Self-Immolation – Is it wrong?

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  steve mareno 6 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #40949


    The first topic that I would like to discuss is quite controversial – self-immolation. As someone who grew up in a Buddhist family, I have been taught that committing suicide for whatever reason is wrong. I think self-immolation fit the definition of suicide. I always wonder why the Dalai Lama has never spoken to discourage more people from burning themselves? In the video below, he said that he is not fit to speak about the issue because he is no longer a secular leader. However, I think as a spiritual leader, he can speak about the issue from the Buddhist perspective:

    Even an ordinary Tibetan Lhasang Tsering is hoping the Dalai Lama is speaking about the issue. Do let me know what does everyone think about the issue?

    Tashi Dolma

  • #41962

    Since no one has responded to this, I’ll provide my simple and straightforward opinion:

    The first precept is that a person vows not to kill.

    In the interest of not being judgmental, I know very little about how Tibetan Buddhists view karma. Would a monk who burns themselves in protest have meditated on the possible overall positive impact that such a violent act of protest could bring about? I’m sure they would, and would use their own perspective on karma to run an internal risk-reward analysis.

    But really, don’t kill seems pretty plain.

  • #42085

    I am glad you put the video from the Dalai here to accompany your question. His view on it was my first thought also. When the tragedies started I looked to his views for guidance and I completely respect the position he took – no position.

    The Buddha offered a no-answer on the questions of self and vegetarianism. Both were emotional issues with honorable positions on either side. It is the true area between the yin and yang. balance.

  • #42089

    What business is it of people to judge others? The DL would follow the middle path and have no opinion.

    Once anything descends into rules to follow, things become just plain silly.

    Following a ‘do not kill rule’ is easy to say if you have an easy life and rarely face conflict. But if you are faced with violence, do you just stand back frozen? What if those around you and yourself are facing death, do you withdraw without reacting? What if you are in law enforcement or the military?

    Or is the Dharma only for those that don’t serve and protect? The Tibetans are an example of the hazards of pacifism.

    It takes a while, but the middle path and doubt make all this speculation irrelevant.

  • #42313

    steve mareno

    Well, self immolation would certainly be bad for me, so in that sense it’s bad! I’m not the heroic type. I might be if the occasion presented itself, but to calmly sit down and do something like that, no, I couldn’t do it.

    The powerful photos of monks doing this in the Vietnam days, along with the shot of the naked little girl running from American war planes that had dropped napalm on her, those had an effect on many people, and in my opinion helped end this country’s participation in that carnage.

    Everything is situational, including suicide. Does an adult who is suffering and in tremendous pain from an incurable medical condition have the right to kill themselves. Absolutely. How about someone who is just depressed? That’s for them to decide. What religions say one way or the other is not important, each individual has to make up their own minds.

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