quinta-feira, 20 de janeiro de 2011

Reincarnation and euthanasia (medical magazine interview)


Original publication (in Hungarian language)
http://elitmed.hu/ilam/hirvilag/lelekvandorlas_es_eutanazia_5659/

* English translation * -

Reincarnation and euthanasia (medical magazine interview)

por Shenpen Rinpoche (Facebook) a Quarta-feira, 19 de Maio de 2010

1, In Hungary, the legalization of euthanasia is under debate. Currently only passive euthanasia (refusal of care) is legally accepted, whereas active euthanasia, in which physicians actively help the death of the patient is illegal. What is the standpoint of Tibetan Buddhism on passive and active euthanasia?

Rinpoche: Buddhism can't accept any form of killing, therefore we can't agree with active euthanasia.
What is named as passive euthanasia should be divided in two main categories: 1. letting oneself die when in fact life would continue, 2. not taking medicine knowing that one will anyhow die. In the first case it is to escape old age, some pain, or manageable handicap, and we could consider this as a kind of suicide, which Buddhism doesn't agree with. In the second case it is choosing not to prolong one's life of few days/months by taking medicine which usually have strong side effects, and this can be seen as the right of the patient.

2, Tibetan Buddhists believe that subtle consciousness lives and starts its journey after death, and so it is preferred to leave the body untouched for three days. As organ-transplantation often requires instantaneous operation after death, is it irreconcilable with Tibetan Buddhism?

Rinpoche: Advanced practitioners will surely prefer to meditate at the moment of death, driving consciously their consciousness from physical body to meditation, and to next rebirth; in which case, it's better not to touch the body at all. But in usual cases, such advanced meditation is not the issue, and moving the body will have limited impact. Also, the motivation of giving oneself for helping someone who might need the organs is noble, and logical consequence of one's practice of Compassion. So, Tibetan Buddhism is not against organ donation at all.

3, How do you perceive the use of strong painkillers in terminally ill patients? Does it influence the journey of the subtle consciousness?

Rinpoche: In usual cases, the administration of painkiller will ease death in the sense that the dying won't stress because of pain. And that is more positive.

4, How do you see the role of hospice care?

Rinpoche: When dying people can be taken in charge correctly by their family, it is better they stay home, surrounded by this family. But in many cases it is not possible, and staying in hospital is far from comfortable. So, hospice are important places to give space for patients and family.

5, In your lecture in Budapest, you have emphasized the difference between near-death experiences and death experiences, and said that near-death-experience studies could even mislead our understanding about death. Could you please elaborate on this?

Rinpoche: Once the real process of death is started, we do not come back. So what people are describing as so nice, warm, meeting their dead parents, etc. is more a dream-like experience than death. Experience of death is very different. So, such stories are misleading. Misleading because some people will take as granted that after-death will be as described in near-death experience and won't work on their mind to prepare themselves to what death is really.

6, How does Tibetan Buddhism evaluate suicide? What kind of effects suicide could have after death?

Rinpoche: Suicide, killing oneself, is considered as a murder, and we believe that it creates a very negative karma, and like all negative karma it will bring unpleasant results/experiences in the future.

7, New medical studies suggest that certain psychotrop substances (MDMA, LSD) help terminal state oncology patients to face death and decrease their fear. How do you evaluate these studies?

Rinpoche: I would be very cautious with such substances, because they can alter heavily the consciousness. To give painkiller and anxiolytic, I can understand, and that can help stressed ones or those in heavy pain. But it is good the mind remains clear, and face the reality as it is. Dying without knowing it could result in lot of confusion after death.



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