Author Topic: Is self immolation wrong?  (Read 393 times)

Offline TashiDolma

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Is self immolation wrong?
« on: August 21, 2017, 11:27:49 am »
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:

https://youtu.be/gXCjy3YV7Ks


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?

https://youtu.be/AkciWqBBg9M

Tashi Dolma

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Is self immolation wrong?
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2017, 12:02:06 pm »
I don't think it's a matter of right and wrong.  It's a matter of karma.  Taking your own life is seriously bad karma.  Now, I'm pretty sure the Monk's who self-emoliated know that too, and whatever point they were trying to make was more important than the karmic burden of suicide. Ok

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Is self immolation wrong?
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2017, 12:24:47 pm »
I was stationed in Hue', South Vietnam, during my military service and traveled a few times per year to Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City.  There were at least two self immolations during that time period by Zen Monks protesting abuses of the Diem Government of Buddhists. 

As I have come to understand those actions, these monks were willing to sacrifice their lives for the benefit of the larger Buddhist community.  Some Buddhists consider immolation to benefit others an act of sainthood. Others think it is an act, which results in non-beneficial karma as Idle has already shared.  My personal position is that any act, which causes harm should be avoided.

Buddha explained that "ultimate kamma" and intermediate kamma are for us humans an imponderable, which can lead to madness.  Only a fully attained Buddha can deal with all of the interactions and complexities.

This topic is dicussed in great detail here:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/wings/part1.html
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline TashiDolma

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Re: Is self immolation wrong?
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2017, 01:53:21 pm »
I don't think it's a matter of right and wrong.  It's a matter of karma.  Taking your own life is seriously bad karma.  Now, I'm pretty sure the Monk's who self-emoliated know that too, and whatever point they were trying to make was more important than the karmic burden of suicide. Ok

Dear IdleChater

Thank you for replying. Yes, I am aware of the young monk who burnt himself last month. I was quite surprised with the incident because as a monk he should have known that suicide is wrong and he would go to a not so good place after his death. It was a sad incident and it was unfortunate that he had no support system to prevent him to do so. I wish so much that the Dalai Lama would say something to avoid further loss of life. I do believe that we have to build awareness on this issue and appeal to His holiness to say something to create the cause for him to say something.

Offline TashiDolma

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Re: Is self immolation wrong?
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2017, 02:22:45 pm »
Dear Ron-the-Elder

Thank you for your insightful response. The Zen monks story reminded me of one of the Buddha's previous lives where through his omniscience he could see a man would kill 500 people on board and because of that the Buddha with compassionate motivation killed that one man in order to save 500 lives.

However, I wonder how do you think the case of self-immolation for Tibetan cause is similar to self-immolation in Vietnam. In Vietnam, they are protesting, so the Buddhist will not be abused by the government. However, re: the self-immolation for the Tibetan cause, they are fighting for an independent/ free Tibet. It is a cause that the Dalai Lama himself has declared impossible because there is no way 6 million Tibetans can fight the Chinese. Therefore the Dalai Lama has created the Middle way approach whereby the motivation is to gain autonomy from China and not independence. Therefore, I don't understand why these people in India and Tibet are still burning themselves? I just wish that the Dalai Lama would say once and for all that the self-immolation for free Tibet cause should stop and therefore prevent unnecessary loss of life.

Please kindly help to build awareness of this issue so that we can create the cause for the Dalai Lama to say something to discourage self-immolation.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Is self immolation wrong?
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2017, 06:04:46 pm »
I don't understand why these people in India and Tibet are still burning themselves?

Because they think it's that important.

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I just wish that the Dalai Lama would say once and for all that the self-immolation for free Tibet cause should stop and therefore prevent unnecessary loss of life.
In reality, HHDL only has so much pull.  If the Tibentans aren't Gelugs there's an even greater chance they'll ignore him.

HH has said himslef, there's only so much he can do as Dalai Lama.  He's not even the head of his own lineage.  He's discussed this at length on the topic of the ordination of women.  He can endorse ordination but that doesn't mean any lineage holders will follow his lead.

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Please kindly help to build awareness of this issue so that we can create the cause for the Dalai Lama to say something to discourage self-immolation.

Is that what this thread about Tashi?  To raise awareness?  If so you should have made that clear at the start.  You're beginning to sound a bit disingenuous..

Also we'd have to go a lot farther than the Dalai Lama.  IN fact, there isn't much he can do, so campaigns to the heads of of th Kagyu, Nyingma, Gelug and other Tibetan lineages  would be more likely to give the results.  Like this:  I practice in the Kagyu lineage.  A request from the Karmapa will carry a lot more weight than from the Dalai Lama.  I hold His Holiness in the highest esteem, but for me, the Karmapa is far more important.

Offline ground

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Re: Is self immolation wrong?
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2017, 08:57:08 pm »
The question is like asking 'Is ignorance wrong?' Ignorance isn't wrong since it is an innate feature of ordinary mind. So anything ignorance is manifesting as can't be wrong either. It is just manifestation of ignorance.

Offline TashiDolma

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Re: Is self immolation wrong?
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2017, 10:42:09 am »
Dear IdleChater

Thank you for your insightful response. I appreciate that you took the time in this discussion that I am passionate. Yes I do not wish anymore person to die from self-immolation and that is why I keep thinking who will the Tibetans follow. I thought among the Tibetans; the Dalai Lama is the most visible personality at the moment, and a lot of people respect him.

In 2006, the Dalai Lama made a passing remark that he is ashamed that Tibetans in Tibet are still wearing animal pelts. This casual remarks made thousands of Tibetans burning their animal pelts. In Eastern Tibet alone, approximately USD 55 million worth of pelts were burnt. So based on this information I thought the Dalai Lama is the right person to respond say that the Tibetans should not immolate.

I do agree with you that the leader of the major schools of Tibetan Buddhism should also discourage their followers from thinking about self-immolation.

I believe Karmapa Ogyen Trinley has done so:. http://www.tibetanreview.net/karmapa-urges-end-to-self-immolation-protests-by-tibetans/

Karmapa Thinley Thaye Dorje has also issued a statement to prevent self-immolation
http://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/i-strongly-wish-self-immolations-would-stop-soon/story-yM5D2iE0Haefedgl9b12KL.html

As to the current heads of other Tibetan Buddhist schools the Sakya Trizin and Gaden Tripa, they are still relatively new to their seat. However it will be good as well if they also issue a statement to prevent self-immolation. I believe it will prevent a lot of self-immolation.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Is self immolation wrong?
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2017, 05:00:29 pm »
Dear IdleChater

Thank you for your insightful response. I appreciate that you took the time in this discussion that I am passionate. Yes I do not wish anymore person to die from self-immolation and that is why I keep thinking who will the Tibetans follow. I thought among the Tibetans; the Dalai Lama is the most visible personality at the moment, and a lot of people respect him.

In 2006, the Dalai Lama made a passing remark that he is ashamed that Tibetans in Tibet are still wearing animal pelts. This casual remarks made thousands of Tibetans burning their animal pelts. In Eastern Tibet alone, approximately USD 55 million worth of pelts were burnt. So based on this information I thought the Dalai Lama is the right person to respond say that the Tibetans should not immolate.

I do agree with you that the leader of the major schools of Tibetan Buddhism should also discourage their followers from thinking about self-immolation.

I believe Karmapa Ogyen Trinley has done so:. http://www.tibetanreview.net/karmapa-urges-end-to-self-immolation-protests-by-tibetans/

Karmapa Thinley Thaye Dorje has also issued a statement to prevent self-immolation
http://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi-news/i-strongly-wish-self-immolations-would-stop-soon/story-yM5D2iE0Haefedgl9b12KL.html

As to the current heads of other Tibetan Buddhist schools the Sakya Trizin and Gaden Tripa, they are still relatively new to their seat. However it will be good as well if they also issue a statement to prevent self-immolation. I believe it will prevent a lot of self-immolation.


I agree, but we must realize there is a particular mindset at work here.  It is similiar to that which enables soldiers to embark on suicide missions - those with little or no chance of survival.  This is done primarily out of a sense of duty and for the greater good.

People don't burn themselves alive because they have nothing better to do.  Almost invariabley it's a matter of protest against mistreatment, oppression or some other crime against others in order to shed light on wrongdoig and injustie.  It is an extreme action generally facing an equal or greater evil.

While a spiritual leader such as the Dalai Lama or the Karmapa may condemn the practice, the choice to do something like this is intensly personal.  The greater good can be seen as being beyond such a leaders authority or ability to control.

And what is the worst in this situation?  Karma.  The Karma acumulated will manifest in birth.  An individual's karma or circumstance in future birth may seem trivial when compared to the plight of what may count in the millions.

Offline Samana Johann

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Re: Is self immolation wrong?
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2017, 08:38:21 pm »
The source to find out if something is benefical for oneself and others (right) or wrong, is within oneself buried.

Why do you burn yourself with those who are not easy to helped? If not burning oneself, burning others, not able to burn others, burning oneself.

To give a "provoking" simile:

Quote
Children, Bullets

A gun shoots its children — its bullets — outward. We shoot ours inward, into our heart. When they're good, we're shot in the heart. When they're bad, we're shot in the heart. They're an affair of kamma, our children. There are good ones, there are bad ones, but both the good and bad are our children all the same.

When they're born, look at us: The worse off they are, the more we love them. If one of them comes down with polio and gets crippled, that's the one we love the most. When we leave the house we tell the older ones, "Look after your little sister. Look after this one" — because we love her. When we're about to die we tell them, "Look after her. Look after my child." She's not strong, so you love her even more.


So is self immolation for the self-immolationers wrong?

Here see for example, a monk, who is burning himself and his change for you, (poor). You neither know, possible even what it.

"All is burning. And what is the all that is burning?"
« Last Edit: August 23, 2017, 08:42:59 pm by Samana Johann »
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Offline TashiDolma

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Re: Is self immolation wrong?
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2017, 02:40:46 pm »
Dear Samana Johann

Thank you for your message. I like your thought that mentioned the analytical and logical questions behind self-immolation will help us in figuring out the answer to my question.  In this case, the motivation is to promote the Tibetan independent cause. Since the first burning was done several years ago, there is no progress made in the Tibetan cause. The Dalai Lama's envoy has not resumed negotiation for almost seven years. So in your opinion, is the self-immolation, in this case, has been useful in helping the Tibetan cause? Is the Tibetan cause worthy enough to justify the loss of lives of self-immolation victims?

Offline Samana Johann

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Re: Is self immolation wrong?
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2017, 03:51:40 pm »
When it would be of use that burning one self would help that kamma is riping, ones own or others, the Buddha had taught self torment and immolation.

Progress, progress... in what? Delusion and fight?

Better to ask yourself/one what you have to do with a land called Tibet from some today and politics of others. Now you could still burn yourself, because your neighbor get no job or his wife oppresses him and does not listen. Would you? Would it help?

Even to think about if such make sense or not, is a dangerous sign, if not totally clear. Now how much violence and petrol do you think makes things calm.

If you like to burn and find benefit in anger, then go on. For the rest of the world it will be as pointing as if a bicycle falls down in China. Of course one can make a big show around even such.

Things are not lasting and subject to decay, one may cry and express ones anger how ever, it would not change.

Care about your own real problems, that is how one helps the world at lage best.

Nothing is worthy to hold on dear aside of skillful means, the path and escape from mental home for yourself.
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