Suicide according to Buddhism

Bhikunni Kusuma on Suicide

Courtesy : Vesak Lipi (2007 Edition)

Buddhism recognizes the free will, which has the ability to change and undo whatever negative actions done in the past. Even the worst criminal can change to become a pious individual. This is a fundamental teaching of Buddhism. Hence there is no fatalistic attitude, or divine ordination, for life and living.
Committing suicide is an unwholesome act rooted in greed/hatred and ignorance – not knowing the karmic law is a great disadvantage. The Buddha said “we ourselves are responsible for our own happiness and misery. We create our own hell and heaven.” This bears out that each person is responsible for his own actions good or bad which yield karmic results.

There are five laws of nature which which operate, according to Buddhism.
1. The laws of physical changesJn the enviroment eg: seasons
2. Biological laws eg: genetics
3. Law of karmic results of past action eg: sensory contact with the environment giving happy and unhappy sensations
4. Law of karmic actions created in the present, by way of responding to these sensations
5. Conditionality

Human psyche and the nature of the environment thus mutually interact and influence each other. We are more less subjective to these laws except for the 4th law where karmic actions are created by the free will, entirely.

Actions of the free will could be unskilful having thoughts rooted in greed, hatred and ignorance or could be skilful having thoughts rooted in non-greed, non-hate and wisdom.
Ignorance leads to unskilful unwholesome thinking while wisdom leads to skilful, wholesome thingking. When the thinking is wholesome speech and action become wholesome, when the thinking is unwholesome, speech and action become unwholesome. Thus moral behaviours ultimately is the consequence of thought, that create karma. We ourselves are the creators of all the happines and unhappiness in the world.

The precepts of practice eg: refraining from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and partaking of intoxicants etc. laid down by the Buddha are not commandments, but rules of training undertaken for short/long periods for one’s own sake in order to make good karma or merit. Such acts spell harmony and goodwill towards others as well.
If one denies karmic consequences, one follows the “nihilistic view” which is ignorance and gets close to subhuman level of consciousness.
It is this wisdom of karmic law that prevents a person from committing crime. It has no religious bjas. Thus actions of the free-will if not monitored by wisdom can degenerate a person to subhuman level, or even worse, to commit any heinous crime.

Unfortunately karmic law cannot be proved at a conceptual level but it can be acutely understood at a meditative level. Those who commit sucide, if they consider the enormous pain they inflict on their loyed ones, and themselves and also the bad karma they make, they will not resort to such self defeating acts. Neither will they resort to immoral behaviour eg: transgressing precepts of practics, which eventually lead them to a point of no return. Hence knowledge and wisdom are crucial for life.