Sample Essay Assignment on Buddhist Views on Euthanasia

Buddhist Views on Euthanasia


The Buddhist views on euthanasia are not unanimous. Euthanasia can be defined as the termination of the life of a sick person in order to relieve their suffering. Most cases of euthanasia are carried out because the sick person whose life is terminated asks for mercy killing. However, there are cases where the person is incapable of making the request. A Buddhist is a person who practices Buddhism. Buddhism refers to a path of spiritual development and practice that leads to insights into true nature’s reality. By engaging in Buddhist practices that include meditation, Buddhists aim at changing self so that they can develop desirable qualities of wisdom, kindness and awareness.

Buddhist views on euthanasia

There is no clear position of Buddhists on voluntary euthanasia. Just like most people however, most Buddhists oppose involuntary euthanasia. Buddhists do not have a unanimous view on euthanasia. Buddha teachings do not address euthanasia explicitly.  A common view or position that is held by most Buddhists is that it is wrong to perform voluntary euthanasia. This is because it demonstrates that the state of mind of a person is not in good state. It shows that physical suffering has been allowed to cause physical suffering. Using pain killers properly and meditation should enable an individual to attain a mental state where mental pain is no more. This way, the person will no longer think about suicide or euthanasia. There are also Buddhists who argue that assisting in ending the life of a person can also put the participant in a bad state mentally. This ought to be avoided too.

How Buddhists support their views on euthanasia

The greatest emphasis is placed on avoiding harm by Buddhism. This also entails avoiding putting the life of a person to an end. The reference to any life means that ending a life intentionally is against the teachings of Buddhist. Thus, voluntary euthanasia is forbidden. This is forbidden explicitly in some Buddhist monastic codes. There is no Buddhist law code for lay people. Therefore, the strongest thing that one can say about a lay person who participates in euthanasia is that the person makes a judgment error. According to Buddhist, death is a transition. The person who dies will undergo rebirth to their new life and its quality will be due to their karma. This causes two problems. It is not known how the new life will be like. If it will be worse than that of the person in pain and enduring it presently, then clearly it will be wrong on the basis of utilitarianism to allow euthanasia. This is because euthanasia shortens the current bad state in favor of what is even worse. The other problem is that when a person’s life is shortened, karma’s working is interfered with. This alters the balance of karma due to shortening of life.

Buddhist views on euthanasia as suicide

There is also a difficulty when voluntary euthanasia is viewed as suicide. There were two cases where Buddha indicated suicide tolerance by monks. The tradition of Japanese Buddhist includes several stories of monks’ suicide. Buddhist monks used suicide as a weapon at the time of Vietnam War. However, since the suicide was by monks, this makes all the difference. According to Buddhists, How life ends has a deep effect on how a new life will start. As such, the mental state of a person when they die is vital. This is because their thoughts ought to be enlightened and selfless as well as free of fear, hate or anger. The suggestion of this is that euthanasia and suicide are only approved for individuals who have already achieved enlightenment. Others ought to avoid it.

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