Suicide: Sutta versus Commentary

I supported his option of death before your explanation about it. I also mentioned how hard lay life is in seeking for a living. Who knows why inside his mind was. We cannot know how he would make a living.

Individuals are different in terms of tendency and inclination. They fall to one or more of these. Layman life means differently to different people. Lust could be bad but after abandoning ‘I am’ sakkaya ditthi, lust is not unfit for a layperson. There are sotapannas who do not know they are sotapannas. That is what I learned from hearing about it.

anusaya: the 7 ‘proclivities’, inclinations, or tendencies are: sensuous greed (kāma-rāga , s. saṃyojana ), grudge (paṭigha ), speculative opinion (diṭṭhi , q.v.), skeptical doubt (vicikicchā , q.v.), conceit (māna , q.v.), craving for continued existence (bhavarāga ), ignorance (avijjā , q.v.) (D. 33; A. VII, 11, 12)

Vāsanā, (f.) (fr. vasati2 = vāsa2, but by Rh. D. following the P. Com̄. connected with vāseti & vāsa3) that which remains in the mind, tendencies of the past, impression, usually as pubba° former impression (Sn. 1009; Miln. 10, 263).—Cp. Nett 4, 21, 48, 128, 133 sq. 153, 158 sq. 189 sq.—Cp. BSk. vāsanā, e.g. MVastu I. 345. (Page 610)

Question is: can a Sotapanna encourage and commit suicide?

Nanavira Bhikkhu claimed that he was a Sotapanna. And having became a Sotapanna, he committed suicide.

Can this action be justified by Pali Tipitaka and Atthakatha?

A sotapanna would never encourage suicide, nor reject someone suiciding.

  1. Channa.-A Thera … dangerously ill and suffering much pain. He was visited by Sāriputta and Mahā Cunda, and when they discovered that he contemplated suicide, they tried to deter him, promising to provide him with all necessaries and to wait on him themselves. Finding him quite determined, Sāriputta discussed with him the Buddha’s teachings and then left him. Soon afterwards Channa committed suicide by cutting his throat. When this was reported to the Buddha, he explained that no blame was attached to Channa, for he was an arahant at the moment of death (M.iii.263ff; S.iv.55ff).
    Buddhaghosa explains (MA.ii.1012f.; SA.iii.12f ) that after cutting his throat, Channa, feeling the fear of death, suddenly realised that he was yet a puthujjana. This thought so filled him with anguish that he put forth special effort, and by developing insight became an arahant.

Chanda Sutta: Desire : From the abandoning of desire, the deathless is realized.

Sotapanna would not know the consequences of his/her actions (speech and bodily action) that could lead to someone’s suicide. But a sotapanna would not have any desir/intention to harm himself/herself or anyone.

The Buddha knew teaching asubha kammathana to those monks would lead to their suicide. However, these monks would commit such suicide anyway. Teaching asubha kammathanna seems only shortened the time toward suicide.

The Buddha knew eating pork meal would lead to illness, as the result of His past unwholesome kamma.

Cunda Kammāraputta - Wikipedia : Before entering the parinirvāṇa, the Buddha told Ānanda to visit Cunda and tell him that his meal had nothing to do with his getting ill, and therefore should feel no blame nor remorse; on the contrary, offering the Tathāgata his last meal before passing away was of equal gain as of offering him his first meal before attaining buddhahood, and thus he should feel rejoice.

Venerable Maha-Moggalanna finally realized his past unwholesome kamma and stop running from the thugs who were trying to kill him. He deliberately stayed, not lost ability to leave as usual. But this version claims he lost the ability :

Maha-Moggallana : Then their persistence was “rewarded,” for on that seventh day Moggallana suddenly lost the magic control over his body. A heinous deed committed in days long past (by causing the death of his own parents) had not yet been expiated…

Another point to consider:

Being a saint he saw no reason for making use of his ability to extend, by an act of will, his life span up to the end of this aeon, and he calmly allowed impermanence to take its lawful course…

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So glad to see this in the commentaries. Ive always been confused of the suicide then enlightened texts. This is why commentaries are important, sutta alone does not explain everything since they often are very matter of fact.

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That’s quite a jump. considering the original killing parajika story was literally about monks killing themselves.

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It wasn’t becuase of the suicide but because this evil monk killed those monks who wished to die.
Monks’ Expulsion (Pārājika) 3: Origin story

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First sub-story

Bu-Pj.3.1.1 MS.376 BD.1.116 Vin.3.68 At one time the Buddha, the Master, was staying at Vesālī in the hall with the peaked roof in the Great Wood. At that time the Master talked in many ways to the monks on the subject of unattractiveness,[1] he spoke in praise of unattractiveness, he spoke in praise of developing (the perception of) unattractiveness,[2] he spoke thus and thus[3] he spoke in many ways in praise of the attainment of unattractiveness.[4] MS.377 Then the Master addressed the monks:

“Monks, I wish to go into solitary retreat for half a month. No one is to approach me except the one who brings me almsfood.”[5]

“Yes, Master,” the monks replied, and accordingly no one approached the Master except the one to take him almsfood.

MS.378 Then the monks thought, “The Master has talked in many ways on the subject of unattractiveness,” and they dwelt intent upon the practice of developing (the perception of) unattractiveness in its many different aspects. As a consequence they became troubled by their own bodies,[6] ashamed of them, loathing them. BD.1.117 Just as a young woman or man, fond of adornments[7] and with head washed,[8] would be ashamed, humiliated and disgusted if the carcase of a snake, a dog or a man were hung around their neck, just so those monks were troubled by their own bodies, ashamed of them and loathed them. They took their own lives,[9] took the lives of one another, and they approached Migalaṇḍika,[10] a sham recluse,[11] the recluse lookalike, and said, “Friend, please kill us. This bowl and robe will be yours.” Then Migalaṇḍika, hired[12] for a bowl and robe, BD.1.118 killed a number of monks.

He then took his blood-stained knife to the river Vaggumudā,[13] MS.379 and while he was washing it he became anxious and remorseful: “Indeed, itʼs a loss for me, itʼs no gain; indeed, itʼs badly gained by me, not Vin.3.69 well-gained. I have made much demerit because I have killed monks who were virtuous and of good conduct.”

Then a certain god[14] of Māraʼs retinue, walking across the water,[15] said to Migalaṇḍika, “Well done, superior man;[16] it is a gain for you, it is well-gained. You have made much merit, because you bring those across who have not yet crossed.”[17]

BD.1.119 MS.380 Then Migalaṇḍika thought, “So it seems it is a gain for me, that it is well-gained by me, and that I have made much merit by bringing those across who have not yet crossed.” He then went from dwelling to dwelling, from dormitory to dormitory,[18] and said, “Who has not yet crossed? Whom do I bring across?” And those monks[19] who were not free from desire became fearful and terrified,[20] with their hair standing on end, but not so those who were free from desire. MS.381 Then Migalaṇḍika killed a monk, on a single day he killed two monks, on a single day … three … four … five … ten … twenty … thirty … forty … fifty … on a single day he killed sixty monks.

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I guess thats true. but it can be reasonably interpreted as also including the monks who killed themselves as well.

“Monks, it is not suitable for these monks, it is not becoming, it is not proper, it is not worthy of a recluse, it is not allowable, it should not be done. How could those monks take their own lives … and say … ‘… This bowl and robe will be yours’? It will not give rise to confidence in those without it … And, monks, this training rule should be recited thus:

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In that case it is a minor offense not a parajika though.

The most recent EBT suicide this year, is the Iranian monk in Sri Lanka, who had been arguing for EBT philosophy always.

I have not heard about this. What monastery? When exactly? What happened and why?

I heard he is from NaUyana but left NaUyana due to the Philosophy mismatch.
He is less than 10 vassas I think.
He had been complaining to many people that others don’t care him much.
Recently he had tried suiciding in foreigner-supporting monastery in Sri Lanka but it was unsuccessful.
Then he had gone to India and committed suicide, according to the news.

That is too bad. I think I have heard of an Iranian monk living there but not much about him.
I often talk about philosophy matching in Where to Ordain. I don’t like to see monks disrobe (even EBT’ers) and that is why I wrote the article. There were many Nyanavirans at Na-uyana, but most or all of them left on their own from what I heard.

Not sure if #2 above counts as EBT monk. He quoted Abhidhamma more than a few times.

Nanavira had a terminal illness, but not saying that justifies the suicide action.

Nanavira was one of those DO = 1 lifetime only people; so wonder if that might have been more of a factor in being accepting to suicide.

If I’m not mistaken, I think most EBT Buddhists do accept rebirth. It is the secular Buddhists who reject rebirth. Most Buddhists, even so-called secular ones, accept dukkha as truth, so if they believe in one-lifetime only, suicide looks like a way out (which of course it isn’t).

A sad news indeed. Nowadays we need to be careful about which temple or monastery we are visiting…

These days… we lump all of those who do not like Classical Theravada into various categories. It is all the same, yet it gets very complicated who is who…

  • EBT
  • Dwipitakans
  • Nyanavirans
  • Commy Haters
  • Abhidhamma Haters
  • 4 Nikayans
    The list goes on and on.

If we call them EBT, some may like only Buddhavajana…
If we call them Nyanavirans, then they might not like him, but follow similar things.
If we call EBT, but then find some who follow some commentary.
We calls someone an Abhidhamma hater, and he might like 2 lines of Abhidhamma.
If we call them a commy hater he might claim he likes much of the commentaries… even Ajahn Sujato says he likes 80% of the commentaries.
The conflicts with putting categories on such people / monks goes on and on.

Unfortunately, or fortunately for Sassana, they are divided with different beliefs that conflict with others like themselves. They are not unified and perhaps… feel lonely and depressed. They are often angry especially towards Classical Theravadans for accepting lies and changing the “pure dhamma” according to their own self made interpretations which conflict with other versions of pure dhamma. It is easy to guess that his “views” probably led him on heated discussions with others.

It is a recipe for sadness… and unfortunately … depression… and suicide.
The Commentary explains that you cannot commit suicide and be blameless, but such people as explained above pick and choose what they want to believe or disbelieve.

This thread is to point out the dangers of rejecting Classical Theravada.


Yes, that’s true, there are lots of overlaps into various traditions and trends. Some might not fit exactly into one of the modern trends, nor Classical. I made a list of some of the modern trends:

For me, I like EBT and Classical. I know you might consider them contradictory, but as you have noticed some of the moderns reject rebirth or are skeptical of it, don’t recognize 3 life DO, reject paramitas, etc, none of which I do. I accept rebirth, 3 life DO, paramitas, so don’t fit fully with the moderns.

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Was Ven.Jinawamsa ready for lessons on impermanence?

Govt. Analyst’s findings reveal Dutch monk committed suicide

Ajhan Jinawamsa Thera came to Sri Lanka eight years ago and seemed to have ended his search of true Buddhism when he landed at Polgasduwa Island Monastery. He has received good reviews from his peers and teacher monks after his death, but stories that the monk might have been depressed is a talk that’s doing the rounds.

There is no talk or record about the monk making great progress in his meditation. There is also talk about the monk being annoyed with activities in the area like fishing in the Rathgama Lagoon, noisy boats moving around in the waters close to the monks’ huts, the destruction of mangroves and the plans to construct a road across a sanctuary in the vicinity of the hermitage. Did the monk still get involved in worldly affairs despite taking to robes?

Another prominent fact that’s highlighted in recent newspaper articles is that some of the foreign monks in this island hermitage have been dejected with the negativities of life. Some of these foreign monks though being eager to don the yellow robes have found it hard to digest lessons on impermanence. This could have been the issue with Ajhan Janawamsa Thera. In the hut that the priest meditated the police found two mobile phones, 11 memory cards and two sound recorders, but according to newspaper reports the SIM cards of both phones were missing. Did the priest have contact with the outside world?

An issue associated with the foreign monks is that they are hellbent on becoming scholars in the Dhamma and neglect the practice of love (Karuna) to others including oneself.

There have been occasions when the minds of foreign monks have rioted when the atmosphere they are made to meditate in doesn’t agree with them. In the case of Ajhan Jinawamsa Thera the civil activities that were threatening the peace in the area of these monasteries (there are four islands housing such monasteries) were not to the liking of him and other island hermit monks.

Most of these foreign monks have had the experience of studying other religions. There are accounts of Ajhan Jinawamsa Thera showing great interest in accepting any books on Buddhism written in English.

The late forest dwelling monk Thambugala Anandasiri had stressed that priests who observe precepts alone won’t make progress towards enlightenment. Anandasiri affirms that a hermitage must meet 10 qualities to be accepted by the ‘Sansthawa’. One of them is to have a priest with Thripitaka knowledge who can teach it to others. Did the late Ajhan Jinawamsa Thera learn his lessons well or did he lack receiving detailed instructions?

Not all DO=1 people reject rebirth. It is their way of interpretation, ego and hurry, I think, leads to stress.

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That’s right, not all DO=1 reject rebirth. For the one-lifer believers it’s DO=1 but not necessarily all who follow the DO = 1.

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Most of the time many modern western monks seem to pay abnormal attention to these suicide suttas and they discuss and question them abnormally. Asian monks might have been surprised sometimes seeing this.

Interpretation Syndrome. :skull_and_crossbones:


I knew him Bhante. A kind Venerable… He visited Nā Uyana time to time. A nice character…

He was a four nikāyist, and one time he tried to convince me in his beliefs… I rejected his words in my heart, but politely avoided discussion.

He had health issue and tried to live in the forest always.

Very sad about his decision to kill himself.

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