Author Topic: suicide and the three lower realms  (Read 13881 times)

WisdomBeing

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suicide and the three lower realms
« on: January 06, 2011, 08:59:41 PM »
I heard/read somewhere that suicides all go straight to hell realm - does anyone know if there's any scriptural basis for this? Or is it because people who commit suicide are more than likely to be dying with thoughts of depression or anger, and the throwing karma of that emotion will send them to the three lower realms, if not the hell realm?

If someone commits suicide to get out of a terminally ill disease and may die 'with a happier mind' - would that mean they can commit suicide but not go to the three lower realms?
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

Zach

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Re: suicide and the three lower realms
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2011, 11:21:45 AM »
I heard/read somewhere that suicides all go straight to hell realm - does anyone know if there's any scriptural basis for this? Or is it because people who commit suicide are more than likely to be dying with thoughts of depression or anger, and the throwing karma of that emotion will send them to the three lower realms, if not the hell realm?

If someone commits suicide to get out of a terminally ill disease and may die 'with a happier mind' - would that mean they can commit suicide but not go to the three lower realms?

Generally Rebirth depends upon what mind you die with doesnt it ?

DSFriend

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Re: suicide and the three lower realms
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2011, 05:14:35 PM »
Here's something to read and think about...

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/buddhistethics/euthanasiasuicide.shtml

Buddhism, euthanasia and suicide

Buddhists are not unanimous in their view of euthanasia, and the teachings of the Buddha don't explicitly deal with it.

Most Buddhists (like almost everyone else) are against involuntary euthanasia. Their position on voluntary euthanasia is less clear.

States of mind

The most common position is that voluntary euthanasia is wrong, because it demonstrates that one's mind is in a bad state and that one has allowed physical suffering to cause mental suffering.

Meditation and the proper use of pain killing drugs should enable a person to attain a state where they are not in mental pain, and so no longer contemplate euthanasia or suicide.

Buddhists might also argue that helping to end someone's life is likely to put the helper into a bad mental state, and this too should be avoided.

Avoiding harm

Buddhism places great stress on non-harm, and on avoiding the ending of life. The reference is to life - any life - so the intentional ending of life seems against Buddhist teaching and voluntary euthanasia should be forbidden. Certain codes of Buddhist monastic law explicitly forbid it.

Lay-people do not have a code of Buddhist law, so the strongest that can be said of a lay person who takes part in euthanasia is that they have made an error of judgement.

Karma

Buddhists regard death as a transition. The deceased person will be reborn to a new life, whose quality will be the result of their karma.

This produces two problems. We don't know what the next life is going to be like. If the next life is going to be even worse than the life that the sick person is presently enduring it would clearly be wrong on a utilitarian basis to permit euthanasia, as that shortens the present bad state of affairs in favour of an even worse one.

The second problem is that shortening life interferes with the working out of karma, and alters the karmic balance resulting from the shortened life.

Euthanasia as suicide

Another difficulty comes if we look at voluntary euthanasia as a form of suicide.

The Buddha himself showed tolerance of suicide by monks in two cases. The Japanese Buddhist tradition includes many stories of suicide by monks, and suicide was used as a political weapon by Buddhist monks during the Vietnam war.

But these were monks, and that makes a difference. In Buddhism, the way life ends has a profound impact on the way the new life will begin.

So a person's state of mind at the time of death is important - their thoughts should be selfless and enlightened, free of anger, hate or fear.

This suggests that suicide (and so euthanasia) is only approved for people who have achieved enlightenment and that the rest of us should avoid it.

Big Uncle

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Re: suicide and the three lower realms
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2011, 06:49:14 PM »
Dear WisdomBeing,

I looked in Pabongka's Lamrim - Liberation in the Palm of Your Hands and found the relevent statements to back this up....

Pg 405
The Differences That Make For Heavy and Light Karma
Heavy By Nature

"The seven karmic actions of body and speech range from the heaviest first, killing, to the lightest last of all."

Pg 327
The Assemble-And- Be Crushed Hell
"Rebirth here is usually the [karmic] ripening of killing."

I presented two statements, the first reveal the severity of the action (suicide is considered killing) and the second statement reveals the result of killing. However, I have found no direct statements with regards to the repercussions of suicide as you have mentioned. I hope this helps you...

vajrastorm

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Re: suicide and the three lower realms
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2011, 10:30:27 AM »
‘This precious human life so difficult to gain….’ . We recite these words daily in our dedication prayer. In the Lamrim, the rarity of being born human and having the eighteen opportune conditions is illustrated by the story of the blind turtle, which surfaces only once in every 100 years. The chance of being born human is as good as the chance of this blind turtle raising its head through a golden yoke which is floating on the surface of this deep and vast ocean.

In order to gain a human rebirth, we must have accumulated a tremendously vast store of merits including merits derived from having maintained moral discipline in our previous life. Furthermore, the human body provides the only suitably-equipped base for the practice of Dharma, without which practice, we cannot even begin to tread the Path to Liberation and Enlightenment.

In the face of this, how can the deliberate taking of one’s own life be acceptable and be condoned? Even those who are born blind like Helen Keller, have risen above their limitations and gone on to lead meaningful lives. The law of cause and effect operates all the time even though we don’t believe in it. If a person were to commit suicide because of a great physical handicap or a great obstacle in life or over the loss of face, wealth or because of being deserted by a loved one, they will face the double jeopardy of 2 negative karmas’ effects instead of just one.

Similarly, euthanasia may end the suffering of a being in this life. However, the karma that had manifested in the form of unbearable suffering has not been exhausted at time of death. Here again, a second negative action of killing oneself will add on to the negative karma that has not been exhausted.

When we read very moving stories of realized Lamas who were imprisoned and put through tremendous hardship and torture by their Communist Chinese captors, and about their only fear being to lose their compassion for their torturers, we are moved to realize that when we are able to practice Bodhicitta, we can transmute the negative aversion to pain into beautiful compassion, transcendental patience and joy.

We have also read of highly realized Lamas who, out of great compassion for the Communist Chinese invaders (who would have killed them and thus reaped heavy negative karma for themselves), went into deep clear light meditation and passed away. Though some may view this as a form of suicide, I don’t think it is. In this case, the motivation was pure and, ultimately, it is this that counts. In any case their incarnations have returned and so it shows that Bodhisattvas will always act with the pure motivation of benefitting others.aaa

vajrastorm

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Re: suicide and the three lower realms
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2011, 09:14:05 AM »
In my previous post, I wrote about moving stories of realized Lamas who were able to transmute suffering and aversions to pain, to positive experiences of compassion, patience and joy.

I would like to correct the last point, replacing ‘joy’ with ‘peace’. I would also like to share here the story of one of these Lamas(which I have read on this website). Rilbur Rinpoche, a great Lama and student of the illustrious Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, suffered tremendous oppression and torture in the hands of his Chinese Communist captors in Lhasa for 21 years. Throughout this long period of physical suffering, he was able to maintain a calm and peaceful mind by putting into practice the mind-training of Lojong (a method of training and developing the mind of Bodhicitta), taught to him by his most highly attained and compassionate Guru, Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche.

The mind that sees suicide as the “only way out of suffering” is a mind that has become closed as a result of an egocentric downward-spiralling process fuelled by delusory and negative afflictive emotions. Thus we see how necessary Dharma and a qualified Spiritual Guide are to guide us in our practice and mind-training towards developing an open mind, a mind that is focused on benefitting others, a mind of Bodhicitta.

DSFriend

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Re: suicide and the three lower realms
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2011, 07:28:50 PM »


Similarly, euthanasia may end the suffering of a being in this life. However, the karma that had manifested in the form of unbearable suffering has not been exhausted at time of death. Here again, a second negative action of killing oneself will add on to the negative karma that has not been exhausted.



We trap ourselves in such an unending cycle of suffering. Thinking that we can end suffering, we create even more.
May we exhaust the causes which puts us in such a situation that we have to consider suicide. May no beings find themselves in such a mental state...

Thank you Vajrastorm for the reminder of the precious human life.

Helena

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Re: suicide and the three lower realms
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2011, 01:29:43 PM »
We often refer to killing as to killing of human lives. But what the killing of animals and insects?

Do they not qualify as lives too?

I am sure we will suffer the same karma as having killed a life when we kill animals and insects, right?

Can anyone here enlighten me here?

Much appreciated.
Helena

Big Uncle

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Re: suicide and the three lower realms
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2011, 06:11:06 AM »
Killing is one of the few actions that are inherently negative no matter what the excuse is. This is illustrated in the Buddha's previous life story where he was a ship captain and he had to kill a murderer to prevent him from killing others. The Buddha is said to have taken rebirth in hell to suffer retribution and because his motivation was to save others, the duration was significantly shorter. The moral of the story - there is no escape from our karma especially if we were to kill even themselves. Suicide may seem like a quick escape for those who don't want to face people, situations or even themselves. However, they don't know of the horrible destiny that awaits them right after. No point escaping... Might as well just face the real problem.

vajrastorm

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Re: suicide and the three lower realms
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2011, 08:33:28 AM »
This is a response to Helena who asked if killing animals and insects carry the same heavy negative karma as killing humans.

It is said, somewhere, that killing an insect or an animal will bring a less severe karmic consequence than killing a human. However, to me, as every being has the inherent Buddha nature and should eventually return to and realize their Buddha nature by becoming enlightened, willful killing of any being with this potential should carry the same consequence, especially when accompanied by very negative motivations and by very cruel and sadistic forms of killing.

There are, of course, situations where the greater good dictates the taking of lives of insects or animals. Say, for instance, swarms of locusts have descended on an area filled with planted crops. These locusts have to be destroyed to save the crops. Otherwise, these crops would be destroyed by them and a potential source of food for perhaps millions of people would be destroyed as a result. Also, they would wreak tremendous havoc and destruction beyond just the crops.

Again, if termites have infested one’s home or hornets have built a hive near or outside one’s home, we are often compelled to kill these insects. But we should do so with the help of experts, who can do the job in a neat and swift way, to spare unnecessary suffering.

In these instances, compassion must accompany the act of killing. Thus we should also pray to Medicine Buddha for better rebirths for them; and we should recite purification prayers, like Vajrasattva’s 100 syllable purification mantras and prayers to the 35 Confessional Buddhas in lieu of the fact that killing has taken place. 

vajrastorm

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Re: suicide and the three lower realms
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2011, 09:11:36 AM »
Re the killing of animals and insects and the karmic consequence, I would like to expand on the last part of my previous post.

According to the Lamrim, all beings(including termite, locusts and hornets) have been our mothers before. This is so because we and all sentient beings have had countless rebirths (over aeons) since beginningless time. In this uncontrolled circling of samsara, we have been born again and again in all six realms. We, humans, have been born as insects and pests before and these pests have been born as humans before . In fact, because of countless rebirths, we have encountered all other beings in all six realms as our human mothers before. Just as our present-life mothers have looked after us so lovingly and with much sacrifice, so too did these beings, as our human mothers, look after us in those life times when they were our human mothers.

Thus, when the force of circumstances compels us to kill these pests, these acts of killing, no matter how mitigating the circumstances, are still acts of killing mother sentient beings. The purification of such negative actions can only be effective if we apply the four opponent powers. Regarding one of these powers( the power of Reliance or repairing damaged relationships), as there are two classes of beings on whom we commit transgressions and create negative karma - Enlightened Beings and sentient beings,  the opponent power of Reliance requires us to place reliance on our Spiritual Guide and the Three Jewels and take refuge in them (for transgressions against Enlightened Beings) and to practice Bodhicitta towards all sentient beings(for transgressions against sentient beings).

We have not only harmed and killed insects knowingly, but we have also killed countless insects unknowingly. As we tread the ground, with every step we take, we are killing so many insects with our feet already. Thus we have to seriously practice kindness and compassion and care towards them. The life-stories of Holy Beings abound with anecdotes of their compassion to these little beings. I recall a story where two High Lamas, including the Dalai Lama, stopped whatever they were busy doing to rescue a cluster of ants and bring them to safety with much gentleness and patience.
Beyond these little beings, there are other sentient beings in dire need of our care and compassion. There are abandoned and abused animals to be rescued and cared for. There are homeless people to whom we can give basic needs of food and, if possible shelter, as well as care and compassion. Ultimately, in order to help all beings who have been our mothers, we should repay their kindnesses by developing true bodhicitta – work towards becoming fully  enlightened so that we can return to samsara and ultimately bring all mother beings out of suffering and into enlightenment.

Roberto

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Re: suicide and the three lower realms
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2011, 08:58:50 PM »
Was discussing with a friend what would be the best way to die.

We came to the conclusion that whatever was instant and less pain would be best to lessen the ripening of negative karma at the time of birth.

If it was drawn out and very painful then our minds would not be able to cope with it and hence the negative karma would begin to arise, the attachments to this or that too.

Whereas if a bullet to your brain or something as quick you wouldn't have the chance to begin to think negative thoughts.

Based on this conclusion I would think that suicide would lead to a negative rebirth as leading up to the act of killing yourself the mind would already be preoccupied with negative thoughts.

I doubt they cease when the onset of death kicks in and your realise that your really going to die.

what does everyone think?

Big Uncle

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Re: suicide and the three lower realms
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2011, 04:07:56 AM »
Was discussing with a friend what would be the best way to die.

We came to the conclusion that whatever was instant and less pain would be best to lessen the ripening of negative karma at the time of birth.

If it was drawn out and very painful then our minds would not be able to cope with it and hence the negative karma would begin to arise, the attachments to this or that too.

Whereas if a bullet to your brain or something as quick you wouldn't have the chance to begin to think negative thoughts.

Based on this conclusion I would think that suicide would lead to a negative rebirth as leading up to the act of killing yourself the mind would already be preoccupied with negative thoughts.

I doubt they cease when the onset of death kicks in and your realise that your really going to die.

what does everyone think?

The heavier negative karma is the very act of killing of oneself. The karma to experience the suffering the person was enduring is merely delayed. If the karma has not fully ripened, it will ripened again in the next life. Death does not purify nor negate the fruitioning of negative karma. In other words, there is no escape although many people think of suicide as an escape but in reality, it is just a easy doorway to more suffering. 

hope rainbow

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Re: suicide and the three lower realms
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2011, 01:50:17 PM »
This debate reminds me of the latest BATMAN movie that has an extraordinary scene involving two ferries.
Those who have seen the movie would know what I am talking about.

Ferry A has bombs on board and the detonator is given to the captain of ferry B.
Ferry B also has bombs and the detonator is given to the captain of ferry A.
The villain (aka The Joker) has both detonators and gives 30 minutes to each captain with a choice: if they detonate the bombs on the other ferry, they'll be safe... If no bombs has been detonated after 30 minutes, he would make both ferries blow!
This scene got me clueless as to what would be the right thing to do...

Not to blow up the other ferry is like suicide... or is it "sacrifice"?
What is the difference between suicide and sacrifice then?
What about the other people on the ferry who do not wish to sacrifice, and if I am the captain, I am killing them because I refuse to blow up the other ferry?
Then If we do nothing, after 30 minutes twice as many people would die?

What an wicked scenario...

jessicajameson

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Re: suicide and the three lower realms
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2011, 05:49:52 PM »
Was discussing with a friend what would be the best way to die.

We came to the conclusion that whatever was instant and less pain would be best to lessen the ripening of negative karma at the time of birth.

If it was drawn out and very painful then our minds would not be able to cope with it and hence the negative karma would begin to arise, the attachments to this or that too.

Whereas if a bullet to your brain or something as quick you wouldn't have the chance to begin to think negative thoughts.

Based on this conclusion I would think that suicide would lead to a negative rebirth as leading up to the act of killing yourself the mind would already be preoccupied with negative thoughts.

I doubt they cease when the onset of death kicks in and your realise that your really going to die.

what does everyone think?

I think that getting shot, or meeting an accident (death on the spot) or any SUDDEN deaths are the worst ways to die.

The body and mind will not be able to go through the normal dying process (where the winds dissolves). It will all happen very quickly. Like shutting down a computer by pulling the plug rather than going through the normal shutting down process.

The mind is shocked, disturbed and you will definitely not be ready to go.

Yes you wouldn't have "much time to think", but you wouldn't have any time to think at all. That shocked state might land you in a terrible rebirth.