Killing for science

So am in situation…i have joined a research lab…and we work on zebrafish model…
So we do all sorts of things to study zebrafish heart.

  1. we give them anesthesia. Make little cut on them and make injury on there heart…
  2. we daily sacrifice 5 fish…some times 20 …some time many fertilized eggs…

As bhante subhuti said there is no empathy keeling…
And there is no garenty that after completing my research project I will find something extraordinary that will help heart disease person to cure so that I will nullify this bad deeds…
I will try to make donations every day and month to needy so that this bad deeds can nullify…

Any thoughts on this…how exactly how extremely it is bad…will it affect my daily meditation progress???

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Until we are sotapanna there will be the conditions to perform ill deeds.
But you have knowledge that it is wrong and that itself is beneficial.

The Commentary compares a baby touching a hot pot - they get burned.
But the adult can juggle the pot as he picks it up and minimise harm.

The other researchers may not even think killing the fish is wrong, so the degree of kamma is worse.


You will get a hardline answer for me. In the 90’s I worked as a contract programmer for Bayer Diagnostics which is now owned by Siemens. You probably know of them or Colter for their blood machines that count rbc, wbc and neutxy.

Phase 1 was for human blood and Phase II was multi-species. I was brought into help with phase 1 which was very behind schedule for a 3 month contract which ended up lasting 3 years. After releasing 1000 machines, Phase 2 was being developed in Dublin. It was pretty much the same software with a small calculation adjustment and a dial for animals added. This was developed by our Dublin team while I was in New York.

It did not occur to me that the multi-species machine would be used for animal laboratory testing until a fellow vegetarian told me about the very low or negligible amount of animals that would be allocated for vetanary use. I spoke to my manager and he convinced me to stay because the code base was separated into two projects. Although my code was used for the Phase II machine, it was hand copied by the manager to the project from the Human machine. However, eventually I quit because I refused to help with the phase II machine that was already in testing (in New York).

When the chief of testing would come in to my office asking for help about a bug they found, I leaned back in my chair and ask if it was the human machine or animal machine. The head of testing was really angry at that, and although my manager backed me up, I decided to leave. I gave 6 months notice and started my trip around the world and eventually became a monk.

That was in early 1999, when gas was $1.20 per/gal “for the good stuff”, and I was making $81 per hour. I’m so glad I quit my job because that now defines who I am today.

I always tell people, when your sīla gets in the way of work and you cannot hold a job anymore because of dhamma, then it is time to ordain. So when will you visit Sri Lanka and other Theravāda countries :innocent:

I should add that Bayer was a chemical company. The chemicals for testing blood were similar to printer inks, and the $70,000 usd machine was “given away at cost” to cause chemical sales… While human blood needs a doctor’s order, animal blood was the big money winner because the sky was the limit for how many animals that can be tested (and harmed or killed in the process). If you did not pay $250 for 2 gallons of soapy salty water, the machine would not be certified. I’m sure you know all about this as a tester. I’m glad you posted this question. It makes the reality of why I quit my job all more real.

My advice is not to do the slightest wrong…ever.


Thanks master’s…i understood your point…
But with this one other questions arose in me …

  1. I know this profession is not under samma aajivo…so whatever salary I get from this profession is bad money…and is there vinaya law that prohibits monks from taking food from someone who do not follow samma ajivo. ?

I have read suttapitaka. And have read about Buddha not mentioned such things in sutta. Instead the master being compassionate for all beings used to take alms from anyone one . Be it prostitute or poor.
But still this worry is arising in me that whenever I try to donate. Is indirectly am doing harm to monk’s vertues?

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Break phenomena down into moments and that will uncomplicate life. The moment of killing the fish was akusala kamma patha, but other moments while doing research may be kusala such as wishing to find a cure to help others, kindliness to co-workers, considering Dhamma while working and so on.
When you offer food to a bhikkhu that is kusala kamma patha.

So what we think of as ‘me’ is really just moments of experiencing the results of past kamma and then in the following javana processes either kusala or akusala. Just this unceasing stream or momentary arisings with no self or core and nothing permanent. SuttaCentral
Majjhima Nikāya
148. The Six Sets of Six

If anyone says, ‘The mind is self,’ that is not tenable. The rise and fall of the mind are discerned, and since its rise and fall are discerned, it would follow: ‘My self rises and falls.’ That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, ‘The mind is self.’ Thus the mind is not self.

And it is the way of the world that kusala and akusala arise, that pleasant and unpleasant feelings arise.


What @RobertK says is interesting. I would still not justify it in any way… Drop the job and go to a new profession.

As for donation. No problem for monks to accept. As for merit for you, I think the object needs to be “rightfully obtained”. What that means in your case, I’m not certain enough to say off hand. It is safe to say, it will give more benefit to you if you had a different job… because you would not be doing that work… plus you would also be making a donation.

I also know that the morality of the giver can still gain merit if the morality of the receiver is good. The Buddha gives a a matrix of

good giving to good,
bad giving to bad,
bad giving to good
good giving to bad.

So change your place of work and give the best of dana with both the sīla of the giver, and the receiver are pure as well as rightfully obtained. There is nothing wrong with this particular hardline advice.

There is a phrase that is something like this…
If there were 100 killers in a such and such city and you killed one of those killers, there would still be 100 killers in that city.


This is a related passage by a Burmese Bhikkhu, Ledi sayadaw.
[ p.300 Bodhipakiya dhamma.]

Hunters and fishermen should, on the other hand, be encouraged to contemplate the
noble qualities of the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangria. They should
be induced to contemplate, as is in their power, the characteristic of loathsomeness in one’s body. They should be urged to contemplate the
liability of oneself and all creatures to death. […]
At the present time, whenever I meet my dayaka upasakas (lay disciples who contribute to a bhikkhu’s upkeep), I tell them, in the true tradition of a bhikkhu; that even though they are hunters and fishermen by
profession, they should be ever mindful of the noble qualities of the Three
Jewels and three characteristics of existence. To be mindful of the noble
qualities of the ti-ratana (Triple Gem) constitutes the seed of carana. To
be mindful of the three characteristics of existence constitutes the seed of
vijja. Even hunters and fishermen should be encouraged to practise the
advertence of mind. They should not be told that it is improper for hunters and fishermen to practise advertence of mind towards samatha
(calm) and vipassana (insight). On the other hand, they should be helped
towards better understanding, …

When I was living in Thailand a man came to a Dhamma talk by Khun Thanit (a student of A. Sujin) .
The place was in the country and the center called KuruNoi, little Kuru. It had little wooden huts and I stayed there for about 6 weeks.
The man told me that he lived across from the center and came to the meetings every Saturday. He owned a pig farm and he wanted to know what I thought. The talk had mentioned about a man in the time of the Buddha who put his pigs to death in a cruel manner in order to make the flesh more tasty. He died in a noisy, painful way and was reborn in hell. The Story of Cundasūkarika [Verse 15].

I asked him what the benefit and result of listening and considering the Abhidhamma was. He knew that it must have great benefits and so I simply encouraged him to keep listening and studying.


Yes… it is important to keep contact with the Triple gem and not reject these people. It is the only connection that can help pull them out. However, it should never be said that it is an acceptable practice. Or doing less of it is acceptable. It is only acceptable when it is not done. As long as there is contact with the Triple Gem and proper practice and proper faith, I am quite sure that such behaviors will eventually fall away. Meditation, especially samatha is encouraged. When you do wrong things, it will be evident why sila is a preliminary for samatha concentration. The thoughts of past deeds will appear. Take note that they (good or bad deeds) also often appear in the same way during the moment just before death.


What about killing out of mercy? I once was in the park with a group of children. They found a dying fish in a small stream. The animal was in a really bad condition. Another parent thought I should “end its suffering”. As I used to go fishing for a while, that wouldn’t have been difficult.

I didn’t do it and let the fish drift away as I try to “stand away from killing”. I’m not entirely convinced that was the right thing to do. Firstly with regard to the suffering fish, and secondly with regard to the children. Whether the teaching to watch the suffering is right for them?

Well chris…bhante has already have answered this in other post.

Suffering is a result of there past bad kamma. U must encourage them to be mindful (in case of human) or you must show compassion to animals who are going to die. You must be with them in there last time taking care of them so that by the result of your kindness there last thought will be …this human is so kind…and they might born as a human or higher…it’s very hard for animals to born as human or higher because they do not come in contact with such things very often…

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You did the right thing by not ending the life before the life-span was not yet fully exhausted by its kamma.
The general rule is, “Don’t do any actions to any living being that should not be done to a human.”
I recently read an article that :

“The Netherlands legalised euthanasia in 2001, leading to a gradual increase in euthanasia deaths. By 2022, it constituted five per cent of all deaths in the country.”

Now people are killing themselves due to mental illness and depression. 5% of all deaths as a single cause is huge. I feel sorry for the doctors who administer such “treatments” and think they are doing good things. They are not and they will have trouble in their future as a result.


thank you for the clarification!

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