Climate activist, 50, who died after lighting himself ablaze in front of the Supreme Court on Earth Day wrote '4/22/2022' and a fire emoji in a Facebook post from 2020
Wynn Bruce, 50, of Boulder, Colorado, set himself on fire on the court's plaza
Bruce was a buddhist who often posted about climate change on Facebook
Last year, he wrote the date '4/22/2022' and a fire emoji under a post from 2020
Police are investigating and have yet to reveal a motive for Bruce's actions
A Buddhist priest who knew him said his death was not a suicide but a 'deeply fearless act of compassion'
ok, now lets see that "Buddhist /Zen Priest"
The Buddhadharma has to take another look at itself and decide if all self-proclaimed Sensei or Zen Master really are...or are they a bandit in monk's robes.
Today anything goes...
Unfortunately, some people use it -Zen Master- as a tag to reinforce the self's thirst for confirmation and control over the illusion. This never ends well.
And rest in peace Bruce. But a deeply fearless act of compassion? This makes me think of the Vietnamese monk who died in a similar manner to protest against the repression experienced by Buddhism in general in Vietnam during the 60s. Isn't life something to not be shattered so easily and dramatically? Or is there some truth in these acts?
Seems like a lousy idea to light anyone on fire.
For me it reflects desperation and so much suffering that the only way out is death in one of the most horrific ways possible.
I agree with you @marcitko !
to commit such an act requires a supreme level of awakening.
Any other act, whether out of desperation or because it belongs to the prevailing agenda, is nothing more than another death in vain and a bad continuation.
There is a huge world to contain, repair and protect.
Even before any current government even existed.
To protest your own current government is to serve as propaganda for those who follow their dark ends.
People commit suicide for all kinds of reasons.
Seldom does the karma of a life that is rejected do anything else but offload itself as a delusion that others will have to address.
I do not see that specific karmic offloading being equitable to any of the Buddha's teachings on compassion.
Whatever his state of mind was when he did this, I hope his death serves the cause he wished for it. To me it reflects desperation, but also ambition to make a mark. It is sad that somebody would see something like this as necessary.
I often have mixed emotions in situations like this. Part of me is sad, part of me thinks he had to die somehow, she had to say something, and we had to react some way. I want to think even negative elements cultivate the positive. Even though the act is disagreeable to me, there are positive seeds fertilized by it? Maybe I'm searching for silver lining where there is none.
I think it's unfortunately a largely pointless act. Those who care, can do nothing, and those who don't care, carry on.
Did anyone bring marshmallows?
… just askin’
You iz bad @lobster
Summary: "This idea that you can do a terrible thing in order to make a good thing happen is not in line at all with the Buddhist idea of ethics."
Oooh yez you iz deffo bad!
I was involved in the Tibetan tradition while self immolation as an act of protest against China became a thing. I was in India for part of the time and remember their emotion when bringing it up, there was a sense of sadness and desperation as well as ambivalence and regret towards the people who did it. There was also a to death hunger strike by a few people at the time.
HHDL regularly expressed his sadness at these acts and pled for them not to do it, saying that it wasn't a Buddhist act.
Google after the fact: I looked up some recent info on Tibetan self immolation and Wikipedia talked about it starting in 2009. But I know this was a thing back in 1998 when I was in India and Nepal. Here) it is, Thubten Ngodup, part of the to death hunger strike in April 1998 who self immolated when the police tried to break it up several weeks in. So maybe it was just one person, for whatever reason I remember it as several.
Even one, is one too many.... However heartfelt and deeply passionate they may be....
Venerable Mahākāśyapa, according to the legends, lies asleep underneath the three-peaked mountain for the coming of Maitreya Buddha. When Maitreya Buddha opens the three-peaked mountain, it is said that Ven Mahākāśyapa will wake up and take his place in the right hand of Maitreya. There, he will self-immolate, burning himself on a funeral pyre in the hand of Maitreya.
Self-immolation has a long history with Buddhism. It's a difficult topic.
Venerable Ānanda too is said to have died by suicide. He entered the Samādhi of Wind while in the middle of the Gaṅgā River and divided his body into four parts, one part for Śakra Devendra (Indra), one part for the Nāgarāja Sāgara, one part for the Licchavis of Vaiśālī, and one part for Ajātaśatrurāja. It is said that a jewelled stūpa was erected in each of these places.
The myth about Ven Ānanda is an origin story for several famous stūpas, but still involves suicide. Also, the "three-peaked mountain" is called "Mount Chicken-Foot" in Chinese. Considerably less dignified-seeming.
Dear fiends friends of the SuperBuddhas,
For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.
Or as we may say:
put another log on the barbie buddha, feasty time
I like you a lot, @lobster , but I can never really understand why...
I can sympathise with that @federica, I too like @lobster (preferably well-done with sauce).
It is always a tragedy that anyone commits such an act. The intent is good, but the means is not. He felt this to be the only way he could get through to the people in power, to expand the awareness of the urgency of climate change.
Life is precious. This may be no more than personal opinion, but I feel giving one's life for a cause means dedicating your efforts, your life to a cause. It may entail being willing to put your/my life on the line. It does not mean deliberately self immolating or otherwise taking one's own life for the purpose of making a statement in the hope so long as we posses the gift of life, we are able to take action, we can create change. However, when that gift is lost, when we our input, out action ceases.
A man, who was absolutely dedicated to the cause of saving the livable Climate, took his own life in protest. at that moment, his direct input into, his ability to effect the outcome, ceased. Only the actions of others will determine if his self-sacrifice has any real meaning for his cause.
This precious world is on loan to each of us. At some point, we must each hand it back. We must do our best to see that we pass a better world off to future generations.
Peace to all
It's questionable to know whether suicide is justifiable or not until one can stand and walk in a suicide's exact same shoes.
My problem with this particular suicide is reserved for those short-sighted nincompoops who spiritually justify and thereby give potential encouragement for others to emulate such extreme forms of asceticism.
I understand why some folks might try to find something positive to say about such action within their Sangha but obfuscating the truth of such a delusive tragedy better describes a love & light Pollyannaish naivety than it does any Zen practice that I'm familiar with.
If no one minds me tooting my horn, sharing yet more frivolous trivia, IMO, in response to the comment from "how:" that's why Buddhism and self-immolation, as well as suicide in general, is such a problem. All of the traditional stories of self-immolation and suicide are in a mythohistorical Buddhist context (not a "historical" one), and have deeply symbolic significance within the literary genres they occupy. And it's not a matter of only occupying fringe folk beliefs. These suicides occupy the highly-developed literary genres of "Buddhist sūtra," Buddhist epic," (like "Buddhacaritakāvya") etc., where regularly characters make extreme and unrealistic actions for the sake of pedagogy regarding the themes of the literature.
The trouble with people, tragically, is that there is such a thing as "copycat suicide" as there is copycat murder.
Furthermore, because some of these "literary" suicides are of very renowned and revered Buddhist saints, it's possible that people might get in their head "Buddhist suicide = a holy death (versus a normal one)." Even the Buddha committed suicide, by many reckonings, towards the end of his life, ending it, as they say. He privately ate the spoiled meat.
(Dīghanikāya DN 16, 4:18-19, Mahāparinibbāṇasutta, and translated by Venerable Vajirā and Francis Story)
So we see how this is very strange and interesting but also problematic. The Buddha died of dysentery from this food. The Buddha, in this body of literature I would argue, is believed to be all-but-omniscient. It is very rare and strange and unusual for the Buddha to insist that he eat a particular something and that the rest of the Saṃgha eats something else. The Saṃgha, Buddha included, would generally eat together. We can see how some have traditionally believed that the Buddha's death was voluntary.
I'm not condoning suicide. It's a non-solution wickedly disguised as a solution. To the truly and profoundly desperate mind, it is the only solution, hence why it is wickedly disguised. But this is an interesting chance to look at a particular odd quirk of "Buddhism" as it has been inherited and passed down over the ages to its present form.
The Buddha is just Clark Kent and not SuperMann … errs … after all. Makes sense.
To our great fortune and template resonance, the Buddha was an ordinary minor ex-aristo who gave up opulence to become a mad yogi and eventually an accidental religion founder. Seems real.
A further analysis...really interesting and goes in hand with @Vimalajāti post: self-immolation and Buddhism have a complex relationship.
Also, it tackles the polemic and well-known example of Thích Quảng Đức.