge, Buddhism teaches that animals should not be treated as lower, expendable organisms.

I am not trying to condemn you, I am simply saying that in my personal opinion, the end almost never justifies the means, and the fact that you have to ask the question in the first place of whether the ends justify the means signifies it is not something you should be doing. What if you could cure cancer, but in order to do so, you would have to kill a human being in the most horrible, painful manner imaginable? Would this act be excused by having cured cancer and averting others' pain?

:namaste: -Conrad
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Re: Right Livelihood and being a biologist

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Oct 11, 2012 1:41 am

FWIW:
The thread was started three and a half months ago by a new user who hasn't posted on DW since a couple of days after his first visit.
Hanzze revived the thread after a nearly three-month gap.

:namaste:
Kim
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