Voluntary Death, Euthanasia, and Assisted Suicide

Suicide postpones and intensifies karma. Dharma ethics do not condone euthanasia or assisted suicide: deliberately causing the death of a patient at his/her request by any lethal means. If requested by the patient, Dharma practitioners may describe —but never recommend— voluntary fasting unto death as a viable means to abbreviate prolonged suffering. 

The patient making the decision to fast unto death must declare it publicly, to distinguish the act from suicide committed privately in traumatic emotional states of anguish and despair, and to allow for family and Dharma community intervention.  

Voluntary fasting is allowed when death appears imminent, the patient is unable to perform normal bodily purification, and pain and suffering are extreme (such that mitigating them would entail loss of consciousness).

After due deliberation, voluntary fasting unto death should be undertaken as spiritual practice, with the support of a community of faith. Voluntary fasting is gradual, and allows the patient to reflect and reconsider his/her decision, while intensifying Dharma practice.

About Tashi Nyima

I am a Dharma student, and aspire to be a companion on the path. I trust that these texts can offer a general approach and basic tools for practicing the Buddha's way to enlightenment. ||| Soy un estudiante del Dharma, y aspiro a ser un compañero en el sendero. Espero que estos textos ofrezcan a algunos un mapa general y herramientas básicas para la práctica del sendero a la iluminación que nos ofrece el Buda.
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2 Responses to Voluntary Death, Euthanasia, and Assisted Suicide

  1. Neil says:

    Thank you. Can you share your thoughts on how to care for a pet who is slowly and somewhat painfully dying of old age? We will not authorize euthanasia. We would greatly value your input.

    • Tashi Nyima says:

      Since pets cannot choose to undergo voluntary fasting unto death, there is no negative karma incurred in euthanasia in cases where there is extreme pain and discomfort. However, if the pet is dying of old age, and there is no extreme pain, it is best to make him/her comfortable and recite mantras on his/her behalf as often as possible.

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