Jose Vega居士講於2023年8月30日星期三晚 萬佛聖城大殿
現在，我想談談與我所談的內容相關的一個相對較新的科學領域。表觀遺傳學，發現我們有能力可以把我們的經歷標記在我們的基因物質裡，因此可以傳遞給下一代。 這個主題非常引人入勝，因為它表明創傷是可以被繼承的。例如，在經歷過戰爭的世代的子孫輩中，恐懼和壓力相關的心理障礙的病例明顯多於平均水平。我們可能過著正常的生活，然而，卻受苦於原因不明的破壞性行為… 除非我們往前幾代去尋找其原因！
 這個過程有幾種機制，包括DNA和組蛋白（DNA纏繞的蛋白質）的甲基化，以及非編碼RNA的生成。結果並不是核苷酸序列的改變，而是涉及壓力管理的某些基因的表達或沉寂。  https://www.dailygood.org/story/2641/mark-wolynn
Talk at the Buddha Hall of CTTB By Jose Vega
August 30, 2023
Buddhas, bodhisattvas, Venerable Master, Dharma Masters, Dharma friends: Amitofo. Today is Ullambana Day so I thought about sharing some insights on the topic of “remembering our ancestors.”
I am Jose Vega, a teacher of Biology and Environmental Science at the High School in both boys and girls divisions. I also take care of the boys’ dorm during weekdays, and what I am going to tell just happened last night in my room. I was lying on my bed thinking about what to say in this talk when I fell asleep. I woke up a few minutes later and what I saw made me fall from the bed, literally, such was my shock. There was an ancient old man sitting full lotus on my bed! He looked Indian and wore a ragged reddish garment. He reminded me of one of those images of Arhats of stern expression. In fact, he looked upset. When I stood up from the floor, he was not there. Although he did not say anything, I had the feeling he was communicating something like, “Man, when are you going to deliver? We are still waiting.”
I walked out of my room and noticed that the full moon was just rising from the east, not too far from Wonderful Enlightenment Mountain. Ullambana is a day to remember our ancestors, and I also know that the moon is considered by many traditions as the land of death, or as the “goddess” that speaks to our unconscious. I could not help wondering if that old visitor could be anything else than a figment of my imagination. “Perhaps an ancestor of mine?” I will never know for sure, but if he was, he was not happy.
Before the irruption of that vision, I was thinking about sharing a dream I had at a crucial time in my life. I had just earned my Ph.D. in Spain and was about to move to America to do a postdoc at the Berkeley National Lab. In my dream, I was packing a suitcase, but a bulky plastic wrap was taking up too much space. Besides, I didn’t know what was inside. I started to unwrap it. What I saw was so shocking that I woke up. It was the corpse of my grandmother. My father’s mom had already passed away some years ago. She had moved to our place when she was widowed. She had had a very difficult life in a rural part of Spain, and it did not improve after moving into our small apartment in a big city. She never got used to it. And we never got along. Being a city teenager, I thought of her as someone who embarrassed me. I even remember telling her horrible things such as, “You eat too much,” which was not at all true. That dream brought all those painful memories to surface. I broke down. For hours, all I said in tears was, “Please, forgive me.” When I regained composure, I felt lighter. Somehow I knew our relationship had healed, for good.
Now I want to talk about a relatively new scientific field connected to what I am talking about. Epigenetics has discovered that our experiences are capable of marking our genetic material and, therefore, be transmitted to new generations.  The subject is fascinating because it is saying that traumas can be inherited. For example, in the grandchildren of the generations who endured wars, there are significantly more cases of mental disorders related to fear and stress than on average. We may have a normal life and, nevertheless, suffer destructive behaviors without apparent cause… Unless we look for it some generations before!
Well, just the day after studying epigenetics with my students, I received an email talking about it. It contained a link to an interview with Mark Wolynn, a psychologist specialized in treating depression, anxiety, fear, phobias, chronic pain, self-destructive behaviors, etc., with the particularity of doing so by investigating possible inherited traumas. For instance, he says that the orphanhood of one of our grandparents can be the source of problems related to abandonment, loneliness, lack of self-esteem, depression, and even different forms of abuse.
He recommends investigating possible family traumas, bringing them to light from the subconscious, and to integrate them into our personality. The last step in healing the trauma is visualizing our grandparents and ancestors as a kind of protective angels that help us to heal their traumas through us, and, by doing so, helping us to mature.
Earth Store (Skt. Ksitigarbha) Bodhisattva is one of the most popular of the Buddhist pantheon, and I am going to argue that he could symbolize the process described. Like in the Ullambana Sutra, in the Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra, this bodhisattva tells us that, in a lifetime of a previous eon, he was a young woman deeply sad for she suspected that her mother, just deceased, had fallen into hell. While she was praying fervently to the Buddha of that time, she was transported to hell where a guardian told her that, thanks to the sincerity of her prayers, her mother had been reborn in heaven.
What if what afflicts us the most were the wailing of our ancestors asking for help? The Sutra would support this view, as epigenetics does too. This would imply a consciousness that transcends time and space, without borders between us and others, where our ancestors speak to us through our most intimate feelings.
Biology has found so many common characteristics in all forms of life that it concludes that there must have been a last universal common ancestor (LUCA). If all living beings are therefore related, then our ultimate consciousness must be the consciousness of all living beings. Ultimately, we are just talking about uncovering knowledge, healing and liberating knowledge, through the unconditional love and compassion for all living beings championed by Mahayana Buddhism.
Dharma Master Heng Shün has just asked me whether positive emotions could be also transmitted in the genes. “I don’t know, but I suspect so”.
 There are several mechanisms that account for the process, such as the methylation of DNA and histones (proteins on which DNA is wound around), and the production of non-coding RNA. The result is not a change in the nucleotide sequence, but the expression or silencing of certain genes related to stress management.  https://www.dailygood.org/story/2641/mark-wolynn