euthanasia

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Buckwheat
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euthanasia

Post by Buckwheat » Thu Dec 03, 2015 1:01 pm

kalyanamitta,
I am witnessing a suffering, dying animal. Which sutta/vinaya deal with euthanasia?

metta,
Scott
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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katavedi
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Re: euthanasia

Post by katavedi » Thu Dec 03, 2015 2:09 pm

Hi Buckwheat,

In Snp 2.14 (Dhammika), the Buddha lays out the householder's practice (about halfway through the sutta. Here's a relevant excerpt:
Kill not any beings nor cause them to be killed,
and do not approve of them having been killed,
put by the rod for all that lives—
whether they are weak, or strong in the world.
Here's another translation of the same verse, by Saddhatissa:
Let him not destroy life nor cause others to destroy life and, also, not approve of others' killing. Let him refrain from oppressing all living beings in the world, whether strong or weak.
I know that this is a difficult situation to be in. I was in a similar situation a few years ago when our aged cat was dying. Some thoughts that I had at the time were:

1) Are thoughts about putting her down arising because I can't be present with her suffering? Is it really my own pain that I want eased?

2) Is there anything unnatural about a being dying, even painfully? In nature, it's certainly the rule for animals, rather than the exception, to endure the discomfort of dying. In other words, "Is there something wrong with letting her go through the dying process? Is it a situation I need to control?"

3) If this were a human being, a family member, what decision would I make?

Our cat could no longer walk or eat or drink. We would find her lying in her urine, because she couldn't get to the litter box. Ultimately, we decided to let her die naturally, but surrounded by love. We made her a little bed and one of us stayed by her side all the time until she died, just petting her and talking to her. Our daughter, who was five at the time, participated as well. It was a good lesson for her to see a being die and to see it as a natural and normal process.

I wish you the best, my friend.

With metta and compassion,
katavedi
“But, Gotamī, when you know of certain things: ‘These things lead to dispassion, not to passion; to detachment, not to attachment; to diminution, not to accumulation; to having few wishes, not to having many wishes; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to socializing; to the arousing of energy, not to indolence; to simple living, not to luxurious living’ – of such things you can be certain: ‘This is the Dhamma; this is the Discipline; this is the Master’s Teaching.’”

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ryanM
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Re: euthanasia

Post by ryanM » Thu Dec 03, 2015 3:18 pm

Ajahn Brahm has talked about voluntary euthanasia. In a dhamma talk that eludes my fanatical google searching, he recites an anecdote about someone who was in a similar situation. There, I think dog in this case, was suffering from cancer. They brought it to the vet, and the vet suggested they put it down because it was terminal. However, I think at Ajahn Brahm's advice, they asked the dog whether or not he was ready to go and believed that the dog wasn't ready to go. They deferred the suggestion of the vet based on this, and the vet said they were being cruel to the animal to make him suffer. The dog later turned out to later best the cancer. Ajahn Brahm suggests to seriously ask the animal whether or not their ready to go and go on that. This is what is meant by voluntary suicide. We shouldn't make these decisions on our own when it's someone else's life, right? Of course, anyone can poke holes in this, but I think it to be a good course of action. Seemngly caught between a rock and a hard place.

Be well!

Ryan
sabbe dhammā nālaṃ abhinivesāya

"nothing whatsoever should be clung to"

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Zom
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Re: euthanasia

Post by Zom » Thu Dec 03, 2015 4:10 pm

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?

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katavedi
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Re: euthanasia

Post by katavedi » Thu Dec 03, 2015 4:27 pm

The Vinaya deals with this issue more specifically than the suttas, as there are rules laid down in response to monks assisting or encouraging other monks (or laymen) to commit suicide in order to escape physical difficulty or inevitable death. Here is a good article on the subject. In case you don't want to read the whole thing, here are the salient points summarized at the end of the article:
(1) The Vinaya is a particularly important source for Buddhist ethics because ethico-legal issues receive a more detailed analysis in the Vinaya than in either the Sutta-Pi.taka or the Abhidhamma. The casuistry employed suggests parallels with Western moral philosophy, which often uses scenarios and hypothetical cases in an attempt to extract moral principles from different practical contexts. The sources reveal that, contrary to what is often asserted by Western commentators, early Buddhism does take a clear and defensible stand on controversial moral questions. This position, perhaps not unsurprisingly, turns out to be a conservative one.

(2) Although discussed in the context of monastic law, it seems fair to see the law here as defending what is fundamentally a moral value. In other words taking human life -- even one's own life -- seems to be wrong not because one is wearing an orange robe but because in the view of the texts the destruction of life is intrinsically immoral whether done by monk or layman.

(3) With respect to euthanasia, it would seem to be wrong to commit suicide; wrong to act as "knife-bringer" to someone seeking death; wrong to emphasize the positive aspects of death and the negative aspects of life; wrong to incite someone to kill another, and wrong to assist others in causing death. While we might wish for more detail in the individual five or so cases relating to euthanasia, they all seem to suggest that it is immoral to affirm that death is better than life.

(4) The prohibition on euthanasia does not imply a commitment to vitalism, namely the doctrine that life should be prolonged at all costs. Withdrawal from food and refusal of medical intervention when the end is night is not seen as immoral, since this is to do no more than accept death as an inevitable part of life.

(5) Finally, the views that are expressed in the texts are one thing. The importance that should be attached to the texts as sources for resolving moral dilemmas is another. It is possible to put forward the argument, for instance, that since these texts are embedded in a particular cultural and historical framework they have little relevance to modern Western societies. On the other hand, it may be felt that the views expressed in canonical texts should not lightly be set aside, and should at least be the point of departure for reflection on contemporary moral problems.
“But, Gotamī, when you know of certain things: ‘These things lead to dispassion, not to passion; to detachment, not to attachment; to diminution, not to accumulation; to having few wishes, not to having many wishes; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to socializing; to the arousing of energy, not to indolence; to simple living, not to luxurious living’ – of such things you can be certain: ‘This is the Dhamma; this is the Discipline; this is the Master’s Teaching.’”

SarathW
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Re: euthanasia

Post by SarathW » Thu Dec 03, 2015 7:38 pm

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

Euthanasia is killing!
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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tiltbillings
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Re: euthanasia

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Dec 03, 2015 8:01 pm

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=23927 A thread on animal euthanasia. And, of course, opinions vary.
>> 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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Ben
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Re: euthanasia

Post by Ben » Thu Dec 03, 2015 8:10 pm

tiltbillings wrote:http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=23927 A thread on animal euthanasia. And, of course, opinions vary.
Indeed they do, thankfully.
An absolutist approach to an extremely difficult situation is neither helpful,appropriate, nor for that matter, compassionate.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: euthanasia

Post by Khalil Bodhi » Thu Dec 03, 2015 8:28 pm

Our aged cat is dying of cancer as we speak. We have had all of our friends, family and the vet tell us to humanely put her down but it just seems like killing. This is our own interpretation of the Dhamma but it has been important to hold to our precepts throughout. Wishing you and your beloved pet freedom from pain and suffering.

Mettaya,

KB
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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SarathW
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Re: euthanasia

Post by SarathW » Thu Dec 03, 2015 8:47 pm

Hi KB

Anumodana.
May your love and care ease the pain of your cat.
:anjali:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: euthanasia

Post by Khalil Bodhi » Thu Dec 03, 2015 8:48 pm

SarathW wrote:Hi KB

Anumodana.
May your love and care ease the pain of your cat.
:anjali:
Thank you Sarath!
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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DNS
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Re: euthanasia

Post by DNS » Thu Dec 03, 2015 11:13 pm

Hi KB,

I also hope she has little to no pain and does not suffer too much. And may she have fortunate rebirth. :heart:

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Anagarika
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Re: euthanasia

Post by Anagarika » Thu Dec 03, 2015 11:40 pm

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.

SarathW
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Re: euthanasia

Post by SarathW » Thu Dec 03, 2015 11:58 pm

So Angarika,
Do you think animal life is less important than human life?
:(
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: euthanasia

Post by Khalil Bodhi » Fri Dec 04, 2015 12:26 am

David N. Snyder wrote:Hi KB,

I also hope she has little to no pain and does not suffer too much. And may she have fortunate rebirth. :heart:
Thanks Dr. S! It means a lot!
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

Uposatha Observance Club:http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=1 ... 279&v=info
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http://khalilbodhi.wordpress.com

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Ben
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Re: euthanasia

Post by Ben » Fri Dec 04, 2015 12:48 am

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
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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lionking
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Re: euthanasia

Post by lionking » Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:26 am

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 » Fri Dec 04, 2015 2:40 am

: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 » Fri Dec 04, 2015 4:40 am

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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Re: euthanasia

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Dec 04, 2015 4:42 am

:candle:

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

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

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