Thank you Anagarika for your nuanced and wise thoughts.Anagarika wrote:The precepts are training rules. To violate the First Precept, one's intention is at issue. By any act (kamma) we are kammic owners and heirs of that action. So, it's difficult to say in any given case whether euthanasia is appropriate or ethical. The ethics of the act depend on the circumstances, IMO, and the actor inherits the kammic consequences of the act of assisting in the passing of another living being.
If a beloved dog or cat is suffering terminally, and death is inevitable, then isn't it true that the act of euthanasia is borne of compassion, or empathy, and wisdom? Is it not wise to spare a living being suffering, when no value is gained from the suffering, and the witnesses to the abject suffering are traumatized?
If a monk were to facilitate an act of human euthanasia, the rules state that the monk is to be disrobed. That rule makes sense; all of the Vinaya rules derive from a fact pattern to which the Buddha was exposed. But, to take the precepts and turn them into a black and white application of ethics, in my view, turns the precepts from a kamma-centered training rule into a sterile ordinance, a 10 commandments based system that sends the disobedient to hell. I do not believe that this is the nuanced, complex integrated system of kamma/DO/rebirth that the Buddha taught.
Reasonable and compassionate people will disagree with my position. If any of my beloved pets were to contract a terminal disease, and were suffering without hope of recovery, I'd be willing to accept the kamma of agreeing to a peaceful medical euthanasia. How that affects my rebirth is on me. If the act is done with wisdom, empathy and compassion, then I might be comfortable assuming a reasonably good rebirth, assuming all of my acts done in this life have been reasonably wholesome and compassionate.