Buddhist View on Assisted Dying Framework
In the teaching of the Buddha, human life is seen as both precious and rare. Upon being born as human, due to causes and conditions, the teaching encourages taking responsibility for one’s own actions. To a great extent our actions in this very life are within our own control and yet the life conditions encountered by an individual may not necessarily be favourable or desirable. Grave illness and unbearable pain are such human conditions, unique to each individual situation which effect human dignity and life choices. In addressing the question of an individual’s right to make a personal choice to end life in such extreme situations, Buddhist teachings ideally point to non violence, both towards one’s self and others. Yet compassion is an essential theme in Buddhist philosophy. That leads us to the question, “Is it an act of compassion to deny an individual the choice to end life prompted by unbearable pain?” The Buddhist view is sympathetic to the suffering of individuals yet holds out the hope of a truth beyond suffering and calls for a greater understanding of death. Such awareness of death may be brought about through guidance and counselling. This process brings about peace with surrounding conditions and impending death as opposed to facing an abrupt end with confusion. The Buddhist Council of Victoria is available to offer such guidance and counselling to any concerned individual or their families as a part of our community services beyond religious boundaries.