The Buddhism, the Science and the Ethics
News of Cambodia N 0749-E
The Buddhism, the Science and the Ethics
December 20th, 2007
We publish below an article of a very important scientific discovery concerning the production of human stem cells from the skin cells. Before, stem cells are in the embryos which are to be destroyed. An ethic problem is raised. Because the question is to know when the human life starts to begin in the ethical point of view? In order to satisfy the women sexual freedom, one speculates that the human life begins few weeks after the conception. Such an idea is to allow the legal abortion. But it does not answer to the previous question in the abstract point of view.
In order to know when the human being life begins, what the Buddhism can answer?
1/. Let's begin with a lived story.
Before 1970, Chauvay Srok (Leader of district), on a tour have seen a magnificent trunk of eradicated Beng (ebony). The next day he sends a tractor to remove it next to his place. In the same evening he gets seriously sick. A Hora (a kind of medium) told him that a Neak Ta (a genius) is living in the trunk of this Beng. It is then necessary to handle it back to the same place. For repair, it is necessary to make offerings with prayers and meal prepared by the bigwigs. Cured the next day, the Chauvay Srok organizes ceremonies as promised. During the ceremony, the tradition wants the “Tès Krè Pi” or “Tès Krè Bei” (a public debate by two or three erudite bigwigs about the Buddhism). In this case it is a debate between two erudite monks sat on two platforms a little heightened in front of the audience. One of the bigwigs is well known for his high knowledge.
One of the questions: is the organization of this kind of ceremony in stipulated in the Buddhist rules?
After debate, the bigwig known for his knowledge summarizes the answer and said yes. Because Chauvay Srok has promised to organize this ceremony if he is cured. By doing so, he only keeps his promise. Because for a Buddhist, there is no genius, but there is a respect of the promise, the words, even for oneself. That is one of the Buddhism rules in the daily life. These regulations and principles become a rule of daily life for Buddhist.
2/. To explain about the stemp cells, let us remind some fundamental rules and regulations of the Buddhism:
A/. For the Buddhism, everything moves, nothing is permanent. Scientists of the material world have no choice but to accept this reality. This concept is becomes now the sciences and have been applied for the human beings even by Darwin. Even the universe, the earth, etc. are in constant evolution.
B/. The Greeks, the same time, invented the logical reasoning through Buddha philosophy. The difference remains in the investigation domains. As the heirs of the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations, the Greeks use it through mathematics, physics, cosmology and philosophy. For Buddha, he uses it by introspecting and by meditating way.
More or less explicitly Buddha utters the following concepts:
a/. Everything moves, the stability appears only in the surface for the man, for the human beings as well as for everything. It is the reality of every day, even for the earth and for the universe.
b/. The metempsychosis concept is subject of serious debate. It is necessary to remind that during Buddha time, any invisible existence is ignored, as the micro-organisms, the germs, the viruses. More Buddha had a long life and even very long at that time. This concept reveals the existence of the soul which is generalized more or less explicitly, in all other religions of the world such as the Christianity and the Islam. Buddha extends this concept to animals, to all human beings, even plants. Without fruits and vegetables, there is not possible for food.
Buddha convinces his followers of these concepts but never imposes these ideas to anyone. He teaches the people in general by reason and meditation through the daily life experience, such as the suffering in any life for example. Buddha never introduces the miracle. Anything is a rational factual explainable. For Buddha, there is no supernatural neither of guardian genius, nor any inexplicable matter.
C/. For some or rather Buddha promotes the democratic exchange of ideas in order to strengtening knowledge amongst people in the communities. We wish :
§ That people return to the way of organizing “Tès Krè Pi” or “Tès Krè Bei”, the traditional democratic discussions between two or three erudite bigwigs to spread knowledge through Buddhism, with possibility of having question from the audience.
§ In the same way as these religious discussions, it is useful that seminars of this kind are held between specialists over certain periods of our history. Proposal subjects, not exhaustive : « the reasons of the superiority of Ayuthia on Angkor », « The key points of the Angkor civilization : its highlight and its decline » or « The consequences of the Portuguese arrival following by the other Europeans in Asia », etc.
The democracy, begins at first with the democracy in the free and democratic debates in sessions of « Tès Krè Pi or Krè Bei » between erudite bigwigs. It is a real debating democratic lesson which will leading to the seminars between historians and similar sessions in order to listen to a “specialist” of that kind.
In the history cited above, the answer of the scholars about Buddhism, answers perfectly the Buddha's principles: there is neither guardian genius, nor the other supernatural phenomena, but it is question of the true word for oneself and for the others as well. It is of ethics life of the Buddhist principles which is the truthfulness (nityam).
3/. So for the Buddhism every human being begins from the conception and even before. Because there is a manifestation of the soul to be born before there is birth. Thus the Buddhist ethics joins the Christian ethics: the human being begins at least from the conception. Then the abortion is a crime. But it is questions of the women sexual freedom which leads to the societal problem. In that case the Buddhist ethics is corrupted and failed.
Then an important question remains without specific answer : when a human being is considered as dead ? With the progress of the science, in some case, a dead body can be maintained in vegetative almost infinitely. Certain human beings can eventually wake up after remaining in coma for years. Before, to consider death while the heart stops, now, it is the brain which is stopping functioning. Will the future reserve us the other definitions? With the brain transplant?
Nowadays, the human beings try to keep live more and more for a long time while trying to maintaining relatively young mentally and physically. The world known architect Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer, the one who built the new capital Brasilia of his country, has just celebrated his hundred years on December 15th, 2007. He always leads an active professional life and always continues to build notably in Spain. Let us remind that 2 000 years ago, the life duration of the Normans were of 35 years in average. Ramses II and Jayavarman VII who lived until more than 90 years were exceptions which confirm the rule.
In the developed countries, the statistic gave that half of the children born in these days will live at least hundred years. How about life in Cambodia?
In the future, some scientists advance idea that it is possible to give birth in artificial wombs. How will answer the ethics of the different religions ? Anyway in a predictable future it is not possible to create the life from the sluggish material. To bring up conception in artificial wombs, it is necessary at least cells from a woman and from a man.
2 500 years ago, there have been no Buddhist fundamentalist. It is necessary note also that the Buddhism gains the intellectual's in Europe and in North America.
Below the article concerning the possibility of producing stem cells from the cells of the skin and not from a human embryo. So the ethics is respected.
Stem cell breakthrough uses human skin not embryos
by Mira Oberman Tue Nov 20, 5:22 PM ET
CHICAGO (AFP) - In a major breakthrough, scientists announced Tuesday they have generated stem cells from human skin which could help in the fight against major diseases and sidestep the battle over using embryonic cells.
Stem cell cultures are held up in a US lab. In a major breakthrough, scientists announced Tuesday they have generated potent stem cells from human skin which could help in the fight against major diseases and sidestep the battle over using embryonic cells.(AFP/Getty Images/File)
The discovery opens the door for promising research into using the blank-slate stem cells to test new drugs and study how diseases function without being forced to destroy embryos in the process, which has led to legal restrictions on research in the United States.
The researchers in Japan and the United States have also eliminated a major hurdle to using stem cells in treatments. The stem cells could eventually be generated with a specific patient's genetic code, eliminating the risk that the body would reject transplanted tissues or organs.
The new method is expected to rapidly advance research in the treatment of cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, diabetes, arthritis, spinal cord injuries, strokes, burns and heart disease because scientists will have much greater access to stem cells.
"(The) work is monumental in its importance to the field of stem cell science and its potential impact on our ability to accelerate the benefits of this technology to the bedside," said Deepak Srivastava, director of the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease.
A scientist conducts research on stem cells at a laboratory. In a major breakthrough, scientists announced Tuesday they have generated potent stem cells from human skin which could help in the fight against major diseases and sidestep the battle over using embryonic cells. Photo:/AFP
"Not only does this discovery enable more research, it offers a new pathway to apply the benefits of stem cells to human disease."
Stem cells are seen as a possible magic bullet because they can be developed into any of the 220 types of cells in the human body.
But research has been limited in the United States because of ethical concerns, and very few labs have had the resources and technical expertise to work with embryonic stem cells.
The new method is fairly straightforward and can be repeated by standard labs with relative ease, said study author James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
"My personal barometer of optimism has gone up a lot," Thomson said in a conference call.
"Funding is finally going to go up because this does remove the political debate. And as we engage more and more people in the United States things are going to accelerate."
The White House hailed the discovery as a means of solving medical problems "without compromising either the high aims of science or the sanctity of human life."
Two teams of researchers were simultaneously able to transform the skin cells by using a retrovirus to insert four different genes into the cells.
The Japanese team, led by Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University, managed to produce one stem cell line out of every 5,000 cells.
"This efficiency may sound very low, but it means that from one experiment, with a single ten centimetres dish, you can get multiple iPS (induced pluripotent stem) cell lines," he said, referring to a stem cell type capable of creating any type of cell in the body except those of the placenta.
The US team, led by Thomson, reprogrammed one of every 10,000 cells but did so without the use of a gene that is known to cause cancer.
Both techniques have the risk of mutation because the cells retained copies of the virus used to deliver the genes.
The crucial next step is to find a way to switch on the genes that cause the skin cells to regress into stem cells rather than relying on the retrovirus to insert the genes.
"It's almost inconceivable at the pace this science is moving that we won't find a way to do this," stem cell researcher Douglas Melton of Harvard University told Science magazine.
The ability to design patient-specific and disease-specific stem cells ought to help push research forward even before the mutation risk is eliminated.
"These cells should be extremely useful in understanding disease mechanisms and screening effective and safe drugs," Yamanaka said. "If we can overcome safety issues, we may be able to use human iPS cells in cell transplantation therapies."
While the skin cells may eventually prove to be more useful than embryonic stem cells, Yamanaka cautioned that it would be "premature to conclude that iPS cells can replace embryonic stem cells."
"We are still a long way from finding cures or therapies from stem cells and we don't know what processes will be effective," he added.
Thomson cautioned it could be a couple years before researchers resolve all the problems with iPS cells and can confirm that they do not eventually act differently than embryonic stem cells.
Thomson's paper will be published Thursday in the online edition of Science magazine. Yamanaka's paper will be published in the November 30 edition of the journal Cell. Both were released Tuesday.
Publié par Khemara Jati : firstname.lastname@example.org
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