Author Topic: Suicide, Karma and Rebirth  (Read 1841 times)

sonamdhargey

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Suicide, Karma and Rebirth
« on: August 12, 2012, 04:07:34 PM »
Some people attempted to end his life by hanging; he survived, but did he really? this methode of suicide usually denotes a self execution. So how does this add to his/her Karma, or does it end in their torment forever? I have read that it means that the person must return to a similar life to learn what he didn't but, what if 'this' is what he/she was to learn?

diablo1974

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Re: Suicide, Karma and Rebirth
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2012, 06:28:01 AM »
In my point of view, people attempted suicide but survived and not dead, we can say its his/her karma unripen yet....but in addition, its might strengthen his/her suicidal imprints in the future. The more we more the same thoughts it becomes a habit and strengthen this thought.

Ensapa

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Re: Suicide, Karma and Rebirth
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2012, 08:10:56 AM »
Here's a view of suicide from the view of a Buddhist monk, and how to handle it.

Quote
By Ajahn Amaro

From a talk given in Diamond Heights , San Francisco , June 1993


Question: "I am curious to know - what is the attitude towards suicide in your Buddhist tradition?"


Answer: - This is a question that is asked quite frequently. Every different religious system has its attitudes towards suicide, what it means and how it sits within our consciousness, because in every human society this occurs to a greater or lesser extent. From the Buddhist point of view that I am familiar with, in the Theravada world, the approach is quite pragmatic. There is not any kind of doctrinal line on the fate of someone who commits suicide - instead it looks at the mental state that causes a person to do that. We would not make a blanket statement about what would be the karmic result of committing suicide.


Obviously, if you are moved to take your own life, there has to be a degree of negativity, distress or destructiveness there. In Thailand , which is the country I am most familiar with, when someone takes their own life it is regarded as something tragic and painful. The person was likely to have been in a very confused, upset and negative state of mind and the state of mind in which we die is seen as conditioning the next birth. If we go to sleep at night and we are in a bad mood, generally it is right there on the pillow next to us when we wake up; in the same way, the way that we die, and the state of mind that is there at the time, tends to affect what the mind is going to gravitate towards - at least that is the way it is spoken of.


When someone takes their own life there is not a critical judgement about them, there is no concept of it being a sin or a cause for damnation or anything like that in the Theravadan world. What one tries to do instead is to help that person understand that this has been a violent reaction that is necessarily going to have a painful result. It is recognized that rarely does taking our own life fundamentally solve anything and that, regardless of the causes for it, there is going to be some negative result.


For example, there was a woman who was close to our monastery in Thailand who had terminal cancer. She was getting thinner and thinner, her body was wasting away and she was in incredible pain all the time. She had two small children and a husband who loved her very much, and she could see that it was very painful for them to see her wasting away in agony in front of them - she weighed about seventy pounds at the end. So she decided to take her life - she took her husband's pistol and she shot herself.


In Thailand what is always done for people who either kill themselves or die suddenly in any way, is that they do not cremate the body but they keep it intact for at least a year. The idea behind this is that, if someone has died violently or has taken their own life, then there is a period of time where their consciousness has the opportunity to get used to the fact of their death - the transition from the human state. Things have the chance to settle down; destroying the body immediately (apparently) throws the person into a greater state of confusion and disorientation, so they keep the body. The body of this woman was thus interred for a year, then after a year it was taken out of its coffin. In this particular case they kept her skeleton in the monastery because she had donated it to be a contemplation object but the rest of her was cremated in the usual ceremonial way.


In normal circumstances the person would just be cremated after a year; during the time immediately after the death, the family and friends would ask the nuns and monks to do a lot of chanting for the deceased person, more so than for an ordinary death. They would perform a lot of acts of kindness and generosity and dedicate whatever blessings came from that to the person who had died, because for a suicide they see that person is more in need than an average person. There is no blame associated with the person who has killed themselves but much more a sense of, "How can we help them?"


The understanding is that for a person who has died, and who is maybe stuck in some sort of confused realm of being, somehow they are benefited by the loving attention of people that know them and whom they have left behind. Often in the monastery, people would bring a picture of the person who has died and put it on the shrine. Or in your own home you might make a little shrine with a photo and have candles and incense, flowers - to make a sacred space for them and to honour their memory. The family would ask for special funeral chanting to be done every night for a week, then they would bring offerings to the monastery a week after the death, then a hundred days after the death, and then on the anniversary of the death.


In this way one is constantly bringing to mind the memory of the person who has died and associating that with things that are creating good karma in their name. Something which is painful and tragic is thus being associated with that which is joyful and restorative. This process not only, in whatever way, benefits the person who has died but it also helps those who remain behind - something which has been heartbreaking then becomes a cause for developing goodness in their own lives. It also becomes a cause to give oneself to the spiritual practice, coming to the monastery and spending time with wise and helpful people. This is the way it is handled in the Theravada tradition in Thailand .


In dealing with the feeling of loss or bereavement, particularly with suicides, there is always the question "Why? What could I have done? How could I have helped?" Particularly for us in the West, we who are heavy-duty thinkers, there is always a million things that we are convinced we could have done. We get so caught up in, "How it could have been. How it should have been. What I might have done. Why does this happen? Why was this person driven to this? Why didn't I see it coming??" and so on and so forth. We become so involved in the sagas and the possibilities we are creating, that we miss the real grief itself. We fend off the grief by worrying, we fill our mind with thought so we do not actually allow ourselves to grieve and digest the experience.


Earlier this year the father of a very close friend of the monastery commited suicide. I knew him well because he and his family live very near to where my parents are in Kent , in South-east England , he often drives me from the monastery to visit them. His father had worked for over thirty years for a major industrial company as an engineer and inventor, and it had D,been his ideas and projects which, for the last 10 or 15 years, had been the major money-spinners for this multinational corporation.


At the age of sixty-three he was given three weeks notice that his job was finishing and that he was going to be fired, and this was whilst he had been away on a tour of several different countries, including the USA , setting up the latest deal for a new project. When he got back, after working long hours and travelling thousands and thousands of miles, he was told, "You are going to be laid off in three weeks time - thank you very much." He knew that he was approaching retirement age but this was an incredible shock - there was no explanation, no recognition of what he had done for the company. Naturally he was very upset by this.


He struggled through December and January trying to find things to do, he was involved with a local music-therapy group, but his sense of worthlessness and betrayal and depression just got darker and darker. The day that he finished a particular music project, his wife went out to work in the local school, where she had been teaching for years, and when she came back at lunchtime he was hanging in the hallway - a terrifying expression on his face and no note, nothing left behind.


This happened during our winter retreat, I got a call from this friend saying that his father had committed suicide that morning. I talked with him for a long time and then went to the funeral a few days later. It was very moving to see how the family had handled it: this friend, who had been meditating for many years and was very close to his father, said that it was such a shock that he went totally physically numb. He sat in the spot in the hallway where his father had killed himself, his body became ice cold and he could not move.


He just sat in that spot for three hours without moving. They made a shrine in that place in the house, they had candles burning, he and his brother and his mother kept a vigil around the clock. When they brought the father's body back they kept the coffin in the house with the lid open. They surrounded it with flowers, brought all his favourite things into the room and they kept a vigil by the coffin for the whole week. They asked us to do lots of chanting at the monastery, even though this man was not a Buddhist.


Theirs had been a most loving marriage and loving family - it was amazing to see how, in the midst of something so extraordinarily painful that they were just staying with the feeling of grief and allowing themselves to digest it fully. It was also compounded by the fact that, not only did the company that he worked for not even send a representative to the funeral, they did not send flowers or even a note - nothing - so there was plenty of opportunity for rage. But they just stayed with the whole thing and digested the painfulness of it.


It was remarkable to see how they did not dwell upon the whys and wherefores and what they could have done, but they just stayed with the reality of:- this has happened, this is the pain of life, this is tragedy. It was very sad and painful to be there, but it was also wonderful to see how human beings can be with a situation like that and can fully embrace it.


These are the kind of reflections I would bring to mind around suicide. Everyone has to work with their own intuition, every situation is slightly different, but basically it is more important to open our heart to that very feeling of the painfulness of it, than to try and justify it or explain it or to do anything with it. Just to feel that quality of loss and to realize that one of the karmic results of loving someone is the painfulness of losing them, especially in such a tragic circumstance. Then, in response to that, to dedicate your acts of kindness and goodness to that person.


The younger son of the family I have been talking about, late one night shortly after his father's death, felt he had to express what he was feeling. He sat down in front of a typewriter and wrote this piece: talking about his father and the events that had occurred. It is a most clear and beautiful expression of the painfulness and yet, strangely, the rightness of what had happened, and the refusal to blame. Through it all, determined to honour the father's decision, regardless of how painful it was for all of them - that is what he chose to do and we are not going to wallow in our own sense of loss or criticism or worry, we accept that this is how it is, this is what we have got and now we go on from here.


Let us, who have respected Don's judgement so much throughouthis life, respect it now and let him go with our blessing. Let us be grateful to him for what he has given us and not sorry for what we may feel he has taken away.


With the gentle, kind and non-judgemental spirit of my father, the family forgive all of those who may feel any guilt or sense any failure for not having saved him from his despair, as we forgive ourselves. We would like this spirit to find it's home within you and help to guide and strengthen you as it has us. Let this and not the self-recrimination that so tortured father be his offering to us at this time. He withheld the depths of his suffering from us with love. Now let us in his memory have the same compassion for ourselves.


Let us be sad but not too sad.


Andy Price

fruven

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Re: Suicide, Karma and Rebirth
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2012, 03:06:56 PM »
Suicide is a form of self control because one cannot control what is happening around externally, the external circumstances, and using suicide as a final form of control. It is extremely negative state of mind. Losing love, losing something, and cannot bounce back from a situation, one will generally get depression, from one depression to leads to another.

What I can give advise to in regards to people who are mentally unstable and thinking of suicide is to give some form of attentions to them, empathize with them, and generally speak your mind honestly about their circumstances but never touch about suicide. Be their friend, lend an ear, and push yourself to be a better person, and dedicate your prayers and thoughts to them. No matter how small is or fruitless your effort it may seem to be it might postponed their negativity and suicidal thoughts.

Is suicide associated with intent of killing, in this case, on oneself? Perhaps doing acts of saving lives, eg animal liberation, donating to a good animal cause will create merits for reducing negativity.

buddhalovely

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Re: Suicide, Karma and Rebirth
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2012, 06:37:21 AM »
Understanding the laws of the death process, the Hindu is vigilant of his thoughts and mental loyalties. He knows that the contents of his mind at the point of death in large part dictate where he will function in the astral plane and the quality of his next birth. Secret questionings and doubt of Hindu belief, and associations with other belief systems will automatically place him among like-minded people whose beliefs are alien to Hinduism. A nominal Hindu on earth could be a selfish materialist in the astral world. The Hindu also knows that death must come naturally, in its own course, and that suicide only accelerates the intensity of one's karma, bringing a series of immediate lesser births and requiring several lives for the soul to return to the exact evolutionary point that existed at the moment of suicide, at which time the still-existing karmic entanglements must again be faced and resolved.

Tammy

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Re: Suicide, Karma and Rebirth
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2012, 03:00:07 AM »
I would say ignorance is the cause of suicide. Why?

People who commit suicide, or even think of ending their own lives, has no knowledge of dharma.
If they have dharma knowledge, they would know their human lives are precious and once ended, it would be eons before they are to reincarnate in human form again, if ever. Without human form, it would be near impossible to achieve enlightenment and they are throwing away they rare chance to practice!

Down with the BAN!!!

ilikeshugden

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Re: Suicide, Karma and Rebirth
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2012, 06:56:17 AM »
Attempted suicide will bring forth heavy negative karma as you had thought about ending your precious human life. I had a point in my life where I was very suicidal. I have been told that suicide means that you waste your precious human life. If you kill yourself, you will definitely be in the spirit realm to relive your death over and over again or in the hell realm, suffering. Going to the hell realm is most likely what is going to happen to people who commit suicide.

biggyboy

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Re: Suicide, Karma and Rebirth
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2012, 03:25:36 PM »
I would say ignorance is the cause of suicide. Why?

People who commit suicide, or even think of ending their own lives, has no knowledge of dharma.
If they have the dharma knowledge, they would know their human lives are precious and once ended, it would be eons before they are to reincarnate in human form again, if ever. Without human form, it would be near impossible to achieve enlightenment and they are throwing away they rare chance to practice!

I agree with what Tammy said for many whom has committed suicide or thinking to do so are ignorant of the preciousness of our human life form which is so rare to have.  If only they have the knowledge and understanding.  This boils down to why it is so important that those, who knows and understands karma to connect and share with others who may be destitute of what life worth living for under the circumstances and conditions they are facing and are going through. 

Out of ignorance and lack of substance knowledge, depression may be the main culprit, but there are a lot of things to consider as well. These include overwhelming pain, grief, and stress; some use it as an escape for their failure and shortcomings like criminals who are about to be sentenced or caught; unresolved sexual or passion issues - generally common during momentous breakups and unplanned divorces; actions against an environment that he considers to be adverse; financial loss; curiosity regarding death; and substance abuse.   




Namdrol

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Re: Suicide, Karma and Rebirth
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2012, 03:52:15 PM »
i didn't really get your point but if he didn't die in a suicide attempt, it just mean he didn't die, there is not certainty in saying what will happen to him later, it is just like i was supposed to eat at 6pm but due to some unforseen circumstances i missed it and only had my meal the next day, so that's it, not so much of ripen or unripen karma, it just means he tried but didn't happen, period.

RedLantern

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Re: Suicide, Karma and Rebirth
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2012, 04:58:29 PM »

From Buddhism perspective,nothing happens to the soul as there is no soul.Ii is still bad karma trying to commit suicide.,however not as bad as if the attempt is successful.
I think it is hard to pin down exactly what will happen.The suicide attempt could be the fruit of past actions and decisions or it could be the result of another persons bad actions or a combination.
If the attempted suicide itself a fruit of karma,I don't know how it fits in Buddhism theory.

ratanasutra

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Re: Suicide, Karma and Rebirth
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2012, 05:43:34 PM »
What is the thought at the minute that he/she survived and not success in his/her suicide? That will be the point that can turn things around. If he/she still want to suicide so he/she will be thinking about it and finally make it happen again.

But if he/she regret in his/her action and promise to his/herself do not want to do it again so it will create a positive thought and change a way of life.

So if this incident can bring benefit or continue harmful depend on what is the lesson the person have learned.

DS Star

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Re: Suicide, Karma and Rebirth
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2012, 06:16:25 PM »

From Buddhism perspective,nothing happens to the soul as there is no soul.Ii is still bad karma trying to commit suicide.,however not as bad as if the attempt is successful.
I think it is hard to pin down exactly what will happen.The suicide attempt could be the fruit of past actions and decisions or it could be the result of another persons bad actions or a combination.
If the attempted suicide itself a fruit of karma,I don't know how it fits in Buddhism theory.

Yes it is still a 'karma' but not a 'Full' karma as it didn't  'comply' to the four conditions for a full cycle of the so-called 'throwing karma' for one to experience its 'Full' result or 'fruit'. However, as Mind is the most important element in the working of 'karma', the heaviness of this 'attempt' itself will lead to heavy negative fruit of karma in future.

As mentioned in earlier post, for someone to consider and moved to end one's own life, it means the mind must be in a very negative, disturbed state and ignorant enough to think that one can end whatever suffering one is experiencing at that time. This in itself will propel the mind to 'generate' more negative vibes that will result in more negative karma fruits ripening...

For some cases of suicides, the motivating factor can be revenge... thinking one will let the other party (whom cause the sufferings, especially in the case of 'love' and 'ego') to 'regret for your whole life'. If this is the case, the state of mind of that person is really in the rock bottom 'negative' level. Even if the suicide not successful, the negative karma created is very severe...

Vajraprotector

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Re: Suicide, Karma and Rebirth
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2012, 07:35:58 PM »
Some people attempted to end his life by hanging; he survived, but did he really? this methode of suicide usually denotes a self execution. So how does this add to his/her Karma, or does it end in their torment forever? I have read that it means that the person must return to a similar life to learn what he didn't but, what if 'this' is what he/she was to learn?

Apart from the primary karma of killing (himself/herself), he/she will also cause tremendous sufferings to his/her loved ones, families, friends and so on. Their loved ones may suffer for months or even
years, creating traumatic emotional and physical stress and disease for their whole lives. It also terminates all of his/her potentially beneficial activities. I am sure that means addition of loads of negative karma  :'(

Because the state of mind of the person who commits suicide is usually depressed and negative, it is likely to throw them into a lower rebirth. Also, it doesn't end the suffering, it just postpones the suffering to be experienced to another life because karma follows us and one's karmic results have not been exhausted. As far as I know, suicide creates heavy negative karma, which results in miserable future lives in lower realms, including repeatedly commiting suicide in hell.

Lama Zopa mentioned previously that suicide is a result of the negative karma from criticizing people and that many/most/all instances of suicidal thoughts can be traces to the influence of spirits. These spirits might be seeking revenge, or maybe one just owes them a karmic debt from something one did in the past, maybe even in a past life. Previously created negative karma ripens on the base of that negative karma, then these maras influence one's mind and make the thought of suicide arise. It is not one's own thought, somebody else influences it.

DS Star

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Re: Suicide, Karma and Rebirth
« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2012, 04:50:25 PM »
Vajraprotector, agreed with your post.

The act of suicide, immaterial whether it is successful or not, will definitely added the loads of negative karma onto the mind-stream of that person. Very sad indeed.

Vajraprotector, you said in your post the following:
" As far as I know, suicide creates heavy negative karma, which results in miserable future lives in lower realms, including repeatedly commiting suicide in hell."

May I know where you quote it from? Is this stated in Lamrim? If so, on what page?

I really appreciate if you can provide me the source. I have been asked many times regarding the consequences of suicides and I have difficulty to quote from authentic source.

Thank you for sharing Lama Zopa's teachings on suicide. So criticizing others will also create negative karma to cause suicide...

And that spirits can influence our minds to have suicidal thoughts... scary but true, now I think about it, yes I have heard of suicide cases influenced by spirits before...

pgdharma

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Re: Suicide, Karma and Rebirth
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2012, 02:11:18 AM »
Buddhism believed in karma and reincarnation. We are always reincarnated and reborn. If we do commit suicide, chances are we will be born in a lower realm than we lived this life. Suicide causes a great deal of suffering both to the person who committed suicide and those left behind. According to karma, we have to pay for our bad deeds, that is, if we are suffering, it is due to your previous karma and we have to live it through and purify that negative karma.  If we think that suicide is the easy way out, we will just be reincarnated again to complete our karmic duties. The act of suicide itself is also dependent on motivation. Doing it to get out of debt or depression could be bad, but what about those doing it as a political protest like self-immolation? Is it considered as an act of highest offering one could give?