Monday, June 2, 2008

Buddhism

"I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to condone any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, and in my way of life." We cannot support any act of killing; no killing can be justified. But not to kill is not enough. We must also learn ways to prevent others from killing. We cannot say, "I am not responsible. They did it. My hands are clean." If you were in Germany during the time of the Nazis, you could not say, "They did it. I did not." If, during the Gulf War, you did not say or do anything to try to stop the killing, you were not practicing this precept. Even if what you said or did failed to stop the war, what is important is that you tried, using your insight and compassion.[emphasis in the original.]
Thich Nhat Hanh

Compare this to: Vivisectors freed from Samsara

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I undertake to cultivate compassion and learn ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to condone any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, and in my way of life."

Not to worry: nobody is killing minerals. Plants are of course alive. Shouldn't we kill lettuce or spinach? What is this guy eating?

Clearly, prehistoric man must have had a better understanding of how nature works than modern man.

Perhaps, AR activists should try spending a couple of weeks in some isolated region of the Amazon to re-discover the basic relationship between Man and Nature.

Anonymous said...

What's up with all this Buddhism? Are you a Buddhist Rick?
What about commenting on other religions as well?

Rick said...

I'm more a Buddhist than I am anything else, though religously I'm an athiest, which comports with Buddhism, oddly enough.

I call attention to Buddhism because, other than Jainism, it is the only belief system of which I am aware that embraces the idea that humans' and other animals' suffering and intrinsic value is of a like kind.

I call attention to Buddhism because Richard Davidson, among others, use the Dalai Lama's opinions to defend and justify inflicting pain and making animals' lives miserable.

This is such a basic corruption of Buddhism that it suggests some inability to think independently.

The bald unabashed claim that because the Dalai Lama thinks invasive brain experiments on monkeys or eating animals is ok, suggests further that the researchers long for some outside validation and defense of their cruelties.

Davidson claims that by sitting quietly and feeling compassion for all beings that our brains change in ways that might mitigate depression, make us happier, and kinder. But his claim is hypocritical. It, apparently, hasn't worked in his case.

You can't wish for the cessation of suffering for all beings, for their happiness, and then cauterize their brains, aspirate the burnt tissue, and then frighten them, and still claim that you care one iota about all beings.

If he didn't make so much of his personal relationship with His Holiness and compassion in his public presentations, or was one speck more honest about his nasty experiments, I might not call attention to Buddhism quite as much as I do.

When vivisectors proclaim that their priest or religion condones torturing animals, I'll criticize their religion too.

Anonymous said...

"...it is the only belief system of which I am aware that embraces the idea that humans' and other animals' suffering and intrinsic value is of a like kind."

And one would assume you share these values. Do you?

"This is such a basic corruption of Buddhism that it suggests some inability to think independently."

One could similarly argue that
the behavior of some animal right extremits is a basic corruption of the exact same tenet. At least, those advocating for violent actions. Don't you agree?

Rick said...

Yes, to the first question, but no to the second:

"One could similarly argue that
the behavior of some animal right extremits is a basic corruption of the exact same tenet. At least, those advocating for violent actions. Don't you agree?"

I'm not too sure what behaviour it is that you are referring to, but threats, even vandalism, even digging up corpses, aren't in the same category as endless serial cruelty and killing.

Equating the two seems like a desire to cast oneself as a victim. I don't think, under normal circumstances, that one should view a crook as a victim when they suffer the consequences of their actions by going to jail.

Of course, the response is that vivisectors aren't breaking the law. But many people throughout history have understood that the law is a poor substitute for morality. The law said slave traders weren't doing anything wrong, or the Spanish inquisitors, or bombadeers, or vivisectors.

What was the appropriate response to the Holocaust? Law abiding Germans should have turned Jews over to the Gestapo. You might be interested in reading about Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

It seems to me that the only way out of an eventual use of serious violence is open public discourse and transparency of what is going on in the labs. The secrecy and reluctance to speak in public and to entertain debate creates a cul-de-sac that concerned citizens will not tolerate forever.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not too sure what behaviour it is that you are referring to..."

Molotov cocktails, fires, razor-blades in letters, scaring kids, etc.

"...but threats, even vandalism, even digging up corpses, aren't in the same category as endless serial cruelty and killing."

You are changing the subject. The point is that you criticized Davidson for not behaving in accordance to Buddhist values.

You are violating your own principles when you agree that violence is justified to achieve our goals. The fact that you consider violence form animal right extremists of a lesser degree than those doing animal research is no justification.

"It seems to me that the only way out of an eventual use of serious violence is open public discourse and transparency of what is going on in the labs."

When Edythe London tried to explain her reasons for her research in the LA Times the only thing she got in return was more violent attacks. How can one be open in such an atmosphere?

Rick said...

"Molotov cocktails, fires, razor-blades in letters, scaring kids, etc."

So far, apparently, the very very few Molotov cocktails have all failed to ignite. Maybe this was by design. It seems to me that the overall reaction from activists to millions of animals being tortured and killed has been remarkably restrained.

"The point is that you criticized Davidson for not behaving in accordance to Buddhist values."

No. None of the vivisectors behave in accordance with any set of ethical values, Buddhist or otherwise. I criticize Davidson because he appeals to Buddhist values. As I wrote before, if one of them appealed to any religious claim of compassion and then burned monkeys' brains, I'd criticize them and whatever authority they appealed to too.

"You are violating your own principles when you agree that violence is justified to achieve our goals. The fact that you consider violence form animal right extremists of a lesser degree than those doing animal research is no justification."

But vandalism and threats aren't the same as torture and killing. Animal rights 'violence' is of a lesser degree. Equating them is what the vivisectors do. It's self-serving.

"When Edythe London tried to explain her reasons for her research in the LA Times the only thing she got in return was more violent attacks. How can one be open in such an atmosphere?"

Simple statements are not discourse. There was no, and there has never been, an opportunity for the public to comment on her (or anyone else's) work in any meaningful way, and never before the fact. She certainly didn't provide any detail of what she is doing so that people could draw their own decisions. She tried to defend herself with appeals to her father's lung cancer, but this is a far cry from explaining what she does and being interested in the public's response.

I think you must be new to this issue and unfamiliar with its history. There was a time when there weren't direct actions against vivisectors; they were just as unwilling to talk in public then as they are now. This might be hard for you to grasp, but they don't care what the public thinks. As long as the checks keep coming, they won't stop unless forced to do.

Right now, here in Madison, they are hard at work trying to stop us from opening the National Primate Research Exhibition Hall. They don't want there to be any sustained debate. It seems to me that they should be the ones trying to foster public discussion if they believe their rhetoric, but they aren't.

Anonymous said...

"So far, apparently, the very very few Molotov cocktails have all failed to ignite. Maybe this was by design."

This is untrue, and you know it. Incendiary devices have in fact exploded. Even when they did not explode, the point is that the goal is intimidating and terrorizing the target.

"But vandalism and threts aren't the same as torture and killing. Animal rights 'violence' is of a lesser degree."

Now you are being clear: you do in fact justify violence of a "lesser degree" despite your respect "all living creatures". I guess you just don't see a contradiction in your position.

"Simple statements are not discourse."

So the answer is to bomb the hell out of scientists that come out with "simple statements" where they attempt to justify and defend their research? Great way to invite for a conversation!

You continuously ask for openness, transparency and public discourse. But you do not have a way to ensure that those that are willing to respond are not attacked. Do you?

Rick said...

"Incendiary devices have in fact exploded. Even when they did not explode, the point is that the goal is intimidating and terrorizing the target."

The one at London's house did so I misspoke. But how many events like this can you name? Davis is the only other anti-viv fire that comes to mind. Maybe there have been others, but not very many. Very very few is an accurate characterization.

I think the goal is to get her to stop hurting animals.

You seem to think that violence of any sort whatsoever is absolutely never warranted. I don't believe that. Few people do.

"So the answer is to bomb the hell out of scientists...?" I hope not. Your hyperbole cracks me up.

Anonymous said...

From your comments it seems clear that your invitation for an open dialog about primate research is a hollow one.

At the very least you can admit that your are not honestly interested in debate.

You are just interested in achieving your goals by whatever means are necessary... including violence.

That is, of course, the definition of "terrorism". So stop complaining when the term is applied to you.

(Yeah, yeah, I know the the "true terrorist" are the ones that do biomedical research.)

animalearthhuman said...

I enjoyed that back and forth very much. Your voice appeared calm and organized and the voice of Anonymous very angry and frustrated, unwilling or so far incapable of agreeing that vivisection is unconscionable. Until they come to that place of consciousness, it seems to me, they will always be mad at you, Rick, and the discussion will come to a cranky conclusion as it did here.