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date: 19 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

As in many other religious and ethical traditions, the status of suicide in Buddhism is contested and ambiguous, from the earliest Pāli record through to twentieth-century Mahāyāna praxes, and in a sense particular to Buddhist thought, paradoxical. This chapter will focus on three main areas: (1) the canonical accounts of suicide in the Śrāvakayāna and Mahāyāna traditions; (2) their theorization in a Buddhist psychological and phenomenological understanding of suicide; and (3) the ramifications of that understanding for contemporary social and medical practice, namely in assisted suicide and autothanasia, and for recent Buddhist history, above all for evaluating the Tibetan Buddhist self-immolations evident since 2009.

Keywords: Buddhism, autothanasia, self-immolation, altruistic suicide, phenomenology and value, protest suicide, physician-assisted suicide (PAS)

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