I spent one whole day in Tatopani in Sindhupalchok, the worst affected area in the April 2015 earthquake, where 300 of Sengdrak Rinpoche’s nuns and yoginis lost their homes, many thousands lost their lives and many more lost their beloved ones. I was quite happy to see that the rebuilding process is taking place gradually and most people are moving into temporary homes, and hopefully, permanent buildings will be ready soon. When I came back to Kathmandu, I was taken to a hotel where a celebration was organized by my nuns and some of my old friends and dignitaries for my western birthday. It was an evening well spent with old and new friends, full of Nepali traditional dances, waves of laughter, and good vegetarian food.
However, just half an hour ago, I received a call from one of my friends in India, requesting prayer for a young boy of 16 years old known as Dorje Tsering, from Dehra Dun, who died due to self-immolation. I couldn’t control my tears hearing this heartbreaking news. My prayer goes to his family and everyone who loves him and more so, my heart goes to him.
There have been almost 150 self-immolation cases in our Buddhist society. I don’t see any positive result in this. Please investigate and check whether there is any point in doing this. From the Buddha’s point of view, human rebirths are considered to be very precious. We say that it is almost impossible to attain a human body and once you have it you should not waste it because it is unlikely to come around again. A precious human life is one that is complete with favorable conditions, such as being in a place where you are free to practice spirituality, having all the human sense faculties, being born where spiritual teachings have been taught, and is interested in those teachings.
Since we have human form, we have to use it for individual and collective purposes. If you want to serve your own society, you have to have a body and if you want to serve yourself, you have to have a body. If you agree with me, we should not kill ourselves anymore, instead, we have to keep ourselves well and healthy enough to live long to serve Buddha Dharma and all sentient beings, and to reach our goals.
Self-immolations will not be able to resolve any issue, except making Buddhists look hopeless and making Buddha Dharma lose its relevance. We may end up being called “self terrorists”. There are different sorts of terrorists, those who destroy others and those who destroy themselves. Anyway, all are terrorists. In the course of it, we create negative karma, negative impression, and negative rebirths, yet nothing can be achieved. We should take full advantage of this life while we are here. Cutting our life short voluntarily is a meaningless tragedy in countless ways, no matter what the cause is.
It is really an irony that a few hours ago I was celebrating my western birthday, thinking “How fortunate I am to have achieved a human form,” and then just a while ago, I received news of a young boy who died in self-immolation. Not only that, most of the self-immolation cases are in their most youthful state of life, where their energy could be put to make the world a better place. I hope and pray sincerely that I will never hear this sort of sad news in our society anymore in the future.