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People's Daily Online>>Opinion

Self-immolations are not noble behavior

By Li Decheng (China Daily)

17:22, December 05, 2011

Several Buddhist monks and nuns have committed suicide in the Tibetan regions of Sichuan province recently. By burning themselves to death they have broken one of the core tenets of Buddhism in an extreme and brutal way. As Buddhists, one of the Five Precepts, or rules they should live by, is they should avoid killing or harming any living being, including themselves.

And according to Tibetan Buddhism, taking the life of a human being is prohibited. Killing another, suicide, as well as inciting and instigating others to kill are all grave sins. A person can only be considered a true spiritual practitioner if he or she does no harm to any living being and does not kill or cause others to kill.

Tibetan Buddhism has never encouraged its practitioners to take the life of another human being, let alone the lives of the practitioners themselves. Thus, the self-immolations by these monks and nuns are not only a tragedy for them and their families, but also a disavowal of Buddhism.

Some people with ulterior motives have claimed that self-immolation is not against Buddhist doctrines, because it is free of selfish motives. They are willing to distort Buddhist doctrines for their own purpose and they extol the sin of self-immolation as "the greatest goodness" and "noble behavior". They even claim self-immolation is a religious activity offering tribute to the Buddha.

However, Buddhists should endeavor to protect and take care of all living creatures. The Noble Eightfold Path, which is the Buddhist code of behavior, requires right conduct, and this stipulates abstaining from taking life, including suicide.

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Leave your comment7 comments

  1. Name

Professor Shawn McHale at 2011-12-15128.164.150.*
I suggest you reread the Lotus Sutra before making statements about what is contrary to Buddhism. Whether you like it or not, self-immolation is a tradition in Buddhism, based on Buddhist texts.
Jhony Cheung at 2011-12-07114.79.2.*
Once a time, I attend a Buddhist society forum. A monk told us a true story. A Chinese nationality move to South Africa to do business. After years of hard-work, he get quite rich by opening a shop.One night, the robbers loot everything in his shop. He lost everything. He plan to suicide, because all his day and night hard-works vanished.Luckily, he met the monk. The monk asked "Did they hurt any of your family?" The man reply "They just tied all of us". The monk smile and said "How much treasure do you brought from China to Africa when you first start your shop?". The man reply "Almost nothing, only courage". The monk smile and said "You are a lucky man. You should thank God. They take your wealthy, which you can earn once again. They don"t even hurt or kill your family. Isn"t that worthy enough to thank Buddha ?"The man now realize how lucky he is. From that time, he spare more time for his family, rather than working day and night for money. He also frequently donate foods for local people, as his grateful to the blessing".Years after, the man said that the robbery is one of his luckiest event. It turn him from a money slave to become a human. THE MONK SUCCEED TO MOTIVATE THE MAN WHO WANT TO SUICIDE, TO BECOME A GREAT PERSON. WHAT A GREAT MONK. MY SALUTE TO THE MONK .....
TamSanh at 2011-12-0671.178.49.*
Action in itself is not good or bad; it is the intent behind that action.Indeed, these self-immolations can be construed as both good and bad. Good in that it is a message to the political powers that there is something wrong, or bad that it is going against the tenets of Buddhism.However, there is no such thing as "breaking a tenet of Buddhism." Buddhism is such an individual and dynamic experience that there is no way any set of rules can properly dictate every person"s action. Thus, the tenets are not absolute rules; only guidelines to be followed, and only when the meaning is understood behind them.Take this for example: Killing others or harming others is not a good thing to do Because it causes pain and suffering for them. What about a doctor that removes a bullet from a patient? Does that not cause suffering? Pain? Yes, but it is a necessary sacrifice to be made so that the patient may live. Likewise, for these people, they felt they were the necessary sacrifice to be made so that their fellow countrymen may live a happy peaceful life. One might argue that the family they leave behind suffers, but what about the Buddha"s family? He had a wife and son and left them to dry, didn"t he? For the Buddha, in his wisdom, it was a necessary sacrifice. And, lo and behold, his son eventually followed in his footsteps, and became an arhat himself.In the end, the matter, like most things in life, are not easily cut and dry. If my opinion, the author of the article should spend more time writing about Why the monks are killing themselves.
nablong at 2011-12-0658.192.121.*
But why they do this? did anybody think seriously about this except blaming them there should be a proper appraoch to understand their demands
nablong at 2011-12-0658.192.121.*
But why they do this? did anybody think seriously about this except blaming them there should be a proper appraoch to understand their demands

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