An infant receives polio vaccine from the Dalai Lama UNICEF/India
In the photograph above, taken on Jan. 10th, 2010, you will observe the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, administering bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) to an infant at the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in the Indian state of Bihar, Buddhism's holiest site – the very place where Guatama Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment approximately 2500 years earlier.
During this globally televised and deeply symbolic event, the Dali Lama vaccinated not one but two infants, ostensibly as an expression of compassion, as well as to lend his visible support for India's National Immunization Day, and for the larger Global Polio Eradication Initiative, whose duplicities and failures we have covered elsewhere.
The 14th Dalai Lama, mind you, is not only the exiled political leader of Tibet, but is believed by his devotees to be the living and breathing manifestation of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteśvara – and as a bodhisattva, an expression of enlightenment. It is therefore no small thing for him to be personally administering vaccines to infants, on the very spot that the Buddha was believed to have attained enlightenment.
The Dalai Lama Abandoned Buddhist Ethical Principles In Vaccinating Infants
The concept of doing no harm is fundamental to Buddhist teaching, as it is within other Indian religions (Hinduism, Jainism), and is known as ahimsa, literally "the avoidance of violence – himsa." One would not, for example, justify killing an animal in order to save one's own life, which is one reason why many Buddhists are vegetarians.
Nor would one justify the killing of one child in order to save 1,000,000, as is often done by regulators in evaluating the costs/benefits of vaccines (which are known on rare occasion to maim or kill) to society as a whole. Simply, do no harm. This principle is no more open to negotiation to a Buddhist than Jesus being the Son of God is open to negotiation to a Christian.
The Dalai Lama himself once said
If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them. [emphasis added]
The principle of nonviolence, or ahimsa, when applied to the environmental chemical exposures and medical interventions can be related to the precautionary principle, which states if an action has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, the burden of proving that it is safe falls on those taking the action.
It was the precautionary principle, in fact, that lead the United States Public Health Service and American Academy of Pediatrics to determine that thimerosal (methylmercury) should be removed from vaccines as "a purely precautionary measure," despite what they said was a lack of convincing evidence of toxicity. By 2001, thimerosal was removed from almost all routine childhood vaccines in the US (it is still found in multi-dose vaccines targeted against flu and tetanus).
Not only has most of the existing vaccine safety research been funded by the manufacturers of vaccines themselves (or scientists directly funded by them), but much of the safety-checking occurs only long after a vaccine has been released onto the market and the general population has already been exposed to its risks, i.e. the most accurate vaccine safety (or lack thereof) information is ascertained through post-marketing surveillance studies, and adverse events reporting by the public.
In other words, the precautionary principle is disregarded in favor of the "weight of evidence" standard, which puts the burden of proving a medical intervention to be unsafe on those who are, or already have been, exposed to potential harm -- and often without being made fully aware of the true risks beforehand, which is essential for the medical-ethical principle of informed consent.
Moreover, vaccines clearly violate the principle of ahimsa in at least two ways: 1) all vaccines require harm to animal and/or human life (e.g. fetal tissue for diploid vaccines) in order to develop them. 2) All vaccines have serious, and sometimes lethal unintended, adverse health effects -- for unequivocal proof of this, view the "side effects" panel on any vaccine insert where the manufacturer is legally required to list them. The question therefore is not whether vaccines will do harm, rather, how many will be harmed and to what extent.
In the case of oral polio vaccine, the known risk of polio-vaccine induced paralysis is weighed against the theoretical benefits of the polio vaccine. Contrary to the precautionary principle, the standard is to determine "an acceptable level of harm [himsa]. If only a 'small percentage' of infants receiving the vaccine are expected to become paralyzed or die as a result of vaccination, then the vaccine is considered justifiable and will be approved for use. This, of course, violates the Buddhist ethical principle ahimsa discussed above.
The Dalai Lama Launched The New Bivalent Polio Vaccine In India Which Carried Far Higher Risks
Sadly, the Dalai Lama did not only personally vaccinate two Indian infants on Jan. 10th, 2010, but he also officially launched the new bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV), which according to a 2011 article published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, was found in a Hungarian population to result in over 4-fold higher risk of paralysis than the monovalent 3 oral polio vaccine, and a 70-fold higher risk of paralysis than the monovalent 1 oral polio vaccine, to which it was compared.
Even more disturbing is the finding that as many as 47,500 cases of polio-vaccine associated paralysis may have occurred in Indian infants and children in 2011 alone, following the launch of the "new and improved" vaccine. Adding insult to injury, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative claimed that polio was all but eradicated that year and that vaccine-induced cases of polio are exceedingly rare, if not altogether unworthy of mention.