NEWSLETTER – JUNE 2019
What about This Suicide?
Most of you may remember the story of Rajjumala ( Vv.iv.12). It shows that the Buddha is against suicide, and he was the first to prevent a suicide of a desperate person through counseling.
Here is a different encounter, which shows the other perspective of the Buddha (his rationality, and wisdom.) You can find it yourself after reading the story given below:
Bhikkhu Channa, an experienced monk with a good reputation, got sick while living in seclusion on Mount Vulture Peak close to the city of Rajagaha. We do not know what kind of a sickness he was suffering from, but, obviously, it was an incurable and extremely painful disease.
As time passed, Bhikkhu Channa’s situation worsened. His body became unmanageable, pain unbearable, and sickness untreatable.
One day Bhikkhus Sariputta and Mahacunda, two prominent monks who lived in the same area, visited Bhikkhu Channa and inquired about his situation. “I hope you are bearing up, friend Channa,” Bhikkhu Sariputta said, “I hope you are getting better, and your pain is getting less.”
However, Bhikkhu Channa had no good news to convey to the visitors. “Friend Sariputta, I am not bearing up; I am not getting better,” he replied. Describing the pain, he further said that he was feeling intolerable pain in his is head, stomach, and the entire body. “Strong painful feelings are increasing, and I cannot expect an improvement,” he lamented and then, after a pause, made his wish known to the visitors: “I will use the knife. I have no desire to live.”
The term “use the knife” was a common expression that meant “commit suicide.” It did not necessarily mean that the method of self-killing was to cause self-injury with a knife. Rather, it meant “commit suicide by using whatever means.”
Both Bhikkhu Sariputta and Mahacunda implored Bhikkhu Channa not to kill himself. “If you do not have enough food, medicine, or attendants, we will go and find them all. Do not use the knife. We want you to live,” they said.
“Friends, I am using the knife not because I lack any of them; I have enough food, medicine, and attendants,” Bhikkhu Channa replied assertively. “Also, I have served the teacher [the Buddha] in an agreeable way. A disciple, of course, should serve the Buddha in an agreeable way! Remember this, friends: Bhikkhu Channa is to use the knife blamelessly!”
The term “use the knife blamelessly” has a deep meaning. Basically, Bhikkhu Channa meant that his intended suicide was justifiable, and that he was not guilty of self-killing. He implied that his action was not motivated by greed, ill-will, or illusion; rather, he meant that he was to take his life because of the intense and increasing pain that was unbearable, and that his disease was incurable.
The two visitors were still trying to change Bhikkhu Channa’s decision, but their effort was in vain. After they left, Bhikkhu Channa took his life.
Whenever an unusual incident happened in the community of Bhikkhus, the common tendency was to report it to the Buddha. Following that tradition, Bhikkhu Sariputta visited the Buddha and informed him what had happened. He informed the Buddha about their visit to Bhikkhu Channa, about the conversation they had, and about his failure to prevent the suicide.
After a short discussion, the Buddha gave his verdict about Bhikknu Channa’s taking of his own life. “Bhikkhu Channa used his knife blamelessly. Thus, Sariputta, should you remember it,” the Buddha concluded.
The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: 1167-1169
Vas Aradhana on July 13th at 7:00 pm
Invitation to Maha Sangha for Vas Observation will take place at the Vihara on July 13, Saturday, at 7:00 pm.
Especially invited for the Vas observation is Venerable Kalutara Miththa Thera, a meditation and Dhamma teacher who is proficient both in Sinhala and English. Along with him, Ven. Rahula and Ven. Sirirathana Theros will observe the retreat on July 18th.
Special Saturday Dhamma programs during the Vassa season will be announced on the day of Vassa invitation. As you did last year, each program can be sponsored.
Program on 13th:
7:00 p.m.: A brief Puja
7:15 p.m.: Traditional invitation to Maha Sangha by the main sponsors: Mrs. Lalitha Ekanayaka, Ranil and Krishani Abesekera family, and Amith and Rathnamali Munasinghe Family.
7:45 p.m.: Dhamma talk by Ven. Miththa Thero
8:30 p.m.: Dinner organized by the sponsor families
About Helping Recent Bomb Attacks Victims in Sri Lanka
The Vihara collected around $14, 500.00 as donations for Recent Bomb Attacks Victims in Sri Lanka, out of which $10,500.00 were collected by Bhante Nanda from the Vietnamese temple in Port Worth. Bhante Rahula’s plan to hand over $10,500.00 to Rev. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith was delayed because of the Cardinal’s travels abroad. Ven. Pannila Ananda Nayaka Thero and Ven. Seevalee Thero will hand over the money to him after the Cardinal returns to Sri Lanka in mid-July.
To distribute the remaining money (around $4000.00), we have selected 5 families that were affected by the bomb attacks inside hotels. Both Ven. Ananda Nayaka Thero and Seevalee Thero are taking steps to provide money to those families.
You will receive complete details and pictures once the destribution of the money is complete.