Buddhism, rebirth and suicide

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
ground
Posts: 2591
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:01 am

Re: Buddhism, rebirth and suicide

Post by ground » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:01 am

There are only three assumptions that invalidated suicide
1. rebirth driven by kamma and samsara
2. equanimity as the only appropriate way of being

1 would show the futility of suicide and 2 would show the inappropriateness of suicide.
But why would one assume 2? Simply because it is the only way that eliminates dukkha and experiencing this one may discard 1 and not bother about "is it only temporary or is it permanent?" because this kind of bothering is a manifestation of lack of equanimity and therefore it is dukkha.
Lazy_eye wrote:I can think of a few possibilities: 1) desire not to harm others through an action that might cause suffering, 2) it violates the precepts, 3) the path involves realizations and fruits along the way to nibbana (jhanas for example), which would not be obtainable through the "short cut", 4) the Buddhist path involves gnosis and the same cannot be said of annihilation through a sudden act, and 5) nibbana is not annihilation. Not sure whether these arguments stack up.
1 may be an aditional assumption to sort of "invalidate" suicide, yes (no. 3).
2, 3, 4, and 5 are actually manifestations assuming rebirth/kamma/samsara.

Kind regards

User avatar
reflection
Posts: 1116
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm

Re: Buddhism, rebirth and suicide

Post by reflection » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:38 pm

I hesitated first to reply like this, but I think it'll be ok. So, while my first reply was more pragmatic, I will now reply from a theoretical point of view. I'd say the question is not valid. Why? To clarify, this was the question:
"Suppose, though, that there is no rebirth. Following the overall Buddhist perspective on things, would suicide be a desirable and logical choice?"

And these are two situations, nr 1 being what you state classical Therevadan Buddhism teaches.
1. There is rebirth. The end of rebirth is nirvana, the cessation of aggregates A. This is the highest happiness.
2. There is no rebirth. The death is the cessation of aggregates B.

I renamed the aggregates A & B, because in situation 2, they wouldn't be the same kind of aggregates as in situation 1, as they aren't sensitive to rebirth. You see, in the statements there would otherwise be an inconsistency. It's like saying, I've got here two red apples, but one is green. But that can't be. Actually, both aggregates are apples, but not the same kind of apples, so renamed A & B to indicate their colors. Are you with me me so far?

So far, with this correction of renaming the aggregates, we're fine. But than comes the dangerous assumption you make: that in situation nr 2, the cessation of aggregates B is also the highest happiness, as situation 1 says about aggregates A. But who'se going to say that that's true? You can't just equate the two if the aggregates are different. A red apple doesn't taste like a green apple.So we also can't follow the "overall Buddhist perspective" anymore. In other words, in situation 2 you would invariably take along an assumption hidden in situation 1, an approach that is not valid. And thus, the question can't be answered.

I could have said it shorter by saying a view of non-rebirth doesn't apply to the Buddhist perspective (at least the perspective as you sort of defined it), but I hope this makes something clear or at least gets you thinking that it may not be so easy to equate nirvana to something.

Whatever ones view of rebirth is and whether one does or does not agree with statements 1 or 2 doesn't matter here. The above reasonng is true, if I'm not missing anything. Please correct if this is not so.

With metta,
Reflection

User avatar
Dan74
Posts: 3012
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: Buddhism, rebirth and suicide

Post by Dan74 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 1:36 pm

I guess with the same logic, if Parinibbana is nibbana with no effluents, the ultimate nibbana, which is the great goal, the Buddha should've killed himself the moment he attained liberation.

Seeing that he did not, shows, in my view, that there was a value in living for him, that it was not simply for the complete cessation that one practices.
_/|\_

Sarva
Posts: 209
Joined: Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:49 pm

Re: Buddhism, rebirth and suicide

Post by Sarva » Sat Apr 28, 2012 1:41 pm

Hi Reflection
That is a fresh perspective, if I understood correctly you are saying that the aggregates property changes depending on rebirth being true or not. Feel free to correct me if I misunderstood . :)

It lead me to the thought which is that in both cases it is both A and B aggregates themselves which lead to suffering and the desire to end life regardless of their likelyhood of rebirth or not. What might be different is the desire as to what lies after death.

I read that a monk approached the Dali Lama and explained that he was not making progress with his study and would he be able to do so in his next life. The Dali Lama answered that he probably would, he later found out that the monk had killed himself [1].

This is clearly wrong view, but it implies that the desire for what lies after life is also a role in bringing the aggregates to an end.

Just a thought.

metta
[1] The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, 1999.
Last edited by Sarva on Sat Apr 28, 2012 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86

Sarva
Posts: 209
Joined: Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:49 pm

Re: Buddhism, rebirth and suicide

Post by Sarva » Sat Apr 28, 2012 1:42 pm

Dan74 wrote:I guess with the same logic, if Parinibbana is nibbana with no effluents, the ultimate nibbana, which is the great goal, the Buddha should've killed himself the moment he attained liberation.

Seeing that he did not, shows, in my view, that there was a value in living for him, that it was not simply for the complete cessation that one practices.
Hi Dan
Could the value have been not to introduce further craving or aversion, I wonder?

:)
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86

User avatar
Dan74
Posts: 3012
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: Buddhism, rebirth and suicide

Post by Dan74 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:43 pm

It could've been, although as a recluse, he could've easily done it so that no one would have found out.

All very speculative.

We are here because great teachers chose to share their wisdom rather than focus all their energies on attaining cessation. There is a lot to be said for not rushing to save the world and "blessing" it with our ignorance but seeing our actions only in terms of what they are not, is going too far, in my view.
_/|\_

User avatar
Lazy_eye
Posts: 996
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:23 pm
Location: Laurel, MD
Contact:

Re: Buddhism, rebirth and suicide

Post by Lazy_eye » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:36 pm

Dan74 wrote:I guess with the same logic, if Parinibbana is nibbana with no effluents, the ultimate nibbana, which is the great goal, the Buddha should've killed himself the moment he attained liberation.
Hi Dan,

Yes, I see. That seems to point to altruism and compassion as a consideration, since the Buddha not only remained but set about the difficult task of teaching others.

It occurs to me though that buddhas and arahants would have no reason to kill themselves because they would be free of all the factors that would motivate taking such action. They might not have a desire for continued existence, but they would also have no need to bring existence forcibly to an end.

I wonder if it makes sense to think of nibbana with remainder as the immediate goal and nibbana without remainder as the subsequent goal. Because in order to really embrace cessation, it seems to me, one has to reach a place where the drawbacks of all attachment are clearly discerned. And that essentially means breaking the last fetters.
reflection wrote: And these are two situations, nr 1 being what you state classical Therevadan Buddhism teaches.
1. There is rebirth. The end of rebirth is nirvana, the cessation of aggregates A. This is the highest happiness.
2. There is no rebirth. The death is the cessation of aggregates B.

I renamed the aggregates A & B, because in situation 2, they wouldn't be the same kind of aggregates as in situation 1, as they aren't sensitive to rebirth. You see, in the statements there would otherwise be an inconsistency. It's like saying, I've got here two red apples, but one is green. But that can't be. Actually, both aggregates are apples, but not the same kind of apples, so renamed A & B to indicate their colors. Are you with me me so far?

So far, with this correction of renaming the aggregates, we're fine. But than comes the dangerous assumption you make: that in situation nr 2, the cessation of aggregates B is also the highest happiness, as situation 1 says about aggregates A. But who'se going to say that that's true? You can't just equate the two if the aggregates are different. A red apple doesn't taste like a green apple.So we also can't follow the "overall Buddhist perspective" anymore. In other words, in situation 2 you would invariably take along an assumption hidden in situation 1, an approach that is not valid. And thus, the question can't be answered.

I could have said it shorter by saying a view of non-rebirth doesn't apply to the Buddhist perspective (at least the perspective as you sort of defined it), but I hope this makes something clear or at least gets you thinking that it may not be so easy to equate nirvana to something.
Thanks, R. I tend to agree that essentially different and incompatible perspectives are being compared here.

It seems to me the act of suicide is based on various "givens" which would clearly be under question from a Buddhist point of view -- one being annihilationism, and another being a view of self ("sui" means self). Also, identification of that self with the body. Perhaps this would be an answer to give my (hypothetical) friend.

paarsurrey
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:24 pm

Re: Buddhism, rebirth and suicide

Post by paarsurrey » Sat Apr 28, 2012 10:09 pm

I don't think Buddha believed in physical multiple rebirths of man; it is primarily a Hindu concept got mixed up with Buddhism.

Buddha meant, in my opinion, spiritual forms one resembles while treading on the middle path till one attains salvation; it is all in one span of life not in multiple rebirths physically.
I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

http://paarsurrey.wordpress.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Mothra
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 4:01 am

Re: Buddhism, rebirth and suicide

Post by Mothra » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:33 am

I don't think one can separate belief in rebirth from Theravada Buddhism. If one rejects the idea of rebirth then so too does the concept of nirvana no longer make sense. Death by itself is not cessation of the aggregates. Only if enlightenment is realized during the lifetime is death going to be the final one, and only then do the aggregates cease.

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 20039
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Buddhism, rebirth and suicide

Post by retrofuturist » Sun Apr 29, 2012 4:23 am

Greetings,
Mothra wrote:If one rejects the idea of rebirth then so too does the concept of nirvana no longer make sense.
This makes no sense to me.

To paraphrase what Aloka said elsewhere recently... nirvana is for the enlightened, not the dead.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

Mothra
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 4:01 am

Re: Buddhism, rebirth and suicide

Post by Mothra » Sun Apr 29, 2012 4:36 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,
Mothra wrote:If one rejects the idea of rebirth then so too does the concept of nirvana no longer make sense.
This makes no sense to me.

To paraphrase what Aloka said elsewhere recently... nirvana is for the enlightened, not the dead.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Because as I understand it, nirvana is the breaking out of the cycle of rebirths. If there is no cycle, then doesn't suffering end with the cessation of life? That was what the OP was asking, and to me it seems completely opposed to what the Buddha taught. If that were the case then there would be nothing wrong with a life of hedonism and violence, because both you and your victims would still achieve the cessation of suffering anyway.

User avatar
Lazy_eye
Posts: 996
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:23 pm
Location: Laurel, MD
Contact:

Re: Buddhism, rebirth and suicide

Post by Lazy_eye » Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:22 am

retrofuturist wrote: To paraphrase what Aloka said elsewhere recently... nirvana is for the enlightened, not the dead.
But what's the difference exactly? I understand of course that arahants don't just drop dead at the moment of awakening, but their continued existence is considered to be a kammic remainder (or so I understand).

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 20039
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Buddhism, rebirth and suicide

Post by retrofuturist » Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:36 am

Greetings Lazy,

Once again, I refer you to the topic I referred you to on page 1 of the topic.

Hopefully it challenges your perspective on what "existence" is. :) (clue: it's not "living")

Metta,
Retro. :)
"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)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16426
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Buddhism, rebirth and suicide

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:34 am

For some opinions on the meaning of bhava (becoming/existence) see, for example:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... .htm#bhava" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
Mike

paarsurrey
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:24 pm

Re: Buddhism, rebirth and suicide

Post by paarsurrey » Sun Apr 29, 2012 10:16 am

Mothra wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,
Mothra wrote:If one rejects the idea of rebirth then so too does the concept of nirvana no longer make sense.
This makes no sense to me.

To paraphrase what Aloka said elsewhere recently... nirvana is for the enlightened, not the dead.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Because as I understand it, nirvana is the breaking out of the cycle of rebirths. If there is no cycle, then doesn't suffering end with the cessation of life? That was what the OP was asking, and to me it seems completely opposed to what the Buddha taught. If that were the case then there would be nothing wrong with a life of hedonism and violence, because both you and your victims would still achieve the cessation of suffering anyway.
I think Buddha's view was that suffering is linked with sins when one is under the influence of Mara or evil; hence Buddha's teaching was extinction of the self. When one is still struggling with the self or sins in the self then one could resemble different forms of animals; that is what might be describes as cycle of rebirth, not a physical rebirth; when one comes out of one's self, and sins no more generate in it, one is out of the influence of Mara; that is the stage when one achieves nirvana or salvation or peace and happiness. This all happens in this life and continues when one goes into heaven after death, in the afterlife, in my opinion.
I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

http://paarsurrey.wordpress.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Majestic-12 [Bot], Yahoo [Bot] and 82 guests