In response to an open letter asking the Dalai Lama to renounce cruelty, Chhime R. Chhoekyapa, Joint Secretary, of the Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama replied with the following email:
Dear Rick Bogle,
Thank you for your email of 25 April.
His Holiness continues to speak against cruelty to all sentient
With best wishes,
Chhime R. Chhoekyapa
Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama
Ph.: 91 (1892) 221343, 221879, 221210
The Primate Freedom Project replied:
May 1, 2007
Dear Chhime R. Chhoekyapa,
Thank you for your reply to our open letter to the Dalai Lama.
You wrote: "His Holiness speaks against animal testing for research or other related purposes."
If so, then he is being very inconsistent, because he also speaks in support of animal testing for research. He made this very clear at Neuroscience 2005.
Also, his close friend Dr. Richard Davidson who experiments on the brains of monkeys said very recently:
"I’ve spent many hours talking with the Dalai Lama himself about this issue, because it is something that has been of deep concern to me.
It is very clear to me as a scientist, that research on animals is important for the alleviation of suffering on our planet. I’m committed to that as a scientist and I believe that there are certain kinds of research which are just critical to do which will have enormously widespread impact in the relief of suffering.
One of the things that the Dalai Lama always asks us is, “What is your intention?” What is the scientist’s intention in the work that he or she is doing? The leaflet refers to the fact that a good portion of my work is on fear and anxiety, and it is.
If you look at the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, the first noble truth is that life is suffering and we don’t have to look very far to see suffering in our world, and my research is deeply committed to understanding the nature and roots of suffering and to eradicating suffering in whatever ways that I can contribute to that enterprise. And so the work that we do in rhesus monkeys, and I must say it’s a really small portion of what we do, and it’s all done collaboratively, is done, in that context and with that intention.
The research on fear and anxiety is not because we want to promote fear and anxiety, it’s because we want to eradicate suffering of all sentient beings."
At Neurscience 2005, His Holiness said:
"It is a difficult question, [as it] is a difficult [duty]. I will answer, as I do, to the question of many Tibetan Buddhists who are not vegetarians. I encourage the minimum use of experiments on animals, the absolute minimum amount of pain. Only perform highly necessary experiments, and as little pain as possible. If it must be done, [if that is your path, it is compassionate] to kill out of necessity, but only with empathy. Hold in you the sense of the compassionate. "I [acknowledge] that I exploit this animal to bring greater benefit to a great number of sentient beings." You must feel the sacrifice, in your heart. It is "never made lightly."
Please clarify this matter for me. Either, as you say, "His Holiness speaks against animal testing for research or other related purposes," or, as he says, "I encourage the minimum use of experiments on animals, the absolute minimum amount of pain. Only perform highly necessary experiments, and as little pain as possible."
These positions are not compatable. Has he changed his position? Is there an official statement to that effect?
Again, Thank you for your time.