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Thread: my very limited take on two important questions

  1. #1
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    my very limited take on two important questions

    Having received two questions this beautiful sunday morning...


    1.Why would zen (or Buddhism in general) opppose suicide? There is no ethical problem created by waking up from a dream, so how is dying to the illusory world around us any different than that?

    2. If this world is illusion and attachments, then isn't having a child akin to feeding someone a mind-clouding drug? We are facilitating a mind being trapped in the world of Mara's temptations from which it must work to escape.
    I made two quick answers. Not the best but the answers that are true to me:

    Suicide is killing. In the act of commiting suicide do one wakes up from a dream or one goes deeper into it? The real question is who does it, who commits suicide? In that light you may start to realize that the self is busy trying to get rid of itself. You so don't wake up basically. And, at the same time, one should abstain from judging a person that committed suicide. Just bow, sing and laugh and cry.

    And I cannot share your vision of life, a big Mara thing, filled with illusion. The world is not only this :it is this and that. Delusion and awakening, both at the same time. What you see out there is far too pessimistic and has more to do with primitive images of HInduism that Buddhism as Dogen practised and understood it. Maybe you could do with reading, chewing and chewing again a chapter of Shobogenzo like One Bright Pearl or The sutra of Mountains and rivers.

    So having a child is not drug dealing. It is to give to as it isness the possiblility to awake (manifest) within this dream-reality spin.


    gassho


    Taigu

  2. #2

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    In the act of commiting suicide do one wakes up from a dream or one goes deeper into it? The real question is who does it, who commits suicide? In that light you may start to realize that the self is busy trying to get rid of itself. You so don't wake up basically.
    Taigu, thank you. Imperfect answer or no, your answers-- particularly that first one-- speaks to me-- touches me actually. Some years ago I went through a time of suicidal depression (which I have since worked my way out of, thankfully). There is a strange kind of pain, an intensity of doubt, and I think your answer here really expresses what that pain is like. It is truly a living hell. Again, thank you.

    _()_
    josh

  3. #3

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    The fellow, who is not from our little Sangha, wrote me the same two questions. I wrote him the following without having looked closely at Taigu's comments, and I will post them here before doing so, but I have a hunch that Taigu and I will be of the same heart on these ...

    - On suicide ... this life may be a dream, or not a dream, but even if a dream, it is "our dream", this dream to be lived, a dream that we were born to dream and had best get on with! Dogen called this reality a "Dream within a Dream" ... a dream so dreamy that it is real as real can be. Now, whether you choose to make it a dream of peace and liberation through your words, thoughts and acts ... or a nightmare of greed, anger and ignorance ... is up to you.

    Life is a treasure, sacred ... why would one wish to snuff it out? To find liberation? Why not find that right here ... in this life, where liberation can be lived.

    - On children ... this world can be "illusions and attachments", or lived free of "illusions and attachments" even amid this messy world. Why not simply (to quote Crosby, Stills and Nash), teach our children well? One can live this life, in this dreamy world, without being Mara's prisoner.

    Those are my answers. Do you think the best way is to escape this world by never being born or by dying early? Or do you feel that the best way might be to be born in this world, live and eventually die ... all while tasting that free of coming and going, birth and death (that's my view). It is kind of having one's cake and eating it too!

    Gassho, Jundo

  4. #4

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    1.Why would zen (or Buddhism in general) opppose suicide? There is no ethical problem created by waking up from a dream, so how is dying to the illusory world around us any different than that?

    2. If this world is illusion and attachments, then isn't having a child akin to feeding someone a mind-clouding drug? We are facilitating a mind being trapped in the world of Mara's temptations from which it must work to escape.
    Delusions are endless, we vow to cut thru them all.

    Buddhists and non buddhists oppose suicide because even though being lost in the dream or delusions can be extremely painful with much suffering this state of mind can be 'worked out of' as josh above states. Cutting thru delusions is the job of living and we are living so get to work. Just sitting practice is the actualization of life itself and while we don't deny the 'illusory world' we just keep coming back to the space around and between it. In that sense 'dying to the illusory world around us' is happening all the time. Killing the body is a one sided finite solution to life that is totally anti life but there are situations (terminal illness, close to death) where it might be right and no judgement is required. But to see relatively healthy people commit suicide is very sad.

  5. #5

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    1.Why would zen (or Buddhism in general) opppose suicide? There is no ethical problem created by waking up from a dream, so how is dying to the illusory world around us any different than that?

    2. If this world is illusion and attachments, then isn't having a child akin to feeding someone a mind-clouding drug? We are facilitating a mind being trapped in the world of Mara's temptations from which it must work to escape.
    Here are my answers, (Just wanted to give it a shot)

    1. Because the world itself isn't illusory, only our perceptions of it our illusory. Only through living this life and seeing pass the illusions of the world can we 'wake up' to it. Besides suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

    2. It is not so much an escape as it is an acceptance of. And it is in this acceptance of, that we escape the world of Mara's temptations. but the escape isn't about going somewhere, or leaving, but just being and understanding the fundamental nature of things. Having a child is a beautiful thing. And if one can see through the illusions and attachments then every moment is beautiful.

    Gassho

    Rafael

  6. #6

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    life is not nourishing any way to some beings.just because we can that their maybe some nourishment doesnt mean that it exists in their own path,

  7. #7

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    It may also be good to mention some traditional views on these subjects.

    Were sentient beings born to work through their past evil Karma on the long road to Buddhahood, it would be wrong (and itself the creation of evil Karma) to deprive them of that chance. There is much written on the subject of Buddhism and suicide, here is a small taste ...

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.co...&hl=en&ct=clnk

    http://www.religionfacts.com/euthanasia/buddhism.htm

    Personally, I happen to support assisted suicide in the case of extreme physical suffering, but it is not a black-white issue.

    Also worth mentioning is that, in centuries past, infanticide (especially of females) was much more common in Asia, and abortion was and remains common (as does, unfortunately, female infanticide in some places). Buddhism in China and Japan seem to have come to terms with that, and the societal understanding and accompanying Buddhist teachings became that one is not killing a fetus or child (a newborn was not yet seen as fully human), but merely temporarily returning them to the unborn world for a later reappearance ... thus not quite "killing". A fascinating book on abortion, infanticide and Buddhism in Japan ...

    http://www.amazon.com/Liquid-Life-Ab...m_pap_title_0]

    We have also had reading in our Precepts study forum on Abortion and Buddhism ...

    http://www.buddhachannel.tv/portail/...hp?article2475

    http://www.fnsa.org/fall98/tsomo1.html

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-27-2013 at 02:27 AM.

  8. #8

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Hellos to all posting here

    I do not have an opinion with regard to suicide

    That is I can equally see both sides.

    I can equally see both sides of the situation regarding abortion. The result is I have no opinion: I am able to fully support, or completely refute either position taken.

    With regard to capital punishment, I think the prisoner should decide for themself: life imprisonment, or death penalty. I believe the prisoner should have a year (or some time period) to consider/ reconsider death penalty (a life sentence is a long time).

    These are my thoughts now. These have been my thoughts for some time now. It doesn't mean they might not change; but I don't think so: I would not want someone else deciding for me: I do not want to decide for someone else.

  9. #9

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    It may also be good to mention some traditional views on these subjects.

    Were sentient beings born to work through their past evil Karma on the long road to Buddhahood, it would be wrong (and itself the creation of evil Karma) to deprive them of that chance. There is much written on the subject of Buddhism and suicide, here is a small taste ...
    I find this viewpoint particularly inspirational in difficult times. I love the quote from Bodhidharma

    When those who search for the Path suffer encounter adversity, they should think to themselves "In countless ages gone by, I've turned from the essential to the trivial and wandered through all manner of existence, often angry without cause and guilty of many transgressions. Now though I do no wrong I'm punished by my past. Neither gods nor men can see when an evil deed will bear its fruit. I accept it with an open heart and without a complaint of injustice." The sutras say, "When you meet with adversity don't be upset, because it makes sense." With such understanding you are in harmony with reason. And by suffering injustice, you enter the Path.
    Obviously that comes from a great zen master, from a perspective of deep equanimity with life. I just always find this perspective very, very refreshing. It's selfless.

    Suicide (not euthanasia), is very selfish. It impacts not just you but those around you. I believe this life is a gift, and suicide is the ultimate rejection of that gift in addition to increasing the suffering of those who have to deal with the ramifications of a sudden and violent loss of life.

    I think raising children is very selfless, perhaps one of the most selfless acts that can be done because one must set aside their "self" in order to make the child a priority and be raised properly. On an aside, I think marriage is very sacrificial as well. That's one of the reasons it is sacred in Christianity. The sacrifice of marriage (losing yourself in the bond with one's spouse) is very selfless.

    There will always be evil in this world, but it is our duty ( I believe) to practice our practice. Each one of us striving for balance, amid the chaos, if we are fortunate to find a path that allows us to do so. And like all the gifts we receive, this Dharma is very sacred as well. (although it is not always easy to practice).

    Gassho,

    Cyril

  10. #10

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    The person who asked those questions sounds, to me, to be searching for something. A reason to it all, perhaps. The answers I have for those two situations come from experience, both as a parent and a person who, at one time, contemplated suicide.

    For the suicide question, I once thought seriously about it myself, having had an awful lot of trouble with an anxiety and depressive disorder. I can understand that some circumstances are so hard on a person that they might think about it. For me, my wife was going to leave me because of my problems; I was constantly anxious and depressed, abusing alcohol regularly. These things led me to consider it as a solution. But, I came to realize that there was no problem, that what was happening was that I was confused. Perhaps life is a dream, perhaps it is not, perhaps sometimes it is a nightmare, but whatever it is, it is there to be lived / dreamt. If life is a dream and one wishes to “wake up” from it, then I encourage them to do so. That having been said, much as there are many paths up many mountains to reach the same elevation, is death the only way to accomplish that? Certainly not, else the Buddha would not have lived and preached and taught. So, no, there is no ethical problem created by waking up from a dream, but that doesn’t mean you have to kill yourself to do it. For me, waking up meant seeking help. It meant taking the medications prescribed for me (I had problems complying with that for a while), it meant seeing the psychiatrist, but most of all it meant unraveling my “self” from the delusions that I could handle things by my “self”, that alcohol was a viable means of coping, that since it was MY mind, I was in charge. It meant that I had to step away from the truths that I THOUGHT I knew, and the self image I had created, in order to see that what I was really doing was fooling myself and lying to myself into believing that I could change what was, simply because I didn’t like it.

    When a person kills themselves, they deprive all beings of their presence. The Precept says to refrain from taking life, because that life does not belong to us, that life belongs to everyone and no one. What would have happened had Ghandi killed himself? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? Marie Curie? My son’s fifth grade teacher? Does this mean that we should live simply because of what we can do for others? No. There is a simple joy in waking up and seeing the sun. There is a profound sense of completeness in walking through the snow to your car. The bittersweet memories we have of loved ones who have passed. This is life, and though it is far from happy and joyful all the time, even the bad times can be appreciated for their complete “suchness” if you stop focusing on how it affects your “self” and see it as another facet in the many sided jewel of living. My mistake was feeding the idea of my “self” until I grew to believe that I was not subject to these conditions of life; that I was special or separate from them, and the constant sensation of my “self” butting up against the reality of life was the source of the emotional pain I felt. It wasn’t until I began to let this idea of “self” go, that I found the simple joy in everyday, rain or shine, happy or hurtful.

    As for children. That’s what we do as humans. We have kids. We continue the species, because we are made to, and then we love and nurture our children as best we can. But should my idea of life be the deciding factor in whether or not I have children? I don’t think that I could justify that. If I woke up miserable every day, should I take that and use it to justify depriving someone of existence, an existence that might be full of joy and laughter, just because I didn’t experience that myself? Do I have that right?

    That does not mean, however, that I don’t understand abortion. I can understand being a parent and feeling that you cannot give them what they need, so much so that bringing that child into the world might become an act of cruelty, just as much as having the child and asking its mother to simply give him or her away to a complete stranger would be. Or the cruelty of causing a person in constant and extreme pain to continue to exist, knowing that they will be in that pain until they pass away, because I might believe that taking a life is wrong.

    In the end, both are personal choices. However, they are choices that should be made with a clear mind, as clear of delusions and attachments and catering to the “self” as they can be. They are choices that should be made knowing and understanding the effect that they will have, not just on themselves, and that the person making those choices understands that they are simply a few of the many, many choices that are out there.

    My personal take is that a person who believes that killing themselves or not having children as a public service is a good thing, take a step back and try to think of the situation in a way that does not facilitate grabbing onto the first and easiest solution. Looking at life through a filter made from your own desires is like trying to look through a dirty window. Clean it off first, then look again.

  11. #11

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    A question often tells more than it asks.

    Life is no problem, it's the suffering that some people cannot handle. Life and suffering are not two and not one. They are not the same but cannot be separated. So, often questions about life and death are really questions about suffering--questions that the Buddha provided answers/practices for.

    Our practice is a brave one, I think, because it refuses to look away or run from our suffering. We sit and sit and sit with it till we are OK with life.

    Beyond that, I have no coherent thoughts that would be of any help to someone concerned about suicide. I wish I did.

    Gassho,
    Eika

  12. #12

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Hellos to those posting here

    The question of suicide came up one time and Brad's response was that even though a person may think that suicide will end suffering (specifically their own) Suffering is not diminished or ended, it is now experienced by others: all those associated with the person in various capacities: the world doesn't have less suffering in it, it is just spread out over more people.

    Someday I may find myself in an unforeseen situation/circumstance
    I don't know what I may decide is best
    I cannot decide what is best for another

    There are all manners and degrees of everything: helps and hindrances
    Hard to know which is what sometimes

    A college friend had a half-sibling who killed himself his job had him driving long distances across country
    He left a wife and child behind
    Strange items were found in the trunk of his car after: plastic bags with different kinds of hair...
    Police were involved...some things are ugly. Ugly no matter how you look at it.
    If I was a serial killer let's say...and I couldn't stop myself and I wanted to protect others
    Killing myself may be a kindness to all beings...
    There was no conclusion for what was found in his trunk.

    All I know is that speculation has nothing to do with the experience of another
    I can not tell someone else what they should do.
    After it is done, I cannot second guess what would have been better
    Only my own feet in my own shoes can go their own way even if the way is unknown/unknowable
    I cannot know in advance what is a fitting and true action: in that moment only

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Quote Originally Posted by cyril
    Suicide (not euthanasia), is very selfish. It impacts not just you but those around you. I believe this life is a gift, and suicide is the ultimate rejection of that gift in addition to increasing the suffering of those who have to deal with the ramifications of a sudden and violent loss of life.

    I think raising children is very selfless, perhaps one of the most selfless acts that can be done because one must set aside their "self" in order to make the child a priority and be raised properly. On an aside, I think marriage is very sacrificial as well. That's one of the reasons it is sacred in Christianity. The sacrifice of marriage (losing yourself in the bond with one's spouse) is very selfless.
    I have to disagree with your assertions that suicide is always selfish and that having children is always selfless. Suicide is an irrational act brought on by suffering and despair. Perhaps some do it to hurt others or because they are not thinking about the repercussions of their irrational actions, but I think most do it because they do not know how to alleviate their suffering in any other way. My mother used to say that suicide was selfish, but as a narcissist she was always more concerned about the effects others' actions would have on her rather than having compassion for their suffering. As to having children, some parents have children for very selfish reasons like feeling lonely or in despair and do not make their children a priority or work to raise them as independent human beings with their own emotional needs.

    In short, nothing in human experience can be so easily categorized.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  14. #14

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Both actions can be extremely selfish, and also selfless. But, for the most part, they are one or the other. Suicide is most often a selfish act, used to carry out the delusions the self has about it giving them piece. There are exceptions, the ancient samurai for example would commit sepuku for losing their honor, but their honor was the honor of their entire family, and so for the society of the time, it could litteraly be punishing the son for the sins of the father. Sepuku back then, restored the family's honor, wiping the slate clean so that the samurai's family would not live under the cloud of his disgrace. That is true selflessness.

    By that same token, I've lost count of parents who try to live vicariously through their children.

  15. #15
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Well, we don't know for a fact that committing suicide wouldn't give someone peace. I don't know that at all.

    Is the idea that suicide is selfish because of how it would affect other people? I'd be interested to hear what other's reactions would be to hearing of a suicide.

    My first thought would be, "Oh my God, what kind of pain must they have been in to do such a thing?"

    Would the first thoughts of someone who believes suicide is selfish be, "Oh my God, how could they do this to me?"

    Which of those responses sounds selfish to you?

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  16. #16

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Yeah I have to agree that both suicide and having children could be both selfless and selfish, depending on one's intent. For instance, my parents were very selfless; I am, after all, God's gift to the world. :mrgreen: mwahahahah

    Actually though I find it very hard to find an example of where committing suicide would be selfless. I guess there are, but when I think of someone killing themselves out of despair or depression, I really do think that is a very selfish act. It does have ramifications on others, and no one is ever alone.

  17. #17

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Well, we don't know for a fact that committing suicide wouldn't give someone peace. I don't know that at all.

    Is the idea that suicide is selfish because of how it would affect other people? I'd be interested to hear what other's reactions would be to hearing of a suicide.

    My first thought would be, "Oh my God, what kind of pain must they have been in to do such a thing?"

    Would the first thoughts of someone who believes suicide is selfish be, "Oh my God, how could they do this to me?"

    Which of those responses sounds selfish to you?

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    That depends on where you stand, I think. What would the thoughts be of a mother of four upon learning of the suicide of her husband, especially if she stayed home with the children and he was the only source of income? Sure you are sad and distraught and torn to pieces at the loss of someone you loved dearly, but you are now also the sole provider and care taker of four innocent lives that still need food, water, shelter, clothing, medical care, school clothes, and education, etc. You are correct, though, that we don't know for sure if death brings peace in any form, but that's the kicker isn't it? It is our delusions that what ever is after this life must be better than what is going on now, and our attachment to the idea that death brings a release from problems, sorrow and suffering. This is why I said before that a person who wants to commit suicide in order to escape suffering is confused. You can never escape suffering in this world, while at the same time becoming free from suffering by an understanding of the dharma.

    So is it selfish? I think so, when you leave those who depend on you to fend for themselves so that you can satisfy the delusion you have of attaining peace through your own death.

  18. #18

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Ahhh yes, the uncertainty of the afterlife....


  19. #19
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    That depends on where you stand, I think. What would the thoughts be of a mother of four upon learning of the suicide of her husband, especially if she stayed home with the children and he was the only source of income? Sure you are sad and distraught and torn to pieces at the loss of someone you loved dearly, but you are now also the sole provider and care taker of four innocent lives that still need food, water, shelter, clothing, medical care, school clothes, and education, etc. You are correct, though, that we don't know for sure if death brings peace in any form, but that's the kicker isn't it? It is our delusions that what ever is after this life must be better than what is going on now, and our attachment to the idea that death brings a release from problems, sorrow and suffering. This is why I said before that a person who wants to commit suicide in order to escape suffering is confused. You can never escape suffering in this world, while at the same time becoming free from suffering by an understanding of the dharma.
    Well, I am a father of two boys and currently my wife is our only source of income. If my wife were to commit suicide, I believe my first thought would be compassion: What pain caused her to kill herself? In your scenario, should my first thought be anger or resentment? (i.e. Why did she do that to me/them?) That doesn't make much sense to me. Suicide is an irrational act that in most cases comes from an underlying mental illness. If you are able to make a balanced evaluation of your life, taking into account all the consequences of your actions, and come to a rational decision about your future...chances are you aren't suicidal. To rationalize the behavior of an irrational person is impossible and is often a reaction to our inability to control the universe. They might have killed themselves because the guy in the fedora with the purple lunchbox told them to do it. Does rational thought come into play there? I don't think so.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    So is it selfish? I think so, when you leave those who depend on you to fend for themselves so that you can satisfy the delusion you have of attaining peace through your own death.
    A delusion is a belief that can be proven to be false. Believing that suicide will relieve suffering is not a delusion since, as far as I know, no one has come back to tell us about it. That's not to say that I think it will relieve anyone's suffering...I don't. But assuming that it won't is to be stuck in a religious view that assumes there are such things as heaven and hell. Some call that a delusion! And to try to reconcile our views of life and death with those who chose to end it will only create more suffering.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  20. #20

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Born to live

  21. #21

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    That depends on where you stand, I think. What would the thoughts be of a mother of four upon learning of the suicide of her husband, especially if she stayed home with the children and he was the only source of income? Sure you are sad and distraught and torn to pieces at the loss of someone you loved dearly, but you are now also the sole provider and care taker of four innocent lives that still need food, water, shelter, clothing, medical care, school clothes, and education, etc. You are correct, though, that we don't know for sure if death brings peace in any form, but that's the kicker isn't it? It is our delusions that what ever is after this life must be better than what is going on now, and our attachment to the idea that death brings a release from problems, sorrow and suffering. This is why I said before that a person who wants to commit suicide in order to escape suffering is confused. You can never escape suffering in this world, while at the same time becoming free from suffering by an understanding of the dharma.
    Well, I am a father of two boys and currently my wife is our only source of income. If my wife were to commit suicide, I believe my first thought would be compassion: What pain caused her to kill herself? In your scenario, should my first thought be anger or resentment? (i.e. Why did she do that to me/them?) That doesn't make much sense to me. Suicide is an irrational act that in most cases comes from an underlying mental illness. If you are able to make a balanced evaluation of your life, taking into account all the consequences of your actions, and come to a rational decision about your future...chances are you aren't suicidal. To rationalize the behavior of an irrational person is impossible and is often a reaction to our inability to control the universe. They might have killed themselves because the guy in the fedora with the purple lunchbox told them to do it. Does rational thought come into play there? I don't think so.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    So is it selfish? I think so, when you leave those who depend on you to fend for themselves so that you can satisfy the delusion you have of attaining peace through your own death.
    A delusion is a belief that can be proven to be false. Believing that suicide will relieve suffering is not a delusion since, as far as I know, no one has come back to tell us about it. That's not to say that I think it will relieve anyone's suffering...I don't. But assuming that it won't is to be stuck in a religious view that assumes there are such things as heaven and hell. Some call that a delusion! And to try to reconcile our views of life and death with those who chose to end it will only create more suffering.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying that the spouse of a person who commits suicide would simply look at their loved one and say, "You bastard!" or something. Of course the first thought is sorrow and pain at loosing a loved one, questions without answers - Why did they do it? Why didn't they say something? What could I have done differently to have helped or listened? But the first thought isn't the only thought, nor is it the last thought. And we aren't really talking about the other person's reaction though, we are talking about whether the act was "self"ish or not. From the point of view of the person who is actually committing suicide, do you think that they are concerned with what their death will mean to those they leave behind? I want to make sure that you understand that I am not talking so much about the emotional aspect of it, though for those left behind it is imposible to separate, I am talking about whether the person who is committing suicide is thinking of anyone other than themselves. As I said before, I personally contemplated it. So I can speak from my own experience that I was only concerned with ending the emotional pain that I felt, and infact began to believe that my family would be better off, but that was a justification technique.

    Another definition of delusion is an unfounded opinion or idea. If looked at in this context, assuming that death releases a person from suffering is a delusion. Assuming it won't is a delusion, too. Assuming it won't or will isn't getting stuck in a religious view, but it is assuming that we have any idea whatsoever of what comes after death in this world. To say it will could mean that there is a perfect heaven or nirvana where there is no suffering, or it might mean that the essence of what makes us who we are simply ceases to be entirely. Either way it would be a form of release. To say it won't might mean there is a hell, or maybe that there is a state after this life that is exactly like this life with all its attendent joys and miseries. There need not be a religious point to it.

    And one last thing, I said that it is usually selfish. Most people who commit suicide do so to stop the pain they feel physically or emotionally. This is completely a stand point of how their perception of life affects THEM. The self. But there are also people who commit suicide for selfless reasons. Don't forget that suicide is any act a person takes willingly that results in their own death, with the foreknowlege that death is the most likely outcome. So a soldier who leaps on a grenade in order to save his platoon, a man who runs into the street to hurl a child out of the way of a speeding truck, knowing he won't be able to get clear himself, the wounded person who forces his companions to leave him in the woods in order to move faster so that they have a chance of finding help when he would only slow them down; these are all examples of selfless suicide. We also call them acts of heroism and bravery, but the result is still the same. The motive is what is different. Not all suicides can be attributed to mental illness either. Over 150,000 farmers in Inda have committed suicide over the past decade because of overiding debt.

    And of course there's always the fedora wearing, purple lunchbox toting hallucination - but those are few and far between.

  22. #22
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Christopher,

    It seems clear that you have made up your mind on this issue, so I won't attempt to persuade you any further. I had not ever heard about the problems of suicide in India and it is quite shocking. Stories like that should be widely known but sadly are not. Thank you for bringing that to our attention!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  23. #23

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Jundo may be more familiar with the following:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aokigahara

    But here is another not too well known story outside of Japan.

  24. #24

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Christopher,

    It seems clear that you have made up your mind on this issue, so I won't attempt to persuade you any further. I had not ever heard about the problems of suicide in India and it is quite shocking. Stories like that should be widely known but sadly are not. Thank you for bringing that to our attention!

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Don't mistake me here, this is my opinion and I am more than willing to hear others. All I can do is speak from my own experience and try to see it from a place of clarity. Any and all other thoughts are welcome.

  25. #25

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Let me offer this ...

    Buddhist teachings tend to point to the real "wrongdoer" in life as human "greed, anger and ignorance", and in that sense, both the person who is the target of violence AND the person who does violence are "victims". So, for example, even a violent murderer, rapist or child molester is acting so because of the inner rage, excess desire, dissatisfaction, divisive thoughts within them, all holes they feel the need to fill through their harmful actions. Everyone is a victim of greed, anger and ignorance.

    THAT, BY THE WAY, does not necessarily excuse or forgive the person's volitional conduct ... and there are debts that have to be paid, either in society (we may understand that a child molester is acting due to his own past suffering, yet society is perfectly right in removing such a person from being able to do further harm to others, either through prison or other effective means, and seeking otherwise that the debt be paid) or the universe itself (if one believe's in literal Karma for volitional acts, then the debt will be paid in future lives and hells). Thus, many Nazis in WWII were "victims" of their inner anger, bigotry, racism, hunger for power, and perhaps own poor childhoods ... yet society was justified in stopping and punishing them.

    But, we must all recognize that we --all-- have the inner POTENTIAL for the best and worst of human behavior within us, under the right (or wrong) conditions. "There but for the grace of Buddha go I". Furthermore, we are all so interconnected that, in a very real sense, I am ultimately you and you are me. Thus, I feel that Buddhists should take actions necessary to prevent and punish wrongdoing, but always (or as we humanly can ... for it is hard to forgive some things) without thoughts of revenge or anger. It is simply necessary medicine to keep society safe.

    Why do I mention all that?

    Well, I feel it is not right to really debate whether the person who commits suicide is acting selfishly or not selfishly, is the wrongdoer or not. The real "culprit" is the ignorance, imprisoning emotions and thoughts within the person that drives them to do so. The real criminal is the trickster "self" within the person and its lack of liberation from itself and dissatisfaction with life.

    Thus, I feel that suicide due to deep depression, self-loathing, loss of a "reason to live" is almost always a waste, and is due to unnecessary harmful thoughts and emotions that need not occur in this life. IF ONLY the person could know the liberation brought by Buddhist Practice, suicide would be out of the question. Freedom can be known in this life, and this life lived with a great Joy and Peace, even in times of sadness and fear and loss and the like. The real "devil" is our own destructive emotions and black thoughts which rob us of experiencing that.

    By the way, the foregoing point does not apply to certain kinds of "suicide", e.g., euthanasia in the face of a truly painful and incurable physical condition may be justified at some point. Also, the Buddha himself, in past lives as a Bodhisattva (much like the soldier who jumps on a grenade, etc.), is said to have engaged in various "suicides" purely for altruistic reasons, in service to others. For example, the famous Jataka tale of the "Hungry Tigress"

    [The Buddha, in an earlier life as a Bodhisattva before he was yet the "Buddha"] encountered a tigress who was starving and emaciated from giving birth With no food in sight, the bodhisattva, out of infinite compassion, offered his body as food to the tigress, selflessly forfeiting his own life.

    Gassho, J

    PS - This is a good time to mention the famous story and picture of Ven.Thich Quang Duc, who set himself on fire on a busy Saigon street in 1963 to protest the persecution of Buddhists by the then South Vietnamese government.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thich_Quang_Duc

    On my recent trip to Vietnam, I found that some there and elsewhere consider him a great hero. Other Buddhists around the world (I lean this way) think that any form of suicide as merely a political statement is not in keeping with the Precept on Preserving Life. This issue too is not "black and white", but I lean against it.

  26. #26

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    On my recent trip to Vietnam, I found that some there and elsewhere consider him a great hero. Other Buddhists around the world (I lean this way) think that any form of suicide as merely a political statement is not in keeping with the Precept on Preserving Life. This issue too is not "black and white", but I lean against it.

    I personally think Duc self-immolated as a protest against the horror of war and the abuse of other humans... not as simple politics, and that whatever the actual outcome, his one and only motive was to save lives.
    I wouldn't recommend his path, but here it is 2010, and we remember this simple monk. Maybe his gesture was futile. His thinking may have been faulty, to some, but I think his heart... his unburnable heart, which still exists, was in the exact right place.
    I recently saw the statue they've erected of him. I was moved to real tears.

  27. #27
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    The article about Ven.Thich Quang Duc moved me and raised some interesting contradictions in my mind, causing me to taste the sweetness of deciding that I didn't have to pick a side.

  28. #28
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    I very much need to let this go, but I will leave after saying how I look at suicide without any intent to convince anyone of anything.

    If someone had an inoperable brain tumor that caused their death, would anyone ever refer to it as selfish? I can think of only one instance: A family member who is so upset by the loss that they ask either God or no one in particular, "Why did they do this to me?" A natural reaction to loss, of course. But after the initial shock, would anyone call their death selfish? I don't believe so.

    In my mind, someone who commits suicide may not have had any more choice in the matter than the cancer patient and, in the latter case, there is a tumor that can be seen, examined, and made "real" to anyone who would wish to see it. But, generally, the family takes the doctor's word that something in their head led to the cancer patient's death.

    When someone commits suicide, there is no tumor to point to and often no evidence of any kind that something in their head led to their death. A family member may ask, "Why did they do this to me?" and the doctor may have nothing to point to as a cause because no scan or autopsy would show evidence of every type of mental illness. In many cases, all the family has as evidence is a self inflicted wound.

    In my mind, to refer to suicide as selfish is the same as saying someone with a brain tumor was selfish. In both cases the patient may have had absolutely no choice in the matter and, without a tumor or other identifying evidence, the family will never know for certain why their loved one is gone. To me, labelling such an act as selfish is at least the cause of much suffering and at most dead wrong.

    Maybe that's an odd way of looking at it, but it is how I look at it.

    That's enough...I will now shut up and go sit.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  29. #29
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Dosho, I see your point. And frankly, i think it's kinda sad when someone's first reaction to such a tragic loss is how selfish the deceased were. A few months before I moved back to NC a former manager of mine passed on in such a fashion, and i was so completely shocked to hear how most of my co-workers acted. By the second day i said something not so friendly to the group of them.Always hurts my heart when others speak ill of someone who committed suicide.

  30. #30

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Hiyas
    I lived a long time (seemingly eons) with a suicidal person in my life. She came and went and each time was a plea for help that was met with various answers (I'll give my own here in a few more lines). The thing is after countless visits to the psych ward on at the hospital here I really wanted to give this person a wake up call some how (and a smack up-side the head!). at the time i was visiting the hospital I had just lost my brother and a close friend was diagnosed with cancer and was fighting for his life.

    I was angry with her for, in my limited view then and even now, for being selfish. I told her so and explained my point view. At times I wanted to just say F#$% it and never look back. I did not understand she was suffering from a disease and this was a symptom.

    Anywho, Her many attempts were serious, but she had people on close watch quick to get her. I wont share her motivations as they, well are not important in this discussion but they are very very good ones! I got over myself and my selfishness and listened to her. I grew to have a better handle on things and after much work on her part she "got better". The thing she explained that helped me most was that the mind set she was in, gave her a perspective as death as an acceptable way to end her suffering(which, was as real for her as a branding iron, on hide).

    Later this person met up with and began to fall back into some old habits with a wonderfully bright person...almost her lost twin she still says.. who, she discovered one morning, had successfully committed suicide. She to this day apologizes for the suffering she put us through, I still apologize for my lack of understanding and thank her for the lessons she shared with me and that I have her in my life today.

    Another person Ive known since I was a kid successfully after YEARS of trying hung himself. His mom said, through tears, she was so sad to see him go, but glad he was no longer suffering, and the waiting was over. He had this mindset since a young boy, despite all types of attempts to help him, he was 36.

    Suicide is killing. In the act of committing suicide do one wakes up from a dream or one goes deeper into it? The real question is who does it, who commits suicide? In that light you may start to realize that the self is busy trying to get rid of itself. You so don't wake up basically. And, at the same time, one should abstain from judging a person that committed suicide. Just bow, sing and laugh and cry.
    Gassho



    Shohei

  31. #31

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    I feel like I need to clarify a few things here, because it seems like the take away from what I said was that a person who commits suicide should be regarded as a selfish person with no thought to the pain they were experiencing. This is not so. In my mind there is a difference between selfish and "self"ish, and I am refering to the latter. When I say suicide is a selfish act, I am saying that it is done because the self has an idea of what will satisfy its desire for release or peace, and that idea is to self destruct. I am not saying that we should not have compassion for those with depressive issues and other mental illnesses, and the first thought I have when someone commits suicide is a heart rending saddness that that person must have been hurting so bad that death seemed the only answer.

    It's like Jundo said, that trickster the self is behind it. A person who is in emotional pain can find freedom in the Way instead of in death, but their delusions keep them from seeing that. When a person is depressed (clinically) they almost HAVE to be selfish out of necessity, because they are trying to cope with an ever present feeling of depression and they need to be constantly vigilant and dealing with it, lest it get the better of them. It sometimes takes all of your focus just to be able to maintain a sembalance of a normal life.

    What I am saying is this: Suicide is usually an act that is "self" oriented. The victim is killing them "self" in order that they no longer have to experience the emotional pain they feel. They want it to stop, they want to stop feeling they way they do. Not many people commit suicide for someone else. That is all I am saying. As for mental illness, yes it is a factor, sometimes a big one. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder with a Specific Phobia, and I know how devious and insidious such things can be, how they can control your life. However, there is help for that. I went to the doctors and took the meds, not just for my sake but because my family suffered right along with me. For a while, I refused to do either, thinking that I could handle it, that I was in control, I was catering to the ideas my "self" had formed. And it was selfish of me not to have sought that help. In the end, my selfishness nearly cost me my marriage, my job, my children, and my life. If not for a strange twist of fate, I might have succeeded. But then I came to study the Way and realized that there was medicine for my problems, both chemical and spiritual. I came to see what my "self" was doing and then how empty the idea of "self" is. I found what I was looking for through practice, a measure of peace, and now since I am still here, I can share that with others, be a better husband and father, and do some good in this life.

  32. #32
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Suicide just happens... and there are so many reasons for it. Sometimes, perhaps, the act can be classified as "selfish--" but it doesn't really matter, because no two suicides are the same.

  33. #33
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Ok, I shall put it another way: for Taigu and for now, suicide is out of bounds. As a good little catholic boy, I was taught that suicide was bad, selfish and... bring everything you want into the mix, I was told that it was not good. The stupid head I am doesn't buy into this moralistic rubbish anymore. If suicide is out of bounds, it is not because a religious teachings or a book tells me so, it is just because I love this life as it is with ups and downs, the whole lanscape is just wonderful. Just. Shikan.
    I am the worst father ever, the most stupid partner and I have no intention to improve ,Christopher.
    Let's put it another way: I have lost my marriages, my kid and my life. Everybody will tell you that I have also lost my brilliant accademic future...
    Cannot care less. The only that hurts is that my daughter doesn't really understand yet.

    Compassion, Christopher, does not pick up this and chooses that, compassion is unconditionnal. It is a ground one cannot measure. It swallows you up. From head to arse.

    Sit. And sit again. Stop judging others and yourself.

    Make peace. Don't care anymore about being good or fear being bad.

    Drop theology, Buddhology ,
    selfology
    ... drop the action of dropping itself.


    What is in front of you then is so simple.

    With you in all this



    gassho


    Taigu

    PS: thanks Amelia

  34. #34

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Wise words to finish the year

    Thank you, Taigu

  35. #35

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Ok, I shall put it another way: for Taigu and for now, suicide is out of bounds. As a good little catholic boy, I was taught that suicide was bad, selfish and... bring everything you want into the mix, I was told that it was not good. The stupid head I am doesn't buy into this moralistic rubbish anymore. If suicide is out of bounds, it is not because a religious teachings or a book tells me so, it is just because I love this life as it is with ups and downs, the whole lanscape is just wonderful. Just. Shikan.
    I completely agree with you. I am not trying to say that suicide is good or bad. I cannot speak for another to say whether they pain they feel is enough to justify their own death. I am also not trying to place a religious ideal over the whole thing. ALL I am saying is that suicide is usually an act that is completed to satisfy the self (the Buddhist idea of "self"). The problem is that these folks cannot get out of their own way enough to see the whole landscape of life. As I said, I differentiate between selfish (where my child will not share a toy with his brother because, and I quote, "It's mine!") and "self"ish (where a person is bound to thier delusions and attachments, likes and dislikes, and is led about by the nose by this "self").

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Compassion, Christopher, does not pick up this and chooses that, compassion is unconditionnal. It is a ground one cannot measure. It swallows you up. From head to arse.

    Sit. And sit again. Stop judging others and yourself.

    Make peace. Don't care anymore about being good or fear being bad.
    Compassion is truly something one cannot put on and take off like a coat, I agree. Compassion is the blood in our veins, the ocean in which we swim, and the water that we drink. I would never suggest that compassion does not extend to those who take their lives, nor to those left behind. I would say that there is no more judgement in my statements above then there would be in saying that the wind is blowing or the sky is blue today.

    The basis of my comments is this (perhaps I should avoid being so wordy in the future, it tends to obscure my meaning, but then using words to describe the dharma is like painting a flower on paper - no smell, can't touch the petals or watch it sway in the breeze)

    Suicide - usually - happens because the "SELF" is in pain. The "SELF" hates the way things are, sees no way out of the pain it feels, and focuses on the negative aspects of life on an almost personal level. The "SELF" drives the person to kill themselves believing that it is the only way to find peace.

    Drop the "SELF". If you can get out of your own way, you can see things as they are, and perhaps find the peace you thought you were missing before. Once you realize the "SELF" is empty, you can appreciate the whole landscape of life for being perfectly what it is, good times and bad, ups and downs, hills and dales.

    I am not saying a person should be villified for committing suicide, I feel that compassion should encompass all beings, and who knows the depths of suffering that person might have felt. However, I do feel that the culprit in this is the "SELF" and its desires, attachments and delusions - hence the "SELF"ish part.

    I will, however, sit with your words and practice, Taigu. Thank you.

  36. #36

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Thank you for the wise answer Taigu, with questions like that, even on misplaced word can make all the difference and your answers are very clear.
    Gassho

  37. #37
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    If suicide is out of bounds, it is not because a religious teachings or a book tells me so, it is just because I love this life as it is with ups and downs, the whole lanscape is just wonderful. Just. Shikan.
    We must leave it anyway, at some point, so why leave it early?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Sit. And sit again. Stop judging others and yourself.
    _/_ Thank you for the advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    PS: thanks Amelia
    _/_

  38. #38
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    The problem is that these folks cannot get out of their own way enough to see the whole landscape of life.
    I don't think we can presume to know the depth of each person who is suicidal or has committed suicide.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    ...(perhaps I should avoid being so wordy in the future, it tends to obscure my meaning, but then using words to describe the dharma is like painting a flower on paper - no smell, can't touch the petals or watch it sway in the breeze)
    From the book, Eat, Pray, Love:

    "Say it like you eat it."

  39. #39

  40. #40
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Well. I have watched someone I cared for die. She was in such pain. There was nothing there but pain. All she was, was pain. Medication didn't help. She - her "selfish self", if you like - wanted an end to her suffering. So did her family. They were in such pain watching and feeling her pain. If she could have gone, she would have. If they'd dared to help her go, they would have. If I'd dared to help her go, I would have. She couldn't. They didn't. I didn't.

    I make no wider judgements about suicide, or assisted suicide, and I can't know whether someone "should" or "should not" live on or choose release in any given situation. These "shoulds" all seem to me to be ideas we like to hold about someone else's life, when we can't know the reality. I only know that in that hospital ward, compassion would have led me to release the suffering, and fear, selfish fear of the consequences for me if I had acted on that compassion, held me back.

    Gassho

    Martin

  41. #41

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin
    Well. I have watched someone I cared for die. She was in such pain. There was nothing there but pain. All she was, was pain. Medication didn't help. She - her "selfish self", if you like - wanted an end to her suffering.
    OK, I'm going to say it again here. There is a world of difference between "selfish" (the old, mine, I want, you can't have 'cause it's mine, etc) and "Self"ish. In the way I am using the word (emphasis added) I am saying that MOST suicides are the result of the SELF (you know, the Buddhist Idea of self that doesn't exist. We talk about dropping it all the time, but it seems that in this discussion we are running into some difficulty with the concept) deluding the person into believing that suicide is the only way out. I'm also going to quote myself here:
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    That does not mean, however, that I don’t understand abortion. I can understand being a parent and feeling that you cannot give them what they need, so much so that bringing that child into the world might become an act of cruelty, just as much as having the child and asking its mother to simply give him or her away to a complete stranger would be. Or the cruelty of causing a person in constant and extreme pain to continue to exist, knowing that they will be in that pain until they pass away, because I might believe that taking a life is wrong.
    I am not judging those who commit suicide. I cannot know their reasons for it, I cannot feel their pain emotionally or physically. I do believe that many of them could be saved from it, if they were able to get out from under the control of the "Self" and could see the dharma more clearly, for then they might not feel that death is the only way to peace. In any case, my one and only reaction to suicide is saddness at the loss of a life, so dear to everyone, and compassion for those who are most affected by it, including the one who committed suicide, because their suffering must have truly been unbearable.

  42. #42
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Christopher, I understand you, if that's any consoloation.

    _/_

  43. #43

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Shonin
    Christopher, I understand you, if that's any consoloation.

    _/_
    Thanks. I don't want to be taken wrong, and I'm glad you get what I'm saying here. Sometimes it seems, especially in the sensitive conversations like this one, that when someone mentions it in the same Zen Buddhist language context that we do everything else, that we suddenly forget everything we've learned. Words are only words, don't mistake the finger for the moon. The teachings don't stop being the teachings because we are emotionally connected to the subject.

    1000 bows, Shonin

  44. #44

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    I just read this thread and decided to empty my head. Sorry for the wall of text. It's mostly delusional rambling, but who knows? There may be some grain of truth in there somewhere!

    When we are balanced, I believe we all feel in our hearts that suicide is against our purpose, our nature, that it is something we should not do. It is also part of the precept of not killing.

    We find it sad that someone chooses to end their life prematurely, when we wish they could have instead opened their true dharma eye and seen through the mental constructions and delusions that cause them their misery, and shatter the bonds of the greed, anger and ignorance that torments them. It is only in life that we can manifest life and our universal selves through life.

    We can make up all kinds of reasons why we should not kill ourselves. We were born to live, life is a precious gift, we hurt the ones we love, my life could be important to others in ways that I don't understand etc. But few people choose to commit suicide. They do it because they see no other way out. When all psychological barriers have broken down, there's nothing to stop the dark thoughts. It is an act of desperation, not of free will.

    The body and mind of the ordinary self is killing itself to escape from a world of suffering, but I don't think we can say it is out of selfishness. (UNWARRANTED ZENNISMS ALERT ) It is neither selfish nor unselfish. It is both selfish and unselfish. Neither is it irrational nor rational. It is both irrational and rational. What looks completely irrational for the outside observer may be rational for the person about to commit suicide. What may seem more rational to the outside observer, for example the serial killer or child molester who can't stop what he is doing and instead commits suicide, is in other ways completely irrational. Seppuku seems completely rational for the samurai, but may be an irrational act of self-delusion to the modern Zen practitioner. He acts selflessly to clear his name and the name of his family from dishonour. Or does he commit suicide only to satisfy his big ego, even though he is killing that same ego in the process?

    What about the person who kills himself slowly, by being self-destructive or irresponsible. Someone who smokes, eats unhealthily and drinks excessively, for example. Is it less bad to kill yourself slowly than quickly?

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    The question of suicide came up one time and Brad's response was that even though a person may think that suicide will end suffering (specifically their own) Suffering is not diminished or ended, it is now experienced by others: all those associated with the person in various capacities: the world doesn't have less suffering in it, it is just spread out over more people.
    This is a good argument for not killing oneself, for the few people that are interested in a lesson in philosophy when they are about to shoot themselves in the head to escape their unbearable suffering... :roll:

    And there are times when the family suffers less after their loved one has committed suicide than before, even though they miss that person dearly and wish it had not happened. When both the person who killed himself and the people around him have been tormented so severly and for so long, those around him may very well feel relief when he is finally at rest. They may also feel that now at least they don't have to worry anymore about what is going to happen. This can lead to feelings of guilt and more suffering, but it doesn't have to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    If I was a serial killer let's say...and I couldn't stop myself and I wanted to protect others
    Killing myself may be a kindness to all beings...
    Maybe this is one situation where the precept should not be followed, where the death of one person can save many others. Even Dalai Lama says that war can sometimes be justified (but he would rather chase away the mosquito that lands on his arm than kill it). But who are we to judge? Can we see all the consequences of the actions of ourselves and others? Then we are gods. Or at least Buddhas. I think until we fully realize our own Buddhahood, we should refrain from judging others before we have walked in their shoes and instead try to be compassionate.

    Are there truly altruistic suicides? Was Thich Quang Duc's suicide the turning point that put an end to the oppression of buddhists in South Vietnam? Or had the tide already turned and was the immolation instead the culmination of the people's resitance? In other words, was it the key to change or a symbol of that change? Was killing himself the life's mission for this monk? Or did he do it to promote his own ego by becoming a martyr? Was he influenced at all by the previous cases of immolation by Vietnamese monks? Or did he just break after years of oppression and suffering and looked at suicide as his only way out? We will never know and we can never judge. We can only show compassion for the man and remember the good things that followed his sacrifice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    All I know is that speculation has nothing to do with the experience of another
    I can not tell someone else what they should do.
    After it is done, I cannot second guess what would have been better
    Only my own feet in my own shoes can go their own way even if the way is unknown/unknowable
    I cannot know in advance what is a fitting and true action: in that moment only
    I think there is great wisdom in these words. I always look forward to reading your posts. Thank you!

    Why is depression and mental illness so much more taboo than physical illness? Why is dying from depression so much worse than dying from heart disease? From research we now know that suicidal patients show prominently low levels of Serotonin in their brains. In mild cases, behavioral therapy is just as effective as pills and I'm sure Zazen can be very useful too in breaking negative patterns of thought and learning to see through some of our delusions. In more severe cases however, we are just not susceptible to therapy or other people's opinions. We need to normalize the Serotonin and Norepinephrine levels before we have a chance to reach the person. In some circles, including Zen circles, "happy pills" have a negative reputation and even persons with great authority such as Roshis (not Jundo or Taigu! :wink: ) have been known to recommend against medicating against depression. Please don't do this or you'll have a sh*tload of bad karma coming your way when someone kills himself! :evil:

    We don't have to think of suicide as good or bad, as a matter of fact I don't think we should.
    We only need to view suicide as something not-to-do.
    We live and love, we don't take our life.
    We suffer and die, we don't take our life.
    We wash the dishes, we don't take our life.
    If the circumstances still make us take our life, we probably didn't see that we had a choice.

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  45. #45
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: my very limited take on two important questions

    This is an interesting topic. I haven't had enough time to read all the replies, so if someone else brought this up, forgive me.

    The biggest argument against suicide is that it's a category error to prescribe a situation/circumstance change (death) to a problem that transcends situations/circumstances (dukkha). It's not solely your circumstances that cause your suffering, it's the interaction of those circumstances with one's fundamental ignorance. If circumstances change but ignorance remains, how can there be an enduring situational solution to dukkha?

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