Buddhism and suicide - Dhamma Wheel

Buddhism and suicide

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Buddhism and suicide

Postby PsychedelicBuddhist » Tue Aug 06, 2013 1:34 pm

Suicide is an uber sensitive, often worrying, and controversial topic so before I start this thread, let me make one fact as clear as day- I am not suicidal, suicidal ideation is not part of my being, I do not condone suicide, and I'm making this thread solely for the purposes of rhetorical discussion.

Buddhism is one of the few (if not only) religions that has my utmost respect and I view it more as a philosophy and style of life than a theological endeavor. Having read several books on the matter, including some works by Alan Watts, my understanding of how this construct works is that an individual, through practicing meditation, changing his worldview perspective, and attaining enlightenment, escapes the bland, unpleasant loop of the sukha and dukha that 99.9% of the world seems to be entangled in. This is often described as a moment of realization, or waking up if you will, and entering a state of bliss (otherwise known as Nirvana) where everyday, petty pains that seems to cause colossal amounts of suffering (jealousy, anger, sickness, fear) begin to entirely diminish and often simple pleasures like the scent of flowers, the sounds of birds, and so forth seem to become even more euphoric and ecstatic. Have I got it right? I'm not a Buddhist scholar, I've only recently begun exploring this religion but I'm loving every minute of it.

Now, what causes a bit of confusion to me is the contradiction between the view of the world as fading and the view of the world as every individual being a spiritual entity (from what I understand, Buddhism preaches both). The first view, and I believe most buddhists agree with this, is that the world, or the universe at large, is something that is in a constant state of change and decay, or in other words there is absolutely nothing here that is permanent. This is where I assume the whole idea that clinging to people, personal possessions, and so forth is deemed as being a silly source of unnecessary pain by the Buddhists because, as Alan Watts puts it, it's like trying to grab water with your bare hands- it's a futile thing to do because it will all slip away and you'll simply become frustrated and anxious. With this in mind, isn't the self/ego also merely temporary? The ego is a network of experiences, memories, and genetics that create YOU and determine things like what experiences you consider important and worth pursuing, what provides pleasure and pain to your self, and what your degree of appreciation/focus towards said experiences is. Since we've determined that the ego will disintegrate and break away with time and death, isn't all this "soul building" (view of every individual as a spiritual being that must learn, get enlightened, and flourish) unnecessary? Isn't it as futile and silly as trying to build an empire and hoping that when you die, you'll be able to retain your wealth and power? If the self isn't permanent, then when you die and say are reincarnated, why should you have any relation to your past self? It's not like you'll have his memories/achievements/etc handed to you when you're born, right? So isn't "soul building" another form of clinging?

To fit suicide into the equation, looking at this from a solely objective perspective, isn't it technically easier to escape the dukha by simply terminating your existence instead of spending years meditating to escape it all? Does Buddhism deem suicide as immoral? If so why? Isn't the outcome of enlightenment and suicide somewhat similar? Isn't suicide the ultimate form of "not clinging" because you choose to potentially terminate your attachment with EVERYTHING that exists, including yourself?

Sorry if these are stupid questions, I've been reading a lot recently and trying to get the facts clear. :reading:

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Re: Buddhism and suicide

Postby daverupa » Tue Aug 06, 2013 2:06 pm

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Re: Buddhism and suicide

Postby cooran » Tue Aug 06, 2013 8:25 pm

Hello all,

This may be of interest:

Buddhism and Suicide - the Case of Channa - Damian Keown, University of London, Goldsmiths

With metta
---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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Re: Buddhism and suicide

Postby reflection » Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:34 pm

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Re: Buddhism and suicide

Postby manas » Thu Aug 08, 2013 2:37 am

Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."

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