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 Yamas & Niyamas - Restraints & Observances
 Dissections--How do I explain why I don't want to
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Clear Light

1 Posts

Posted - Oct 23 2019 :  1:03:51 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Message
I am a university student majoring in the sciences. One (and possibly several future classes) involves dissection animals. In this class I am taking now, we are supposed to dissect fetal pigs. The argument for why this procedure is acceptable is as follows: the fetal pigs are a byproduct of the meat industry, and they were not removed from their mother with the intent purpose of being used for lab dissections.

I do not think justifying that their deaths and later dissections is OK because another pig was intended to be murdered is valid reasoning. I know the dissections are wrong, and I can feel it in me that the compassionate thing to do would be to end the slaughter of mother pigs and protest dissections.

Two arguments present themselves for why I should participate. One is that if this is my dharma, then I should just do it, even if I think it's completely unnecessary for me to have an education into physiology and anatomy in this manner. Secondly, my abstention means my lab partner will have to do a dissection all on her own, forcing her to do more work because some good-for-nothing goodie person like myself refuses to do the work.

If I participate though, they will think I approve of killing animals, which I absolutely do not. Is that causing more harm than good, or is the discomfort that causes her and our lab partners good ultimately if it makes them question the status quo? That said, I do not blame my colleagues for doing the dissections. They just don't know better. So what should I do? Should I not participate in the dissection and let my lab partner do it all on her own? Is there a type of wisdom, presence or awareness I can bring to class that makes my abstention of the pig a positive thing rather than a negative one?

Thank you!


76 Posts

Posted - Oct 24 2019 :  06:27:27 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
I disagree with chas. Both the mother pig and it's fetus are dead and bought already. This means whatever you do will have no impact on the market system which is responsible for distribution in the first place. Futhermore I see no problem in the act of dissection itself, but you may differ.

Participating here doesn't necessarily mean that you approve of killing animals in general. On the other hand you would burden your lab partner with a mountain of additional work, which, in my optinion, would be unethical. To help them question the status quo you should definitely talk with them about it.
The only way something would change is if your whole class would also boycott the course, as well as all the courses afterwards so the university would stop buying the fetuses. And then they are a byproduct of the slaughtering industry still. Which means that all you really can do is eat vegetarian/vegan yourself and propagate that style of eating.
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2107 Posts

Posted - Oct 24 2019 :  5:35:00 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
So what should I do? Should I not participate in the dissection and let my lab partner do it all on her own? Is there a type of wisdom, presence or awareness I can bring to class that makes my abstention of the pig a positive thing rather than a negative one?

interesting conversation!

Communication is always the best response, explain to the partner from your heart, and if you think it would affect your grade, include the professor. It should be done it private (instead of in the lesson) so you don’t get ganged upon. As Chas said, don’t touch the pig if your very being is saying not to.
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United Kingdom
1730 Posts

Posted - Oct 25 2019 :  1:16:07 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Chas, do you find yourself able to always take the course of action that breaks no restraint or observance at all?

I, for one, find that that is not always possible. In my experience, navigating through the greys of this world often means that I must choose the lesser transgression.

It might be easier for those who have retreated to a cave, but even those have been known to puzzle between choosing to kill mosquitoes and saving themselves from being eaten alive.

I also think Stille makes a good point about being pragmatic and putting our efforts into actions that make a difference. There is something to be said about choosing the battles that we fight.

Edited by - BlueRaincoat on Oct 25 2019 1:26:24 PM
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kumar ul islam

United Kingdom
791 Posts

Posted - Oct 25 2019 :  1:37:01 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
the wisdom you require lies in the gita ,the highest dharma will prevail, sometimes our circumstance require us to act in a way that seems to contradict all our inner instincts ,taking the sword against an aggressor would be one example if one is a pacifist ,but the anger and frustration at not being able to stop a bad outcome would be worse as the attachment to the end results is still there ,renouncement of the fruit of action is key to being able to act but without attachment ,we live in a framework thats far beyond our control making the best of it in the highest way is our choice feelings of guilt keep us contained within this view realisation takes us beyond this to greater truth .
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836 Posts

Posted - Nov 01 2019 :  07:49:48 AM  Show Profile  Visit Blanche's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Clear Light,

Welcome to the forum! Great to see you here! It would be good to mention that you have been following the AYP system for almost four years, and you have a plant-based diet. As we travel on the spiritual path, it is natural for our practice of ahimsa to evolve, too. Your practice of deep meditation and other AYP techniques obviously has an impact on your level of awareness. You write that your colleagues are doing their best, and you do not blame them. You are wise not to push your viewpoint on your group, as ahimsa evolves with our level of awareness, and your ethical concerns might not be shared by others.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna advises Arjuna: “Established in Self, perform action,” and “Do not be attach to the fruit of your action, or inaction.” Therefore, you have a number of options: You could take part in the dissection without making any moral judgements. This is your dharma, as you said. I would argue, and I understand that others might not agree, that doing your dharma without attachment does not create karma. Another option is to check with your lab partner to see if she is ok to do the task by herself. Further, I wonder if there is any action you can take to suggest to the professor or department to use 3D technology for virtual learning of anatomy and physiology. I know that the technology exists already, as it is used to explore the anatomy and physiology of human fetuses to assess their health.

Looking forward to hearing how it went.

Edited by - Blanche on Nov 01 2019 07:51:02 AM
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966 Posts

Posted - Nov 01 2019 :  8:28:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hey, what happened to your "white" light?

Anyway, it's as simple as saying no.

Take care, Lori
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