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Question about Buddhism - 24th March 2008, 11:19 PM

On another forum, someone posted a video of a Buddhist Monk setting himself on fire in protest of something. Why would this person choose such a death? Isn't suicide considered taboo in Buddhism? Can someone explain this to me please?


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25th May 2008, 12:48 PM

The only incident I am aware of is the one that happened in Vietnam during the American war there and it was done to show the extreme problem that was occurring there to the media and thereby garner world opinion via the media display. I haven't read up on it though and don't want to just put forward conjecture, but the media exposure was a factor, and things have to be pretty bad before they start doing that.
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The Venerable Thic Quang Duc - 25th May 2008, 01:23 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev. Kelly
On another forum, someone posted a video of a Buddhist Monk setting himself on fire in protest of something. Why would this person choose such a death? Isn't suicide considered taboo in Buddhism? Can someone explain this to me please?

His heart remained, even after his self-immolation and his final cremation. It is preserved in a Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City; he is revered as a bodhisatva for his act of compassion.

He was protesting against the frequently violent suppression of Buddhists by the Diem government. (Diem was a Roman Catholic, and favoured the Roman Catholic minority in South Vietnam, as well as being personally corrupt). The Buddhists were, in the main, opposed to the war against the North, and wanted a peaceful solution.

He immolated himself at rush hour, in front of hundreds of on-lookers. He never uttered a sound as he burned, but remained totally composed and in the lotus position until he fell in death.

He wrote a letter explaining his action. It is called the "Letter of Heart's Blood." I have not been able to locate an English translation.

His example inspired Norman Morrison, a Quaker and anti-war activist, to burn himself to death in the same manner on the steps of the Pentagon about 18 months later.


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25th May 2008, 02:28 PM

I don't know what to say. I am in awe of his dedication to bringing peace to the world.

Thank you. I understand this slightly better now. Maybe it is my Catholic upbringing and thier stance on suicide that won't allow me to fully understand it, but I don't think I will ever fully understand it.

EP, if you find an English translation of his letter, please post it. I would love to read it. Thank you.


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BTW there was also a Catholic who....
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BTW there was also a Catholic who.... - 25th May 2008, 02:32 PM

...emulated Thic Quang Duc, a week or two later, I think, in front of the U.N. He belonged to the Catholic Worker movement -- Roger Allen LaPorte.

I use Thic Quang Duc as an example of Buddhist Compassion when I teach World Religions. My students -- even the Buddhist ones -- often struggle to understand the act as well.

"Greater love hath no man but this; he lay down his life for his friends" It isn't totally foreign to Christianity, but it is a very unusual position.


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25th May 2008, 02:35 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eolas Pellor
...emulated Thic Quang Duc, a week or two later, I think, in front of the U.N. He belonged to the Catholic Worker movement -- Roger Allen LaPorte.

I use Thic Quang Duc as an example of Buddhist Compassion when I teach World Religions.
I have to admit that the people you are introducing me to are much more dedicated to a cause than I am. I could not set myself on fire, and die a horrific death for an ideal. I start thinking about that, and my mind immediately goes to my children, and what would happen to them.


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I would not that....
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I would not that.... - 25th May 2008, 04:48 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev. Kelly
I have to admit that the people you are introducing me to are much more dedicated to a cause than I am. I could not set myself on fire, and die a horrific death for an ideal. I start thinking about that, and my mind immediately goes to my children, and what would happen to them.
...Thic Quang Duc did this when he was an elderly man, having spent his life in meditation and teaching. Morrison was much younger, and had three children, as I recall; I have often wondered what happened to them, and how they feel about their father's act.

I think that, except for truly exception people, most of us take a much more moderate approach to our causes. I do not think that is bad; I do not even think that it is necessarily less heroic -- believing something, living it, for years and years even though much less spectacular, can require great reserves of self-discipline and courage.


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8th May 2009, 06:26 PM

If he was enlightened burning himself on fire meant nothing.

If he wasn't enlightened, he was a confused puppet.
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Smile 18th September 2010, 10:10 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev. Kelly View Post
I don't know what to say. I am in awe of his dedication to bringing peace to the world.

Thank you. I understand this slightly better now. Maybe it is my Catholic upbringing and thier stance on suicide that won't allow me to fully understand it, but I don't think I will ever fully understand it.

EP, if you find an English translation of his letter, please post it. I would love to read it. Thank you.
think of it like self-induced martyrdom ...its not the best compairson, but it might work for a bit more understanding.

(I read a nice article about the top 10 antiwar protests. its pretty amazing how that one is so remebmered and how it ranks higher than the ones that featured hundreds of people.)

I have respect for such dedication
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28th December 2011, 04:49 AM

Recently, a wave of self-immolations has swept across the monastic community of Vajrayana practitioners (Tibetan Buddhists) living in Chinese-occupied Tibet. A total of 13 young monks and nuns have set fire to themselves and taken their own lives since 2009 - 12 in 2011 alone.

Suicide in Buddhism is generally considered an unwholesome act, as it violates the first of the five precepts, the most basic of moral guidelines - "pāṇātipātā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi" - to abstain from taking life. Yet it is not unheard of for well-intentioned people, some of whom are enlightened, to take their own lives, as in the case of a number of arahants (noble ones) depicted in the Pali Canon. Even the Jataka tales (legends about the Buddha's previous lives) mention noble sacrifices made for the benefit of other beings. In one such story, the soon-to-be Buddha observes an emaciated tigress mother circling her own cubs with an eye of hunger. With some deliberation, he leaps over the edge of the cliff from which he observes the unfortunate scene, offering his own flesh to be eaten. His tattered remains are later found strewn across the surrounding terrain. Whether or not this story is true, it serves to illustrate that right and wrong are not absolutes. These actions speak to the sometimes controversial but undeniably compassionate sacrifices of the bodhisattva, who delays his/her own awakening for the benefit of others.

As a political statement, self-immolations call attention to the crisis of human rights abuses in China against Tibetans, particularly those attempting to practice their religion. Thich Quang Duc's similar act in protest of the anti-religious policies of the political regime in Vietnam, 1963, remind us that these actions do seem to have an impact, eventually eliciting the intended response.
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