Prof. Richard G. Benefield

 Buddha (563-483 or 484 B.C.) was named Siddhartha by his father.  He was born
in the Gautama tribe or clan in India.  He never left India.  Later he was called Gautama
Buddha.  He abandaned a wife, and his son, and pursued enlightenment.  Different
founders of various religions, church denominations, and cults abandoned their families.
Some founders, regardless of their claims, were practically worthless.  Moreover they
usually felt like they were making sacrifices when they abandoned their families.

 Being disgusted with the worship of many gods and goddesses in India, Siddhartha
went into privacy and meditated.  He tarried and tarried under a fig tree, called a bodhi or
bo tree, and finally experienced enlightenment, so he claimed.  The word “Buddha” means
“enlightened.”  Buddha rejected all gods and goddesses.  He rejected belief in God and
was non-theistic, an atheist.  He founded the Buddhist religion which was Orthodox or
Theravada Buddhism.  The date was between 563-483 B.C.  Later Mahayana Buddhism
(founded around 250 B.C.) would worship Buddha as a god.   Thus an atheist became a
god.  Religion is often a strange critter.  A dead atheist is neither a god nor divine.

 Hinayana Buddhism split off, as did Tantra Buddhism, and became other Buddhist
sects (denominations), and there were many other splits in China, Japan, and elsewhere.

 Buddha kept the Hindu belief in reincarnation.  His enlightenment caused him to
want to escape rebirths (reincarnation).  Buddha had a death wish which he would finally
fulfill with suicide.  Buddha and Buddhists would not believe the Christian doctrine which
teaches, “Ye must be born again.”  Read John 3:1-7.

 Buddha did not want to live forever.  He wanted off of “the wheel of human (life)
existence,” which is supposed to keep on “turning,” and person after person will die, and
be reincarnated as some other creature.  The same routine was continued, and Buddhist
members are supposed to help each other as good neighbors.  They are to help each other
make it through human existence.

 Desire for death, instead of living, haunted Buddha.  He thought that life is a
struggle and suffering.  Furthermore life is often a conflict.  For Buddha it was often a
struggle and caused much unhappiness.  He saw many crowds practicing various types of
worship of gods and/or goddesses.  Buddha’s life was hard.  He experienced many
disappointments and finally realized or obtained so-called enlightenment.

 The “enlightened one” thought that life is not worth living, and one of the highest
religious acts is suicide.  Many of Buddha’s followers down through the history of
Buddhism committed suicide.  They also influenced many teenagers, and adults that
suicide is good.  If a person commits suicide, especially by burning himself or herself alive,
then he or she has a very good chance of escaping from the “wheel of life,” and if the
escape is successful, he or she never will have to be “born anew,” or reincarnated time and
time again.

 Suicide has increased in Eastern religions, church denominations, and cults around
the world.  Many American adults and children have committed suicide.  Suicide is more
socially acceptable now than it was in the past.  But suicide, especially voluntary suicide, is
a fallacy.  It is a final fallacy for the person who commits it.  Suicide is a final fallacy!  See
my logic book on the Internet.  See:

 News media in July, 1999, carried reports of suicide in the United States.  Suicide
is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States.  Thirty thousand Americans
committed suicide in 1998.  Many were religious suicides.

 Buddhism is a suicide religion.  Different Buddhist sects, actually Buddhist
denominations, are suicidal.  Suicide often has been a popular religious doctrine.  The
Shinto (Way of the gods) Religion (began around 538 A.D.), another Eastern religion,
glorified suicide in its Code of War Ethics.  It was Japan’s main religion at one time.
Suicide was popular in the Japanese military during World War II.  Military suicides are
often practiced, and popular.  But practice and popularity do not make suicide either
acceptable or right.

 Muslim religionists both teach and practice suicide.  Suicidal deaths against
enemies are believed to provide instant immortality.  Human life in Buddhism, Shintoism,
and Islam is cheap.  When Saddam Hussein, leader of the predominantly Muslim country
of Iraq, fought a war for several years against Iran, another Muslim country, S. Hussein
used Iraqi children as human mine sweepers.  The children had signs attached to their
backs which said FOLLOW ME TO HEAVEN.  The children were blown up, and soldiers
followed the paths made through mine fields.  Although both Islamic countries were
fighting Jihads, so-called holy wars, neither country won as a cease fire finally occurred.

 Eastern religions have greatly increased in the United States, and some other
Western countries.  This means increases in suicides.  The large increase of suicide in the
United Staes is partly because of the tremendous increase in the memberships of Eastern
religions in this country.  This increase in numbers partly accounts for the high increase of
suicides among American teenagers.  Depression, among other psychological problems,
including “guilt trips,” account for many religious and non-religious suicides.  However
religious, and psychological problems, do not make suicide become a right action.

 Buddhist numbers increased in the United States after they changed “Buddhist
Temples” to “Buddhist Churches.”  This increase could be expected because most
Americans know little about world religions.  This fact is partly based on my teaching
philosophy courses in state universities, and in teaching “World Religions” in seminary.  In
fact the world’s people are notoriously ignorant of world religions.  But ignorance of
religions is no excuse for suicide.

 Buddhist membership increases in the United States can be illustrated by
comparing the Southern Baptist Church which is the largest non-Catholic church in the
United States.  The Southern Baptist Church has about 17 million members (1999), but
the Buddhist Religion in the United States is larger.  Yet the Islamic Religion is the fastest
growing religion in the United States.

 Buddha’s suicide is “justified” in Buddhist legend.  The story goes that a poor
beggar invited Buddha to eat with him but he had only beans which were poisoned and
nothing more to offer.  But Buddha did not want to offend the poor beggar so he ate the
poisoned beans, and they killed him.  Therefore Buddha fulfilled his death wish by
committing suicide.  People can always find excuses to commit suicide.  But excuses do
not justify suicide.  Buddha committed voluntary suicide, a fallacious act, and a final
fallacy.  Buddha’s suicide was an abnormal act and a psychotic (insane) act.  But that is
for another writing.