Self-Immolation (Commonality of Monks and Women)

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  • Topic: Buddhism, Suicide, China
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  • Published : November 2, 2007
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Both Buddhists monks and women perform suicide or self-immolation with the purpose to protect and preserve important ethical values in the social and cultural context. The use of suicide as an agency to preserve the female virtue of chastity is the foremost prerogatives of women. Fong sites that there was an increased incidence of the practice of suicide with the spread of education among women in the Ming and Qing dynasty, primarily due to the commonality for women to be exposed to the cultural definition of morally righteousness to pertain chastity. For example, in Ling Zhinu, a young widow committed suicide to resist the pressure on her to remarry in which brought about a maligning of her virtue by her husband's family. Similarly, Buddhist monks perform self-immolation to preserve important social values with an emphasis of "Wu-wo" (self-nonexistence). Self-immolations are used at time to protect the existence of the religion or to protect vital Buddhism principal. On May 1948, a monk named Kuo-shun, who lived in a solitary hut near Harbin, decided to protest against the treatment of Buddhism by the Chinese Communists by self-inflammation. Similar incident happened for monks who perform self-immolation to protest the persecution of the Buddhism religion and acts of violence during the Vietnam War. Both Buddhists monks and women perform self-immolation as an agency to protect the predicaments arising from the situation they are in and through committing suicide they seek to retrieve social norm of "what is right" through public attention and sympathy.

One similarity of self-immolation that both Buddhists monks and women share is the fact that in order to resist or preempted violence and unfair treatments they often resort to the very thing themselves, such as self-effacement or self-destruction, with suicide as the extreme form. A paradoxical phenomenon happen in the suicide acts for both monks and women. Despite the prohibition of self-damage and act to...
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