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  • Writer's pictureLama Jigme Gyatso

Abortion, the Buddha, and Preconception

I am going to tell you something that is inconvenient, and then I am going to tell you something else that is very important, and maybe a little bit scary.

FIRST let’s begin with inconvenience: the Buddha did not specifically mention abortion in his teachings. That means that he neither directly forbade it, nor did he explicitly encourage it. The Buddha did NOT set out to be the founder of a religion. He was simply a prince, who renounced this throne, to set out upon the path of meditation. And when he took that path as far as his teachers could take him, he went beyond his teachers and discovered additional techniques; techniques he spent the rest of his life teaching. The Buddha was NOT a cult leader: bent and determined to control each facet of his students’ lives, he was simply a meditation teacher.

SECOND let’s turn our attention to that which is quite important: when we feel passionately about a subject, it can be tempting to pick and choose selected excerpts of the Buddha’s teachings (or of the Christ’s teachings) to argue in favor of our world view. But NOT everything that is possible is profitable. And doing such things does more to calcify our world view and make it more rigid than it does to soften often our world view and make it more flexible. But in the teachings of the seven enlightenment factors the Buddha inferred that in order to master his eight-fold path flexibility is that which is rather necessary.

FINALLY let’s consider something scary. Like it or not we each have the potential to become more rigid, and domineering, and overbearing. Within each of us lays the potential to abandon intellectual integrity and bend the Buddha’s teachings to suit our agenda. To resist such a tendency requires vigilance. Perhaps that is why the first enlightenment factor is mindfulness.

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