Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Pulling the plug?

Recently, the topic of Euthanasia has been brought up by Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan, although the government is not legalising the practise yet. Almost all the religions here have voiced their grave concerns of such a practise.

I read from Lama Zopa Rinpoche's views on Euthanasia, details from his
Online Advice Book. He was mis-quoted by a businessman in Sydney for his views on Euthanasia. Here are some excerpts of Rinpoche's explanation, Dec 2005:

In The Door to Satisfaction (one of Rinpoche's books), I give the example of a monk of high spiritual attainment who, because he was in great pain, asked his disciple to kill him. The disciple then suffocated his master. Because the disciple’s motivation was good, Buddha said that he had created no negative karma, only virtue. However, performing euthanasia with a good motivation is not sufficient, because we need to help others with wisdom as well as compassion.

If the person will have more peace and happiness in their next life, our action is good. On the other hand, even though our action may stop the person’s present suffering, it could result in their being reborn in a realm where their suffering will be a million times worse.

My concern is more for the outcome in the person’s next life. If they are going to reincarnate in a hell realm, for example, it is better to keep them alive one day or even one hour longer. Since we don’t have the clairvoyance to see where the person will be reborn, we have to rely upon the wisdom of fully awakened beings who have omniscience, compassion for all living beings and also the perfect power to guide us.

However, in the case of someone who is going to stay in a coma for many years, rather than spending thousands of dollars keeping them alive, it would be good to use the money to purify their negative karma which will cause them to suffer in their future lives. It would be better to spend the money benefiting many people and then dedicate the positive energy created not only to the temporary happiness of that person, but to their liberation from all suffering and achievement of enlightenment. Giving the money to a good cause is the best thing to do. It can be done on behalf of a family member, a friend or even an enemy and can help to relieve feelings of guilt.

Whether the person is still alive or has already died, it is best to purify their negative karma. This help can come from family members and friends. Helping others with wisdom and compassion in this way makes it meaningful for us to have met, known and lived with them.

Thank you very much,
Lama Zopa Rinpoche

As for my personal view, I do not support Euthanasia. As Budhhists, we view the human life as sacredly precious, and it took many lifetimes of good merits/karma to be able to be born as a human being. Hence we should always treasure our lives dearly. I think the most important is, whether you are in good health or sick, is to have great faith in the Three Jewels, offer prayers to the Buddhas to guide you into liberation faster, rather than to suffer indefinitely. Also while we are still alive, we should always purify our own as well as our loved ones' (even strangers) negative karma, through the practise of compassion, good motivation and action. If we pray hard enough, the Buddhas will hear us.

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