Tu Viện Quảng Đức105 Lynch Rd, Fawkner, Vic 3060. Australia. Tel: 9357 3544. quangduc@quangduc.com* Viện Chủ: TT Tâm Phương, Trụ Trì: TT Nguyên Tạng   

Buddhism and Biotechnology

26/03/201111:24(Xem: 489)
Buddhism and Biotechnology

Buddhism and Biotechnology

Ron Epstein

Research Professor, Institute for World Religions, Berkeley 
Lecturer, Philosophy Department, San Francisco State University 
Edited from a Talk Delivered at "Spiritual Dimensions of Our Technological Future," 
AHIMSA Sixth Annual Conference, International House, University of California at Berkeley, Oct. 3, 1998.



---o0o---

The topic of this panel is "Biotechnology: Boon or Bane for Spiritual Development." It has very often been said that we are on the threshold of the biotech century, and I am sure that all of you are very clearly aware that genetic engineering is going to totally reshape life on this planet in many ways: economically, politically, scientifically--particularly in terms of medicine, and also environmentally. Most important for all of us is what the relationship of this incredible technology will be to the spiritual nature of human beings. Although an enormous amount has been written on biotechnology, very little has been written about the relationship between biotechnology, particularly genetic engineering, and the human spirit.

Allow me to mention two ways in which genetic engineering is profoundly affecting all of our lives. First, at this very moment, the United States government is considering a request for medical scientists to intervene in the germ-line of human genetics, in other words, to change the human genetic structure in a way that would be transmitted to future generations. This means that human evolution in its traditional meaning is coming to an end. We will be taking over responsibility, not only for the evolution of human beings, but also for the evolution of many other forms of life on the planet, both sentient and non-sentient.

The second way in which of genetic engineering is directly touching our lives, that fortunately, insofar as we are aware, is not yet operational, is the use of genetic engineering in biowarfare. As I am speaking, many governments are actively working on the use of genetically engineered organisms in biowarfare, and presumably so too are terrorist organizations. These are two things, which are part of the "promise" of this new biotech century, that we are going to have to be dealing with in the immediate future.

Paradigms are lenses through which we see issues that aid focusing, clarifying, and perhaps also distorting how we look at issues. Professor Ted Peters and Professor Margaret McLean are both going to be talking primarily from Christian paradigms. Professor Huston Smith has already mentioned Scientism as the dominant paradigm of our culture. That still leaves a whole wide range of important paradigms. As both a Buddhist scholar and practictioner, I would like to briefly introduce some distinctive features of the Buddhist paradigm’s relation to genetic engineering.

Four aspects of the Buddhist paradigm are somewhat different than the dominant paradigm of Scientism and many of the paradigms that we find within Christian theology. The first aspect that I'd like to mention is ahimsa, which is particularly appropriate to our gathering here today. Ahimsa means non-harming; it is the principle of respect for the intrinsic value of the life of all sentient beings, not just human life. This paradigm respects sentient beings not merely for their usefulness to us as tools or means to ends. Out of this principle of respect for life comes the notion of selfless compassion as a guiding principle in our actions, so that, in terms of genetic engineering, it would exclude any instrumental use of human or non-human sentient life. If I had time, I would go into the horrific instrumental use of non-sentient life, and sometimes unfortunately human and other sentient life, in the pursuit of profit by biotech companies.

The second aspect I'd like to discuss is transcendence. Transcendence refers to the potential of all human beings for developing spiritual wisdom and liberation. Transcendence cannot be couched in scientific terms. Nor there is any way to talk meaningfully about transcendence from the point of view of Scientism.

The third aspect of the Buddhist paradigm is the understanding that the cosmos is an open system. In contradistinction, the scientific method operates within hypothesized artificial and closed systems, that are assumed to have some meaningful, but incomplete and imperfect, correspondence with the "real" world. From the viewpoint of paradigm of Buddhism, it is clear that scientific methodology cannot, because of its inherent limitations, assess the full extent of the possible effects of genetically engineered alterations on living creatures in a world that is an open system. Thus no certainty or reliable risk assessment is possible using the scientific model.

The fourth and final aspect of this paradigm that I would like to mention is its non-Cartesian nature. In other words, our minds and spirits affect our bodies, our bodies affect our minds and spirit, and body, mind, and spirit are non-dual. Ultimately, they are neither mutually distinct, nor qualitatively different. Because body, mind, and spirit interrelate with one another and affect one another, the karma-based ethics of the Buddhist paradigm stresses the importance of the purification of all three.

I hope that you have been able to follow the this explanation, which has been very brief because of our time constraints, of these four aspects the Buddhist paradigm, which is so different from the mainstream paradigms of the modern world.

Finally, I would like you all to take a moment to reflect upon the possibility, which exists because of the interrelation and ultimate non-duality of body, mind, and spirit, that genetic engineering may adversely influence the potential of sentient beings to achieve transcendence and liberation. Because science deals only with the physical realm, no scientific experiment or methodology can possibly assess this kind of risk. Even if there is only a relatively small possibility of genetic engineering having a serious effect on the nature of the human spirit and its potential for transcendence, I think many of you will agree with me that it is a very serious cause for concern.


Source: http://online.sfsu.edu/
Update : 01-12-2001

Gửi ý kiến của bạn
Tắt
Telex
VNI
Tên của bạn
Email của bạn
17/06/201920:40(Xem: 851)
The Catering Unit of Minh Quang Retreat in Sydney, Australia has offered good services in a very solemn and deliciated manner and its very first meal reminded me of the nice smell of the Bowl of Rice of Fragrance in the old times.
03/05/201907:03(Xem: 657)
The 16th United Nations Day Of Vesak Conference 2019 Main Theme: Buddhist Approach to Global Leadership & Shared Responsibilities for Sustainable Societies at Tam Chuc Pagoda, International Buddhist Convention Center Ba Sao, Ha Nam, Vietnam Sub-Theme: “Mindful Leadership for Sustainable Peace” Three Intertwined Paths to Leading for Sustainable Peace Phe Bach, Ed.D., Founder and CEO of C. Mindfulness LLC, Mira Loma High School, ILC, SJTA, SJUSD, California Teachers Association, USA. W. Edward Bureau, Ph.D., Associate Clinical Professor (Retired), Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA Residence in Cochranville, PA, USA Introduction Sustainable peace anchors itself in mindfulness of the present, the people, and the microcosms in which we exist. Rather than existing as a static state, the peace is organic and dynamic, flowing itself around the vagaries of “unpeacefulness.” Thus, being a mindful leader begins with the practice of the Five Mindfulness Trainings (Five Precepts) and the N
16/02/201908:44(Xem: 730)
We’re an ocean-loving, family-run organisation based in South Devon, in the UK. We set up Less Plastic in 2015 to raise awareness of the issues caused by ocean plastic and provide individuals & organisations with easy-to-action steps to help them to significantly cut their plastic usage.
29/01/201909:40(Xem: 1444)
HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR 2019 Year of the Pig Welcome to our LUNAR NEW YEAR EVE: Monday: 4/2/2019:From 6pm to mid-night), the program includes: Vegie Food Stalls , Prayers for everyone’s Ancestors , Repantance Ceremony, Cultural performances, Lion Dance & Firecrackers; Prayers for World Peace & Family Well-Being. All welcome, come & go at your own pleasure! Buddha Blessings & Our Best Wishes to you & your family
04/12/201808:09(Xem: 1674)
Within a tree, there is a flower Within a rock, there is a flame Dedication for Most Venerable Thich Nhu Dien on the ceremonial event of his 70th birthday, and 40 year-milestone for Vien Giac Temple to be established in Germany Bhikhhu Thích Nguyên Tạng Translated into English by: Dr Tâm Tịnh, Hoa Chí & Hoa Nghiêm “Within a tree, there’s a flower, within a rock, there’s a flame” is the dharma taught by Zen Master Dao, recalled by Most Venerable Thich Nhu Dien during his dharmic teachings to which I had good fortune to attend in his dharma-propagating journey to the United States of America in 2006 when I acted as an assistant to him.
04/08/201815:22(Xem: 1248)
At this time, there are so many problems it is greatly due to lying.A lie is a common social phenomenon, regularly, in various social contexts for a multitude of purposes.[1]As we know one basic definition of lying is telling without truth. In much the same way, according to Buddhist view, all incorrect speeches included lying.Any thinking, speech, or action but not true, can call lying. Most purpose of the liars in order to make themselves look better, or to avoid the trouble that they have brought on themselves. A lie is a direct or indirect assertion produced with the intention of deceiving another by way of invoking and betraying that others trust in the truthfulness of the statement.[2]On the other hand, truthfulness is absented lying or false speech. From a personal perspective, before finding out the meaning of truthfulness definitely,I would like to lead you understanding some meaningsabout lying.
05/07/201806:53(Xem: 1277)
In recent years, the concept of global citizenship education has become very popular in Western countries, especially in North America and Europe. However, there are different definitions and understandings of global citizenship and hence various models of global citizenship education. Despite some particular differences, these versions share one thing: being aimed at finding a good answer to the big question, “How to build, through education, a better world?” Therefore, global citizenship education is a comprehensive domain, and one of its dominant aspects is helping others. In this regard, I will give a snapshot of Western global citizenship education practices, together with their strengths and limitations, and then explain why Buddhism may add a dimension to contemporary global citizenship education by pointing to the nature of selfhood and thus facilitating a rethinking of the notion of “help.”
22/05/201818:16(Xem: 5517)
The Buddhist community is extremely upset by the inappropriate and disrespectful use of the image of Buddha, The Buddhist community is extremely upset by the inappropriate and disrespectful use of the image of Buddha, in a display at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) entitled the 'Eternity-Buddha in Nirvana, the Dying Gaul, Farnese Hercules, Night, Day, Sartyr and Bacchante, Funerary Genius, Achilles, Persian Soldier Fighting, Dancing Faun, Crouching Aphrodite, Narcisse Couché, Othryades the Spartan Dying, the Fall of Icarus, A River, Milo of Croton'. It can also be seen at: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/131149/ Although this display has been in place for some months, we have only just been made aware of its' existence. We are not usually outspoken, but this display desecrates the image of Buddha by placing images of these mythical images on him and in doing so, showing no apparent regard or respect for Him.
28/02/201807:29(Xem: 1658)
Why is Buddhism so diverse ? Andrew Williams, I think we can all agree that the reason for the many diverse traditions and paths within Buddhism is that all sentient beings, in one way or another, are different, both mentally and physically, and therefore each individuals needs are also different. The Buddha explained that we sentient beings all have different and limited levels of understanding of this or that, and even if we focus on the very same thing, we will perceive it according to our own perspective. From our own limited viewpoint. We tend to perceive things and others based on our own preconceived ideas and past experiences. It's as if we judge the whole ocean based on the small part of the ocean that we may think we know. The whole sky based on a few clouds.
03/11/201721:39(Xem: 2506)
As this Thursday 9 and Friday 10 November, Ven Chi Kwang Sunim will talk on "Women in Leadership" as part of the Prevention of Violence Against Women Leadership Program, BCV would like to invite you and members of your organisation to attend this important program which runs at two places. Thursday 9 November 2017@ Hoa Nghiem Temple, 442-448 Springvale Road, Springvale South, VIC 3172 Friday 10 November 2017 @ Coburg Library Meeting Room, Coburg, VIC 3058 Time: 12.30-2.30 pm.