I REFER to the comment piece "A cry for help on the brink of suicide" (NST, July 5) by Rita Sim and the letter "All religions teach love and compassion" by C.C.K. (NST, July 10).
Sim stated that "Chinese are mostly Buddhists and, Buddhism, similar to Hinduism, does not censure suicide and, hence, it is not seriously considered a sin". This statement is inaccurate and it is evident the writer has not understood the philosophy and principles of Buddhism and Hinduism.
C.C.K. rightly pointed out that killing oneself is not one of the methods endorsed by Lord Buddha to solve one's suffering. I would like to humbly add to his enlightening letter.
Many people only talk about the great Buddha's life but never enquire about his teachings. Buddha taught that certain requirements were essential for man to live well.
SAMYAG karma (pure deeds). According to Buddha, man must do pure deeds in order for him to realise his humanness;
SAMYAG jeevanam (living a pure life), where it is life without attachment to material pursuits;
SAMYAG saadhana (achievement of the highest good). It means the elimination of evil in man; and,
SAMYAG nirvana (pure realisation).
It is at this stage, according to Buddha, that pleasure and pain, gain and loss are treated alike. This equal mindedness is called nirvana.
It is, therefore, evident that in Buddhism, man has to live a righteous life to attain the state of pure realisation. By committing suicide, the path of self-realisation will be broken and this bad karma will be an obstacle in the progress of the evolution of the soul.
Buddhism considers all life as sacred. It is a great sin in Buddhism to commit suicide. Also, as Buddha had declared isvarassarvabhutanam, meaning the Brahman (the formless God in Sanskrit) dwells in all and, therefore, no living being must be harmed in any manner whatsoever, which is the principle of ahimsa (non-violence).
The ancient Sanskrit and Pali texts clearly state that Buddha referred to Brahman as the highest wisdom. To illustrate the point that Buddha had great respect for life, once Buddha came to a village and saw a priest about to sacrifice an animal. Buddha stopped it and said, "No harm must be done in any manner to any living being. It is wrong to kill this animal". The priest replied "Sir, we are not killing it but offering it liberation".
Buddha smiled and said, "Your argument has no basis in the scriptures. The Vedas do not advocate what you are saying. Do you think liberation can be granted by inflicting harm, pain and sacrifice and grant them liberation that they seek? What you are trying to do is the worst of sins. Never hurt, injure or kill living beings."
From this, one could deduce that it is sinful to take another's life, what more of one's own.
Hinduism has the same philosophy and there are the ten-fold sins -- the three physical, the four verbal and the three mental.
Under the physical tendencies is one that is against causing injury to life. I refer to an example in the Ramayana that occurred during the search for the princess, Sita, by Hanuman in Lanka. During that period, it was considered disrespectful to look at a woman's face directly; the custom being only to look at her feet. Hanuman had no choice but to look at all of them to identify the princess as per the descriptions stated by Sri Rama. However, Hanuman, after looking at all of them, felt he had committed a sin and decided to commit suicide. He approached the ocean but soon realised something. It must be understood that according to the Vedas and Upanishads, Brahman is said to reside in every living being. According to the Puranas, Sri Rama was an avatar of Brahman and, therefore, Hanuman concluded that Sri Rama resides in him as the atma (essence of an individual). Therefore, Hanuman thought if he killed himself, it will be committing suicide of Sri Rama, too, as the atma, and this would be sinful. So, Hanuman did not take his life.
This is part of the deep philosophy of Hinduism and Buddhism, which proves the point that these religions treat suicide as a serious sin.
Many deviant Buddhist sects have mixed up the real teachings of Buddha. It is common now to find monks selling their services to predict four-digit numbers although gambling is prohibited in Buddhism. There is also a ritual of calling spirits, which has nothing to do with Buddhism.
This suicide problem is worrying and affecting many. There are many factors that push a person to commit suicide and, hence, these have to be identified and resolved. Throwing a person in jail perhaps prevents him from taking his own life but what about tackling the problems from its roots that will prevent many more from taking theirs?
An Arab professor once asked me why was it that in some wealthy countries, the suicide rate was high. We concluded that it was not the lack of any material issues but a serious lack of spiritual teachings that was responsible for this.
Religion must play a vital role and as C.C.K. put it, "anyone without religion would be susceptible to suicide when under pressure".
With proper knowledge and guidance from religious teachers and parents, regardless of what their beliefs are, I believe suicide can be prevented. Above all this, of course, the key to transform them is love.