Peaceful and Joyful Rebirth

Yutang Lin

To take care of matters in accordance with Dharma one need to follow causal rules and seek thorough solutions. The ideal of Dharma is to enable all beings to escape from transmigration in the ocean of repetitive life-and-death cycles, and then return to the peace and joy of original purity and boundlessness. Hence, in the face of hardship and siege one does not evade it, and would not adopt temporarily convenient measures, but instead would apply efforts on elimination of karmic debts and cultivation of merits so as to achieve ultimate liberation.

Advanced developments of modern medical technology, even though had benefited the multitude in some areas, and yet had also shaped some situations difficult for us to choose from. Disciple Mian Yan asked about "euthanasia," and, after listening to my analyses from the Buddhist point of view, requested that I wrote about this topic so as to benefit the public. Hence this article was written.

When a patient had been diagnosed by physicians as incurable, or had become a vegetative being, could the tubes and other connections to machinery that sustain the patient's life be removed?

Patients in vegetative state are still alive, if those connections were removed, it would amount to killing them, and hence we should not do so. We should conduct Dharma activities on their behalves, such as releasing of lives and other Dharma practices so as to reduce their karmic hindrances and cultivate their merits and wisdom. Thus they may recover as a result of extinction of karmic debts or naturally gain rebirth in Buddha's Pureland.

As to those at the verge of death due to old age or sickness but remain alive only through medication and machinery to sustain their heart beats, and had no medical reason for recovery, then the artificial supports may be removed so that they may go through the natural processes. But we still need to conduct all sorts of Dharma practices so as to help them gain rebirth in better realms or Buddha's Pureland.

As to patients who had suffered long and severe from chronic diseases, whether they may choose to depart earlier from this life on their own or through help from others──the "euthanasia" that had attracted much attention and discussion in recent years, will be considered here.

Basic reasons for such choice are extinction of severe and chronic pains and the cost of sustaining such existences. From the Dharma point of view, such circumstances are causal consequences of past karma. If the roots of such karmic hindrances were not uprooted, even if they could be avoided for now, in future lives one will still have to face them. Furthermore, the act of killing, be it self-inflicted or through other's implementation, will become the seed for further consequences, adding to future sufferings. Hence, the so-called "euthanasia" will not yield peace and joy through death, but is indeed an unwise action that will yield no peaceful and joyful future lives.

People who are tired of living, either due to bedridden senility or because of chronic suffering in illnesses, may still gain emancipation through Dharma practices. If they could practice the chanting of Amitabha, then their karmic hindrances will gradually reduce and their mind will remain lucid, and hence it will be possible for them to recover or attain natural and peaceful rebirth in Pureland. Relatives and friends around them may also help them through participation in the chanting practice or engaging in various Dharma deeds, and then dedicate the merits thus generated to their reduction of karmic hindrances and accumulation of merits and wisdom. Thus they may also be benefited and thereby gain natural recovery or rebirth. If they gain natural rebirth through Dharma practices, then it is indeed peaceful and joyful rebirth, free from any side-effects and undesirable consequences.

Under the blessing of Guru Chen I had pray for many people for over two decades and often yielded immediate and effective results. As mentioned above that illnesses may be cured or natural rebirth gained through dedication of merits generated through Dharma activities, had been experienced often and regularly by me. I do not say these vainly out of conviction to Dharma. May these sincere advices born of personal experiences accumulated over two decades help people who come to know them make correct choices when faced with such situations!

As to people who at present are not suffering from severe illnesses, they should awake to the impermanence of human existence——others' circumstances of on the verge of death could become one's own situation at any time, and hence while body and mind are still healthy and energetic, engage more in Dharma practices and accumulate more merits lest they will have to face the suffering of "could not die and simultaneously could not have desirable living," and when eventually it is time to go they could indeed attain the good ending of a peaceful and joyful rebirth in Buddha's Pureland.

Written in Chinese on March 20, 2009
Translated into English on March 24, 2009
El Cerrito, California

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