July 14th, 2020
To me, it's about respecting what people's choices are. If you're Buddhist and in a place where it's legal, if that's your choice, I respect that. It's so interesting how we're willing to do this for animals who are in pain at the end of their lives, but for some reason, for people, it suddenly is a bigger issue. That's their wish and to me, there's nothing not-Buddhist about it. It's more about how do we get to a place where just because someone's making other choices than ours doesn't mean they're wrong. For me, as a Buddhist monk, it is important to respect and give dignity to people's choices and thoughts.
July 14th, 2020
The first precept is do no harm, do not kill. So one could say that medically-assisted death is suicide, which is killing, and so it is creating harm. But suppose someone is in intractable pain and the pain killers are just knocking them to a place of unconsciousness.
As Buddhists, we want to be conscious for as long as possible. We want to be able to experience the transition. But some people have wanted that and proved to be in so much pain that it was impossible. In those cases, they're given plenty of morphine and other painkillers to alleviate the physical suffering, and they're no longer conscious.
So it's a tough one. Would I want that? Absolutely. If I were in intractable pain, I'd be like, just bring on the medicine. Would I want to have that final dose? I don't think so. Because I don't know what happens in that state of unconsciousness. I'd like to think that even if I am high on morphine, there is something I'm experiencing that I can bear witness to.