QUESTION: This may seem a bizarre question but one I would like a Buddhist view suicide a sin,in Christianity to commit suicide is a total sin considered evil and completely against all it teaches but in Japanese culture from the past a way of proving total loyalty to ones sovereign lord the ultimate of duty giri. Has a human being diagnosed with incurable cancer facing death anyway the right to end their life on their terms. Does this send ripples in their karma. I know this is a weird question, but as someone who has had a heart attack and a stroke and has been told I face the onset of early dementia do I have the right to choose when I leave this world.

SHORT ANSWER: Not an absolute matter in Buddhism - it all depends upon motive and intention.

LONGER ANSWER: In Buddhism, one has neither "rights" nor "sins", only consequences. One certainly has karma and if an act is intentionally committed in a self-serving manner it will create karmic seeds. Generally speaking, Buddhism cherishes all life and is opposed to suicide. There are instances in the sutras where the Buddha says that there was no fault in a particular suicide because the motive had been purely altruistic. This altruism could be that of saving others from being burdened by the care of one's person when one's medical condition was completely hopeless, but this does not refer to a situation where it is merely the case that, on the balance of probabilities, one is going to get worse and not recover. When a person does commit suicide, the "correct" Buddhist attitude toward them - except in these very rare completely altruistic cases - is compassion (not disapproval), both for what they did suffer and for the karma they have created. The idea of proving loyalty by katagiri is not Buddhist, it is a samurai custom deriving, I imagine, from Shintoism (if it has religious roots at all). When we say things like "the right to end their life on their terms" - this is an idea and a form of thinking very much grounded in the Western individualistic paradigm and is not really in the Buddhist mode.

We can take responsibility to use whatever life we have in a noble way for the benefit of all. This is true whatever the extent or limitation of our faculties may be. It is, of course, no easy matter, and we often get it wrong, but the principle is clear enough, I think. It is, perhaps, better to think of life as something entrusted to us than as something that we have power over. We do not know what the future holds and we do not know what influence our mode of conducting life will have, but we can be broadly confident that living in a dignified manner is itself supportive to many beings, including those we are unaware of. In general, suicide tends to undermine the faith of others and cause them dismay and fear.

Currently, there is a certain amount of debate about euthanasia, which has gradually become more popular in Europe over recent years. Again, it is the motive and intention that is crucial and the effect upon others. This is a difficult matter because one does not know the extent of that effect. Different people are affected in different ways. One cannot control such things. So, i think we can say that the Buddhist position in such debate should, on the one hand, be that of great caution regarding policy and, on the other, great sympathy for those who do resort to it.

Views: 62

Replies to This Discussion

Thank you - Namo Amida Bu

Good question! And good answer as well!! Namo Amida Bu( ;


ITZI Conference 2017

Blog Posts

Study Grouop

Posted by Dayamay Dunsby on November 13, 2017 at 8:04 0 Comments

We had our regular skype study group on Saturday evening. Three people attended including myself and we studied some of Dharmavidya’s writings and had very helpful discussions about subjects such as Buddhist prayer, accepting death and being Human. The next group will be on Saturday the 25th at 9.30pm. This late time is due to the fact that some of our members are overseas in different time zones. if you would like to join us please email me or skype me…


ON BEING LIBERALLY DOGMATIC (rather than dogmatically liberal)

Posted by David Brazier on November 8, 2017 at 11:30 0 Comments

Last night I had a conversation in a restaurant in which a person reported the view that the religion of the future would be Zen because Zen was a religion without dogmas. This statement struck me with particular force because at the moment I am in the middle of reviewing a draft chapter by another author on "Eastern Meditation Meets the West" for a future publication. This chapter highlights the cultural filters that ideas have to pass through in order to get a stamp of approval by our…



Posted by Dayamay Dunsby on September 9, 2017 at 20:56 0 Comments

Found this on a Chogyam Trungpa video…

''The relationship between student and teacher is like a dance…

In relating with the teacher, your critical input and your surrendering work together. They’re not working against each other. The more input you get from the teacher and the phenomenal world and the more you develop, at the same time, the more you question. So there is a kind of dance taking place between the teacher and yourself. You are not particularly trying to switch off…


Reflections on Foolishness.

Posted by Dayamay Dunsby on September 5, 2017 at 11:50 2 Comments

I sometimes can’t believe how defective I am!! Whilst despairing of myself the other day I remembered a Shinran teaching that I found some time ago. It really made me think and reinforced my resolve to practice.

It is a Pureland teaching about the depth of our sin preventing us from being genuinely good. Our efforts to be decent, caring beings are always based in and therefore contaminated by our self centredness, greed hatred and delusion. This is due to the…


© 2017   Created by David Brazier.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service