DFFA Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Alex123 » Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:40 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Of course you can disagree with and reject what the suttas say. But they say what they say.
Sure. This text, written well after the Buddha's death, contains mythic aspects which are not verifiable and are not ehipassiko Dhamma, which puts it outside experience, which means it is not needed for awakening. Now, if wish to believe that what the sutta says is literal fact, you have no way of verifying it,



Can you please address my 8 points regarding the topic of this thread? Or are you simply going to chalk it all up to "later additions, metaphor, not verifiable, etc etc" ?
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:46 pm

Alex123 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Of course you can disagree with and reject what the suttas say. But they say what they say.
Sure. This text, written well after the Buddha's death, contains mythic aspects which are not verifiable and are not ehipassiko Dhamma, which puts it outside experience, which means it is not needed for awakening. Now, if wish to believe that what the sutta says is literal fact, you have no way of verifying it,



Can you please address my 8 points regarding the topic of this thread? Or are you simply going to chalk it all up to "later additions, metaphor, not verifiable, etc etc" ?
As far as the Parinibbana Sutta is concerned, points 1-7, I already have. I have no problem with number 8.

Now, your turn to address my point of why do you feel you need to give an absolute literalist reading to DN16, a reading not at all unlike Xtian fundamentalists and their Bible?
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Individual » Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:49 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Not very good sarcasm. I would prefer it with a bit more wit, not less.

Unlike supposed "historical" events, rebirth, according to the tradition has the potential of being verified via one's practice.

Tiltbillings, can you or Mikenz (he's not here but it'd be great if he was), or anybody else see how you at times seem to think and act (at least from my point-of-view) exactly like Alex123 here?
I'm not taking a side here.

Each of you--> "I'm NOTHING like him because I know the TRUE dhamma and tradition! I know what the suttas REALLY say!"

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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Alex123 » Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:57 pm

tiltbillings wrote:As far as the Parinibbana Sutta is concerned, points 1-7, I already have. I have no problem with number 8.



Can you please repost what you've said in reply to points 1-7?


At least it is good that you accept point #8

8) Regarding Ven. Channa's suicide the Buddha has said
"if someone gives up this body and seizes another, I say it is a fault. In the bhikkhu that fault is not apparent. Bhikkhu Channa took his life faultlessly." - MN144


So it is possible to take one's life faultlessly. And so the Buddha could take His life faultlessly. There is a whole chapter in DN16 called "Giving up life fabrication". (Āyusaṅkhāraossajjanaṃ) PTS D 2.105 (CST 4.0 program).



Now, your turn to address my point of why do you feel you need to give an absolute literalist reading to DN16, a reading not at all unlike Xtian fundamentalists and their Bible


And what is so mystical about a highly accomplished person with great powers giving up will to live? There are far stranger things in the Canon than this.

Generally speaking, the Buddha is careful to point that He is giving a metaphor when He is giving a metaphor. I find it to be on a very slippery slope for a worldling (who is often under ignorance) to try to reinterpet the passages that one doesn't like, accept or believe in.


Unlike supposed "historical" events, rebirth, according to the tradition has the potential of being verified via one's practice.


So maybe history of Mahayana is wrong (ie. It is not later teaching, but an original teaching going to the roots), and it is the real teaching... Maybe it is right, and so one should practice its beliefs and practices (some of which are very different from Theravada)... Maybe the Historical Buddha didn't even exist and the canon was taught by some unawakened people.... Yeh, right.



To quote a 3 sentence answer regarding attitude of the Buddha toward suicide and answer this thread:
"if someone gives up this body and seizes another, I say it is a fault. In the bhikkhu that fault is not apparent. Bhikkhu Channa took his life faultlessly." - MN144
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Ben » Wed Nov 03, 2010 1:45 am

BlackBird wrote:perhaps it's a wrong grasp of the snake...

Perhaps, perhaps not. Nowhere in the suttas, as far as I am aware, did the Buddha say to his followers to accept anything he said blindly. As Tilt has pointed out earlier, one of the defining characteristics of the Dhamma is ehi passiko (inviting inspection). And the only way we can do that invite inspection is by actually engaging with the Dhamma and walking the path and thereby verifying the Dhamma. It does not require us to take at face value statements,dubiously attributed to him,that he could have lived an aeon.
I recommend that you read Gombrich's excellent "How Buddhism Began".
Blind belief is no testament to you (or anyone) of being a good Buddhist. In fact an unquestioning blinkered belief, in my opinion, is an almost impenetrable barrier to progress on the path.
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Individual » Wed Nov 03, 2010 1:49 am

Instead of arguing over the Buddha (because both of us could regard our own view as the objectively true one) why not try to come to some agreement by acknowledging the validity of both perceptions, and trying to come together on that basis?

So, as I see it, there are two Buddhas here. Tiltbilling's Buddha and Alex123's Buddha.

Tiltbilling's Buddha
Did not commit suicide, died a natural death, of his own choice in some sense but it wasn't suicide.

Alex123's Buddha
Taught a bunch of stuff about how craving is the cause of suffering and how to avoid craving, but in the end... all he needed to enter nibbana was commit some kind of mystical, ritual suicide that was only vaguely described?

I like Tiltbilling's Buddha better, inspiring and truthful. Alex's Buddha seems like a creepy hypocrite, like the leader of the Jonestown cult. :)
Last edited by Individual on Wed Nov 03, 2010 1:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Alex123 » Wed Nov 03, 2010 1:54 am

Hello Ben, all,

Ben wrote:
BlackBird wrote:perhaps it's a wrong grasp of the snake...

Perhaps, perhaps not. Nowhere in the suttas, as far as I am aware, did the Buddha say to his followers to accept anything he said blindly. As Tilt has pointed out earlier, one of the defining characteristics of the Dhamma is ehi passiko (inviting inspection). And the only way we can do that invite inspection is by actually engaging with the Dhamma and walking the path and thereby verifying the Dhamma. It does not require us to take at face value statements,dubiously attributed to him,that he could have lived an aeon.
I recommend that you read Gombrich's excellent "How Buddhism Began".
Blind belief is no testament to you (or anyone) of being a good Buddhist. In fact an unquestioning blinkered belief, in my opinion, is an almost impenetrable barrier to progress on the path.



I understand this point. However, how much can a worldling trust his/her own experience? How much Dhamma and how quickly can a worldling verify it?

As I understand it, it is a given that a worldling is under the delusion and kilesas most of the time. As you know, it is very rare for a person to get himself out, all by himself. It takes being a Buddha to do it alone. Why reinvent the wheel, when it was already invented through hard trials by Siddhartha Gotama?


IMHO, the full ehipassiko happens either at stream or at Arhatship. Prior to that we have to take many things on faith.

With metta,

Alex
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Alex123 » Wed Nov 03, 2010 1:58 am

Individual wrote:Instead of arguing over the Buddha (because both of us could regard our own view as the objectively true one) why not try to come to some agreement by acknowledging the validity of both perceptions, and trying to come together on that basis?

So, as I see it, there are two Buddhas here. Tiltbilling's Buddha and Alex123's Buddha.

Tiltbilling's Buddha
Did not commit suicide, died a natural death, of his own choice but it wasn't suicide.

Alex123's Buddha
Taught a bunch of stuff about how craving is the cause of suffering and how to avoid craving, but in the end... all he needed to enter nibbana was commit some kind of mystical, ritual suicide that was only vaguely described?

I like Tiltbilling's Buddha better, inspiring and truthful. Alex's Buddha seems like a creepy hypocrite, like the leader of the Jonestown cult. :)



Many people like life-affirming teachings, I understand. Craving to be and to exist is strong, no surprise here. But in DN16 there is a whole chapter called "Giving up life fabrication". (Āyusaṅkhāraossajjanaṃ) PTS D 2.105 (CST 4.0 program).

This is not my idea. This is what it says in the DN16 sutta in the chapter called in pali Āyusaṅkhāraossajjanaṃ.

Sometimes even ordinary elderly people give up the will to live, and die shortly afterwards. I don't see that much mysticism there. It would seem strange if some people wanted to live much longer in an aged body that gives lots of bodily pain and trouble. I don't approve when ordinary people, under the influence of avijja and kilesas, to question Buddha's motives, as if they know better.
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Ben » Wed Nov 03, 2010 2:08 am

Greetings Alex,

Alex123 wrote:I understand this point. However, how much can a worldling trust his/her own experience? How much Dhamma and how quickly can a worldling verify it?
I am not suggesting that one's experience is the ultimate arbiter.

Alex123 wrote:As I understand it, it is a given that a worldling is under the delusion and kilesas most of the time. As you know, it is very rare for a person to get himself out, all by himself.
I agree, but I am not suggesting that one re-invents the wheel.

Alex123 wrote:IMHO, the full ehipassiko happens either at stream or at Arhatship.
Yes, but that is your opinion.

Alex123 wrote:Prior to that we have to take many things on faith.
No, I do not believe so. What we take on faith is that the Buddha's teaching will be of benefit to us. If we then practice, saddha (confidence), should be balanced by discriminatory wisdom. If there is no balance between confidence and wisdom then there is something wrong. As our wisdom grows, so should our confidence in the Dhamma.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Alex123 » Wed Nov 03, 2010 2:13 am

Hello Ben, all,

Ben wrote:Greetings Alex,
What we take on faith is that the Buddha's teaching will be of benefit to us. If we then practice, saddha (confidence), should be balanced by discriminatory wisdom. If there is no balance between confidence and wisdom then there is something wrong. As our wisdom grows, so should our confidence in the Dhamma.
kind regards
Ben


But when does this discriminatory wisdom that cannot be tainted by wrong views, arise? I believe that at minimum when one becomes a stream enterer and 3 fetters are totally eradicated. It is a given that there is tendency toward wrong views prior to stream-entry. Prior to stream entry, it is almost a given that one's views, perceptions and opinions can be wrong. So those people have to rely on those who see - the Buddha.

I believe that Buddha knows better than me, and If I disagree with Him - then it is me who is wrong.
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Individual » Wed Nov 03, 2010 2:15 am

Alex123,

People don't want to live in an aged body with bodily pain. They want to live forever in a body that doesn't age and is free from pain. Is that strange to you? It's an unrealistic dream, but not a bad dream; I'd say it's a pretty nice dream.

I agree old people sometimes relinquish the will to live and shortly die afterwards. Do you perceive this activity as being identical to the activity of the Jonestown cult drinking cyanide-laced kool-aid?
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Alex123 » Wed Nov 03, 2010 2:19 am

Individual wrote:Hopefully nobody will interrupt this conversation with Alex. :)

Alex123,

People don't want to live in an aged body with bodily pain. They want to live forever in a body that doesn't age and is free from pain. Is that strange to you? It's an unrealistic dream, but not a bad dream; I'd say it's a pretty nice dream.


Nothing strange there.

I agree old people sometimes relinquish the will to live and shortly die afterwards. Do you perceive this activity as being identical as the activity of the Jonestown cult drinking cyanide-laced kool-aid?


I disagree with the wrong views, and craving that people of Jonestown cult had. However, as the Buddha has said, the fault is in getting reborn. If person takes one's own life and does NOT get reborn, then there is no fault.


"if someone gives up this body and seizes another, I say it is a fault. In the bhikkhu that fault is not apparent. Bhikkhu Channa took his life faultlessly." - MN144

But unless one is an Aryan, I don't recommend anyone trying it. And unless one is better than the Buddha, I don't think that it is wise to correct Him.
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Individual » Wed Nov 03, 2010 3:02 am

Alex123 wrote:I disagree with the wrong views, and craving that people of Jonestown cult had. However, as the Buddha has said, the fault is in getting reborn. If person takes one's own life and does NOT get reborn, then there is no fault.


"if someone gives up this body and seizes another, I say it is a fault. In the bhikkhu that fault is not apparent. Bhikkhu Channa took his life faultlessly." - MN144

But unless one is an Aryan, I don't recommend anyone trying it. And unless one is better than the Buddha, I don't think that it is wise to correct Him.

I agree with all of that, but that wasn't what I asked.

You said that sometimes old people relinquish the will to live -- without necessarily asking for death, without necessarily telling anyone. Do you see this as being the same or different from the behavior of the Jonestown suicide cult?
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:19 am

Can some kind person please put this thread out of its misery by terminating its life (as painlessly as possible, of course)?
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby cooran » Wed Nov 03, 2010 7:23 am

Hello Kim,

I agree. This is the General Theravada Discussion forum - not the Dhamma-Free-For-All forum. The Thread title is Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada ... not according to personal opinion, or how extremists of other faiths view the matter.
I wonder if posts which aren't what people coming the Generral Theravada Forum would be expecting would be better amalgamated into another the thread and placed in another forum (like the D-F-F-A forum)?

with metta
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby plwk » Wed Nov 03, 2010 7:46 am

Can some kind person please put this thread out of its misery by terminating its life (as painlessly as possible, of course)?
:toilet:
Kim

Ah...but is this thread ready to give up 'seizing' another one? :tongue:
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 03, 2010 9:15 am

Alex123 wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:As far as the Parinibbana Sutta is concerned, points 1-7, I already have. I have no problem with number 8.


Can you please repost what you've said in reply to points 1-7?

At least it is good that you accept point #8
The difference between “points 1-7” and “point 8” is that point 8 makes a point related to the ehipassiko Dhamma: "if someone gives up this body and seizes another, I say it is a fault. In the bhikkhu that fault is not apparent. Bhikkhu Channa took his life faultlessly."

All the stuff of the “points 1-7” has to do with aggrandizing the Buddha in terms of his “power,” which is what hagiographies do. There is not a thing in the “points 1-7” that is necessary for practice or the attainment of liberation. The redactors of this text, DN 16, are casting the Buddha in a super-human light, something that does find its way into the suttas despite evidence that the Buddha resisted such deification.

Before “points 1-7” we find this rather human expression:

I am old worn out, one who has traversed life's path, I have reached the term of life, which is eighty. Just as an old cart is made to go on by being held together with straps, so the Tathagata's body is kept going by being strapped up." DN ii 101.

And what is so mystical about a highly accomplished person with great powers giving up will to live?
Now you are spinning it. It is not the matter of giving up the will to live, but the claim of the power to live, holding off death, living an abnormally long time that is really the issue in the hagiography.

Generally speaking, the Buddha is careful to point that He is giving a metaphor when He is giving a metaphor. I find it to be on a very slippery slope for a worldling (who is often under ignorance) to try to reinterpet the passages that one doesn't like, accept or believe in.
I am certainly not “reinterpreting” anything. I am simply see no need to take at face value what is obviously a mythic interpolation into the story in order to aggrandize the Buddha.

IMHO, the full ehipassiko happens either at stream or at Arhatship. Prior to that we have to take many things on faith.
See: It invites everybody to come and see (ehipassiko). The Dhamma invites us to "come and see". In other words, it invites all people to verify for themselves, that it really leads to the goal, that by practicing it, one can reach the Nirvana. It can not be forced on anybody, nobody can reach the goal just by blind faith. One must "come and see" - and make an effort on the Way to the goal. The Dhamma is not only Ehipassiko, but it is: akāliko: It is immediate (akāliko). The results of our practice will come to us immediately, we do not have to wait for them to some distant future. As we become to practice the Dhamma, the fruit will come right away. Gradually, step by step we will be able to verify that the Way truly leads to the goal. And faith, saddha, in the Dhamma does not require that we believe, without question, as being literally true, what has no possibility of ever being directly known.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Individual » Wed Nov 03, 2010 2:22 pm

cooran wrote:Hello Kim,

I agree. This is the General Theravada Discussion forum - not the Dhamma-Free-For-All forum. The Thread title is Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada ... not according to personal opinion, or how extremists of other faiths view the matter.
I wonder if posts which aren't what people coming the Generral Theravada Forum would be expecting would be better amalgamated into another the thread and placed in another forum (like the D-F-F-A forum)?

with metta
Chris

Good point. This thread does belong in Dhammic free-for-all. :)
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Alex123 » Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:23 pm

Individual wrote:You said that sometimes old people relinquish the will to live -- without necessarily asking for death, without necessarily telling anyone. Do you see this as being the same or different from the behavior of the Jonestown suicide cult?


What Jonestown suicide cult was wrong. But I really don't think that it is appropriate to compare it to the Buddha. No one can be compared to the Buddha, and while the Buddha was awakened - they weren't.
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Alex123 » Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:33 pm

Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:The difference between “points 1-7” and “point 8” is that point 8 makes a point related to the ehipassiko Dhamma: "if someone gives up this body and seizes another, I say it is a fault. In the bhikkhu that fault is not apparent. Bhikkhu Channa took his life faultlessly."


How can you "come and see" that "Bhikkhu Channa took his life faultlessly"? Isn't this all history? And the existence of Buddha and his awakening, maybe that is history that cannot be verified?

All the stuff of the “points 1-7” has to do with aggrandizing the Buddha in terms of his “power,” which is what hagiographies do.


So maybe He didn't become Awakened on that day. Maybe that is unverifiable hagiography? Maybe Mahavira (Jain leader) was more awakened than the Buddha, and the pali canon is simply biased...



There is not a thing in the “points 1-7” that is necessary for practice or the attainment of liberation. The redactors of this text, DN 16, are casting the Buddha in a super-human light, something that does find its way into the suttas despite evidence that the Buddha resisted such deification.


There are much more superhuman feats in other suttas than in DN16... Maybe the Buddha wasn't Awakened....


Before “points 1-7” we find this rather human expression:

I am old worn out, one who has traversed life's path, I have reached the term of life, which is eighty. Just as an old cart is made to go on by being held together with straps, so the Tathagata's body is kept going by being strapped up." DN ii 101.


And even though He could prolong his existence, He actually shortened it. But as long as you pick and chose what to believe and what to reject, your opinion will not change.



See: It invites everybody to come and see (ehipassiko). The Dhamma invites us to "come and see". In other words, it invites all people to verify for themselves, that it really leads to the goal, that by practicing it, one can reach the Nirvana. It can not be forced on anybody, nobody can reach the goal just by blind faith. One must "come and see" - and make an effort on the Way to the goal. The Dhamma is not only Ehipassiko, but it is: akāliko: It is immediate (akāliko). The results of our practice will come to us immediately, we do not have to wait for them to some distant future. As we become to practice the Dhamma, the fruit will come right away. Gradually, step by step we will be able to verify that the Way truly leads to the goal. And faith, saddha, in the Dhamma does not require that we believe, without question, as being literally true, what has no possibility of ever being directly known.



Before one get rid of delusion and fetters of wrong view, it is a given that there will be tendency to err. It takes a Buddha to point us the right path. Do you honestly think that ordinary Joe Brown can verify deap and supramundane truths very quickly all on his own guidance? More likely he will see what he wants to see, and understand what he wants to understand. The veil of delusion is so strong, that most of the time, most people don't know that they are deluded. It takes an outside help to show them Awakened perspective.
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