Suicide and rebirth

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Suicide and rebirth

Postby nowheat » Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:42 am

Some comments in that Other Rebirth Thread got me thinking that I don't actually know if the Buddha ever took a stand on suicide, or what implications it would have in terms of rebirth. Anyone have thoughts or citations?

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Re: Suicide and rebirth

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Jan 28, 2010 4:55 am

well if each thought conditions the next thought or citta, then the citta of a person who is committing suicide would say a lot about what sort of rebirth, or not, that they would have.
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

Postby bodom » Thu Jan 28, 2010 5:59 am

Suicide can be likened to craving for non-existence which the Buddha had lots to say about. There are a few instances of monks committing suicide in the tipitaka. I would post some links but im off to bed now. Im sure somebody will point you in the right direction.

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The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

Postby cooran » Thu Jan 28, 2010 7:23 am

Hello nowheat, and all,

These two articles on the same link by respected scholars may be of interest:

Buddhism and Suicide ~ Damien Keown

AND

Can Killing a Living Being Ever Be an Act of Compassion? The analysis of the act of killing in the Abhidhamma and Pali Commentaries -- Rupert Gethin
http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma/suicide.html

with metta
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

Postby acinteyyo » Thu Jan 28, 2010 8:13 am

Hi,

in the Channovaadasutta (MN144) Ven. Channo commits suicide.
The Buddha declares that suicide is a fault if one gives up this body and seizes another.
Sariputta, if someone gives up this body and seizes another, I say it is a fault.

Ven. Channo must have been an arahant. The Buddha further says:
In the bhikkhu that fault is not apparent. Bhikkhu Channa took his life faultlessly.

So to commit suicide is not a fault, if one is not going to be reborn.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: Suicide and rebirth

Postby cooran » Thu Jan 28, 2010 8:25 am

Hello acinteyyo, all,

The article whose link I gave above, points out the following about Channa and Suicide:

"Where does all this leave us with respect to the seventy-year consensus that suicide is permitted for Arhats? I think it gives us a number of reasons to question it. First, there is no reason to think that the exoneration of Channa establishes a normative position on suicide. This is because to exonerate from blame is not the same as to condone.

Second, there are textual reasons for thinking that the Buddha's apparent exoneration may not be an exoneration after all. The textual issues are complex and it would not be safe to draw any firm conclusions. It might be observed in passing that the textual evidence that suicide may be permissible in Christianity is much greater than in Buddhism. There are many examples of suicide in the Old Testament: this has not, however, prevented the Christian tradition from teaching consistently[54] that suicide is gravely wrong. By comparison, Theravāda sources are a model of consistency in their refusal to countenance the intentional destruction of life.

Third, the commentarial tradition finds the idea that an Arhat would take his own life in the way Channa did completely unacceptable. Fourth, there is a logical point which, although somewhat obvious, seems to have been overlooked in previous discussions. If we assume, along with the commentary and secondary literature, that Channa was not an Arhat prior to his suicide attempt, then to extrapolate a rule from this case such that suicide is permissible for Arhats is fallacious. The reason for this is that Channa's suicide was-- in all significant respects-- the suicide of an unenlightened person. The motivation, deliberation and intention which preceded his suicide-- everything down to the act of picking up the razor-- all this was done by an unenlightened person. Channa's suicide thus cannot be taken as setting a precedent for Arhats for the simple reason that he was not one himself until after he had performed the suicidal act.

Fifth and finally, suicide is repeatedly condemned in canonical and non-canonical sources and goes directly "against the stream" of Buddhist moral teachings. A number of reasons why suicide is wrong are found in the sources[55] but no single underlying objection to suicide is articulated. This is not an easy thing to do, and Schopenhauer was not altogether wrong in his statement that the moral arguments against suicide "lie very deep and are not touched by ordinary ethics."[56] Earlier I suggested that the "roots of evil" critique of suicide-- that suicide was wrong because of the presence of desire or aversion-- was unsatisfactory in that it led in the direction of subjectivism. The underlying objection to suicide, it seems to me, is to be found not in the emotional state of the agent but in some intrinsic feature of the suicidal act which renders it morally flawed. I believe, however, there is a way in which the two approaches can be reconciled. To do this we must locate the wrongness of suicide in delusion (moha) rather in the affective "roots" of desire and hatred.

On this basis suicide will be wrong because it is an irrational act. By this I do not mean that it is performed while the balance of the mind is disturbed, but that it is incoherent in the context of Buddhist teachings. This is because suicide is contrary to basic Buddhist values. What Buddhism values is not death, but life.[57] Buddhism sees death as an imperfection, a flaw in the human condition, something to be overcome rather than affirmed. Death is mentioned in the First Noble Truth as one of the most basic aspects of suffering (dukkha-dukkha). A person who opts for death believing it to be a solution to suffering has fundamentally misunderstood the First Noble Truth. The First Noble Truth teaches that death is the problem, not the solution. The fact that the person who commits suicide will be reborn and live again is not important. What is significant is that through the affirmation of death he has, in his heart, embraced Māra! . From a Buddhist perspective, this is clearly irrational. If suicide is irrational in this sense it can be claimed there are objective grounds for regarding it as morally wrong."

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Re: Suicide and rebirth

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 28, 2010 8:37 am

Greetings,

The above article wrote:The reason for this is that Channa's suicide was-- in all significant respects-- the suicide of an unenlightened person.


Yet Channa says...

Friend Sāriputta, it is not that I have no suitable food and medicine or no proper attendant. But rather, friend Sāriputta, the Teacher has long been worshipped by me with love, not without love; for it is proper for the discipline to worship the Teacher with love, not without love. Friend Sāriputta, remember this: the bhikkhu Channa will use the knife blamelessly.”


Sariputta did not believe him, so after Channa's suicide, approached the Buddha thusly...

Then the venerable Sāriputta went to the Blessed One, and after paying homage to him, he sat down at one side and said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, the venerable Channa has used the knife. What is his destination, what is his future course?”

“Sāriputta, didn’t the bhikkhu Channa declare to you his blamelessness?”

“Venerable sir, there is a Vajjian village called Pubbajira. There the venerable Channa had friendly families, intimate families, approachable families [as his supporters].”

“Indeed, Sāriputta, the bhikkhu Channa had friendly families, intimate families, approachable families [as his supporters]; but I do not say that to this extent he was blameworthy. Sāriputta, when one lays down this body and takes up a new body, then I say one is blameworthy. This did not happen in the case of the bhikkhu Channa; the bhikkhu Channa used the knife blamelessly.”

The text seems to indicate that the Buddha knew what Sariputta didn't believe... namely, that Channa was already a blameless arahant.

MN 144 Channovāda Sutta
http://www.yellowrobe.com/pali-canon/su ... hanna.html

I agree with acinteyyo, above.

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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Suicide and rebirth

Postby acinteyyo » Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:28 am

Hi cooran,
I cannot agree in that opinion.
cooran wrote:By comparison, Theravāda sources are a model of consistency in their refusal to countenance the intentional destruction of life.

When it comes to the action of an arahnt we don't talk about "intentions" anymore.
cooran wrote:Third, the commentarial tradition finds the idea that an Arhat would take his own life in the way Channa did completely unacceptable.

This is the view of the commentarial tradition, but I don't consider the commentarial tradition as a authority.
cooran wrote:Fourth, there is a logical point which, although somewhat obvious, seems to have been overlooked in previous discussions. If we assume, along with the commentary and secondary literature, that Channa was not an Arhat prior to his suicide attempt, then to extrapolate a rule from this case such that suicide is permissible for Arhats is fallacious. The reason for this is that Channa's suicide was-- in all significant respects-- the suicide of an unenlightened person. The motivation, deliberation and intention which preceded his suicide-- everything down to the act of picking up the razor-- all this was done by an unenlightened person. Channa's suicide thus cannot be taken as setting a precedent for Arhats for the simple reason that he was not one himself until after he had performed the suicidal act.

Why should we? The Buddha said about Channa's suicide:
Bhikkhu Channa took his life faultlessly.

cooran wrote:Fifth and finally, suicide is repeatedly condemned in canonical and non-canonical sources and goes directly "against the stream" of Buddhist moral teachings. A number of reasons why suicide is wrong are found in the sources[55] but no single underlying objection to suicide is articulated.

some sources mentioned [55]
1) It is an act of violence and thus contrary to the principle of ahi.msaa.
Suicide commited by an arahant is not an act of violence. Since actually and in truth a living arahant is not to be found, it cannot be said that suicide of an arahant is an act against someone nor against noone nor both nor not both. It's just giving up a body. If an unenlightened being commits suicide it is an act of violence.
2) It is against the First Precept.
The first precept is: "I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures." An arahant is not a living creature. A living arahant is not even to be found.
3) It is contrary to the third paaraajika (Cf. Miln. 195).
Same problem. I think it says: "Should any bhikkhu intentionally deprive a human being of life..." First, when it comes to the action of an arahant we cannot talk about "intentions". Second, ultimately we cannot say an arahant is a being.
This goes on and on. I'm not willing to take on every argument. And since I only accept the nikayas I can't even say somthing about the Milandapanna quotes.
cooran wrote:This is not an easy thing to do, and Schopenhauer was not altogether wrong in his statement that the moral arguments against suicide "lie very deep and are not touched by ordinary ethics."[56] Earlier I suggested that the "roots of evil" critique of suicide-- that suicide was wrong because of the presence of desire or aversion-- was unsatisfactory in that it led in the direction of subjectivism. The underlying objection to suicide, it seems to me, is to be found not in the emotional state of the agent but in some intrinsic feature of the suicidal act which renders it morally flawed. I believe, however, there is a way in which the two approaches can be reconciled. To do this we must locate the wrongness of suicide in delusion (moha) rather in the affective "roots" of desire and hatred.

In the case of an arahant comitting suicide we can't locate any delusion, how can we locate any wrongness then?
cooran wrote:What Buddhism values is not death, but life. Buddhism sees death as an imperfection, a flaw in the human condition, something to be overcome rather than affirmed. Death is mentioned in the First Noble Truth as one of the most basic aspects of suffering (dukkha-dukkha).

I don't think so. Buddhism does not value death nor life. It's right that death is mentioned in the FNT as one of the most basic aspects of suffering, but birth too. And what is birth, the beginning of life.
Suicide does not end suffering. The one who commits suicide to end suffering, does act wrongly. But the one who has already been gone to the end of suffering, the one for whom there is no further rebirth, can give up this body, can take this life faultlessly.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: Suicide and rebirth

Postby cooran » Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:56 am

Bhikkhu Bodhi quotes the commentary notes to this sutta:

"MA: He cut his throat, and just at that moment the fear of death descended on him and the sign of future rebirth appeared. Recognising that he was still an ordinary person, he was aroused and developed insight. Comprehending the formations, he attained arahantship just before he expired."

RobertK once explained: "There are several cases of monks cutting their throats and becoming arahant just before death (Vakkali and Channa for example) but the texts do not say these were ariya. It seems they were putthujjana, but had the accumulations to attain arahaantship in the short time they had left."

I don't believe an arahant would ever commit suicide.

with metta
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:13 am

Greetings,

cooran wrote:I don't believe an arahant would ever commit suicide.


I believe an arahant could "use the knife" blamelessly, without aversion or any other unwholesome mindstate prevalent, in the instance of a terminal illness or such. It would merely be a functional (kiriya), practical act, in calm equanimous response to circumstance.

I think the problem arises because the commentary has taken a very firm stand on the matter of suicide (firmer than the Buddha himself may have done) and assumes it must always be an act of aversion or ignorance.... thus, it then needs to devise elaborate explanations in order to maintain a degree of internal consistency when confronted with suttas such as this.

That's just my read on events - I don't claim it to be definitive, nor to have the backing of anything other than the Channovāda Sutta, viewed directly, without commentarial gloss.

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: Suicide and rebirth

Postby cooran » Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:34 am

retrofuturist said: I believe an arahant could "use the knife" blamelessly, without aversion or any other unwholesome mindstate prevalent, in the instance of a terminal illness or such. It would merely be a functional (kiriya), practical act, in calm equanimous response to circumstance.


What is your explanation of why an arahant would commit suicide? Why would he care to do such a thing?
An arahant would just allow the kammic accumulations and latent tendencies to dissipate.

This decision to kill a being (suicide) can only come from desire or aversion - there is no other reason to make a choice.
We are all terminally ill from a buddhist perspective .... just a very short time in this rebirth before death comes ... even if we live to a very old age.

Why would anyone allegedly already an arahant decide to end his life - when, in the entire tradition, no other arahant ever has? .

I accept the explanation above:
Bhikkhu Bodhi quotes the commentary notes to this sutta:

"MA: He cut his throat, and just at that moment the fear of death descended on him and the sign of future rebirth appeared. Recognising that he was still an ordinary person, he was aroused and developed insight. Comprehending the formations, he attained arahantship just before he expired."

RobertK once explained: "There are several cases of monks cutting their throats and becoming arahant just before death (Vakkali and Channa for example) but the texts do not say these were ariya. It seems they were putthujjana, but had the accumulations to attain arahaantship in the short time they had left."

I don't believe an arahant would ever commit suicide."


with metta
Chris
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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

Postby Abyss » Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:34 am

If we think of suicide only as self-murder, an arahant cannot commit suicide, since he is free from the conceit "I am". But the simple fact that "pain is painful" remains even in the case of an arahant. If his body comes in contact with fire for example, he will certainly make an effort to get away from the flames - not out of fear, but because it hurts. So if his body becomes painful due to an illness or injury, and if there is no way to get rid of that pain otherwise, I see no valid reason why he should endure a pain which is not going to cease or which is so intense that it is preventing him from any other activity (teaching for example).
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

Postby acinteyyo » Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:35 am

cooran wrote:Bhikkhu Bodhi quotes the commentary notes to this sutta:

"MA: He cut his throat, and just at that moment the fear of death descended on him and the sign of future rebirth appeared. Recognising that he was still an ordinary person, he was aroused and developed insight. Comprehending the formations, he attained arahantship just before he expired."

RobertK once explained: "There are several cases of monks cutting their throats and becoming arahant just before death (Vakkali and Channa for example) but the texts do not say these were ariya. It seems they were putthujjana, but had the accumulations to attain arahaantship in the short time they had left."

I don't believe an arahant would ever commit suicide.

with metta
Chris

It's okay. Believe what ever you want.
I really would like to know how Bhikkhu Bodhi knows that just at the moment when Channa cut his throat (btw where does he know that Channa cut his throat) the fear of death descended? The Sutta doesn't even give the slightest hint to assume Channa feared death.
All we know is when it comes to suicide in case of an arahant that it's nothing more than giving up the body. But we all know from the Buddha that the body is not the arahant, thus actually no one kills anyone. All there is, is in fact a body giving up it's vital functions.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: Suicide and rebirth

Postby cooran » Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:01 am

acinteyyo said:All there is, is in fact a body giving up it's vital functions.


A body is just rupa. It can make no decisions and have no intentions.

There is no "giving up ".

To cut one's own throat requires a strong intention, fueled by a strong emotion.

"....the texts do not say these were ariya. It seems they were putthujjana, but had the accumulations to attain arahaantship in the short time they had left."
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:05 am

Greetings,

cooran wrote:What is your explanation of why an arahant would commit suicide? Why would he care to do such a thing?


Persistent unpleasant sensations that showed no signs of abating (see also the quotation at the end of this post)

cooran wrote:An arahant would just allow the kammic accumulations and latent tendencies to dissipate.


By my understanding, an arahant has no kammic accumulations, nor latent tendencies (anusaya)

cooran wrote:This decision to kill a being (suicide) can only come from desire or aversion - there is no other reason to make a choice.


I thought the above stated possibility was pretty good. But what is "to kill a being" when there is no being?

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi at Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. Then Ven. Radha went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "'A being,' lord. 'A being,' it's said. To what extent is one said to be 'a being'?"

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for form, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for feeling... perception... fabrications...

"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for consciousness, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

An arahant has no "desire, passion, delight, or craving for form"... thus is not a being, in the Buddha's parlance.

Alternatively, if you prefer commentarial explanations, suicide was permitted in certain circumstances where ignorance and aversion had no hold...

Peter Harvey translates a section of the Vinaya commentary for us which gives a set of circumstances where suicide is not considered to be a breach of the Vinaya rules. The four situations are (1) suicide, by any means, is wrong if one is ill but medicine and attendants are available (2) In the case of long and serious illness, where one�s attendants are weary and disgusted and begin to ponder euthanasia, one may stop eating and taking medicine, and thereby die without blame, contradicting Keown�s observation that this was a Jain practice from which Buddhists wished to distance themselves; (3) When a person is clearly dying but has reached the meditative state aimed at, one may stop eating, which seems to be what happened in the case of Godhika; (4) when one is so absorbed in meditation that breaking one�s concentration in order to eat would be an obstacle to awakening.


(Vinaya III.73 quoted in Harvey, P. An introduction to Buddhist Ethics, Cambridge University Press, 2000, p.289)
Online source: http://www.westernbuddhistreview.com/vo ... ering.html

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: Suicide and rebirth

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:20 am

Greetings nowheat,

nowheat wrote:Some comments in that Other Rebirth Thread got me thinking that I don't actually know if the Buddha ever took a stand on suicide, or what implications it would have in terms of rebirth. Anyone have thoughts or citations?


The following article investigate this quite thoroughly...

Suicide as A Response to Suffering by Michael Attwood
http://www.westernbuddhistreview.com/vo ... ering.html

After a few cases studies and some analysis, he concludes thusly...

I approached this subject expecting to find clear statements against suicide but, perhaps surprisingly, it is not possible, from a study of various instances in the Pali Canon, to come to any hard and fast conclusion regarding suicide. There appear to be times when suicide in that context at least does no harm, though these must surely be very rare. The ethical principles of Buddhism, however, do give us some useful guidelines and there are other indications that suicide is not an acceptable response to suffering in general. Certainly self-harm is unhelpful and a cause of future suffering, and suicide does generally involve self-harm. Taking a slightly broader look at the Pali Canon, we find that the practice of self-torture or self-harm as spiritual exercises is specifically rejected by the Buddha, as, for instance, in the Kandaraka Sutta.[40] Elsewhere the Buddha says, �one who seeks delight in suffering ... is not freed from suffering. One who does not seek delight in suffering ... is freed from suffering.�[41] Self-harm simply leads directly to suffering. Although it would seem that in principle suicide is self-harm, some of the cases cited in the Pali Canon are exceptions in that they result not in suffering, but in the complete release from all suffering!

Violence in any form is not simply a breach of the precepts in a legalistic sense; it actually increases the suffering in the world. In general any action that is based upon unskilful states of mind, such as despair and grief, leads only to more suffering. From a Buddhist point of view death is no answer to suffering since we are simply reborn and cannot, it seems, escape the ripening of our karma. Clinging to life and clinging to death being equally causes of suffering, we are presented with dilemmas. This study has hopefully shown that we cannot prejudge a situation ethically. We must weigh each case carefully, and even then we may, like Saariputta, who was �foremost in wisdom�, make a mistake.

In his seminal book, Suicide: A Study In Sociology, Durkheim suggests that one of the main causes of suicide is a failure to connect with other people:

�In this case the bond attaching man to life relaxes because that attaching him to society is itself slack. The incidents of private life that seem the direct inspiration of suicide and are considered its determining causes are in reality only incidental causes. The individual yields to the slightest shock of circumstance because the state of society has made him a ready prey to suicide.�[42]

Durkheim also discusses other causes such as mental illness, but underlying this type of suicide is a failure, in Sangharakshita�s terms, to imaginatively identify with other beings. One experiences one�s self as isolated and unloved. Objectively neither of these things is true, but subjectively the experience can be intense and seem inescapable. To overcome it one must strive to make that imaginative leap to identify with people. One must go out to people, search one�s own experience and use it to empathise with others. The Buddha gives us many clues as to how to do this:

�Having traversed all quarters with the mind,
One finds none anywhere dearer than oneself.
Likewise, each person holds himself dear;
Hence one who loves himself should not harm others.�[43]

Here then are the beginnings of empathy. In Durkheim's terminology one must strengthen, must exercise even, that bond one has with society, so that it becomes strong, flexible and robust.

One glimmer of hope comes from the close call stories of Sappadasa and Siiha. In the �positive nidana� series we see that from suffering arises faith.[44] They are very much aware of their suffering, and somehow in the midst of it they not only gain a greater perspective on it, but they also gain insight into reality itself. It is as though we can go from the depths of despair straight to insight, that in the experience of suffering insight is somehow more accessible. Sangharakshita alludes to this possibility in his Guide to the Buddhist Path in the section on the six realms of conditioned existence. In writing about the hell realms (mental suffering and despair being the psychological counterpart of the this realm) he tells us that the Buddha who appears in this realm offers the being there am.rta. �Am.rta�means �deathless�which is a synonym for Nirvaana. �It is as though there is nothing left for us to do about our suffering except to go, as it were, straight to Nirvaana. There is no other hope for us: all worldly hope has foundered.�[45]

The first of the Buddha's Noble Truths tells us that we cannot run away from pain, that it is there in everything we experience in the world. In responding to those who are contemplating suicide, or who have attempted it and lived, we face a difficult task. All the ethical case studies and all the legalistic workings out of ethical principles may well be useless in the face of extreme suffering. Telling someone who is in extreme physical or mental pain that by �taking the knife� they are breaking the precepts, or that they are only hurting themselves, would be unlikely to dissuade them. What seems important is the imaginative identification. If we are able to empathise with others then we will be more able to face our own suffering, and therefore in a better position to help others face theirs.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Suicide and rebirth

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:25 am

Greetings,

cooran wrote:To cut one's own throat requires a strong intention, fueled by a strong emotion.

That would be the conventional worldly perspective, yes.

To an arahant it may merely be the interplay of the four elements, without any subject/object dichotomy upon which the word "violent" could have any true meaning. Seeing things as they really are.

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: Suicide and rebirth

Postby Ben » Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:36 am

Hi Retro

retrofuturist wrote:
cooran wrote:What is your explanation of why an arahant would commit suicide? Why would he care to do such a thing?


Persistent unpleasant sensations that showed no signs of abating (see also the quotation at the end of this post)

For an Arahant, unpleasant vedana are not suffering. All vedana, regardless whether they are pleasant, neutral or unpleasant, are just vedana, fleeting phenomena. Paticca samuppada has been interrupted and vedana no longer lead to tanha.

retrofuturist wrote:
cooran wrote:An arahant would just allow the kammic accumulations and latent tendencies to dissipate.


By my understanding, an arahant has no kammic accumulations, nor latent tendencies (anusaya)

Maybe not sankhara or anusaya, but definitely kamma.
Angulimala who when he was an Arahant was attacked by relatives of those he slain. Also the Buddha, who was attacked by Devadatta and suffered an injury to his foot. Not forgetting Mogallana who was murdered.

My opinion is that an arahant is incapable of breaking sila or killing a living being including him/herself. So I tend to agree with the commentarial explanation as quoted by Bhikkhu Bodhi.
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tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: Suicide and rebirth

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:45 pm

Greetings Ben,

Ben wrote:For an Arahant, unpleasant vedana are not suffering. All vedana, regardless whether they are pleasant, neutral or unpleasant, are just vedana, fleeting phenomena.

Agreed, but they're still unpleasant. If the enlightened were completely impartial towards pleasant feeling and unpleasant feeling, the Buddha would not have bothered to meditate post-enlightenment in order to experience the tranquillity, rapture and joy associated with jhana, or use it as a pain-killer when experiencing illness or back-troubles. I agree also with what Abyss wrote above about painful sensations - viewtopic.php?f=16&t=3411#p49581

Also, consider what Analayo writes in his Satipatthana text (p171)...

Of further interest in a discussion of neutral feeling is the Abhidhammic analysis of feeling tones arising at the five physical sense doors. The Abhidhamma holds that only the sense of touch is accompanied by pain or pleasure, while feelings arising at the other four sense doors are invariably neutral. This Abhidhammic presentation offers an intruiging perspective on the contemplation of feeling, since it invites an inquiry into the degree to which an experience of delight or displeasure in regards to sight, sound, smell or taste is simply the outcome of one's own mental evaluation.

Thus, mental evaluation (or equanimity) cannot eradicate the inherent painful quality of painful sensations.

Ben wrote:Paticca samuppada has been interrupted and vedana no longer lead to tanha.

Agreed... though I'd say the interruption actually took place with the eradication of ignorance and everything that would otherwise flow beyond that.

Ben wrote:Maybe not sankhara or anusaya, but definitely kamma.

Do you mean kamma or do you mean vipaka? I would argue that neither apply to an arahant, but I'd be interested to understand what you mean specifically, since the examples you give are a result or consequence (broadly defined, not in any technical sense like vipaka which is mental only) of previous action (again, broadly defined... not in the sense of kamma because the Buddha didn't create kamma, yet Devadatta was envious of him).

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: Suicide and rebirth

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:58 pm

retrofuturist wrote:
Ben wrote:Maybe not sankhara or anusaya, but definitely kamma.

Do you mean kamma or do you mean vipaka? I would argue that neither apply to an arahant, but I'd be interested to understand what you mean specifically, since the examples you give are a result or consequence (broadly defined, not in any technical sense like vipaka which is mental only) of previous action (again, broadly defined... not in the sense of kamma because the Buddha didn't create kamma, yet Devadatta was envious of him).

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hi retro,
maybe Ben is referring to the fourth kind of kamma found in the Ariyamagga Sutta, AN 4.235, neither dark nor bright kamma, with neither dark nor bright results?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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