Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.

Euthanasia in the Vinaya and Commentary

Volume 6, 1999

Attitudes to Euthanasia in the Vinaya and Commentary

Damien Keown
Goldsmiths College, University of London

The prohibition on taking human life is one of the cornerstones of Buddhist ethics, but there is often confusion about the interpretation of this prohibition in different contexts. In his commentary on the third pārājika in the Samantapāsādikā, Buddhaghosa sets out to clarify the legal provisions of the monastic precept against taking life. The root text and his comments on it are relevant to the contemporary debate on euthanasia, and this paper considers what light Buddhist jurisprudence can shed on this moral dilemma.

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