Pure Land & Suicide

Pure Land & Suicide

Postby wukong » Fri Sep 21, 2012 4:15 pm

Dear all

someone asked me a question that I really don't know how to answer.

Is there a risk, or indeed a history, of people committing suicide in order to hasten their entry in to the Pure Land?

It is popularly believed here in england that there is a high rate of suicide in Japan or that suicide is seen as an honourable alternative to certain difficulties in life. Could this be influenced by Pure Land beliefs?

Also, are there any references in the Sutras that might be interpreted in a sympathetic to suicide

any help with this would be great

thanks.

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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby Nosta » Fri Sep 21, 2012 4:24 pm

Buddha and Buddhism are against suicide.

If someone commits suicide because he is tired from this life and wants a quick way to achieve Pure Land, that means that his mind is so clouded that right after death he wont be able to concentrate on Amitabha and reach Pure Land.

I dont think sutras speak on suicide! I remember the story (i read it somewhere in the forum) of a monk trying to commit suicide to achieve Pure Land and he wasnt able to do it. Even with bad injuries, he wouldnt die! He died from natural causes. It was like Amitabha stoped him from commiting suicide. I bet that "normal" people (i mean a lay person) trying to do the same wouldnt be so lucky...

In Tibet there is the practice of phowa: self ejecting from body once for all in order to achieve Pure Land. From what i know that can only be used when the natural moment of death is coming. I suppose that someone commiting suicided with phowa would not be lucky. Just my guess.

I would like to see the answer to your questions from members with more knowldge than me.
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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby wukong » Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:27 pm

indeed, nosta. the question is intended to compare the theology with the social reality of it, so both points of view are welcome.
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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby gingercatni » Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:32 pm

wukong wrote:Dear all

someone asked me a question that I really don't know how to answer.

Is there a risk, or indeed a history, of people committing suicide in order to hasten their entry in to the Pure Land?

It is popularly believed here in england that there is a high rate of suicide in Japan or that suicide is seen as an honourable alternative to certain difficulties in life. Could this be influenced by Pure Land beliefs?

Also, are there any references in the Sutras that might be interpreted in a sympathetic to suicide

any help with this would be great

thanks.

You are not thinking of doing anything to yourself are you? That would be a great sadness for all of us here, if you are having problems there is always someone to help.

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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby wukong » Sun Sep 23, 2012 4:40 pm

Gosh, ginger, your quote of me was a little weird. Your question was not distinct from my previous post

But no, thank you. I am not contemplating suicide in the the least. It is merely an academic question that someone asked me that I have no idea how to respond to. Any help responding to the possible criticism that pure land promotes suicide would be very gratefully received.

Wukong.
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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby Nosta » Sun Sep 23, 2012 7:46 pm

wukong wrote:indeed, nosta. the question is intended to compare the theology with the social reality of it, so both points of view are welcome.



My knowledge is not deep enough to answer, but i think that - as i said in my other post - commiting suicide would cause to much stress and turbidity in the mind, to much "clouds" that would make your spirit wander like in a dream and forgetting about calling Amitabha.

Also, causing suicide would make your family very disturbed. A buddhist must be responsible enough to not cause so much harm on his family members.

At last, if a Christian asks you about suicide and Pure Land you can throw the question back to him (supposing that such persons is making the question in a provocative way): isnt Eden/Paradise a way to make people commit suicide?

Sorry for not having more to say. I would like to have more theological knowledge, but i think that the answer is somewhat related with what i said firts: commiting suicide would cloud your mind. We must remember that "normal" people ( i mean, not arahants and the like) will have little control over their citta right after death. Its easy to speak in suicide in an abstract point of view, but we must imagine ourselves commiting suicide: the act is so violent that mind will loose control.

Just my humble opinion.

Perhaps Sinwey is more able to answer your question than me.
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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby plwk » Mon Sep 24, 2012 2:24 am

Is there a risk, or indeed a history, of people committing suicide in order to hasten their entry in to the Pure Land?

Yes, the risk of akusala actions brings unpredictable results, both here and now and beyond and no, I haven't heard of such 'history' and if anyone who does/justify this kind of suicide thingy, should remember to distinguish personal interpretation from that of the Pure Land path... that both are unrelated...
It is popularly believed here in england that there is a high rate of suicide in Japan or that suicide is seen as an honourable alternative to certain difficulties in life. Could this be influenced by Pure Land beliefs?
Here's some thoughts...
i. And like all 'popular' beliefs, unless I see proper and well established scientific studies with hard evidence in place on the various causes & factors of suicide, I see no reason to link both and regard it as another 'popular' & ignorant myth.
ii. Japan is not a Buddhist country by the way, at least not constitutionally
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_i ... on_and_law
Article 20 of the 1947 Constitution states, "Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all. No religious organization shall receive any privileges from the State, nor exercise any political authority". Restrictions on the relationship between the government and religion was mandated by the United States during the occupation of Japan because of the role State Shinto played in encouraging the rapid territorial and economic expansion of the Empire of Japan significant enlargement of the Empire's geopolitical sphere of influence by endorsing and promoting the right of conquest in the years just before and during World War II.

And the majority of its citizens do not regard themselves as adherents of any 'spiritual path' and most would celebrate festivities of various sources like any other country out there out of sheer fun or some kind of maintenance of cultural identity as a life cycle.
iii. Abundance of Buddhist temples & teachers does not necessarily reflect true and proper teaching and discipline of the Buddha Dharma, the quantity vs quality thingy?
iv. Just because in certain segments of the Japanese populace, there is a culture of 'honourable' or just plain suicide, it does not even mean in anyway to represent what the rest of Japan thinks or approves anymore than the culture of manga or J-pop is...
v. even if there is a link, it would be more of a personal interpretation and case by case situation rather than actual & official Buddhist doctrinal sanction
vi. if anyone wants to link both, have they ever thought that Honen, Shinran & their descendants of teachers & disciples themselves would have use themselves as an example of 'honourable suicide' but they didn't now did they?
Also, are there any references in the Sutras that might be interpreted in a sympathetic to suicide
See 1 2 3

From the Larger Amitayus Sutra...
http://buddhistfaith.tripod.com/purelan ... s/id3.html
To obtain human life is difficult in the extreme;
To meet a Buddha in this world is also difficult;
It is difficult, too, for a man to attain faith and wisdom.
Once you have heard the Dharma, strive to reach its heart.

If you have heard the Dharma and do not forget it,
But adore and revere it with great joy,
You are my good friend. For this reason,
You should awaken aspiration for Enlightenment.

Even if the whole world is on fire,
Be sure to pass through it to hear the Dharma;
Then you will surely attain the Buddha's Enlightenment.
And everywhere deliver beings from the river of birth-and-death.
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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby sinweiy » Mon Sep 24, 2012 2:39 am

Very good reply from Nosta!
One thing about Pureland path is purelanders go to Pureland ALIVE , not dead. That mean, Amitabha come and get you and you go with Him awaring that you are still Alive and then when the consciousness live the body, the body dies. So you can't really go to pureland when one is already dead in Sucide, as there are other karmic forces hindering your rebirth into PL. Sucide is also a form of breaking the first precept of non-killing, and hence there's karma.

generally:-

According to Buddhism, individuals' past acts heavily influence what they experience in the present; present acts, in turn, become the background influence for future experiences (the doctrine of karma). Intentional action by mind, body or speech have a reaction. This reaction, or repercussion, is the cause of conditions and differences one encounters in life.

Buddhism teaches that all people experience substantial suffering (dukkha), in which suffering primarily originates from past negative deeds (karma), or may result as a natural process of the cycle of birth and death (samsara). Other reasons for the prevalence of suffering concern the concepts of impermanence and illusion (maya). Since everything is in a constant state of impermanence or flux, individuals experience dissatisfaction with the fleeting events of life. To break out of samsara, Buddhism advocates the Noble Eightfold Path.

For Buddhists, since the first precept is to refrain from the destruction of life, including one's self, suicide is seen as a negative form of action. If someone commits suicide in anger, he may be reborn in a sorrowful realm due to negative final thoughts.[13][14] However, unlike Christianity and other religions, Buddhism does not condemn suicide, but rather states that the reasons for suicide are often negative and thus counteract the path to enlightenment.[15]

There is one Buddhist tale of a bhikkhu named Godhika[16] who had repeatedly attained temporary liberation of mind but was unable to gain final liberation due to illness.[16] Godhika chose to take his own life while in a state of temporary liberation to be reborn in a high realm.[16] The Buddha was quoted as saying


Such indeed is how the steadfast act:
They are not attached to life.

Having drawn out craving at its root
Godhika has attained final Nibbaana.[16]
There is a similar story of a bhikkhu named Vakkali who committed suicide upon becoming an arhant.[16] Ultimately, tales like these point to a Buddhist belief that suicide may be acceptable ("good") if it will lead to non-attachment. However, people who have achieved enlightenment do not commit suicide. In both above cases they were not enlightened before attempting suicide but they became enlightened during or following their deaths.[17]

In an entry in the The Encyclopedia of Religion, Marilyn J. Harran wrote the following:


Buddhism in its various forms affirms that, while suicide as self-sacrifice may be appropriate for the person who is an arhat, one who has attained enlightenment, it is still very much the exception to the rule[18]

The Channovàda-sutra gives yet another example of an arhant who committed suicide.[19]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_on_suicide


if one see the Contemplation Sutra, we didn't see Queen Vaidehi having such a depressed life ended her life to be reborn in PL.
_/\_
Amituofo!

"Enlightenment is to turn around and see MY own mistake, Other's mistake is also my mistake. Others are right even if they are wrong. i'm wrong even if i'm right. " - Master Chin Kung
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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby Kaji » Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:42 am

I have heard a story (told by Ven. Chin Kung if I remember correctly) about a monk who wasn't doing too well with his Vinaya (i.e., he often breached his monk precepts).

After learning about the Western Pure Land one day, he closed himself into a room and started nienfo (chanting Amitabha's name) non-stop. I think it was after the third day when Amitabha appeared before him. The monk asked that he be taken to the Pure Land immediately, to which Amitabha replied that his time was not up yet (and so he should wait to near his death for rebirth into the Pure Land). The monk insisted that he be reborn as soon as possible, for he was worried that living more years in this life would only allow him to breach precepts even more. He was also worried that he might not be able to maintain his current level of determination in nienfo through the years, so he was not confident that when the day came would he make it to the Pure Land.

According to the story, Amitabha accepted the monk's request and said that he will come back to escort him to the Pure Land a number of days later. The monk went out and told the other monks, most of whom did not take him seriously, as many doubted how could a monk so bad with his Vinaya could be reborn into the Pure Land simply with a few days of nienfo? When the said date came the monk was confirmed to have been reborn into the Western Pure Land, proving many other monks wrong.

This story teaches us that, 1) if you really want to go to the Western Pure Land as soon as possible and you have a valid reason to do so, you can nienfo according to the sutra and Amitabha may accept an "early entry"; 2) even if you have breached precepts, which could take you to hell, if you nienfo according to the sutra you could still gain entry to the Pure Land.
Namas triya-dhvikānāṃ sarva tathāgatānām!
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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby plwk » Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:58 am

And I forgot to add on earlier...on a lighter note... it's not worth it (suicide) .... :mrgreen:

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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:34 pm

Answer: Yes.
The Pure land monk Ippen was aware of this practice, spoke out against it and told people not to do it after his own passing.
There is a great book about the Life of Ippen and his teachings, called No Abode.
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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby plwk » Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:48 pm

Yet some of those who dare claim to be Ippen's disciples engage in this delusional act of jumping to their deaths in the sea after his passing causing a misunderstanding of the Pure Land practice...luckily I haven't heard of it in recent times...
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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby Nosta » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:37 pm

Interesting story the one about the monk wishing an early rebirth...its my opposite lol. I wish i can stay here many years because i have the objective of "convert" more people to Pure Land. Particulary i would like to have auspicious signs that others could verify, so they can believe on me. Sometimes i have very specific dreams with specific details...and they happen in the very next day. This is an example of a sign that i can use.

About suicide in Japan, the view that i have (a wrong view perhaps...) its that School & Education in Japan is VERY hard. The system demands a LOT from all the students (small ones, teenagers, etc). There is lots of competition and not every children can deal with that.

Also, as said here, Japan is not a buddhist country. The main religion is other (i forgot the name but you can find it on google).
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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby Nighthawk » Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:08 pm

plwk wrote:Yet some of those who dare claim to be Ippen's disciples engage in this delusional act of jumping to their deaths in the sea after his passing causing a misunderstanding of the Pure Land practice...luckily I haven't heard of it in recent times...

I am not exactly 100% about this but didn't Chinese master Shantao advocate a practice to his followers of finding the biggest tree, climbing it and jumping off? I'm pretty sure I read something like this in a book. Maybe you can clarify.
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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby gingercatni » Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:30 pm

wukong wrote:Gosh, ginger, your quote of me was a little weird. Your question was not distinct from my previous post

But no, thank you. I am not contemplating suicide in the the least. It is merely an academic question that someone asked me that I have no idea how to respond to. Any help responding to the possible criticism that pure land promotes suicide would be very gratefully received.

Wukong.


sorry! i did not read the whole thread, just got worried, sorry! :anjali:
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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby Mr. G » Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:43 pm

Nighthawk wrote:
plwk wrote:Yet some of those who dare claim to be Ippen's disciples engage in this delusional act of jumping to their deaths in the sea after his passing causing a misunderstanding of the Pure Land practice...luckily I haven't heard of it in recent times...

I am not exactly 100% about this but didn't Chinese master Shantao advocate a practice to his followers of finding the biggest tree, climbing it and jumping off? I'm pretty sure I read something like this in a book.


Shan Tao never stated that at all.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby Nighthawk » Tue Sep 25, 2012 1:53 am

Mr. G wrote:
Nighthawk wrote:
plwk wrote:Yet some of those who dare claim to be Ippen's disciples engage in this delusional act of jumping to their deaths in the sea after his passing causing a misunderstanding of the Pure Land practice...luckily I haven't heard of it in recent times...

I am not exactly 100% about this but didn't Chinese master Shantao advocate a practice to his followers of finding the biggest tree, climbing it and jumping off? I'm pretty sure I read something like this in a book.


Shan Tao never stated that at all.

I really hope so, but I'm quite certain I read about something like that. I'll see if I can find it.
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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby Nighthawk » Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:13 am

http://books.google.ca/books?id=dWL6EEk ... de&f=false

This is what I was trying to remember. It's good to know that there is no solid evidence for this and that the original bio of Shandao is at odds with the bios later written.
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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby plwk » Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:18 am

http://www.answers.com/topic/shan-tao-1
After Tao-ch'o's death, Shan-tao remained in the Chung-nan mountains for a few more years, and afterward went to the capital city of Ch'ang-an. Once established there, he began proselytizing vigorously, and had enormous success in converting people to Pure Land practice.
Later sources even report that perhaps a hundred or more of his followers committed suicide in order to hasten their arrival in the Pure Land, and tradition had Shan-tao himself sacrificing himself in this manner.
However, a critical examination of the sources has cast doubt upon both these assertions, and it seems closer to the truth to say that one of his followers took his own life, and the story eventually became attached to the master's name.

This is the same Great Master Shan Dao where people reported to have seen emanated Buddhas and lotuses coming out of his mouth each time he recites Amitabha's Name right? Unlikely as the above paragraph asserts that he would start a suicide cult or pact... so again, it's always the case of some overzealous disciple...
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Re: Pure Land & Suicide

Postby Nighthawk » Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:59 am

plwk wrote:This is the same Great Master Shan Dao where people reported to have seen emanated Buddhas and lotuses coming out of his mouth each time he recites Amitabha's Name right? Unlikely as the above paragraph asserts that he would start a suicide cult or pact... so again, it's always the case of some overzealous disciple...

Of course. It's very difficult to believe in something like that when Honen believed Shandao to be an incarnation of Amitabha Buddha himself which I wouldn't doubt at all.
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