euthanasia

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Ben
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Re: euthanasia

Post by Ben »

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.
Thank you Anagarika for your nuanced and wise thoughts.
With metta,
Ben
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lionking
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Re: euthanasia

Post by lionking »

Well, Rahula - Buddha's son had a similar question. How do you know when you are doing the right thing? Buddha says reflect upon your own consciousness. The consciousness will judge whether your intention is right or wrong.

The consciousness cognises it cognises. Its a self-reflective thing. Does your own consciousness cognises it cognising as a murderer? Then that is what your future will hold. Your consciousness will project yourself as a killer. The "Satan" that punishes you is your own consciousness.

Your consciousness acts on things like cognition and feelings. It does not act upon rational thinking. So lets say you rationalise euthanizing the cat is OK, but you feel the opposite. The feeling will always trump your rational thinking. Your future reality will be based on the decisions made by the latter. So when it doubt always consult your consciousness first.

That raises an interesting question. Can one somehow get ones own consciousness to agree on doing what is considered immoral? I think psychopaths and sociopaths operate at this level. Their consciousness also agrees to killing. Although all it does is it creates a snow ball effect. There will always be a point when the consciousness gets caught in a moment of weakness. At that point all the negativity catches up with them like an avalanche.
grr ..
SarathW
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Re: euthanasia

Post by SarathW »

:goodpost: Lion King

"There will always be a point when the consciousness gets caught in a moment of weakness. At that point all the negativity catches up with them like an avalanche"
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
Buckwheat
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Re: euthanasia

Post by Buckwheat »

thank you all for your wonderful comments. KB, sorry to hear you experiencing similar problems. in the end I was never truely tempted. She was sick for a few weeks, prolonged with medicines. when I went to work she was still purring in response to petting, but when I got back from work she was gone. She looked relatively pieceful, probably died in her sleep, so I hope now for a fortunate rebirt

Thank you,
Scott
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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retrofuturist
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Re: euthanasia

Post by retrofuturist »

:candle:

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

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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tiltbillings
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Re: euthanasia

Post by tiltbillings »

Buckwheat wrote:thank you all for your wonderful comments. KB, sorry to hear you experiencing similar problems. in the end I was never truely tempted. She was sick for a few weeks, prolonged with medicines. when I went to work she was still purring in response to petting, but when I got back from work she was gone. She looked relatively pieceful, probably died in her sleep, so I hope now for a fortunate rebirt

Thank you,
Scott
It is not, however, always that easy.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723
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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: euthanasia

Post by Khalil Bodhi »

Buckwheat wrote:thank you all for your wonderful comments. KB, sorry to hear you experiencing similar problems. in the end I was never truely tempted. She was sick for a few weeks, prolonged with medicines. when I went to work she was still purring in response to petting, but when I got back from work she was gone. She looked relatively pieceful, probably died in her sleep, so I hope now for a fortunate rebirt

Thank you,
Scott
May she have a favorable rebirth and meet with the Dhamma! :anjali:
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Leon-nl
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Re: euthanasia

Post by Leon-nl »

These are nasty things and I believe nobody has the right answer.
When our first dog got terminally ill, I was in my twenties, hadn't been thinking much about buddhism and did the thing most people do: If your dog (or cat) is terminally ill and suffering extremely, you go to the vet for euthanasia...
When I called the vet, my dog was vomitting all the time and she could barely drink, it wasn't a nice sight. before, she had been sleeping all the time, so I had hoped for a quiet farewell, but it did not happen like that.
When I had called the vet and my uncle (my parents were on holiday) came to catch me and the dog half a day later,the dog was quietly sleeping again. Yet we went to the vet for euthanasia. I have sometimes regretted it and asked myself: what would have happened if I had waited a little longer?

My second dog, who died about 3 years ago, had a terrible cancer called hemangiosarcoma that caused bleedings and a shortage of red blood cells.
Our veterinarian(at a university clinic) told us she thought our dog would die peacefully. Well, it seemed that way. On Cortisone, we had her two months longer than anticipated. She didn't feel sick at all - nothing in her behaviour showed sickness, until her last 2-3 days. Then she got very quiet, lay down and did not move anymore.The cancer must have been bleeding again. So, as the veterinarian told us, we expected her to go out like a candle, as the veterinarian put it.
However, it did not happen like that, and I feel the veterinarian should have anticipated this: In the end she got convulsions and it was horrible.
Logical: Afterwards I looked for a cause in internet and when you don't have enough red blood cells, you don't get enough oxygen and this can cause convulsions.
So late at night, we had to call a veterinarian for euthanasia. We had to wait while our dog was having convulsions, because the veterinarian was alone and treating a dog with epilepsy.
When she finally arrived the euthanasia went wrong, the veins in our dog ahd collapsed and after 15-20 minutes she had to give an injection straight into the heart. Needless to say that this was plain horror.
Never ever I want to be in a situation like that again. If I could do it again, I would have chosen for euthanasia in those last 2-3 days when she was laying so quiet and I would not have waited for the very end. Now it was terrible for our beloved dog and for ourselves.
The other option -No euthanasia? Letting her die of convulsions? I think that would have been very inhumane.
Last edited by Leon-nl on Wed Dec 23, 2015 4:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
“Look on the world as empty, Mogharāja, being always mindful.
Having removed wrong view of self, in this way one will cross beyond Death.
When looking on the world in this way the king of Death does not see one.” - Sn 5.15
Leon-nl
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Re: euthanasia

Post by Leon-nl »

Zom wrote:
I am witnessing a suffering, dying animal. Which sutta/vinaya deal with euthanasia?
Active euthanasia is killing, just that simple.

All people suffer. Should we kill them all, so they won't suffer anymore?
No, it ain't that simple, people can make choices for themselves, pets can't talk.
And we are not "just" talking about suffering. We are talking about suffering that comes toward the end and that can be excruciating.
“Look on the world as empty, Mogharāja, being always mindful.
Having removed wrong view of self, in this way one will cross beyond Death.
When looking on the world in this way the king of Death does not see one.” - Sn 5.15
Leon-nl
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Re: euthanasia

Post by Leon-nl »

SarathW wrote:Buddhist term for this is Vibhava Thanha.
The desire to terminate the unpleasant.

Euthanasia is killing!
How do YOU know what other persons' intentions are when they choose euthanasia for their pets or terminally ill children?
Maybe the intention is compassion, and not a desire to terminate the unpleasant?!
“Look on the world as empty, Mogharāja, being always mindful.
Having removed wrong view of self, in this way one will cross beyond Death.
When looking on the world in this way the king of Death does not see one.” - Sn 5.15
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Zom
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Re: euthanasia

Post by Zom »

And we are not "just" talking about suffering. We are talking about suffering that comes toward the end and that can be excruciating.
But how you know that this suffering is not due to bad kamma? Maybe if you make euthanasia, the being will go hell and will suffer 100x more over there.
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tiltbillings
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Re: euthanasia

Post by tiltbillings »

Zom wrote:
And we are not "just" talking about suffering. We are talking about suffering that comes toward the end and that can be excruciating.
But how you know that this suffering is not due to bad kamma? Maybe if you make euthanasia, the being will go hell and will suffer 100x more over there.
And maybe it is the animal's kamma to be euthanized, and it won't go to hell.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723
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Zom
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Re: euthanasia

Post by Zom »

And maybe it is the animal's kamma to be euthanized, and it won't go to hell.
Maybe, we never know for sure. But euthanasia is certainly a dark kamma for one who performs it.
Leon-nl
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Re: euthanasia

Post by Leon-nl »

Zom wrote:
And maybe it is the animal's kamma to be euthanized, and it won't go to hell.
Maybe, we never know for sure. But euthanasia is certainly a dark kamma for one who performs it.
That sounds like a priest or even the pope playing for god....
“Look on the world as empty, Mogharāja, being always mindful.
Having removed wrong view of self, in this way one will cross beyond Death.
When looking on the world in this way the king of Death does not see one.” - Sn 5.15
Leon-nl
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Re: euthanasia

Post by Leon-nl »

Zom wrote:
And we are not "just" talking about suffering. We are talking about suffering that comes toward the end and that can be excruciating.
But how you know that this suffering is not due to bad kamma? Maybe if you make euthanasia, the being will go hell and will suffer 100x more over there.
So, because *I* decide my pet is suffering tremendously and I don't want it to suffer excruciating pain, the pet and not I will get punished, go to hell and suffer 100 x more? Doesn't seem fair nor logic.
“Look on the world as empty, Mogharāja, being always mindful.
Having removed wrong view of self, in this way one will cross beyond Death.
When looking on the world in this way the king of Death does not see one.” - Sn 5.15
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