mikenz66 wrote:But can you explain the discord with the Dhamma? Exactly how organisms develop and how DNA works doesn't seem to me to be an issue. But I may be missing something...
Pannapetar wrote:Can you see the relevance?
mikenz66 wrote:As you say, karma niyama is one cause. The biology stuff is another. The causes interact. That's what the Buddha-Dhamma says, isn't it?
mikenz66 wrote:Can you quote something from the Tipitika that you think is contradictory to the current understanding of biology?
chownah wrote:I didn't even realize that there were people who actually believed that DNA defines destiny
The chromosomes of the older twins show lots of differences, suggesting that our choices, such as life style choices, do leave visible traces in our genes.
Pannapetar wrote:chownah wrote:I didn't even realize that there were people who actually believed that DNA defines destiny
Perhaps that is putting it a little too strongly. May be we can say that there are a lot of people who believe (with some justification) that the DNA defines not their destiny but their physiological destiny, such as physical and mental abilities, susceptibility to certain diseases, and so on. For instance, the reference to one's supposedly innate deficiencies is often used as an excuse: "I am not build for that (athletic performance)..." or "may brain just cannot grasp calculus...". I'd argue that these are very likely lame excuses. Almost everybody is equipped for adaptive muscle hypertrophy or learning calculus.
Pannapetar wrote:mikenz66 wrote:But can you explain the discord with the Dhamma? Exactly how organisms develop and how DNA works doesn't seem to me to be an issue. But I may be missing something...
Well, my DNA is the single most important aspect that determines the qualities of my body and (as Richard Dawkins argues in "The Extended Phenotype") of my behaviour. It is the blueprint of my bodymind, the phenotype or namarupa thing that carries my name. It determines my existence like no other thing in the world. What could possibly be more karmic? According to the Buddhist teaching, there are five niyamas -or causal principles- that work together creating the world of samsara. Among these five niyamas are bija niyama which roughly corresponds to the biological/hereditary aspect of becoming and karma niyama which corresponds to the moral/karmic aspect of becoming. The other three are utu niyama (physical anorganic principles), dhamma niyama (the laws of nature) and citta niyama (psychological principles). Now, if phenotype expression -and in a larger sense hereditary properties- were entirely determined by bija niyama, or the DNA configuration at birth if you will, where would that leave karma niyama? Can you see the relevance? The conclusion is that our actions and choices have effects on our physical being in this lifetime and thus there exists indeed interaction between these principles. According to the insights gained from epigenetics, these effects do not only include morphological, developmental and pathological aspects of our body, but spread right into the genome, the very heart of our (physical) existence. I find that quite exiting.
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