This simple one minute Buddhist meditation has the power to change your life
Let your gaze rest briefly on the image of the Buddha and know him as your Guru.
Then recite the prayer, it only takes half a minute at normal pace.
Spend the rest of the minute allowing the prayer and the image of Awakening, the Buddha, to sink in. Then go about your day.
At the end of the day, before bed, reflect on your day in the light of the prayer and the Buddha image as a reflection of your own Buddha nature, or Buddha within.
Meditation for whenever you need it
At any time during the day that you feel you may like to gather and centre yourself, you can take a moment for this prayer and remembering the Buddha as Guru. It will set your intention toward truth and goodness for yourself and others and put the events you encounter into perspective.
In our meditation classes those who attend, and are exploring the Buddhist approach, have expressed a genuine desire to put time aside to meditate. But life can be incredibly hectic so that even the best laid plans can go astray. It was in light of these time pressures that the ‘One Minute Meditation’ was conceived. I hope it proves helpful.
I will explain more of the concept of the Buddha within, karma, and truth (ultimate and conventional) in subsequent posts. These subjects help to fill out the Buddhist meaning of the prayer. But I thought to present the One Minute Meditation as an option for a minimal amount of meditation practice first.
This simple prayer itself is more powerful than mindfulness meditation practiced without the intent expressed in this prayer. Reciting the prayer, or traditional prayers like it, and then meditating for as many minutes or hours as you wish is perfect.
But as a minimum you can start with this one minute Buddhist meditation and prayer. Practice it sincerely and see how life changes for the better.
The Buddhist teachings tell us that New Year is a special time. It is a new beginning and a time to set our direction. It is worth taking the time for a new year meditation.
Every morning we awaken to the day grateful for yet another breath. A new year, like each day, brings with it fresh opportunities.
So what can we do with this continued gift of life to shape it in the best direction?
First, we can set our mind toward enlightenment, not as a long-distance goal, but as an ever-present awakening to the good both in and around us.
Moment by moment, through this day, this year and this life, awaken to the love within and around us. The love of friends and family, the love of our work and our achievements, and the love of the world with its beings and environments, is the fuel of life.
Inspired by love, this year we will make new friendships and strengthen old ones. We will care for those around us and those we encounter. Our face will shine with the kindness we show. Our interactions will bring happiness, a smile to the face.
May our goodwill bring good fortune to those we encounter.
Meditate to strengthen the quality within
Let us awaken to our best nature, our Buddha-nature, the pure consciousness with which we know the truth. Abide in the Buddha’s peace and clarity and feel the depth of this joy and bliss. Whenever we pause there is an opportunity to rest and refresh, immersed in our Buddha-nature, and to reflect on how we express that best to those around us.
In 2018 we will be mindful of karma, conscious to do good and to avoid creating suffering for both oneself and others. Restrain from anger, grasping, pride, prejudice and fear. Emerge from self indulgence and embrace the world.
This year we are able to meet any challenge before us and surmount any obstacle or misfortune.
Let love fill our hearts and wisdom clear our minds.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year for Buddhists. We love to celebrate the birth and life of Jesus Christ. The message of his true being, as the son of God, as God incarnate, and thus as love incarnate, is an inspiration. As inspiring to all Buddhists as it is to Christians.
As Buddhists we marvel at the enormous beneficial influence of Christianity through history and throughout the world. Much of the good in Western civilisation has its foundation in the teachings of Christ.
These teachings are more important now than ever before for modern Western countries. The insidious influence of those opposed to the Deity, with their political and social engineering, need a counterbalance. There can be no ethics without a source of ethics. That source is the greater nature and capability of humankind when connected with the divine.
For it is essential that humanity understand its grounding in the divine. We must come back to a greater mode of being, a transcendent divine dwelling which goes beyond the boundaries of any ego-based view of our individual importance.
The presence of the Divine
Not that individuals are not important, but to be a true individual, to be your best self, is to understand one’s divine essence.The connection of the soul with the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is very much mirrored in the Buddhist teachings on Buddha nature. Turning away from the Divine, or the Buddha nature, is the Buddhist definition of ignorance.
So thinking of Christmas is to think of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as revealed in the birth of Christ. This speaks to us of our creation in love, our connection in compassion and our capability in wisdom. In this we are all grounded in the Divine and freed of ignorance.
Thus, Christmas connects our minds with the greater good, with boundless love and with the great beauty of the divine.We feel the Deity is present in and around us at all times and revealed in the course of our life. It is a precious time of year.
For this we give thanks to the source, Jesus the Christ, whose birth we honour, and to all the good Christians who have sustained and spread the Gospel through history and reached out to benefit all who would hear.
With this in mind, blessings for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
People often ask me how karma works. What is the connection between cause and effect? How is it that our actions come back at us? In an earlier article I summarised karma and examined how it works to our benefit in good actions, and how karma damages us when our actions are bad. We also looked at the general principles of karma.
But here I will flesh out one karma and look at its many aspects, in particular how cause connects with effect. The example is a case of negative karma and so we will also explain how meditation and mindfulness act to counter bad karma.
For our purposes here, let’s examine a violent action. We will explore how karma functions with that.
How karma works in creating the cause
I walked into a room I find beautiful. The carpet is soft underfoot and a nice neutral colour. The chairs and couches are inviting and comfortable, the colour palette subtle and warm. Impressionist paintings add a delightful splash of colour. The room is most pleasant to my eye. I am relaxed and at ease here. Until.
Someone walks into the room. I look up and see it is Diablo, my worst enemy. Diablo has had it in for me a long time. But until now I have avoided him. The glint in his eyes tells me he is ready to unleash. He rushes me and it begins.
I am confronted by an enemy attacking me. It is an unprovoked attack, and he has gone from verbal abuse to violence in an instant. He is an annoying person at the best of times, but this time his unprovoked attack has stirred something primal. He has made me angry. Even though I have no training in fighting my anger makes me feel I can prevail. I defend his blows and then strike back myself. We crash about the room breaking things and bouncing off others. The battle rages with verbal abuse from both sides. Then I smash his nose with a lucky blow and the huge amount of blood that flows gives us both pause, and the fight is over.
My enemy leaves. His blood stains the carpet. A broken chair and two shattered vases remain. A once attractive room looks horrible, and it is difficult to find a path between the blood and glass to leave.
How karma shapes our inner world
A contrast I want to point out is between the way I perceived the room before Diablo entered to how I perceived it while he was present.
While he was in the room I was angry, in a boiling rage. In that rage and in the grip of the fight I was not aware of the beautiful impressionist paintings. Nor was I aware of how soft the carpet was. Nor the delightful palette of colours in the room. I perceived a violent and dangerous place, an ugly environment. It was an environment inhabited by a fearful monster intent on my destruction. I was intent on his destruction. It was a battle environment. I took blows, and I gave blows. My anger covered over my underlying fear that the monster might destroy me. It felt life or death.
With Diablo present, the room was not a beautiful place. It was an ugly, dangerous and fearful place. There is no redeeming feature to my enemy. He was the monster I must overcome. I was in a place of extreme struggle with my mind on fire with anger. Sure, I knew the damage done, but also knew of the damage I was doing to him. I absorbed my pain and sensed his. Further, I revelled in his pain.
My perception of the environment was in complete contrast to how I first knew it. While relaxed and at ease, my awareness was far more expansive and able to appreciate the beauty in the room. I could enjoy its qualities and aesthetic appeal. Being in such a room was enjoyable.
How anger affects your mind
Compare my experience while relaxed and with an expansive awareness to my experience while in the grip of anger. Anger reduces the expansiveness to a narrow focus of struggle. Unaware of the room at all, I am lost in my hatred of Diablo. Appreciation has changed to the intent to harm. Enjoyment gave way to pain. My perception of qualities changes to perceiving only the faults in my enemy.
So anger and the violent actions that proceed from anger, produce a mental environment that is violent and harsh. Your personal experience is painful, threatening, fearful and harmful. That mental environment embraces both the harm done and the harm I am doing to the other. I know his pain and am immersed in the pain of my anger and the fire of my rage.
The karmic problem that anger and violence cause
This environment, as I experienced it, becomes a part of me. My violence and its destructive effect on Diablo are all part of me now. This is one of the many events that make me the person I have become. So now my consciousness holds this fight and violence. I hold the experience of my enemy with his broken nose.
This, including having a broken nose, is present in my consciousness. It will remain latent there as a seed until finding the circumstances for its expression. This will be circumstances in which someone breaks my nose, a cycle of karma returning. The dangerous and fearful fight environment is also present in my consciousness. It too will one day gain external expression. I may find myself in a war zone that reflects the violence I hold inside me.
So what we hold within us from all our previous actions will one day meet the circumstances for its expression. The good within will bring happiness and joy, good conditions and good circumstances. In contrast, the bad within us will bring experiences of suffering. We will experience unhappiness and pain when we meet the circumstances for that.
How karma works: primary and secondary causes
So the process of karma is that our actions create the seed of a similar result returning to us. This seed, the outcome of our actions, or karma, is the primary cause for the future result. The secondary causes for that result, the conditions, are the other people and circumstances we meet and interact with. They will take the aspect of the karmic result.
So a karmic seed of violence will attract us to dangerous circumstances facing attack. In contrast, a karmic seed of generosity will attract us to the circumstances where we receive much.
By comparison, our generosity will in future bring us to a land of plenty.
Our karma, the actions we have done in the past create the environments we experience through our lives.
In fact, whatever we do to others we do to ourselves on time delay.
To understand how karma works, we must see how pervasive karma, or action, is. It is not just violent physical actions which change our mental environment. In the same room, we may become caught up in an angry argument with someone. In the heat of an argument, when we are both angry, we lose our awareness of the pleasant aspects of the surrounding environment. Again we have a sense of narrowing of the mind, a hardness, a harshness in the struggle of the argument. Our mental environment is unpleasant even though the physical environment is very pleasant.
We could sit in the same pleasant room surrounded by impressionist paintings and mulling over a perceived hurt. Once again, we are angry at the person who hurt us and see the circumstances of his insult. We think of a million things we could have said to hurt him back. Again we lose the expansive sense of the environment we occupy. Our mental environment is once again one of struggle, of anger, and like that of the verbal argument.
Every time we create karmic causes they will bring results that resemble the mental environment we have created. Those karmic causes may be purely mental, just our hateful thought processes. Our speech creates bad karma when we abuse or criticise. Further, our own version of a Diablo encounter will create bad karma physically.
But it is not just in the extreme case of a Diablo encounter. Some fly into a rage just discovering that their neighbour packed their rubbish in your rubbish bin. Or the car in front was pushing in. Maybe the service was very slow at the shop.
How will meditation and mindfulness help with karma?
In the same way that anger constricts the mind, narrows it, heats it and makes it hard, meditation opposes this. Meditation expands awareness, it opens the mind. It cools anger’s agitation and that of other non-virtues. It softens the mind toward compassion.
Mindfulness, through its role in meditation, helps produce these effects. Further, mindfulness helps to keep our mindset stable and calm. That stability and calmness gives us the means to steady anger’s agitation.
So conduct an experiment for yourself. Meditate until your mind calms itself and becomes clear.Note the details of your mental environment, your first person experience. Notice how relaxed and expansive your awareness is and how open to experience.
Then visualise yourself in the fight sequence as described. Imagine how your mental environment transforms and see the changes. What I described earlier will be close.
When we see how we create ourselves through karma of body, speech and mind, we ask this question. Why would anybody want what anger brings? Why do that to myself again? The mental environment of anger with its pain, has nothing to recommend at all. It is like your mind is on fire, consumed by manic obsessiveness and struggle. Fear and paranoia overwhelm us. When we see anger, we will forever want to avoid it.
What meditation and mindfulness give us is the means to rid ourselves of anger forever. They give us the means to free ourselves from previous negative karma and the way to produce happiness.
Once we understand the workings of karma, we will want to avoid creating bad karma. We will find ways of dealing with the Diablos of the world without getting angry. The neighbours rubbish will not spoil our day. Driving will be a lot more relaxed and the wait for service at the shop a welcome respite and time to meditate.
Don’t let karma make you its victim. Use karma to create the life you want, to become the happy and balanced person you would like to be.
The purpose of Buddhist meditation practice is to end samsara. Samsara is the state of being governed by the causes of suffering and varies from extreme levels of suffering to temporary experiences of happiness. In fact, while caught in samsara we can move through extreme pain or mental anguish with brief occasions of perceived happiness. At other times we may fluctuate between slightly unpleasant experieces to moderately pleasant.
While temporary experiences of happiness can be pleasant, they are only a respite from moderate or more extreme forms of suffering. Samsara is to cycle through states of suffering and happiness while governed by the causes of suffering. How are our experiences of happiness governed by the causes of suffering? Because the happiness is temporary. Accordingly, that temporary relief from suffering brings more anguish when the respite ends.
What causes the cycle of suffering existence?
At its root, the cause of samsara, and thus suffering, is ignorance. This term describes ignoring reality. We ignore and deny what is true and hold the false to be true. Thus with ignorance we come to think the non-existent exists and the existent does not exist. For example, ignorance imagines that the object of our attachment will bring us happiness. In similar fashion ignorance imagines that you must defeat the object of your anger. Altogether, ignorance creates this sad and non-existent fantasy-land of samsara.
Because ignorance distorts our view of everything, it gives rise to non-virtues such as attachment, anger, jealousy, fear, anxiety and doubt. These give rise to negative actions, or negative karma.As we discussed in this article, karma propels the wheel of suffering, or samsara.
This wheel of samsara turns in endless change. Accordingly we can be up one minute and down the next. We smile and dance for a year and then go into the foetal position for ten. Over lifetimes we may have a god-like existence some lives, but complete misery in others. In any event we are never free and always propelled by karma.
How Buddhist meditation ends samsara
To stop karma, we must subdue non-virtue and become free of anger and attachment. In order to do this, we must overcome ignorance. Ignorance is the hub around which the whole of samsara turns.
Ignorance is very difficult to overcome. In order to overcome it, we must come to realise ultimate and conventional truths. In fact, few even know these two truths. So first we need to study them and gain an intellectual understanding. From there we can gain an experiential understanding. We do this through Buddhist meditation practice.
But to even approach these understandings one must at least have overcome ignorance of causality. In other words, we need to understand the cause and effect of karma. To understand karma requires a coherent theory of consciousness.Although consciousness remains the “difficult question” in science it is important that we common folk learn about it. This is because without understanding consciousness we are in no position to realise its continuity as we explained in this article. We thus have no way of recognising that life beyond death exists. That level of ignorance is disastrous for the way we live our life.
Life or lifetimes
Why is this type of ignorance such a disaster? Because not knowing about karma means we do not recognise the full consequences of our actions. After all, our karma creates our future and with the continuity of consciousness it creates our future lifetimes. Likewise, this present life and our circumstances now, good or bad, are a result of our karma from previous lives.
Professor Robert Thurman in his wonderful book, Infinite Life, gave an example to illustrate the problem.It shows what lacking an understanding of the continuity of consciousness entails. This atheist, materialist view is that only this life exists because it is all we can see. There is nothing more from their point of view. Professor Thurman illustrates this view as follows.
Imagine waking up to find yourself in a railway carriage going nowhere. You do not know how you got there.As far as you know this is all there is.
You find people around with whom you interact. There are things to do. Now and then new people appear. But over time you notice yourself getting older. Then you notice the ancient people around you disappear leaving a body collapsed on the floor. As a result others drop these bodies under the train carriage out of sight.
So you dream up a theory that your life is lived here in this one stationary train carriage.At the end of life you will disappear into a never-ending nothingness and your old body dropped under the carriage.
Death comes. Next thing you awake in a stationary carriage with no idea how you got there. There are people around you…….Rinse and repeat ad infinitum.
More than one life
Professor Thurman then goes on to contrast this with the way your train experience would be in light of the Buddhist view of karma and reincarnation.
You step off the railway platform into a train which then moves in the direction you wish to go. In this case you had a choice of trains and pick the one going to a destination you like. In due time you arrive at your destination, you get off the train and do what you aimed to do. Perhaps you take other train journeys or do something different.
The two scenarios are poles apart. In the first you don’t know how you got to be where you are. In this example you are not going anywhere. At the end of your time there is nothing. Again and again!
In the second scenario you know how you got there. Further, you know where you want to go. By understanding how to get there and what to expect you know it is well worth the going.
So one is life without purpose while without a clue. Due to understanding, the other is life with purpose.
Thus, the myopic view is of a carriage that never moves. It seems to begin from nothing and end in nothing, all the while going nowhere, and leaving you nothing more purposeful to do than try to amuse yourself.
By contrast a more panoramic view is to know where you came from, where you want to go, and how you will get there. Accordingly, for you there is somewhere worth the going.
Today people appear satisfied with the first view. It is the classic materialist, nihilist view, a perspective entrenched in the realm of ignorance. Even more, it is a complete fabrication – ignorance-based samsara on endless repeat while maintaining the ‘nothing thereafter’ delusion.
How Buddhist meditation gets you somewhere
Buddhist meditation starts with the second view. In this case the goal of life is to end suffering by ending the cause of suffering. This is the train you want to ride. The aim is to become free from samsara forever. Consequently you take your journey confident you will get there. It is this understanding which powers Buddhist meditation.
So here are the alternatives.Engage in meditation from the point of view of ignorance.Thus you will have your meditation practice perpetuate samsara. Conversely, engage in Buddhist meditation practice and end samsara forever.
With the first option the best you can hope for is occasional temporary respite from extreme suffering. An example is a sense of relaxation you might gain from a meditation session. Once again in the bustle of a busy work environment stress comes back. Although you are better for the meditation session, it only lasts for a while.
The benefits touted by the new age mindfulness movement are there. You can lower your blood pressure, relax more, sleep better and focus. But these are just minor fluctuations in your level of suffering. They are tiny blips in samsara.
But so long as we have an innate conditioning by ignorance the real problem, samsara, continues. As a result we remain victims of karma. If we have a philosophy entrenched in ignorance, the same occurs. But, by ending ignorance we end samsara once and forever. We become free, free from karma, non-virtue and ignorance. That freedom is bliss constant and unending. It is an ineffable peace. You achieve the aim of Buddhist meditation. (You will also have fixed your blood pressure, by the way, without even needing to give it a thought!)
Study and meditation
I am sometimes asked how meditation can help education in our schools and colleges. But I find it more interesting to examine how education can help meditation.
Learning meditation and mindfulness may help you gain an education that reinforces ignorance and so perpetuates samsara. Another education leads to understanding ignorance and the means to overcome it. You learn how to realise ultimate and conventional truths so that your meditation ends samsara forever. Study is essential for Buddhist meditation.
Tibetans describe the person who meditates without study as like an armless rock climber or a traveller without eyes. But with a wisdom that arises from well directed study you have all the tools to achieve your end.
Ultimate and conventional truth
This article is lacking in two very important points. What is ultimate truth? What is conventional truth? These are deep subjects and need extensive study.
To understand them requires a course in Buddhist meditation and philosophy. That is a commitment to be sure. But ending samsara forever is a wonderful attainment not amenable to just adding water and microwaving.
If you understand the benefits, a comprehensive Buddhist meditation course is nothing. Otherwise, explaining the two truths is pointless. To merely give a quick summary is like learning one simple mindfulness method. To then imagine you understand mindfulness and meditation is just another form of delusion. It is like thinking you can understand the nature of being, the nature of consciousness and form, ultimate and conventional truth, without a strong course of study and guided practice.
Euthanasia has now been made law by the Victorian parliament. The following article was written in the hope that they would not pass this terrible law and allow such degeneration. But… I suppose I was expecting a bit much.
I still recommend a read as way of developing a mindset in opposition to euthanasia as this will help your karmic balance sheet enormously.
Euthanasia, the victim
First off, consider the individual requesting euthanasia. According to their perception, they are suffering. So they seek to put an end to this misery. Of course, different individuals can handle a range of degrees of pain and suffering. Indeed, some can withstand terrible pain without being disturbed by it. Yet others consider the “indignity” of incontinence too much suffering to take.
But whatever level of suffering one decides is too much, we must ask the question. Is it reasonable to accept that euthanasia is the solution? Obviously, what the person suffering and requesting euthanasia assumes is that life is the actual cause of their suffering. Thus, by removing the cause of suffering, by ending life, they think they will end suffering.
Will death do the job?
This further assumes that the end of life, death, is the end of consciousness. Thus death ends experiences of pain or joy. Significantly, this assumes no continuity of consciousness, no life beyond death. This long-held materialist philosophy is popular these days among atheists and scientists. But do they have a correct assessment of the true cause of suffering? Do they have a proper understanding of consciousness?
Unquestionably, to remove suffering you must remove its actual cause. Hence, this was the decisive question that the Buddha addressed in his first teaching.
He taught the four Noble Truths. Specifically, these are true suffering, true cause of suffering, true cessation of suffering and true path to the cessation.
How a materialist would approach the four is as follows. I have suffering and pain. The cause is that I am alive. Death will be the cessation of pain. The path to that cessation is euthanasia’s needle or pill.
So will this work? Unfortunately, there is no proof euthanasia removes suffering for we have no proof that consciousness ceases at death. At the present time there is no scientific evidence, nor any logical theory, to support this misleading assumption. Thus, for the atheist whether death will end suffering is a roll of the dice. There is no one who can assure you it will. Conversely, billions (of religious) will assure you it will not.
How do you stop the pain?
The Buddha maintained in his four truths that the true cause of suffering is negative karma. In effect, negative karma arises from non-virtues such as anger, attachment, jealousy and fear. In turn, these arise from ignorance. So overcoming negative karma, non-virtue, and their root in ignorance, will cause suffering and pain to cease. Finally, the path to that cessation is training the mind in ethics, meditation, and wisdom.
All four truths are consciousness. Thus, suffering, cause, cessation and path are all consciousness. Given this, none are the body which ceases at death.
Of course, there is no scientific evidence for the continuity of consciousness yet. Science’s best chance of getting to this is studies into near death experiences. Indeed, they are just now discovering that consciousness continues beyond the point of heart and brain function. In light of this, we must accept that consciousness is not just an emergent property of the brain as science likes to imagine at the moment. Most important, this will be a major step forward in scientific understanding and could help science develop a coherent theory of consciousness. If and when they do, I am sure that it will resemble the Buddhist model.
Why is this important? Because consciousness is the experiencer of suffering and pain. Although the body sends the signals, consciousness perceives them. Felt experience is consciousness. Furthermore, consciousness carries karma, and this is what continues beyond death. As I have said, the four noble truths are consciousness. Thus suffering is consciousness, and so is pain. In comparison the body is irrelevant to the continuity of suffering and pain. In the final analysis death does not end consciousness, so it cannot end pain and suffering.
What happens then?
The person asking for euthanasia is just adding more suffering. Understandably it may hurt to realise this, but it is true. Their current pain results from negative karma. It doesn’t matter if you understand karma or not, cause still produces effect. In other words, **it happens.
To ask for euthanasia creates two further serious and heavy negative karmas. Firstly, you commit suicide, you give up on life, you let pain defeat you and make you its victim. The second is even worse. Because you cause another person to kill. Consequently they create a complete negative karma of killing. But you create twice that negative karma by ordering/requesting them to kill. Under those circumstances you involve more people with a chain of command, and they may be those closest to you.
So here you are. In immense pain. Then you add to the negative karma causing that pain in a horrendous way, right near death. Most importantly, this is the decisive time determining what comes next. So you have just blown your next life to hell. There is no way you can avoid being reborn in the state of pure pain and the unimaginable agony of hell. Whether you believe in karma or not it will happen.
Certainly you may have intense pain and great suffering before death. But euthanasia will make it much worse. You will go into unimaginable, excruciating, interminable pain. This happens to the willing victim of euthanasia. The poor devils have so much negative karma they suffer great pain. In truth through tragic ignorance they imagine euthanasia is the way out. But it only makes it worse. Undeniably they condemn themselves to interminable pain of magnitudes greater. Think again…. Please…
So what can we do?
What alternative can we give these poor souls? At the present time extraordinary palliative treatments are available. Even those worried for their dignity, will be consoled by how professional our nurses are. Don’t worry, no one is that interested in how you present.
The best thing we can do is use whatever time we have left to generate virtue and purify negative karma. Of course Buddhists know this. So, be patient and tolerant of the suffering and pain. Learn to bear and manage your pain. In some cases there may still be time to learn how to meditate to help with pain management. Certainly if you have such skills, now is the time to use them. Show consideration to others. At least do not ask them to kill and create the karma of great suffering for themselves. Most important, consider the time you still have with loved ones. So appreciate the gift of life, your time with them. Forgive any grudges. Above all be courageous and determined to endure until death without giving in and becoming a victim.
With luck you may exhaust your negative karma and thus after death your suffering will cease. Further, the virtue you have practised at that crucial time before death will lead your consciousness into a heavenly and blissful state after death.
At worst you will mitigate your negative karma and at least experience less suffering.
But what of compassion? Aren’t Buddhists supposed to be compassionate?
Okay then. You see your loved one suffering in great pain. So your response is that in their moment of extreme pain, at their time of greatest need, when they are most vulnerable and in your power, you push them into far greater pain. You ramp up their suffering a million fold. You agree to euthanize them. What sort of cruelty is that? That is worse than anything because they are your loved one. Thus it is the complete opposite of compassion. Compassion is the wish to free someone from suffering, not cause them more!
On the other hand the compassionate Buddhist will counsel them how to live through pain and suffering with patience. Further they will be able to explain how to approach death from having made a serious study of living and dying. Definitely, through real love and real compassion they will protect them at all costs from the State Executioner. Most certainly they will not give in to any request for assisted suicide.
The only compassionate response is to protect people from causing themselves and others more and greater suffering. Of course, we can only advise people of the tragic repercussions of suicide. We can try to convince them. This is the battlefront Lifeline and others occupy hourly. So what sort of message does euthanasia send? How can civilised beings encourage suicide? Where is their compassion?
But I do not accept or understand karma and reincarnation?
Undoubtably the arguments I have made only make complete sense in the light of the continuity of consciousness. In the light of karma and reincarnation there can be no argument. But many argue that they simply do not hold these Buddhist views. Regardless, the continuity of consciousness, the dynamic of cause and effect and the four noble truths operate whether you believe in them or not. So the fortunate understand these fundamental principles and thus know how to behave. By comparison, if we do not hold this knowledge we are blind. Consequently we will continue the wanton cruelty and viciousness of those determined to ignore reality. We will take part in the negative karma of euthanasia. In the end we become an heir to Hitler, Mao and Stalin’s efforts in social engineering through killing.
The scales of karma
If you kill you create the karma to be reborn in hell, in utter agony. At the same time when you cause others to kill you create two lots of this karma. Further, if you introduce and promote a bill for euthanasia, you create this karma for every person subjected to euthanasia in this State forever. Surely no one wants so much negative karma. Surely you could not cause such suffering knowingly.
If you vote for that bill you create the same negative karma as the person who introduced it. Basically if you support that bill you will take part in that negative karma. Obviously, this bill is creating a tsunami of bad karma and suffering.
On the other hand if you help people to avoid suicide and the euthanasia needle, you will create virtuous karma and if you deplore the bill and in no way support it, you will also create karma on the side of life, love and light.
The intensity of your commitment either way strengthens the karma.
But I cannot bear to watch another suffer.
This emotional response has fuelled much of the pro-euthanasia push. Of course any civilised person finds it hard to watch someone in pain when you can do little to help. Those in favour of euthanasia imagine they are being compassionate by ending suffering. Of course they are not, but they really insist.
In like manner, some would argue that they do not create so much negative karma if motivated by compassion. But, they still create enormous negative karma because their compassion is mixed with deep ignorance. It is more imagined compassion than actual compassion. They lack wisdom because they cannot see that euthanasia creates even more suffering.
So whilst their intent is not malicious their action, or karma, is. Their action causes incredible pain and suffering. The person they want to kill will not have their suffering taken away. So they harm not only the dying person, but themselves and everyone else they talk into their mad scheme. Any trace of real compassion will not outweigh the extreme level of ignorance involved.
Further, the fantasists and dreamers assuming they are doing good in introducing the bill make out they are compassionate. But, like most who subvert compassion’s real meaning to suit their political activism, they are creating suffering and pain, not easing it. They play on vulnerable people’s emotions to advance their social and political cause. The compassionate person has a real commitment to relieve others’ suffering. Thus they seek the wisdom enabling them to do that. Compassion without wisdom is not real compassion!
But your entire argument is religious. I am a non-believer.
Unsurprisingly, I can only put the Buddhist perspective. In defence of that position, the entire Buddhist enterprise is to engage with what is true, to know reality. Thus the tradition has many treatises on death, suffering, causality, consciousness, embodiment, karma and reincarnation, logic and metaphysics. As a result we spend many years making a comprehensive study of these subjects.
The Buddhist path is to cut through ignorance and become Enlightened. You become enlightened by realising ultimate and conventional truth. At the present time, science is beginning to discover something of Buddhist teachings on meditation and mindfulness. Their findings agree with what Buddhists have known for millennia. It is not unreasonable to think that science may one day come to understand the nature of consciousness and the nature of form and find agreement with Buddhists.
So it is foolishness to dismiss the Buddhist view. Every religion holds a view of life after death. Billions think this way. Conversely, there is a tiny number of atheist materialists who, with no evidence, dispute that.
Church and State?
Emphatically they should be separate. Religions do not want the State interfering in their affairs. Conversely, the State does not want the religious to interfere with secular matters.
But religions must acknowledge the State’s laws. They are participants in the same society. Further, the State should seek advice on the moral and ethical issues from those expert in that orbit. They should appreciate spiritual imperatives and take heed of the religious who hold the welfare of beings at heart.
In that case secular leaders would not lead their people into terrible individual and group karma. They would not pull the shroud of darkness and misery over their state. They could never endorse euthanasia.
So, yes, this is a religious view.
The secular way
If you want a secular argument, this article by Paul Keating is well put together. He speaks of crossing the Rubicon and hints at the slide which can follow. To the great concern of the Germans, Hitler introduced euthanasia when elected in 1933. He used the Trojan horse of terminal illness as justification. Look where that led!
The pro camp insist that you can give protection in legislation. But, which legislation has seen no corruption. Social security? Tax law? Superannuation? See if you can name one.
And when has the state exerted its influence over a part of your life and then left it there or even lessened its control? Never! It creeps forward to ever greater control, now even over life and death. So beware the State!
The absurdity of a professed concern over suicide while promoting euthanasia is an outstanding hypocrisy. On the one hand you introduce laws banning the death penalty for murderous psychopaths saying it is not right to kill another person. Then you order Doctors to kill their patients. It is madness.
Doubtless this blog is a pointless exercise. If you got this far, you will be Buddhist and know karma and reincarnation. The arguments I make persuade Buddhists and Hindus, but that’s it. Talk about preaching to the choir.
For others it will have no impact. They imagine karma and reincarnation are Buddhist fantasies and that medical science knows what is going on.