Suicide and Murder

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Suicide and Murder

Postby MalaBeads » Wed Aug 15, 2012 4:48 pm

Been thinking about these two topics lately, most recently in the shower this morning.

Both are incredibly ego-centric acts. And profoundly dualistic.

Suicide: if you won't do what I want, I will kill myself.

Murder: if you won't do what I want, I will kill you.

That's the essence of each. Each act is an attempt to coerce the "other".

And each act is a failure of Mahayana practice because they put the deluded needs of "self" before the needs of others.

But wait!

Add to that capitol punishment. There are all sorts of rationalizations for state sanctioned murder. We are told it is for the protection of others. To protect society. But really, it is to satisfy our justice lust. Our revenge lust. Our superiority lust.

It is murder. Plain and simple.

Obviously, these are just my opinions. Others may think of these things differently. But I have been thinking of them in the context of Mahayana practice.
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby Doko » Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:13 pm

If killing someone was bad then why kill another person? I was always confused by this practice.
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby Jikan » Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:47 pm

I hope you never experience the pain that someone who is suicidal is experiencing, MalaBeads.

It's easy to say killing of any kind is egotistical, dualistic, just plain wrong, or whatever. Of course it's bad and not good. Can you go a step further, get past the business of assigning blame, and reflect in compassion on the pain of the one killing and the one killed?

It's hard to be helpful to those who are suffering when you're blaming.

YMMV.
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby Doko » Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:38 pm

Jikan wrote:I hope you never experience the pain that someone who is suicidal is experiencing, MalaBeads.


~ I agree.
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby Queequeg » Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:00 pm

MalaBeads wrote:Both are incredibly ego-centric acts. And profoundly dualistic.

Suicide: if you won't do what I want, I will kill myself.

Murder: if you won't do what I want, I will kill you.

That's the essence of each. Each act is an attempt to coerce the "other".


Hello MB.

The way I see it, murder and suicide are a whole lot more complicated than you allow in your premise. People commit these acts for a variety of reasons, some of them I think coincide with your supposition, but there are a whole lot of other possibilities.

What of a person who has been bullied and made so miserable that they simply don't want to continue living anymore? I can easily contemplate situations where a person wants to die for no other reason than to end their suffering. It may very well have nothing to do with trying to hurt others or anything like that. I can even contemplate suicide where a person wants to relieve others of their suffering - say a terminally ill person who thinks they are a burden on those who love them. Similarly, what of a person who sacrifices themselves to save others - I'm sure you can google and find reports for the Medal Of Honor given out in the U.S. to people who distinguished themselves in war - you might be surprised at how many guys got the medal posthumously for jumping on grenades, killing themselves but saving others. The impulse to jump on the grenades may have been preconceived in some instances, but the instantaneous need to act in such situations suggests that altruistic intent lay behind the decision rather than self-murder for some malevolent reason.

I can think of situations where a person might kill another, not out of some egotistical assertion of power, but to save others. There is a jataka tale about the Buddha who as a bodhisattva was on a ship and found out that a pirate intended to kill everyone on board. The Buddha killed the pirate before he could act. The Buddha saved all the people on the ship AND saved the pirate from committing many murders and incurring the stain of those acts. Its a fairy-tale, but I think resonates because we could imagine it really happening especially in this post 9-11 world. What about Dr. Kevorkian who all but killed his terminally ill patients by providing them with the facilities to end their own lives? I recall when I was a kid, standing outside a bee hive and wacking bees out of the air with a stick. I had no intention of killing - I just did it because it was fun.

There is a story in the Pali Suttas recounting how a bunch of arhats killed themselves. Rather than reproach, the Buddha said it was OK because they did nothing but advance their Parinibanna.

We can break down acts and dissect motivations revealing that not all acts of a similar nature are the same. The manner in which karma accumulates is not, in my understanding, a mechanical ledger of "right" and "wrong".

I see the benefit of black and white morality in some contexts. I also see it as very problematic in others. On the other hand, relative morality is itself rife with problems.
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby Konchog1 » Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:23 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts on murder and suicide.

Contrary to the natural assumption, I've found that depressives are more egoistical than normal people.
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Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby MalaBeads » Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:34 pm

Jikan,

I'm sorry to tell you this but I have experienced that pain. Over a period of many years. That's how I came to understand the dynamic. It's not theoretical or about someone else.

I feel quite free of it now.

Btw, this posted twice because of a technical difficulty. It was not my intention to have two posts. Could the mods combine the responses into one post? Thanks.
Last edited by MalaBeads on Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby Jikan » Wed Aug 15, 2012 11:59 pm

MalaBeads wrote:Jikan,

I'm sorry to tell you this but I have experienced that pain. Over a period of many years. That's how I came to understand the dynamic. It's not theoretical or about someone else.


In your first post, you presented your comments as something you'd just been considering in the shower this morning, not as something that emerged from a personal crisis.

I feel quite free of it now.


I'm glad. I hope you have a full and long life.

:cheers:
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:34 am

Queequeg wrote:
MalaBeads wrote:Both are incredibly ego-centric acts. And profoundly dualistic.

Suicide: if you won't do what I want, I will kill myself.

Murder: if you won't do what I want, I will kill you.

That's the essence of each. Each act is an attempt to coerce the "other".


Hello MB.

The way I see it, murder and suicide are a whole lot more complicated than you allow in your premise. People commit these acts for a variety of reasons, some of them I think coincide with your supposition, but there are a whole lot of other possibilities.

What of a person who has been bullied and made so miserable that they simply don't want to continue living anymore? I can easily contemplate situations where a person wants to die for no other reason than to end their suffering. It may very well have nothing to do with trying to hurt others or anything like that. I can even contemplate suicide where a person wants to relieve others of their suffering - say a terminally ill person who thinks they are a burden on those who love them. Similarly, what of a person who sacrifices themselves to save others - I'm sure you can google and find reports for the Medal Of Honor given out in the U.S. to people who distinguished themselves in war - you might be surprised at how many guys got the medal posthumously for jumping on grenades, killing themselves but saving others. The impulse to jump on the grenades may have been preconceived in some instances, but the instantaneous need to act in such situations suggests that altruistic intent lay behind the decision rather than self-murder for some malevolent reason.

I can think of situations where a person might kill another, not out of some egotistical assertion of power, but to save others. There is a jataka tale about the Buddha who as a bodhisattva was on a ship and found out that a pirate intended to kill everyone on board. The Buddha killed the pirate before he could act. The Buddha saved all the people on the ship AND saved the pirate from committing many murders and incurring the stain of those acts. Its a fairy-tale, but I think resonates because we could imagine it really happening especially in this post 9-11 world. What about Dr. Kevorkian who all but killed his terminally ill patients by providing them with the facilities to end their own lives? I recall when I was a kid, standing outside a bee hive and wacking bees out of the air with a stick. I had no intention of killing - I just did it because it was fun.

There is a story in the Pali Suttas recounting how a bunch of arhats killed themselves. Rather than reproach, the Buddha said it was OK because they did nothing but advance their Parinibanna.

We can break down acts and dissect motivations revealing that not all acts of a similar nature are the same. The manner in which karma accumulates is not, in my understanding, a mechanical ledger of "right" and "wrong".

I see the benefit of black and white morality in some contexts. I also see it as very problematic in others. On the other hand, relative morality is itself rife with problems.

:good:
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby MalaBeads » Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:27 am

There's always a justification if you want one.
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby DarwidHalim » Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:29 am

In Mahayana practice, murder and suicide do not automatically refer to selfish act and do not automatically negative act.

This is because the nature of this reality is beyond positive and negative.

For the person, who realized the no-self, those 2 action do not create karma. But for the person, who is still dualistic, these 2 action can be positive if you are very skillful with your dualistic mind.

Take the example of the recent trend of killing in the university or school. Let's say you are one of the hundred victims, and as the victim, you are the only one at that moment who has the gun.

You see the murder start to shot all students one by one. There is no room for negotiate at that moment. You only have 2 choices - shoot him or not.

If you don't shot him, there are 2 consequences:
1. The killer will create tremendous karma. Kill 1 person is enough to bring you to hell for aeons, not to mention killing 100 people.
2. You let 99 people die for nothing.

Although by doing nothing, that is also not your fault, as a bodhisattva you have a call there, what should you do?
Should you save the killer from tremendous karma or not?
Should you save those 99 people or not? Because for the person to born as human is not easy.

For bodhisattva who still have dualistic mindset between good and bad, he has a choice there.
If his motivation is to save all those people, by shooting him, he doesn't create negative karma. Why? Because that action is carried out with the positive mind, so the result will be positive.

Unless you kill the killer with hatred, then you yourself will also go to the hell. THis is because your action is motivated by negative mindset.

The best is you are at the no-self state. Your action doesn't create any karmas.

We need to differentiate here between buddhist training path that ask us not to kill and the nature of killing itself.

Buddha suggest us not to kill, not because that act itself is by nature sinful. But, because 99.999999%, killing is always done with negatve mindset such as hatred, anger, etc, that bring tremendous negativity for the killer.

However, that suggestion should not make us become stupid like not knowing what to do in the situation of the killer kill 100 students one by one in the classroom.

Because, there is nothing by nature is sinful. This is the consequence of illusory nature, which is empty of self yet appear.

Suicide isn't automatically a negative action. On 10 June 1963 , vietnamese monk, Thich Quang Duc, did a suicide as a form of protest to the Vietnamese government due to repression to buddhism. His action did bring international attention that finally prevent the buddhism from repression. Vietnamese buddhism can survive up to now, we should thanks to him.

When he burn himself, he didn't move at all, sit still when the fire roared his body. He should be in nondual state at that moment.

I do not say, that if all monks kill someone or do suicide, it is automatically positive. Some are doing that with negative emotions or anger, it brings harm to them.

But, what I am not agree here is something like suicide and murder is by nature and automatically negative, regardless what is the motivation or whether you are in nondual state or not.

There is a thinking even like this:
Even if you have to go to the hell by killing the murderer, as a dualistic bodhisattva you prefer yourself go to the hell instead of letting 99 people die for nothing.
You feel disgust with your own selfish nirvana, and feel more compassionate for the life of 99 people.
Last edited by DarwidHalim on Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:40 am, edited 3 times in total.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby DarwidHalim » Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:31 am

Queequeg wrote:There is a story in the Pali Suttas recounting how a bunch of arhats killed themselves. Rather than reproach, the Buddha said it was OK because they did nothing but advance their Parinibanna.


Do you know what sutta is that?
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby Queequeg » Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:48 pm

Hi DH -

The Buddha's teachings on suicide by arahants does not sit well with me. My concern is if it were to be found by someone who is not an advanced practitioner who comes to a difficult time in their life and finds it to be a justification for an act of suicide.

There are a few references -

Mahjjima Nikaya 144 - Channovada Sutta

Channa, who I believe was the Buddha's attendant on the night he escaped from his father's palace, was terminally ill and lost the will to live. He took his own life with a knife. The Buddha declared that because he was an Arahant, the act had no consequence ie. rebirth.

I'm having trouble finding a link to the actual text. Accesstoinsight does not have it.

Godhika Sutta http://tipitaka.wikia.com/wiki/Godhika_Sutta

A monk committed suicide and the Buddha declared it had no consequence in rebirth.

But compare the Vesali Sutta SN 54.9 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn54/sn54.009.than.html

The Buddha went into retreat, and while he was away, a bunch of monks, reflecting on the loathsomeness of the body started killing themselves - 10's of monks killed themselves. When the Buddha came out of retreat, he asked Ananda why the sangha looked so depleted. Ananda told him, and the Buddha gave a talk on the benefits of breathing meditation and how it cools the passions that lead to killing yourself over the loathsomeness of the body.

Being in a Mahayana forum - it might be worthwhile to mention the long tradition of ritual suicide in East Asia, particularly related to Pure Land thought. Maybe a discussion for another thread.
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby DarwidHalim » Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:27 pm

Thanks Q.

Your reference is helpful for me.

Btw, I just know there is such thing called ritual suicide in pure lands. Are you sure about this? I don't know about it. And I think if there is, it will be very strange. Is it a distorted teaching or some sort of cults?
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby Queequeg » Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:58 pm

Hi DH,

Its can be a touchy subject.

Shantao, a well known advocate of Pure Land practice in China killed himself. I don't remember the details. I recall other similar stories from China involving other Pure Land devotees. I have heard of at least one Tientai master threatening ritual suicide but he never went through with it.

I am much more familiar with Japanese Buddhism. I know of stories of ascetics immolating themselves - I specifically can recall a story about one that took place at Yoshino, a center associated with esoteric mountain asceticism. In that case the practice was related to Lotus Sutra and Pure Land teachings. There is a Tendai temple in Nachi where monks were set out to sea alive, sealed in coffins - I think they were headed to Avalokitesvara's Pure Land. There are many instances of monks being sealed into sarcophogus alive - I believe associated with Zen schools. My cynical take on this is that this was done to create relics (mummies) for various temples that would attract pilgrims and the $$ the pilgrims brought with them.

My personal view is that these people were out of their minds - they had gotten their minds onto destructive thoughts and somehow rationalized that these were good practices. Then again, maybe they had achieved such states of liberation that, like Channa, their acts were without repercussions.
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby DeepFriedFunk » Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:09 pm

Ah... I've wiled away many hours with teachers discussing this subject! Obviously murder in a no brainer... very bad karma. But despite this there is the question of if you knew what Hitler planned to do would you kill him? I personally don't think I could kill anyone but then in not killing him (because it would have been near impossible to incarcerate him at the time) are you technically advocating the genocide that followed? I mean if you had cross hairs on him and decided not to go through with it what karma would follow? Knowing that he was about to murder millions of people?

As for capital punishment - it is state sanctioned murder and in a modern society I would like to hope we had evolved morally past this by now - which is obviously not the case. It reduces the actions of the judicial system to something no better than the murderer in question and if they are no better how can they possibly justify the task of passing judgement on someone?

As for suicide I do think it comes from the motivation behind it. The example of the soldier that jumps on a grenade to save his fellow soldiers, the monk who self immolates in protest in Tibet, the terminally ill patient who no longer wants him or his family to suffer unnecessarily then I believe this can be morally justified and they have my wholehearted respect for their decision. There was the case in my country (the UK) where a man was denied the right to have doctors help him commit suicide, instead he suffered horribly and has nearly destroyed his family.

But, as for someone who is depressed and decides to end it - i believe it can't be far behind murder. I used to suffer with very severe depression and the discovery of Buddhism is what saved me, I developed a great sense of love towards the teachings because they did what no therapist or antidepressant could. It's not that I can't empathize - this would be wrong - but I am also very aware of the damage it causes to those around you.

I can say, at least from my case, that clinical depression is very egocentric and caused a thought loop of "poor me" with no consideration towards other people and how your inability to deal with your suffering affects them. I was too wrapped up in my own sense of self loathing to even think about others. I went from the brink of suicide to not necessarily getting away from it but a huge improvement by the simple act of considering and developing compassion towards others and some basic spiritual practices. I am aware this is a tough thing to get over and also that certain health/mental health problems make it near impossible to cure which is a completely different case. I do know that I have pretty tough views on depression and suicide but this is because I am far from perfect yet and still look back on myself with a certain amount of resentment for what I did to those closest to me and I work everyday to fix what I did to my family and friends. On the other hand, if you can get over suicidal depression it makes you a much stronger person, stronger than never having gone through it - trial by fire I suppose.
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby lobster » Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:58 am

How can we overcome the suffering that leads to death for honour, avoiding pain or political naivity eg. recent Tibetan human fat friars?

I believe by offering alternatives. More advanced pain relief and developing the techniques of mind control through science. Meditation is not always posssible for crippling mental dis ease.

Someone I know with a life long crippling neurological situation decided to end her life. She was in Switzerland. Everyone though sad, supported her. Offering silly stories about future suffering incarnations would be as insulting as tales of heaven. Innapropriate.

I would urge everyone to live and empower others. Coming through great darkness is inspirational.
Please ask for prayers and support if undergoing pain.
We are here to practice, when you can not.

One day you will do the same for others.
Today I will send out what little merit my practice can muster for the well being of those in extreme pain . . .

OM YA HA HUM
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:07 am

lobster wrote:Someone I know with a life long crippling neurological situation decided to end her life. She was in Switzerland. Everyone though sad, supported her. Offering silly stories about future suffering incarnations would be as insulting as tales of heaven. Innapropriate.


Not saying I would have lectured her about her future incarnations or necessarily even tried to dissuade her if I knew she didn't subscribe to such concepts... But I'm curious why you refer to talk of her future lives as "silly stories" and "innappropriate?" This is not an attack at all; I'm just thinking that since you say that with such apparent certainty that you must have some solid reasoning behind it and I'm curious about that.
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby lobster » Wed Sep 19, 2012 3:08 pm

Pema if someone was Catholic and decided to end their life and was worried about entry to Heaven, I would go along with the nature of their understanding and needs. If somone was a born again lotus from the purelands and determined to end their suffering, I would pray and speak according to their needs.

So perhaps I am a liar and breaker of vows and ready to be born as a low life cructacean. When people suffer, truth is no substitute for understanding . . . Offering subjective ideas at such times, is not required, skilful or compassionate . . . :consoling:
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Re: Suicide and Murder

Postby CoolIt » Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:00 am

MalaBeads wrote:Been thinking about these two topics lately, most recently in the shower this morning.

Both are incredibly ego-centric acts. And profoundly dualistic.

Suicide: if you won't do what I want, I will kill myself.

Murder: if you won't do what I want, I will kill you.

That's the essence of each. Each act is an attempt to coerce the "other".


Thanks for sharing your experience. I can understand that those who have put thoughts of suicide behind them would develop a strong response of aversion to the very idea - which may be needed to keep that distance from what was once very close. We all do what works to keep us sane and functional.

Of course, not all suicidal thought is an attempt to 'coerce the other'. As others have said - sometimes it is a response to overwhelming pain.

The truth is: some lives do come with a rather large share of pain and suffering. Early childhood traumas, adolescent traumas can mean that all kinds of defenses and life skills fail to develop. These experiences and the emotional scars they leave can lead to such severe psychic pain and such painful social consequences, that people may just want to stop this continuing snowballing of pain. "Dualistic" and 'self cherishing" as little dissuades the person in such pain as it does someone who really wants that ice cream.

What does dissuade is the thought that someone cares, someone understands how painful this is - rather than judging. It's all about skilful means, isn't it?

Too often ideas like karma and self cherishing are wielded in a way that hurts, rather than helps. There is amongst some hale survivors a desire to distance the suffering person, rather than contaminate oneself with their pain. Well, I understand, we're not all Bodhisattvas - but practices like Tong Len aim at exactly the self cherishing inherent in wanting to run away from others' pain (whether by condemning it or denying it or saying 'your problem'). Imagine taking on others' pain just so they can be free of it! It's difficult indeed, the Bodhisattva path - everyday I wonder if I am capable of the incredible compassion it calls for over lifetimes
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