Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

The afterlife & Suicide in buddhism

So as I return so does my questions.

You see my wife is a Christian and a good person. I sometimes wonder if she knows how good of a Buddhist she would make. She is the most unselfish person i know and shines only love and compassion.

I am curious... You see in Christianity once you die, you will be reunited with your loved ones in heaven. Now this is nice, that the people you love, you will be reunited with and will see again. Yet I find Buddhism scary when it comes to this. So let us say there is a afterlife, I will not be with my loved ones, I will never seemy children and wife again, and if i do hold some of my memories I will live a second life of knowing I am without my dearest loved ones. How do you think/feel about this?

Also if we have no memory of "this" life, then how is suicide not a solution if you are not enjoying this life? If you do hurt your loved ones by doing it, will it matter? you wont remember it anyway, and when they pass away it wont mean anything to them?

Thoughts and advice are welcome

Comments

  • edited December 2010
    I don't have much to say on afterlife, I've never had to look for any comfort there. However, I can address the suicide thing.

    It's not about whether you remember it. It's about how it affects others. You can't experience death, only your loved ones can experience your death. So, suicide, in my opinion, generally speaking, (insert other disclaimers here), is the ultimate act of selfishness.

  • NomaDBuddhaNomaDBuddha Scalpel wielder :) Bucharest Veteran
    edited December 2010
    If there is an after-life and you reincarnate and still have some memories of your previous life ( memories of dear ones), they won't really affect you that much. Death, severs all the attachements to the world you live behind, so the memories will be some sort of story of who you were a long time ago in the past.

    Suicide can be a solution in really extreme cases. Well, if you do hurt your loved ones, and you are already dead, then it won't matter to you.Your existence alongside your loved ones has ended. Yep, when they pass away it won't mean anything.

    I know...it might sound stupid...what I've written above...

  • If there is an after-life and you reincarnate and still have some memories of your previous life ( memories of dear ones), they won't really affect you that much. Death, severs all the attachements to the world you live behind, so the memories will be some sort of story of who you were a long time ago in the past.

    Suicide can be a solution in really extreme cases. Well, if you do hurt your loved ones, and you are already dead, then it won't matter to you.Your existence alongside your loved ones has ended. Yep, when they pass away it won't mean anything.

    I know...it might sound stupid...what I've written above...

    the buddha taught that nothing is carried over between death and rebirth, including memories.

    also suicide is never a solution. I can't imagine what situation it would save you from. only in a mind full of aversion would you come to the conclusion that suicide is ever a solution. pain is pain, exist deeper than it.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited December 2010
    Like ShiftPlusOne, I don't have much to say on the afterlife either. However, if one accepts the idea of literally rebirth, and the teachings that state a beginning point isn't evident to this cycle of 'wandering on,' then countless beings have been your loved ones (SN 15.14-19); and no matter where you're reborn, you'll always be among them.

    As for suicide, it isn't seen as a skillful action, and is strongly discouraged for those who aren't free from greed, hatred and delusion because it won't end suffering. One moment of consciousness conditions the arising of next (rebirth), just as one action conditions the quality of feeling a moment of consciousness cognizes (kamma); and if one accepts the teachings on rebirth, this process doesn't ceases at death if there's still craving (tahna) present in the mind. Hence the Buddha's statement, "If someone gives up this body and seizes another, I say it is a fault" (MN 144).
  • But if there is no afterlife..no rebirth...then....what is the point...to become...nothing? If this is the case is it save to says Buddhists who don't believe in rebirth spend there time reaching enlightenment for nothing as there is no after life... At least in a religion where there is something"after" you are striving for something...If no afterlife what are you trying to achieve...?

    Im very confused of why Buddhist would follow the teachings of a faith which basically says after death there is nothing. Makes the whole journey...somewhat...pointless.

    Am I making sense?
  • edited December 2010
    mikaakim (hey, a palindrome!), what's the point of what? Why does there have to be a point? It's about the journey, not the destination. We all end up in the same place, it's a matter of how we get there. You can live a full life, helping others and being happy, or you can hoard money, complain about everything and live in misery. Which path is more wholesome?

    So yeah, I'd rather spend the little time I have here in peace than stress. What's the point then? Peace, calm, joy, happiness, whatever you want to call it, I suppose.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited December 2010
    But if there is no afterlife..no rebirth...then....what is the point...to become...nothing? If this is the case is it save to says Buddhists who don't believe in rebirth spend there time reaching enlightenment for nothing as there is no after life... At least in a religion where there is something"after" you are striving for something...If no afterlife what are you trying to achieve...?

    Im very confused of why Buddhist would follow the teachings of a faith which basically says after death there is nothing. Makes the whole journey...somewhat...pointless.
    Actually it doesn't, because, ultimately, Buddhism is all about the pursuit of true happiness in the here and now. Sensual happiness is dependent upon conditions; it's a type of happiness that's ultimately fleeting, unstable. True happiness, on the other hand, is a kind of happiness that's not dependent on conditions; and in my opinion, that's definitely a goal worth pursuing.
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    Hi mikaakim -- Buddhism as a practice (as distinct from a belief system or a hope-mobile) teaches us a little at a time. Among those down-to-earth teachings is the fact that we cannot (that's CAN NOT) grasp the past; we cannot (that's CAN NOT) know the future; and we can not (that's CAN NOT) hold the present. These things are not a philosophical or religious threat ... they are simply facts and the practice of Buddhism brings us into accord with life's facts.

    Another aspect of Buddhist training is that we learn over time that Buddhism is not just another intellectual or emotional construct over which we have some imagined control. When the intellect or emotions hear that they might no longer be in control, well, they hit the panic button: If I am not in control, I would be out of control ... and maybe I would just turn into some raving maniac. But this is just the intellectual or emotional imagining of someone who has yet to practice Buddhism for very long. Sure, it can SOUND spooky, but is life really all that spooky? So we keep practicing and, a little at a time, we find out -- find out instead of imagining some heaven or hell.

    Of course you love your family. Good. Love your family -- that's part of your practice. Equally true is the fact that you and I will die. Does love disappear simply because you or I die? If the answer is "yes," what sort of love might that be? It's just something to consider. Consider, not run away from.

    Your Christian wife is a good person. It's interesting to notice this ... and consider the very important lesson it contains. People's decency and kindness have bupkus to do with whether they are Christian or Buddhist or Muslim or Hindu or Jew. Decency and kindness predates and outlasts all belief systems of whatever sort. For this reason, you can believe any damned thing you want and still find a fruitful practice in Buddhism. Criminals practice Buddhism. So do saints. So do homosexuals and heterosexuals. So do brown people and pink people. So do garbage men and stock brokers. Buddhism is for our deepest questions and provides the deepest answers. The froth -- the stuff we usually croon about so soulfully -- is not the entire story by a long shot.

    Sorry ... got off on a bit of a toot there.

    All best wishes.
  • Thank you, I think i understand a little better now..

    genkaku, never apologize for ramblings...I welcome them..and respect the,
  • But if there is no afterlife..no rebirth...then....what is the point...to become...nothing? If this is the case is it save to says Buddhists who don't believe in rebirth spend there time reaching enlightenment for nothing as there is no after life... At least in a religion where there is something"after" you are striving for something...If no afterlife what are you trying to achieve...?

    Im very confused of why Buddhist would follow the teachings of a faith which basically says after death there is nothing. Makes the whole journey...somewhat...pointless.

    Am I making sense?
    Sort of, in the sense that this question is asked a lot, and it just reflects a fundamental fear of death.

    Your assumptions are all backwards. Saying that the only purpose of life is to provide souls for heaven or hell is to say life is pointless. We don't want to be separated from our loved ones by death, because of the pain involved with missing them, so we long for some reunion. It's comforting. And after the reunion, what? Do you sit around and stare at each other for eternity? Do you pass the time singing praises to God? You really want to spend eternity in church? Either it won't be you in Heaven, or eventually the eternal sameness will become torture. Take a vacation where you don't do anything but sit and stare at the weather and see how quickly it drives you crazy!

    If you really think about what eternity means, and who you are in this life, and what it means to live, you'd know that it is the ever changing and transient nature of life that gives it meaning. Living IS the point. Cherish and love your loved ones today because you can only do that today.

    Hope that helps.

  • I'll quote myself from another rebirth thread where suicide came up and I felt that something should be said:

    a) Suicide does not end suffering. Personal suffering, which is only based on "wrong thought", perhaps, but there's an entire world of humans out there. In fact suicide can negatively impact the lives of those who know you, increasing their suffering (which may be passed on to others).

    b) Because suffering still exists in human society, any "rebirth" into that society will necessarily entail suffering! What we do now does affect future conditions, regardless of how we choose to think of rebirth.

    If you know selfless rebirth, you look to the whole and not yourself. If still looking to yourself, this means Anatta has not been fully penetrated. Either way, both points above hold true; suicide is not a skillful action that has no unwholesome results. Simply thinking this is your only life is not reason for suicide either; there are many atheists who think this way who still find life fulfilling.

    My two cents.

    Namaste
  • even without rebirth, i can't see any reason not to enjoy life now, so what if it ends in eternal oblivion, all the more reason to enjoy what you do have
  • "What were you before you were born?" is a common question to ponder, a koan of itself.
  • edited December 2010
    If there is no afterlife and you will be reunited with your loved ones in heaven based on Christian's belief, then suicide is a solution to end suffering life (as claimed) speedier and happier, either on the basis of nihilism or reunited in heavenly bliss. But then, why when people die, their facial expressions were never the same - in pleasant, peace, dreadful, bleeding, eye-opening, stiff, soft and smiling etc and some even mentioned before their death that they have seen their parents and relative who were here to "welcome" and receive them. Curiously, why there are still so much worries on life of mankind and its environment, and many unhappiness over restrictions on goods and services etc, alot of spending on defence and security. In Buddhism, there is no rebirth and reincarnation, it is based on the tenet of rebirth and reincarnation policy of some belief system, and apply skillful way of meditation to maintain right consciousness of inherent bliss. For instance, in the Sutra of Buddha Amitabha, if you worry about rebirth and reincarnation, you are advised to recite Namo Buddha Amitabha, on the other hand, if you have no worry of rebirth and reincarnation but having doubt of your enlightenment nature of bliss, recite Namo Buddha Amitabha. This is a skillful way of regaining balance when your consciousness is at stake. :cool:
  • Wilfred, could you please explain your statement, "In Buddhism, there is no rebirth and reincarnation"?
  • NomaDBuddhaNomaDBuddha Scalpel wielder :) Bucharest Veteran
    But if there is no afterlife..no rebirth...then....what is the point...to become...nothing? If this is the case is it save to says Buddhists who don't believe in rebirth spend there time reaching enlightenment for nothing as there is no after life... At least in a religion where there is something"after" you are striving for something...If no afterlife what are you trying to achieve...?

    Im very confused of why Buddhist would follow the teachings of a faith which basically says after death there is nothing. Makes the whole journey...somewhat...pointless.

    Am I making sense?
    The whole point to become nothing is to just follow nature's course. Think about it, how can you see afterlife if you have no body, no senses , no conciousness, no cognitive activity, no nothing ? As a closet buddhist I try to achieve something I call 'complete understanding', not some place in the afterlife. Maybe there is or there is not an afterlife, but would it matter after I die, if I have basically...nothing ?

    The thing that matters in buddhism is to end personal suffering, not what happens after death.
  • How on earth would suicide end suffering?! Suffering for the one who commits suicide, only. But by committing suicide, one deprives those who would have benefited from someone's compassion of, well...compassion. If one is gone, one can't work to alleviate the suffering of others, so suffering continues. For that reason also (in addition to the suffering caused to loved ones), suicide is a selfish act. The world needs all hands on deck to work to move humanity forward. Any loss affects untol hundreds, possibly thousands who might have been touched by a life ultimately thrown away rather than lived.
  • edited January 2011
    I have too many relatives (ancestors) whom I would have to meet in the afterlife and I have no interest in them. ;) So, I'm glad to think that's NOT what happens. There would be 10,000 ancestors I'd have to get to know every "hour!" Too too much!

    The only thing i would want from them would be a feeling of unconditional love and acceptance. Lots of hugs and kisses and kindness would be all I need or want.

    When I can get that all-encompassing feeling of love and acceptance from "anybody" in the afterlife, why would I need my kids or my wife or siblings?

    Would I need them just to tell stories of the good old days? Reminiscences in this world only serve to generate feelings of warmth love and togetherness. What if I already have and/or automatically get all that warmth love and acceptance in the "afterlife."

    Why would I need to have those familiar egos and personalities of close family members around me who have shared experiences? Because: The shared experiences are the agency by which those feelings of love and togetherness come about in THIS world?! That's why!

    The presence of close family members is not necessary [in the next world] when we are unburdened with "separation" caused by the ego as is the case with our current lives here and now.

    See? Sounds callous at first but it really isn't. There is no need to see specific individual (ego-identifiable?) loved ones when you are surrounded by love! LOL

    Maybe having a wife and kids and parents and siblings is merely a diluted inefficient way to feel love in this world! Yes, it is great and necessary and, indeed, the point of living in this world. It's also probably a mere approximation of what is there for "us"and has always been there for us __after__ this world!!

    Also, suicide is anathema because of the suffering it causes the people who "survive" you. Forget suicide as an option: it stinks. Unless you are clearly terminally ill and pain medication doesn't help, or some other unusual situation: forget about it.

    Oh! I had waaaay too much coffee this morning. Sorry of this sounds abrupt. :)

Sign In or Register to comment.