Explain how Buddhist teaching affects believers’ attitudes to euthanasia and suicide… Suicide, euthanasia and abortion are three of the many strongly debated issues in religious topics. There are lots of different opinions on the subject and are all taken into consideration when discussing it. When explaining how Buddhist teachings affect believer’s attitudes to euthanasia and suicide it includes comparing Buddhist teachings on the issue. One of the fundamental principles of Buddhism is not to kill any living being (the first moral precept).
Taking life is a negative action and causes bad karma which results in suffering. The question on this topic in Buddhism is, is abortion seen as an act of murder, therefore creating suffering for the unborn child or as a sign of compassion by protecting the mother from suffering, for reasons such as “too young” and “financial difficulties. ” Buddhists believe that life begins at the moment of conception and that the taking of life at any point subsequent to that is equivalent to killing a human being.
This statement can also bring up the issue of seeing contraception (such as the morning-after pill) as an abortive practise and considered killing. Although this action is a negative one it can also be seen as a positive action in some circumstances. For example, a teenage girl becomes accidentally pregnant and is in a tricky situation (be it financially, physically etc) she decides to have an abortion. She feels it is unfair to both her and the unborn child to bring it up in unsuitable conditions. Does this show an act of compassion or taking life?
Some Buddhists say that it is fair to have an abortion if the mother’s life is in danger but this statement is not supported by the scripture and is still seen as a negative action. This issue is very important as more and more cases of accidental pregnancies and rape are being raised. It isn’t fair on a girl who, for example, was raped and was in no able state to raise a child. It is not fair for her to be expected neither to keep the baby nor to be expected to decide what other actions to take. Everyone has the right of life but in some situations it is an impossible, never-ending debate on what is to be done.
A belief in karma and rebirth lies in the very heart of Buddhism. Buddhist’s believe that the suffering in any life is the result of negative karma. Therefore if one brings life to a premature end it can result in experiencing the suffering results in a subsequent life. They believe that the cause of rebirth is craving. Suicide arises from a craving for non-existence. Ironically, the craving for non-existence acts as the cause for continued existence. Suicide is therefore considered ineffective and counterproductive.
Buddhist scripture forbids suicide since it deprives the individual of their best opportunity for escaping the cycle of birth and death (‘samsara’) while at the same time depriving others of their spiritual practise. Suicide is also frowned upon as it brings grief to others. However in the ‘birth stories’ (‘Jatakas’) of the Buddha’s previous lives there is an account in which he gives his body to a starving lioness in order so that she could feed her children. Here, the outcome of the suicide is a decrease in the suffering and an increase in the well-being of others.
When such things occur it might be arguable that the act is justifiable. A similar account of that which Buddhist monks set fire to themselves during the Vietnam War, hoping to focus attention on themselves and bring the war to an end. This example could also be used in the issue of saving someone else’s life for your own. For example, a woman is trapped in a house on fire and her husband cares for her and would rather take his own life than have hers taken from him therefore knowing that he would die in order to save her and therefore considered an act of suicide.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that nowhere in the Buddhist scriptures does it state that suicide is acceptable. Buddhists should observe the first moral precept of refraining from destroying life. Euthanasia depends on whether it is active or passive. Active euthanasia is not acceptable because it involves killing a human being. But passive euthanasia is acceptable because it doesn’t involve any volitional act of terminating life, it’s just not forcing the patient to continue with no quality of life.
To Buddhists, taking life is a very negative act and serious matter as it is to most people. Question three… Religion is belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe, a personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship, the life or condition of a person in a religious order, a set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader or a cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.
Religion covers a wide range of beliefs and organizations. Buddhism, described in a dictionary, is ‘The religion represented by the many groups. ‘ Buddhism is a world wide organization and has many followers. But can they be described as a member?