Dong Hung Buddhist Temple
Tuesday Evening Discussion Group
April 1, 2014
The Venerable Thich Chuc Thanh led the discussion.
We opened with a quick review for some new comers to the group by restating our working definition of Karma: “Volition is Karma. Having willed, one acts through thoughts, words or actions.”
Responding to a question about how much past karma affects our present life, Thay Thanh responded by saying that generally speaking, our past millions of lives account for approximately 20% of our karma, with the other 80% comprised of our current willful thoughts, words and actions. We talked about the concept of the experience of past lives carrying forward and how this manifests itself in our current lives, reviewing the board notes from the last discussion.
The discussion turned to euthanasia and suicide, the willful taking of another being’s or one’s own life. Thay Thanh related several things to us to demonstrate the Buddhist key precept of not killing, not willfully taking the life of a being, including our own. In the first example, a member of the temple spoke with Thay Thanh about a desire to end his own life. Thay responded by saying “it is your decision, but if you decide to do so, make sure you make arrangements to donate your body and organs to help others.” The person elected to not take his own life.
In the second example, Thay Thanh reminded us of the first precept, refrain from killing. This relates to the life of any being. He told us about a woman who planned to take her dog to the veterinarian to be put to sleep. When she spoke with a Monk, she was advised to talk to the dog and let the dog make the decision. She did so and the dog lived three more months before naturally passing away. Animals can sense us and the way we communicate with them.
The third point is that we should practice to give to others from our heart. We should think, speak and act to help ourselves so that we help other beings. It is good to give to others. In rare cases, this can take on an extreme action, such as taking one’s own life or taking another being’s life to benefit many others. There is a historic example of the Vietnamese Buddhist monk who set himself on fire to call the world’s attention to the brutality and killing Buddhists were experiencing at the hands of the government.
Pat provided some research to the group. When faced with the question of taking a human life, including the act of abortion, the Dalai Lama is quoted as saying “… every life is precious…. (when) Buddhism considers an act of killing, the Buddhist way is to judge the right and wrong or the pros and cons.” He goes on to say that “…it is best to be judged on a case by case basis (considering) if the harm caused by not taking action might be greater (than the action of taking a being’s life).
Thay Thanh concluded his comments by encouraging families to practice the dharma together to reduce the potential for conflict in the home. He reminds us that the fundamentals of Buddhist practice are the Five Precepts and the Three Refuges.
April 2, 2014