Making Difficult Decisions

Abortion and euthanasia often come up in discussion on Buddhism. As in other difficult decisions in life, it is best to sit and practice sitting. The answers to the questions that plague you will come, or the questions will cease to matter. You can argue that killing a person goes against the precepts no matter what, or you can argue that it is your intention that really matters. If taking a life—whether it be a fetus or a terminally ill person—is the lesser of two evils, then it might be the right choice for you. In the case of abortion, the suffering of both the fetus and the mother could be argued for or against.

We often don't know the exact right thing to do in a situation, but if we listen to our inner voices, we most definitely know the wrong thing to do. Listen to that voice. It's your Buddha-nature calling.

According to The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism, in the case of abortion, Zen master Robert Aitken is known to have said, “[The fetus] is given a posthumous Buddhist name, and thus identified as an individual, however incomplete, to who we can say farewell. With this ceremony, the woman is in touch with life and death as they pass through her existence, and she finds that such basic changes are relative waves on the great ocean of true nature which is not born and does not pass away.”

The Buddha passed down some basic teachings on how to live life appropriately. He gave us a path to follow that leads to enlightenment. Follow the Eightfold Path: Practice the precepts and zazen to find your way home.

Now that you have a better understanding of the Eightfold Path and the precepts of Buddhism, you can begin, living a better life. In the next chapter, we will get down to the nuts and bolts of Zen meditation. As mentioned earlier, by starting your meditation practice, you will naturally start living the precepts.

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