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Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada - Dhamma Wheel

Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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cooran
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Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby cooran » Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:20 pm

Hello all,

I thought it might be worthwhile to discuss this topic as a stand-alone. Here are a few articles I've gathered over time.

If anyone has others relevant to the Pali Canon and Commentaries, please add.

Existence, Enlightenment and Suicide - Stephen Batchelor
This essay on the English Buddhist monk Ven. Nanavira Thera (Harold Musson) was first published in Tadeusz Skorupski (ed.) The Buddhist Forum. Volume 4. London: School of Oriental and African Studies, 1996. The Dilemma of Nanavira Thera
http://www.stephenbatchelor.org/existence1.html

A discussion of his manner of death and its significance occurs in Section 7 of the .pdf by Piya Tan M 144 Channovada Sutta (Suicide: the arhats do not fear death) (pdf)
http://sites.google.com/site/dharmafare ... imanikaaya

Buddhism and Suicide --- The Case of Channa - Damien Keown - University of London, Goldsmiths
http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma/suicide.html

SUICIDE IN BUDDHISM -- POST-CANONICAL DEFLECTIONS - Bhikkhu Professor Dhammavihari
http://www.metta.lk/english/suicide.htm

Buddhist Views of Suicide and Euthanasia, By Carl B. Becker
Philosophy East and West V. 40 No. 4 (October 1990) pp. 543-555
http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/becker.htm


Criteria for Judging the Unwholesomeness of Actions in the Texts of Theravaada Buddhism By Peter Harvey
http://www.buddhistethics.org/2/harvey.html

Thoughts?

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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BlackBird
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby BlackBird » Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:55 pm

Hi Chris, apart from being a collection of articles on the subject of suicide within Theravada Buddhism, is there any comment you would like to make for or against that could provide a 'starting point' for some discussion?
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." -

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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Viscid » Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:56 am

Last edited by Viscid on Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:05 am, edited 3 times in total.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:59 am

Don't forget

Harvey, P An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics, Cambridge University Press, 2000. pp. 286-310.

Most of the content is Theravadin, though other material is included.

Personally, tonight my classes at CUHK on Buddhist Ethics are just getting into this very topic. I've been converting a lot of this information from English to Mandarin for the students' notes. I personally find Harvey and Keown are great sources, particularly some of the nuances they point out with respect to the passages in the suttas.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .

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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:01 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 Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Ben » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:05 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

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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:20 am


alan
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby alan » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:40 am

I'd like to see BlackBird's question addressed directly.

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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Viscid » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:42 am

"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:54 am


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Ben
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Ben » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:03 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: ben.dhamma[email protected]..

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Jason
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Jason » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:12 am

"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" ().

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alan
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby alan » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:25 am

Sorry Mike and Ben. I saw this as a spin-off from another thread. It seemed to me the famous "Nanavira killed himself so he therefore cannot be trusted to have said anything worthwhile" meme was in play.

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BlackBird
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby BlackBird » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:39 am

"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." -

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mikenz66
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:08 am


Individual
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Individual » Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:09 am

It seems like the world would be better off if the Tipitaka didn't include the deaths of Vakali and Channa. It's not good that they be mentioned in a setting like this.

I don't anticipate this being a constructive discussion, because people will tend to pick the interpretations that favor their own biases.

The suttas make it clear that killing is wrong, but also to practice discernment and compassion. People who are sincere in their beliefs can come to differing points-of-view by emphasizing these two different aspects of the teaching. And they can both come to mistaken beliefs too. Suicide is obviously wrong in every conceivable case that could be brought up today. But with euthanasia (as with abortion), I don't think it's so simple. In my opinion, it is as foolish to categorically condemn euthanasia as to defend it. I respect and honor a person who would not kill another or ask to be killed, regardless of circumstances. But I don't think we can always simply disregard the evaluation the circumstances and not ask, "Are we really being wisely compassionate or are we just blindly following a certain rule?" We should acknowledge the possibility of finding specific cases where it is unwise and cruel to follow the letter of the law, of the precepts.

The wholesomeness of our own view is also demonstrated by our emotional reaction when we come into contact with an opposing view. If, when you come into contact with an opposing view, and you feel hatred, you should examine that and you may see that your own view is tied up with hatred.
The best things in life aren't things.


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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Individual » Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:29 am

I would also add: For anyone who claims that the cases of Vakkali or Channa add support for or against suicide and euthanasia... Unless you are an Arahant or a Buddha, I would be skeptical of your interpretations. Because without being an Arahant or a Buddha, you would not truly be able to understand and explain the full meaning of those cases... How is it that somebody can spend a whole lifetime of dhamma practice and not reach Nirvana, but these two reached it spontaneously during acts of suicide? The commentarial position in the case of Vakkali seems ludicrous: He realized his putthujana state and then suddenly reached Nirvana? How does a Putthujana reach Nirvana, while committing one of the most heinous acts one can possibly can commit? None of you can explain this -- whether you are opposed to euthanasia or in favor of it. And even if you claim you can explain it, your explanation means nothing if you can't demonstrate that knowledge.

Because you can't explain it or demonstrate what it means, what judgments can you actually make? How can you judge "what the Buddha really thought," about Channa and Vakkali when you don't even know what Channa and Vakkali thought in that situation?
The best things in life aren't things.


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Ben
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Ben » Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:33 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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BlackBird
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby BlackBird » Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:34 am

Thank you Mike & Individual, enjoyed reading your posts.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." -

Paññāsikhara
Posts: 980
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:27 am
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Re: Suicide and Euthanasia according to Theravada

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:09 am

My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .


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