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Rime Buddhist Center

Monastery & Tibetan Institute of Studies
"Achieving Peace Through Compassion"
700 West Pennway
Kansas City, Missouri 64108
(816) 471-7073
Lama Chuck Stanford

The following is Lama Chuck's monthly column that appeared in the Kansas City Star
newspaper on Saturday, March 24, 2005.

QUESTION: "How do you feel about the right to die?"

ANSWER: The term "right to die" usually refers to euthanasia or assisted suicide. This is a subject that people have very strong feelings about. Some people believe it is a good thing while others feel it is morally wrong. From the Buddhist perspective great value is placed upon all life. Human life, in particular is considered very rare and precious and therefore we should do nothing to hasten death.

Again from the Buddhist perspective the process of dying is considered a special time of transition. It is during this time that it is considered important to have a clear and peaceful mind. It is believed that the state of one's mind at the time of death will affect one's re-birth. It is for this reason that it is important to maintain a balance between treating pain, while at the same time allowing the mind to be clear and peaceful.

The "right to die" debate is a complicated issue that raises many ethical and moral questions. As of this writing there is the Terry Schiavo case in Florida about a husband's right to have the feeding tube removed from his wife who is in a persistent vegetative state. I don't believe that artificial means of life support is necessary for someone who is dying with no hope of recovery. However, once life support has begun then to terminate this support would of course be hastening death.

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