Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Apr 30, 2013 3:49 pm

I think the title of the thread is a bit off too. To call a practice/tactic anti-Buddhist means that it is intended or carried out in order to harm Buddhism.
The Chinese won't leave Tibet if a hundred monks a day self-immolated..in fact they would encourage it.
The self-immolation of Vietnamese monks did not bring forward the American withdrawl by a single day.
Sez who?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby Simon E. » Tue Apr 30, 2013 3:59 pm

Sez me.
Do you really think the Chinese government give a shit if monks burn themselves ?
It plays straight into their hands. The only people shocked by it are sympathetic to the monks anyway.
And there were many factors that led to America realising that Vietnam was unwinnable .
Self immolating monks make good copy..and thats it.
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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Apr 30, 2013 4:01 pm

Simon E. wrote:Sez me.
You are an anonymous poster on a crappy little discussion forum, why should I take your opinion on the subject seriously? Do you have any hard evidence to back your point?
Self immolating monks make good copy..and thats it.
Really? So where are the daily reports on the 6pm news then if it makes for good copy?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby Jikan » Tue Apr 30, 2013 4:06 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:I think the title of the thread is a bit off too. To call a practice/tactic anti-Buddhist means that it is intended or carried out in order to harm Buddhism.
The Chinese won't leave Tibet if a hundred monks a day self-immolated..in fact they would encourage it.
The self-immolation of Vietnamese monks did not bring forward the American withdrawl by a single day.
Sez who?


Actually, that's what I mean to ask, based on Sara's comment in another thread (I quoted it in this one). Self-immolation has been presented as a practice contrary to Buddhist teachings but is presented or understood by some as a legit Buddhist practice. Put together, this means a corruption of the teachings, which is as "anti" as you can get.

Thich Quang Duc's self-immolation became globally known in 1963. US military involvement in Vietnam escalated dramatically after this and did not end until 1974. The reception of the images of self-immolation in the US is so uneven that I don't know if it's possible to generalize about it. If I had to guess, I'd say Simon has the stronger interpretation.
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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby Jikan » Tue Apr 30, 2013 4:06 pm

I don't think DharmaWheel is a crappy discussion board.
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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby Simon E. » Tue Apr 30, 2013 4:08 pm

" A crappy little discussion forum "...gosh.


Well obviously you shouldn't take my or anyone else's view seriously..on any subject on the forum.
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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Apr 30, 2013 4:13 pm

C'mon guys, let's get over the delusions of grandeur. We ain't facebook.com yah know?! :smile:

The crappy was in reference to the "little" not to the "discussion board" anyway! :tongue:
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Apr 30, 2013 4:14 pm

Simon E. wrote:Well obviously you shouldn't take my or anyone else's view seriously..on any subject on the forum.
:twisted:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby Jnana » Tue Apr 30, 2013 4:49 pm

Jikan wrote:I probably should have used the word "tactic" rather than "practice," because I don't mean to imply that someone might find a way to burn themselves to death over and over and over again as a kind of regular practice, or for a society to make a regular event or spectacle of it.

Historically, it seems that body burning has been seen as an offering practice, and one that is repeatable, at least in instances of burning fingers, etc. Williams gives a historical survey in Mahāyāna Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations (pp. 160-61):

    The final feature of the Lotus Sūtra we must note, a feature which has been of some influence in East Asian Buddhist practice, is that of body-burning. Chapter 23 of the Lotus Sūtra recounts how the Bodhisattva Bhaiṣajyarāja in a previous life wished to make the most perfect offering to the Buddha. He accordingly offered his body by setting fire to it. The body burned for a very long time, and he was eventually reborn in a Pure Land: 'Good man this is called the prime gift' (Hurvitz, L. Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma, p. 295). Supposing someone wishes to become enlightened:

      [ I]f he can burn a finger or even a toe as an offering to a Buddha-stūpa, he shall exceed one who uses realm or walled city, wife or children, or even all the lands, mountains, forests, rivers, ponds, and sundry precious objects in the whole thousand-millionfold world as offerings. (Hurvitz, p. 298)

    In general in India people were used to the hyperbole of religious enthusiasm and may have taken such exhortations as a rhetorical exaggeration of the imperative to 'be unattached'. ... But we know it happened in East Asian Buddhism, where from the early fifth century CE burning joints or the whole body as an act of devotion was taken very seriously indeed. James A. Benn's detailed study (Benn, J. A. Burning for the Buddha: Self-Immolation in Chinese Buddhism) shows that complete or partial self-immolation has been from quite early days in Chinese Buddhism to the present day by no means a minority or fringe activity. It has always been a serious religious option often accompanied, it is said, by miracles and sacred relics and with the power of converting others and encouraging them in their own religious striving. As Benn observes (p. 190, 201, cf. 193), '[S]elf-immolation was a practice that cut across the whole of the saṃgha in China. From Chan monks, to scholars, to Pure Land believers, all kinds of monks and nuns found valid reasons for offering their bodies'; '[It] was an extremely flexible and adaptable form of expedient means (upāya)'. Indeed it was not infrequently advocated and defended in a doctrinally sophisticated manner by learned and spiritually mature religious specialists such as the Chan master Yanshou (Yen-shou; 904–75). Other Chan masters were included among self-immolators (Benn, pp. 154–7). The Huayan master Fazang himself is said to have burnt a finger off out of religious devotion. Burning fingers was a not-uncommon practice in Chinese Buddhist monasteries up to very recent times. Burning patches on the head, leaving visible scars, is part of Chinese Buddhist ordination ceremonies to the present day. Holmes Welch tells of an informant who burnt one finger each year for four years in succession. Xuyun (Hsü-yün), a renowned and respected Chan abbot, burnt a finger off in 1897 out of filial piety, in order to help his mother who had died while bearing him, through transferring the merit thus obtained (Welch, H. The Practice of Chinese Buddhism, pp. 324–5). The burning was apparently a spiritual experience; healing was very rapid. In Japan, Jōshō burnt off a finger as a penance for accidentally touching a woman (Dykstra, Y. K. Miraculous Tales of the Lotus Sūtra from Ancient Japan, p. 66).
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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby Ayu » Tue Apr 30, 2013 5:07 pm

Jikan wrote:...
Actually, that's what I mean to ask, based on Sara's comment in another thread (I quoted it in this one). Self-immolation has been presented as a practice contrary to Buddhist teachings but is presented or understood by some as a legit Buddhist practice. Put together, this means a corruption of the teachings, which is as "anti" as you can get.


Yes, it is.

Simon E. wrote:Whats wrong with it ?
How about the fact that it doesn't work ?


IMHO it doesn't work because it harms the ethics. It is killing human beings.
But nobody can judge it, because it is the result of deep despare. I would do it myself, if i were in their shoes. But nevertheless another form of political move would be more effective, something non-violent.
Hopkins mentioned, that the world doesn't care, in contrast to the Vietnam-Protests, where "just two people burned themselves to death and the world arouse".
This doesn't happen now, because the world is unable to cope with this auto-aggressiv actions on the one hand and the buddhistic doctrine of love & compassion on the other hand. It is too difficult to understand, what happens there.

And to disagree: China is very much interested in their reputation. They don't get tired to diffame these victims of their politics.
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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Apr 30, 2013 5:17 pm

As long as the US owes China $1.1 trillion then China won't give a crap about its reputation. The US is the only major international player right now (except for Russia) that could possibly put any pressure on China but they are in no position to do so.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby Nikolay » Tue Apr 30, 2013 5:50 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:(except for Russia)

Oh, that won't ever happen. Russian society is generally very self-absorbed and cynical, and couldn't care less about self-immolations in the middle of nowhere, and Russian government is quite keen on maintaining good relations with China. Russia has several ethnic Buddhist regions, but Dalai Lama is still unable to visit, despite all pleas from Russian Buddhists. Because China.
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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby conebeckham » Tue Apr 30, 2013 6:06 pm

It is my personal belief, borne only of my own experience (and how could it be otherwise?), that these are desperate political acts, motivated by despair. I do not believe they are "Buddhist acts."

I do believe political acts can be "Buddhist acts," mind you, and I do even believe violent acts can be "Skillful means." But I don't think that is the case here. The results of these immolations will not benefit the Dharma, nor will they even benefit the "Tibetan Cause," however you define that cause--as a Nationalistic movement, a survivalist movement, a movement for autonomy, or a whatever else.
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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby coldwater » Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:23 pm

Simon E.->

Just to clarify - Thich Quang Duc was not protesting the Vietnam war. He was protesting the Vietnamese government persecuting the Buddhist community. So yes, his death didn't directly do anything to end the Vietnam war sooner.

And not to you specifically...

His death was very influential in bringing attention to and ending the abuse of the Buddhist community by the Vietnamese military. Was that anti-Buddhist? What situations have we been in where our community was being tortured and friends 'disappeared'? I've lived in a couple of political refugee communities for a short time and can say people have all sorts of responses to fear of murder and violence. Were they the always the 'best' or 'most canonical' way? Not always but life isn't so neat and tidy like that, is it?

Can we reasonably apply every instance of self-immolation to every other instance in every culture and time and pass a value judgement on it? I think without living in that situation it is hard to pass judgement/speculate on whether or not someone there 'did it Buddhist enough' for our understanding of the Dharma.

People can engage in 'Buddhist activities' with a worldly mind aimed at personal gain. Is it still a Buddhist act?
If people engage in worldly activities with an altruistic heart and wisdom does it become a Bodhisattva act?

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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby Dan74 » Wed May 01, 2013 2:13 am

coldwater wrote:Simon E.->

Just to clarify - Thich Quang Duc was not protesting the Vietnam war. He was protesting the Vietnamese government persecuting the Buddhist community. So yes, his death didn't directly do anything to end the Vietnam war sooner.

And not to you specifically...

His death was very influential in bringing attention to and ending the abuse of the Buddhist community by the Vietnamese military. Was that anti-Buddhist? What situations have we been in where our community was being tortured and friends 'disappeared'? I've lived in a couple of political refugee communities for a short time and can say people have all sorts of responses to fear of murder and violence. Were they the always the 'best' or 'most canonical' way? Not always but life isn't so neat and tidy like that, is it?

Can we reasonably apply every instance of self-immolation to every other instance in every culture and time and pass a value judgement on it? I think without living in that situation it is hard to pass judgement/speculate on whether or not someone there 'did it Buddhist enough' for our understanding of the Dharma.

People can engage in 'Buddhist activities' with a worldly mind aimed at personal gain. Is it still a Buddhist act?
If people engage in worldly activities with an altruistic heart and wisdom does it become a Bodhisattva act?

gassho


:good:

Thank you for saying what I wanted to say, better.
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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby Son of Buddha » Wed May 01, 2013 3:04 am

gregkavarnos wrote:I think the title of the thread is a bit off too. To call a practice/tactic anti-Buddhist means that it is intended or carried out in order to harm Buddhism.
The Chinese won't leave Tibet if a hundred monks a day self-immolated..in fact they would encourage it.
The self-immolation of Vietnamese monks did not bring forward the American withdrawl by a single day.
Sez who?


the Chinese government is actively encouraging Ethnic Chinese to move into the Tibetan regions,this has been going on for years.this was done to to colonise them completely.

generally when a country is occupied/invaded the said invaded country has a chance to overthrow its invaders due to the fact that the invaders make up only 1% of the mass population(if even that)

take for example Iraq has around
26,783,383 million people and America had 100,000 soldiers to occupy that land.

China on the other hand isn't occupying Tibet with a small number of troops,China is in fact colonizing all of Tibet,pretty soon there will be as many Chinese living in Tibet as there are Native Tibetans when this happens Colonization will become complete and there will be no more chance of any possible resistance,what you will get is Austrialia(and there colonization of he aboriginies) and America(and their colonization of the indians).
pretty soon through colonization your race/country men outnumber that of the original inhabitants of the land.

from a military and historical standpoint Tibet has about 1% chance of regaining their country back(and that's being liberal)
they honestly need a miracle,like literally the Gov would have to fall apart,the tibetains would have to out breed the Chinese that are already in their land,and they would have to convivnce the Chinese who are already living in their land to leave or other wise face a civil war,having to expel a population that is equal to their own size.on top of having other countries back them militarily.....and with that being said with the world currect economic crisis if China Gov disinergrated the world economy would collapse.

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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby Simon E. » Wed May 01, 2013 10:05 am

conebeckham wrote:It is my personal belief, borne only of my own experience (and how could it be otherwise?), that these are desperate political acts, motivated by despair. I do not believe they are "Buddhist acts."

I do believe political acts can be "Buddhist acts," mind you, and I do even believe violent acts can be "Skillful means." But I don't think that is the case here. The results of these immolations will not benefit the Dharma, nor will they even benefit the "Tibetan Cause," however you define that cause--as a Nationalistic movement, a survivalist movement, a movement for autonomy, or a whatever else.

My view too. :good:
As has been pointed out by someone whose name escapes me :roll: If India was ruled from Beijing a new Gandhi could starve themselves to death and Beijing would be quite happy to let them.
And we may not even hear about it anyway.
There are situations with no solution in the short to medium term.
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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby 5heaps » Wed May 01, 2013 1:29 pm

Simon E. wrote:Whats wrong with it ?
How about the fact that it doesn't work ?

doesnt need to work in the short-term in order for it to be right. killing yourself with a good motivation in order to draw attention to injustice is a high act.
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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby Ayu » Wed May 01, 2013 2:07 pm

5heaps wrote:
Simon E. wrote:Whats wrong with it ?
How about the fact that it doesn't work ?

doesnt need to work in the short-term in order for it to be right. killing yourself with a good motivation in order to draw attention to injustice is a high act.


Such statements don't serve the Buddhism, because it sounds inhuman.

Remember maybe the selfimmolations of Ananda Margiis in the early seventys:
http://books.google.de/books?id=YDcRnav ... on&f=false

Quote: "All of this (self-immolation) undoubtedly helped to promote the image of Ananda Marga as a violent movement and helped to give rise to considerable public hostility towards it and other NRMs (New Religion Movements) in Australia."
(Remark: in Europe also - when i was Ananda Margii, the normal reaction of normal people was: "You are member of Ananda Marga? Isn't that where people use to burn themselves to death?" :thinking: )

So one has to decide to look at self-immolation
- as a political form of protest? ---> works wrong,
- or as an spiritual high act? ---> better to keep this on the quiet, because it brings disrepute and missunderstanding in the public,
- or as a personal form of suicide out of deep despair? ---> understandable.

:|
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From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
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Re: Self-Immolation: an anti-Buddhist practice?

Postby Simon E. » Wed May 01, 2013 2:18 pm

5heaps wrote:
Simon E. wrote:Whats wrong with it ?
How about the fact that it doesn't work ?

doesnt need to work in the short-term in order for it to be right. killing yourself with a good motivation in order to draw attention to injustice is a high act.

Utter bollocks on every conceivable and inconceivable level.
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