Euthanasia: Buddhist perspective

Does euthanasia really help to end suffering

Human life is precious and rare. While some who lead luxurious life, enjoy good food and at pinkest of health say that life is good, there are some unfortunate ones who had to go through painful decisions concerning life and death matters such as euthanasia.

Euthanasia is also called assisted suicide or mercy-killing. The word "mercy" by itself is benevolence, forgiveness and kindness in a variety of ethical, religious, social and legal contexts, says the Wikipedia. If I am being asked for another word to describe the word 'mercy' at its closest, the word that comes into my mind would be 'compassionate' - have mercy, be compassionate is the pair that I would bundle together. When the word 'mercy' and 'killing' are combined, it gives me an uneasy feeling. Euthanasia becomes the commonly sought solution when it was decided that prolongation of life gives more suffering than pleasure. It was based on the fact that when there's no 'worth of living', it is better off for the sick to end his life. An act motivated by compassionate heart is highly praised but if the intent is to end a life, it is faulty. While active euthanasia is prohibited in Buddhist teaching (as this breaks the precept that abstains from taking life), passive and involuntary euthanasia is the one that garners attention and debates.

Euthanasia rates are soaring today that it becomes nothing new to our ears. At the worst scenario when one who has exhausted all avenues, left with no choice but to face with euthanasia, it is important that the dying person can die consciously. Positive and virtuous thoughts during dying moments are crucial. Unfortunately it is almost impossible for mind to be peaceful when one is filled with fear and pain. Therefore, while we are still in good health and having conducive environment to learn Dhamma, we should make full use of this human plane to gain the maximum benefit for attaining wisdom. It is through the strong grounds of morality, ultimate practice of meditation and wisdom that promises mindful death. The dying person having the right view accepts that death is a natural end. Be diligent in practice while clock is ticking because it is this lucid awareness which enables one to focus on insight of suffering and its end that can genuinely help to break-free from the bondage of sufferings. Therefore, it is walking the right path that is capable to ultimately and truly free the sick from suffering, not the euthanasia.

Euthanasia Issues in Buddhism

Many Buddhists would believe that euthanasia should not be considered even when facing a terminal illness. There are, however, examples of exactly this in Buddhist scriptures. Although Buddhism has a strong focus on removing suffering, for many Buddhists, euthanasia is not a good way of achieving this. It could create more suffering, because if we try to escape it in this life, we may incur a possibly worse rebirth. If possible, a person should have a " good death ". This would be one where the dying is calm and collected, is reconciled to what is happening to them, feels happy or at least loving and their mind is clear. Therefore, the hospice movement maybe an attractive option for facing death for the Buddhists.
To reiterate, the Buddhists who believe that euthanasia is a compassionate act are likely to support only voluntary, passive euthanasia as anything else does not qualify as a 'good death' and could incur negative karmic repercussions for the dying person and also the person who administer it.


I personally am very much in favor of euthanasia (=compassion). There is this irksome thing about so-called world religions and "the sanctity of life". Set aside the fact that "organized religion" caused more death than secular forces, historically speaking, the reason for the belief is simple.
Just as it is simple to ascertain where the disdain for homosexuality and "the sins of Onan" comes from.
Religions that do not breed converts at an appropriate rate simply fade into oblivion and disappear.
This was the case of sects on American soil; of early "gnostic" Christians that spurned the appetites of the flesh.
That's simply why Mormons adopted polygamy early on: to breed congregants as fast as possible.
The NSDAP regime equally would have loved to breed more Aryans as fast as possible.
It goes without saying how onanism, homosexuality and...suicide go against increasing the number of congregants.
To justify this callous agenda, they had to come up with preposterous "scriptural justifications" when none was available...they had "revelations" and wrote a "new scripture".
In China, Empress Wu Zetian (624-705 CE) lavished praise and favors upon the Buddhist community. Monk Bodhiruci had re-translated a work (Baoyujing, Precious Rain Sutra) as he added that the Empress was the incarnation of the Sun and Moon Light god who had taken flesh to rule China: (wo)men of destiny manufactured on demand as the gods give (expedient) statements of destiny.
Christian Churches in the Orient (for example Korea) also try to recruit the New Testament to vouchsafe the belief in reincarnation so typical of Buddhism.
The Catholic doctrine of immediate ensoulment (=the fetus as “person” since the conception) not only goes against the teaching of Church Doctor Thomas Aquinas, but barely goes back to 1869 (Apostolicae Sedis by Pius IX).


bhantekirti2019's picture

RE: Does Euthanasia Really Help to End Suffering

To my understanding, someone who request for euthanasia is not really ending the suffering but adding more suffering in the cycle of birth and death. I cannot fathom the pain and suffering of that person but the person is devaluing the precious life by killing. People may use nice words of "mercy killing" or "assisted suicide", the unwholesome roots of greed, anger and delusion are present in that mind. As long as these unwholesome states of mind are present, suffering will be not ended. This is why when Bhikkhu Putigatta Tissa was very sick and almost dying, Buddha visited him and taught about reality of life. After hearing it, he became enlightened and passed away.