The Great Abortion Debate

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Giovanni
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by Giovanni »

MOST fertilised eggs do not.
SilenceMonkey
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by SilenceMonkey »

Giovanni wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 7:32 pm Perhaps semantics, but nothing “enters” anything. Consciousness arises. It is a function not a “thing”. And it arises to the degree that conditions exist. In the absence of a CNS then consciousness, sparsa, etc can only arise to the degree that conditions for its arising exist. Consciousness is not an atta entering a body. It has causes and conditions. Largely these are karma driven.
Maybe you should read the Buddha’s teachings on this. Lam Rim is pretty clear on it, 12 links of dependent origination.

The consciousness we’re talking about is what reincarnates.
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by SilenceMonkey »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 7:36 pm
SilenceMonkey wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 7:23 pm
Giovanni wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 7:04 pm

Consciousness does not “enter” a foetus. The rupa/form of a foetus arises together with the other skandhas. Rupa is not a container for the other skandhas. They arise together, and as a pre trimester foetus has no functioning nervous system the arising of the skandhas happen in a staged way. And nothing happens without karma vipaka.
Our consciousness enters the egg in the moment sperm and egg meet (after mom and dad have intercourse). Then the rest of the aggregates develop into a fetus and eventually a fully formed baby.

This is usually taught in teachings on the 12 links. It’s how we are reborn as human beings.
If consciousness enters the fertilized egg cell, then where does it go when that egg cell naturally dies? Every cell in your body has been replaced every 7 years or so.
Maybe it’s not relevant what happens after seven years. If the egg dies before the baby is born, I would assume the consciousness would be propelled to a new body by the force of its karma.
Malcolm
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by Malcolm »

SilenceMonkey wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 7:47 pm
Giovanni wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 7:32 pm Perhaps semantics, but nothing “enters” anything. Consciousness arises. It is a function not a “thing”. And it arises to the degree that conditions exist. In the absence of a CNS then consciousness, sparsa, etc can only arise to the degree that conditions for its arising exist. Consciousness is not an atta entering a body. It has causes and conditions. Largely these are karma driven.
Maybe you should read the Buddha’s teachings on this.

The consciousness we’re talking about is what reincarnates.
Giovanni is correct that consciousness is not an atman entering a body. He is also correct that consciousness also depends on causes and conditions. There certainly is language the Buddha used which says, "When consciousness descends into the womb...," etc.
"Conceptuality is great ignorance,
causing one to fall into the ocean of samsāra."
—Māyājālamahātantra
Malcolm
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by Malcolm »

SilenceMonkey wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 7:53 pm
Maybe it’s not relevant what happens after seven years. If the egg dies before the baby is born, I would assume the consciousness would be propelled to a new body by the force of its karma.
Being aborted is also a result of karma.
"Conceptuality is great ignorance,
causing one to fall into the ocean of samsāra."
—Māyājālamahātantra
SilenceMonkey
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by SilenceMonkey »

Malcolm wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 7:58 pm
SilenceMonkey wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 7:53 pm
Maybe it’s not relevant what happens after seven years. If the egg dies before the baby is born, I would assume the consciousness would be propelled to a new body by the force of its karma.
Being aborted is also a result of karma.
You could say the same of getting killed in any other fashion.
Malcolm wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 7:57 pm
SilenceMonkey wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 7:47 pm
Giovanni wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 7:32 pm Perhaps semantics, but nothing “enters” anything. Consciousness arises. It is a function not a “thing”. And it arises to the degree that conditions exist. In the absence of a CNS then consciousness, sparsa, etc can only arise to the degree that conditions for its arising exist. Consciousness is not an atta entering a body. It has causes and conditions. Largely these are karma driven.
Maybe you should read the Buddha’s teachings on this.

The consciousness we’re talking about is what reincarnates.
Giovanni is correct that consciousness is not an atman entering a body. He is also correct that consciousness also depends on causes and conditions. There certainly is language the Buddha used which says, "When consciousness descends into the womb...," etc.
So we’re both right.
SilenceMonkey
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by SilenceMonkey »

By the way, I’m not saying nobody should get abortions. People have reasons for doing what they do.
Giovanni
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by Giovanni »

SilenceMonkey wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:04 pm By the way, I’m not saying nobody should get abortions. People have reasons for doing what they do.
We agree on that. Men do not have abortions. They cannot know what brings women to that decision. I know two women who weep on the anniversary of their abortions, and both say there was no other choice. We should give them our compassion. And the little ones.
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

I don't think it's controversial to say that in some sense, abortion is seen as aborting a life, (if not taking one) in Buddhist terms. So there is the choice that an individual Buddhist might make, that is one angle, but it is only one small part of the larger issue.

Debates about the technicality of the act offer few answers about how to handle it socially, which is the elephant in the room.

The traditional cultures from which Buddhism comes are not very good examples for how to handle it, they simply condemned it morally, offering few solutions and not really examining it holistically, and that is more a modern way of viewing things.

Whatever it's flaws modernity has enable us to see the bigger picture with issues like abortion, for instance the possibility (it is one claim out there) that making abortion illegal does not do enough to decrease it's frequency, and simply makes it unsafe. Similarly, we now have some good evidence about the things that prevent abortion, family planning and education, birth control availability, socioeconomic welfare, etc.

To me it is a little pointless to discuss abortion as some abstract individual decision only, when the above things are perhaps more pressing issues, because they have to do with the reasons that women ( and let's remember it is women for face the majority of the consequences here) are compelled into accidental or unwanted (or forced) pregnancy. Talking about it as if it is just an issue of individual choice is reductionist, and is repeating the mistakes of the past, where arguably we have done little to answer the most pressing questions surrounding abortion, and have just kicked the can down the road.
There's no hoarding what has vanished,
No piling up for the future;
Those who have been born are standing
Like a seed upon a needle.

-Guhatthaka-suttadinesso
SilenceMonkey
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by SilenceMonkey »

Those are some good points, Johnny.

But I think it’s still important to think about the individual aspect, not from the perspective of law, policy and society at large, but from the perspective of karma. Often people create all kinds of negative karma when they’re trapped in unfortunate situations. It’s the nature of samsara...

As Dharma practitioners, maybe we should especially be aware of the karma created by taking the life of an unborn fetus. (By cutting the continuum of the being to experience that life.) Especially for someone who has taken the upasaka or upasika precepts, it sounds like having an abortion would be breaking the root vow of taking life. It’s worse karmically if Buddhists do it, because of our vows. If we believe in karma, it would only be hurting the woman...

Maybe it’s less bad than the suffering she would go through having to raise the child... but maybe not. Then again, maybe it would be possible to purify that karma through practice.

*edit* Maybe the other people involved with the abortion (the guy who got her pregnant, the family, friends) would also be implicated karmically. If they are part of the discussions that lead her to get an abortion, they might be creating some of that karma as well. Especially if they encourage her to go through with the abortion... Just a thought.
Last edited by SilenceMonkey on Mon May 10, 2021 9:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

SilenceMonkey wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:49 pm Those are some good points, Johnny.

But I think it’s still important to think about the individual aspect, not from the perspective of law, policy and society at large, but from the perspective of karma. Often people create all kinds of negative karma when they’re trapped in unfortunate situations. It’s the nature of samsara...

As Dharma practitioners, maybe we should especially be aware of the karma created by taking the life of an unborn fetus. (By cutting the continuum of the being to experience that life.) Especially for someone who has taken the upasaka or upasika precepts, it sounds like having an abortion would be breaking the root vow of taking life. It’s worse karmically if Buddhists do it, because of our vows. It would only be hurting the person getting the abortion.
Yes but these things also must be kept in perspective, intent is a difficult to measure with something like an abortion, where taking life is a secondary part of the decision, and certainly almost no one I've ever heard of would take pleasure in it. So, it is a bit more complex than simply saying it is an intentional taking of a life, and also somewhat disrespectful to the agency women who have to make the decision to present it in such a black and white manner.
There's no hoarding what has vanished,
No piling up for the future;
Those who have been born are standing
Like a seed upon a needle.

-Guhatthaka-suttadinesso
SilenceMonkey
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by SilenceMonkey »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:52 pm
SilenceMonkey wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:49 pm Those are some good points, Johnny.

But I think it’s still important to think about the individual aspect, not from the perspective of law, policy and society at large, but from the perspective of karma. Often people create all kinds of negative karma when they’re trapped in unfortunate situations. It’s the nature of samsara...

As Dharma practitioners, maybe we should especially be aware of the karma created by taking the life of an unborn fetus. (By cutting the continuum of the being to experience that life.) Especially for someone who has taken the upasaka or upasika precepts, it sounds like having an abortion would be breaking the root vow of taking life. It’s worse karmically if Buddhists do it, because of our vows. It would only be hurting the person getting the abortion.
Yes but these things also must be kept in perspective, intent is a difficult to measure with something like an abortion, where taking life is a secondary part of the decision, and certainly almost no one I've ever heard of would take pleasure in it. So, it is a bit more complex than simply saying it is an intentional taking of a life, and also somewhat disrespectful to women who have to make the decision to present it in such a black and white manner.
Perhaps... but the things I mentioned are part of the bigger picture. And the karma aspects are most likely overlooked by modern people on the progressive side of politics. Maybe not mentioning them would also be a disservice.
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

SilenceMonkey wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:58 pm
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:52 pm
SilenceMonkey wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:49 pm Those are some good points, Johnny.

But I think it’s still important to think about the individual aspect, not from the perspective of law, policy and society at large, but from the perspective of karma. Often people create all kinds of negative karma when they’re trapped in unfortunate situations. It’s the nature of samsara...

As Dharma practitioners, maybe we should especially be aware of the karma created by taking the life of an unborn fetus. (By cutting the continuum of the being to experience that life.) Especially for someone who has taken the upasaka or upasika precepts, it sounds like having an abortion would be breaking the root vow of taking life. It’s worse karmically if Buddhists do it, because of our vows. It would only be hurting the person getting the abortion.
Yes but these things also must be kept in perspective, intent is a difficult to measure with something like an abortion, where taking life is a secondary part of the decision, and certainly almost no one I've ever heard of would take pleasure in it. So, it is a bit more complex than simply saying it is an intentional taking of a life, and also somewhat disrespectful to women who have to make the decision to present it in such a black and white manner.
Perhaps... but the things I mentioned are part of the bigger picture. And the karma aspects are most likely overlooked by modern people on the progressive side of politics. Maybe not mentioning them would also be a disservice.
They are only worth mentioning with other Buddhists, or if the woman in question is Buddhist. Even then, we should probably shut up and let Buddhist women discuss it, frankly. The idea that a bunch of Buddhist men are going to moralize and create some kind of personal policy for something we never have to deal with ourselves is insulting, to say the least. it is precisely the failed method of the past.

It's fine to just say "oh well it's probably taking life in some form", but it answers none of the difficult questions to do so, and is really a kind of armchair activity for people who will never have to be in that position. I actually think it's true that it is a decision with serious ethical implications for Buddhists, but like I said, moralizing around it is just plain shitty, for a bunch of different reasons.
There's no hoarding what has vanished,
No piling up for the future;
Those who have been born are standing
Like a seed upon a needle.

-Guhatthaka-suttadinesso
SilenceMonkey
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by SilenceMonkey »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 9:06 pm
SilenceMonkey wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:58 pm
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 8:52 pm

Yes but these things also must be kept in perspective, intent is a difficult to measure with something like an abortion, where taking life is a secondary part of the decision, and certainly almost no one I've ever heard of would take pleasure in it. So, it is a bit more complex than simply saying it is an intentional taking of a life, and also somewhat disrespectful to women who have to make the decision to present it in such a black and white manner.
Perhaps... but the things I mentioned are part of the bigger picture. And the karma aspects are most likely overlooked by modern people on the progressive side of politics. Maybe not mentioning them would also be a disservice.
They are only worth mentioning with other Buddhists, or if the woman in question is Buddhist. Even then, we should probably shut up and let Buddhist women discuss it, frankly. The idea that a bunch of Buddhist men are going to moralize and create some kind of personal policy for something we never have to deal with ourselves is insulting, to say the least. it is precisely the failed method of the past.

It's fine to just say "oh well it's probably taking life in some form", but it answers none of the difficult questions to do so, and is really a kind of armchair activity for people who will never have to be in that position. I actually think it's actually true that it is a decision with serious ethical implications for Buddhists, but like I said, moralizing around it is just plain shitty, for a bunch of different reasons.
I made an edit to my above post. It just occurred to me that other people involved in the decision to get an abortion may also be creating negative karma.

Yeah, you’re right. These are things for the women to be talking about as they’re the ones making the decisions.

What I was saying is not moralizing, but sharing thoughts based on my understanding of karma. I’m sure they are backed up by Buddha’s teachings, but are obviously not the full picture. I’m definitely not omniscient. I’m just sharing information so people can be more aware of aspects of the situation they may not have thought about.

I don’t have a personal policy about this, actually. I’m just trying to understand from different angles...
Last edited by SilenceMonkey on Mon May 10, 2021 9:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Könchok Thrinley
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by Könchok Thrinley »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 9:06 pm
They are only worth mentioning with other Buddhists, or if the woman in question is Buddhist. Even then, we should probably shut up and let Buddhist women discuss it, frankly. The idea that a bunch of Buddhist men are going to moralize and create some kind of personal policy for something we never have to deal with ourselves is insulting, to say the least. it is precisely the failed method of the past.
:good:

I'd love to hear some more women in this discussion tbh.

I am also quite confused by the comment that conciousness is created based on circumstances and at the same time Buddha said it descends into the womb.
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

For those who do virtuous actions,
goodness is what comes to pass.
For those who do non-virtuous actions,
that becomes suffering indeed.

- Arya Sanghata Sutra
SilenceMonkey
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by SilenceMonkey »

Könchok Thrinley wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 9:15 pm
I am also quite confused by the comment that conciousness is created based on circumstances and at the same time Buddha said it descends into the womb.
It sounds to me like a relative truth vs ultimate truth situation. Relatively, there is karma and continuity from lifetime to lifetime, moment to moment. Whereas a more ultimate perspective might be consciousness is momentary, coming in and out of existence in each moment. I’m saying “more” ultimate because ultimately, maybe there is no such thing as consciousness in the first place.
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by Nemo »

Did anyone ever wonder if these kooky stories about rebirth were of dubious origin? They sound absolutely bonkers. Like the if your parents have sex the baby feels like it's on fire nonsense. Even if you believe them why on earth should anyone else let that influence their beliefs. It is all hearsay. There is zero proof and the source may never have even said so in the first place. This sounds like repackaged Christian zygotes have souls arguments.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Nemo wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 10:50 pm Did anyone ever wonder if these kooky stories about rebirth were of dubious origin? They sound absolutely bonkers. Like the if your parents have sex the baby feels like it's on fire nonsense. Even if you believe them why on earth should anyone else let that influence their beliefs. It is all hearsay. There is zero proof and the source may never have even said so in the first place. This sounds like repackaged Christian zygotes have souls arguments.
The proof is that in fact “you” are continuously being reborn every moment.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Könchok Thrinley wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 9:15 pm I am also quite confused by the comment that conciousness is created based on circumstances and at the same time Buddha said it descends into the womb.
‘Descend’ is a bit of a misleading term, as it suggests a downward movement.

Basically, because of habitual attachment, consciousness assumes a connection with a functioning cellular organism.

I don’t know if there is ever an explanation as to why this would be two microscopic cells, or why karma would connect a consciousness with one pair of microscopic cells rather than another, except ignorance, blah blah blah
EMPTIFUL.
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Re: The Great Abortion Debate

Post by PeterC »

tkp67 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 6:07 pm
PeterC wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 3:37 pm
tkp67 wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 1:30 pm Perhaps the latent potential of human life is greater than any delusion manifested by it.
Perhaps when seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.

:sage:
The value of precious human birth exists within the teachings of many traditions. I have yet to find any precious birth as a hungry seagull following a trawler teachings.
The seagull upadesha is a very important teaching in some lineages. Probably more people have studied it than study the Lotus sutra.
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