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Suicide and rebirth - Dhamma Wheel

Suicide and rebirth

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
nowheat
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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?

:namaste:

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jcsuperstar
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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.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

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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bodom
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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.

:anjali:
To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html
http://www.ajahnchah.org/

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cooran
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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
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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acinteyyo
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

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

Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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cooran
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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."

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: Suicide and rebirth

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

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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acinteyyo
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

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

Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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cooran
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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
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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retrofuturist
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

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

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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cooran
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

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

---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

Abyss
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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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acinteyyo
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

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

Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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cooran
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

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

---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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retrofuturist
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

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

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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retrofuturist
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

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

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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retrofuturist
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

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

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Ben
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

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

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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retrofuturist
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

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

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Cittasanto
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Re: Suicide and rebirth

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



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.


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