Individual wrote:There is no self.
Hi Individual, could you please expand on that?
Was that a serious question? I don't think it was, but still, I thought I should ask.
I see it as the opposite. I took the Theravada view to be that that it is impossible for an Arahant to intentionally do harm, so that has nothing to do with your characterisation of justifications of actions of certain Mahayana Bodhisattvas. The point here is that an Arahant has "done what has to be done" so he will not be reborn if he ends the current life. Suicide for a non-Arahant will presumably lead to the hell realms, (though, come to think of it, as I read it a Stream Enterer cannot be reborn below the human realm).
Do you take Theravada views for granted? If you defend one view on the basis of referencing another and another, I'm not sure where to begin. I could try to be thoughtful and say something, and then you could repeat the Theravada POV, regardless of what's consistent or intelligent.
My point is that being there is no self, the idea of distinguishing here:
- What Arahants can do
- What non-Arahants can do
...doesn't make any sense. You're distinguishing the two, but the key distinction between them -- personhood -- has no reality upon which to base itself.
It's the same type of reasoning used to justify all sorts of terrible behaviors by religious authorities.
You say that an Arahant is incapable of committing harm. But you'd also say that killing, including suicide, is harm. Well, if an Arahant can't commit suicide, again, why is this not harm? If he carries it out, how is it not the same as any other suicide?
"Because he's an Arahant" isn't an answer. Do you follow?
Maybe an analogy would be more clear: Let's say that I say that a man named Chuck Norris can knock down tall buildings using only his fists. You might think that's absurd and ask me how that's possible. I might respond, as you did: "Because he's Chuck Norris." Because that's who he is. He's Chuck Norris. But then that doesn't answer the question because I'm referencing merely his personhood, not what exactly it is that allows such a thing to occur. What exactly is it about Chuck Norris that allows such a thing to be possible?
I might elaborate, "Because Chuck Norris is an invincible, unstoppable power in the universe". This, though, leaves you even more baffled... As equally baffled as defending Arahants' freedom to do whatever they want, because they're enlightened.
If you simply say, "Because it's him", you're appealing to a sense of authority, or in this case, an appeal to mysticism, without really justifying it -- without explaining in useful, meaningful terms, because of what you know from your experiences. If you talk about enlightenment, you're just describing an aspect of their personhood vaguely that you probably know virtually nothing about anyway and without really getting at what it is about the act itself that isn't the same.
Of course I've no idea of the status of Venerable Thich Quang Duc.
Yet you expressed your opinion: If he's an Arahant, he's OK. If he's not an Arahant, he goes to Hell.
While I agree with that, let's be a bit more clear... An Arahant is what they are because of wisdom
, not something arbitrary like being a popular Theravadin monk or being on a list in a Theravada scripture, or whatever else.
Because of that, it's not simply that his personhood -- an irrelevant social construct -- that's the justification there. It's because his suicide was of a radically different nature than any mundane suicide by a non-Arahant. That is, he was actually thinking about what he was doing. Whereas other suicides are spontaneous and irrational, the result of craving, people who are subject to cause & effect because of ignorance, and so on, the Arahant's clear vision of the way things are allowed him to see the results of his deeds and his action was because of non-craving.
But then there's really no need to get hung up on the word "Arahant" or blinded by moral absolutism. A person who lies to a Nazi to hide Jews, who steals to feed the hungry, who kills to protect freedom, and so on, a person who violates these basic precepts, against lying, stealing, and killing, is not necessarily always subject to the same result or a negative result.
So, I think it's a bit silly to have to say: Either Thich Quang Duc was an Arahant and faced no consequence, or he was not and went to hell.
Instead, based on the Buddha's teachings, look at the intent and look at the result of it. If his intent was noble and the results for humanity were so wonderful, how could he go to hell, even if he's not an Arahant? Just because that's the rules of Theravada Buddhism that you read in a book somewhere? Come on.