Mercy killing and kamma

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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby clw_uk » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:48 pm

I also don't recall the Buddha saying he could free birds from dukkha, only humans.
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:51 pm

clw_uk wrote:Wouldnt that be more to do with the appearance of the sangha to the wider society?

No. It's an offence of defeat, because it fulfils the conditions necessary to be the unwholesome kamma of urging another to kill a human being. If, with compassion, the bhikkhu had said, “Please don't kill him,” but the executioner went ahead and killed him anyway, the bhikkhu would not be guilty of any offence at all.
clw_uk wrote:The motivation to heal it would could also be rooted in aversion to the birds suffering

Not at all, it would be rooted in love (adosa) and compassion.
clw_uk wrote:The outcome is always the same. One scenario has less dukkha and the other scenario has more, but the one with less dukkha is morally wrong and the one with more dukkha is right?

The root of your dilemma may be that you don't believe in kamma and rebirth. Looked at with the wrong view of "one life only", suffering ceases at death, but that is not the Buddha's way to end suffering.

A seriously injured bird will die of its injuries in due course. The best that you can do is remove the immediate danger of the cat tormenting it further before killing it, and keep the bird in a safe place. Those are all compassionate acts. Breaking its neck is not a compassionate act — it is breaking the first precept.
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby Nikaya35 » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:53 pm

clw_uk wrote:Your also confusing the animal experience of dukkha with the human experience of it. Humans can be free from dukkha, animals can't.

From the point of view of one life . There isn't much difference between humans and animals . The suffering of terminal illness can be ended in both animals and humans by killing the victim . Instant nirvana .
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby Feathers » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:53 pm

This is one I have a big problem with, as the majority of answers every time this sort of question comes up (here, on a zen forum I sometimes go on, over at DharmaWheel as well . . .) tend to lean towards "you still broke the first precept", and even "the animal needed to suffer to work out its kamma".

To me, it seems selfish to let my religious preference get in the way of doing the humane thing - and to me, the kind thing to do is to end the animal's pain. Unlike us, animals cannot rationalise about their suffering, cannot see meaning in it. So it serves no purpose at all. Letting the suffering continue is just indulging our own squeamishness - both moral and physical.

As for "the animal needs to suffer to work out its kamma" . . . honestly, do we really know how kamma works well enough to be able to make cosmic judgements like that? DOES kamma really work like that, some sort of cosmic moral accountant?

As someone who has kept pets in the past, and hopes to again when circumstances permit, I will euthanaise them when neccessary. I do everything I can for them - I once spent a substantial amount of money on an operation for one of my pet rats, in order to give him 2-3 months more life. But when another developed several inoperable tumours, I made him comfortable for as long as possible, then finally had him put to sleep. Believe me, it was not for my sake - taking him to the vet was heartbreaking (I'm actually crying about it again now - I'm stupidly soft about animals), it would have been much easier not to make that trip, but I still maintain it was the most compassionate thing I could do.

And if there's some karmic come-back for me? Well, I'd rather suffer a bit than know I selfishly let my pet suffer.
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby clw_uk » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:57 pm

maitreya31 wrote:
clw_uk wrote:Your also confusing the animal experience of dukkha with the human experience of it. Humans can be free from dukkha, animals can't.

From the point of view of one life . There isn't much difference between humans and animals . The suffering of terminal illness can be ended in both animals and humans by killing the victim . Instant nirvana .



Straw man alert!


Firstly my questioning doesn't have a background premis of "one life"


Secondly even if there was more than one life, animals still cant be free from dukkha in this life. I never read a sutta ehere the Buddha preaces to birds like St Francis of Assisi
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby mirco » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:58 pm

Dhamma Greetings,
clw_uk wrote:Your also confusing the animal experience of dukkha with the human experience of it.

So, what are the differences, then?


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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby Aloka » Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:04 pm

maitreya31 wrote:From the point of view of one life . There isn't much difference between humans and animals . The suffering of terminal illness can be ended in both animals and humans by killing the victim . Instant nirvana .


What's "instant nirvana" ?
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby Coyote » Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:04 pm

cwl_uk

My understanding is that intention/cetana as the Buddha taught it is not the same as we would understand motivation. You can have perfectly good motivation for an act, in a worldly sense, but if that act is preceded by a volition rooted in an unwholesome mind state, it would be unwholesome. Killing is an act that is inevitably rooted in unwholesome cetana, the act cannot happen without it - same with lying, stealing and other immoral acts.This whole issue seems to me to be a good example defining the difference between cetana and motivation.
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby clw_uk » Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:05 pm

mirco wrote:Dhamma Greetings,
clw_uk wrote:Your also confusing the animal experience of dukkha with the human experience of it.

So, what are the differences, then?


Best Wishes,
:smile:



Well im speculating of course because I'm not a pig :pig: :lol:

But a human can experience dukkha, learn from it and be free from it. Animals cant.
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby clw_uk » Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:10 pm

clw_uk wrote:
Wouldnt that be more to do with the appearance of the sangha to the wider society?

No. It's an offence of defeat, because it fulfils the conditions necessary to be the unwholesome kamma of urging another to kill a human being. If, with compassion, the bhikkhu had said, “Please don't kill him,” but the executioner went ahead and killed him anyway, the bhikkhu would not be guilty of any offence at all.


I agree in that case, but thats not relevant to mine where the bird would have died anyway but more painfully and slowly.


clw_uk wrote:
The motivation to heal it would could also be rooted in aversion to the birds suffering

Not at all, it would be rooted in love (adosa) and compassion.


Like my motivation to kill it...

clw_uk wrote:
The outcome is always the same. One scenario has less dukkha and the other scenario has more, but the one with less dukkha is morally wrong and the one with more dukkha is right?

The root of your dilemma may be that you don't believe in kamma and rebirth. Looked at with the wrong view of "one life only", suffering ceases at death, but that is not the Buddha's way to end suffering.


Straw man

I have never said that there is one life, therefore the rest of your argument is invalid because its based upon a false assumption.

A seriously injured bird will die of its injuries in due course. The best that you can do is remove the immediate danger of the cat tormenting it further before killing it, and keep the bird in a safe place. Those are all compassionate acts. Breaking its neck is not a compassionate act — it is breaking the first precept.


Its an extension of compassion if the death was inevitable. Why should the bird suffer a long death?

As I said, the outcome would have been the same. One would have brought more suffering, the other less.

Why should the bird endure unnecessary suffering before moving on (to oblivion or the Deva realm)?
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby daverupa » Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:37 pm

We would all probably benefit from a thread discussing ethical imperatives and whether or not they need to be housed in metaphysics (rebirth, in this case, though a similar Xian example would be the claim that being ethical requires God). The Great Ethical Substrate Thread?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby Feathers » Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:40 pm

I am genuinely intrigued by Coyote's suggestion of a difference between our normal understanding of 'motivation' and Buddhist cetana, I'd be interested to see a thread exploring that more deeply.

Nonetheless, I think on this specific moral issue the right thing to do, however we arrive at that conclusion, is to do what's best for the animal - and I'm pretty convinced that's killing it, sadly.
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby Arali » Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:41 pm

In the Dhammapada there's a story of the Buddha visiting a hunter and his family. Regarding the wife of the hunter, a monk asked the Buddha if she, like her husband, was guilty of taking life, since she facilitated the act. The Buddha said (more or less) that Sotapanna, (which the wife was as she had gained an intuitive understanding of the dharma as a young girl) do not kill and the do not wish for others to be killed, the wife was only obeying her husband in fetching things for him. Just as a hand with no wound is not affected by poison, because she has no intention to do evil, she is not doing evil.

Verse 124: "If there is no wound on the hand, one may handle poison; poison does not affect one who has no wound; there can be no evil for one who has no evil intention"

You said you felt troubled about what had happened. If the action was right, if the intention was right, you shouldn't have felt troubled.

Regardless of the outcome, if you had tried for help, or left the bird to pass naturally, you would not have broken the first precept and so your hand would have no wound. In those scenarios you'd be like the hunter's wife.

I feel like you're trying to convince us, or yourself,of something. What happened was unfortunate. I'm sorry that you found yourself in that situation.
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby mirco » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:14 pm

Dhamma Greetings,
clw_uk wrote:But a human can experience dukkha, learn from it and be free from it. Animals can't.

Would you agree in that animals do experience dukhha? (pain, fear, etc.)

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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby beeblebrox » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:40 pm

I wonder what the bird's impression would be if a person stroked it, and comforted it till it died?

Will it be freaked out, or end up liking that to some extent?

Also, what kind of effects would that have on the person?

What kind of impression would this give to other people who were around? This impression also could vary depending on whether the person seemed silly doing it, or made it seem pointless, or if he managed to make it seem sincere or impressive.

It could be a good practice in itself... (or not) just throwing in some thoughts into the mix.

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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby SarathW » Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:41 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:A reply by Mahāsi Sayādaw on The Practice of Euthanasia

A specific case from the Vinaya:

A bhikkhu, out of compassion, once said to an Execution, “Kill him with one blow.” The execution did as the bhikkhu said. They reported this matter to the Blessed One, who told the bhikkhu: “You have fallen into an offence of defeat.”

The volition at the moment of killing is rooted in aversion (dosa), so it is unwholesome kamma. The right thing to do is to take the bird from the cat, put it in a quiet and safe place, and leave it to die of it's injuries (if you don't have the skill to heal it).


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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:33 am

Greetings,

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:The volition at the moment of killing is rooted in aversion (dosa), so it is unwholesome kamma.

Personally, I would put the word "If" at the start of this sentence.

The kammic quality of bodily action is determined by the kammic quality of the associated mind-state, not the other way around.

It is not inconceivable that the mindstate accompanying bodily actions that result in killing could be other than aversion. Do those who facilitate euthanasia (or instances of "oops... too much morphine") always do so with aversion? I think not.

The only way you can know for sure if to be observant of the quality of your own mind, through mindfulness (e.g. satipatthana and associated practices)... not by making blanket judgements on others.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby SarathW » Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:50 am

There is no if and buts here Retro.
Metta
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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Sep 05, 2013 1:32 am

Greetings Sarath,

Without penetrating the minds of all human beings, I do not see how you could possibly know that to be the case.

Your absolutes seem to be based on faith and faith alone... and you'll have to excuse me if I do not partake in such views, and opt to watch the actual kammic quality of the mind instead.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Mercy killing and kamma

Postby SarathW » Thu Sep 05, 2013 1:42 am

Hi Retro
Kamma is caused by words, deeds and thoughts.
They are interdependent and mutually inclusive.
Not mutually exclusive.
I want you to have a hard look on this.
When you come to Kamma you need to have faith.
Because Kamma is one of the unthinkable.
Kind regards
sarath
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