Parikuppasutta in the light of Enduring Power of Attorney

Good evening community :slightly_smiling_face:

I am thinking about this now for a while and today I read the Parikuppasutta sutta and it came up in my mind again.

Imagine you are the EPA for health and welfare for your non spiritual parents (or other relative) and one or both have a directive that they, under certain circumstances, don’t want to carry on with live.

They put the trust in you that you follow their directive but you can’t do it because of the first precept and also because of Buddha’s advice in (not only) this Sutta.

Yes, you could say no but what if you are the only child / relative?

I think karmic consequences weigh more heavily on ones mind than the guilty feeling to let them down.
I had once the painful experience of listening to the begging “I want to die” during the last weeks of dying but this truly loved person knew I couldn’t do it.

I would be interested in your thoughts.
Thank you and travel safe on your path :owl:

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What’s an EPA?

(@management, can we please be free of this 20 character minimum? Or at least bump it down to 10? it seems like all it does is force pointless text. Like this.)


Lunky seconds this lion’s roar

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Most places in the United States at least have the concept of a living will. That is a legal document a person can author and sign that directs what kind of care they wish to receive and what kind of care they do not wish to receive at the end of life. It is also possible to place someone else that one trusts in the position of power of attorney who can make such decisions at the end of life as a proxy for the person receiving or not receiving the care. There is no requirement that the power of attorney be a child or relative.

As a Buddhist practicing the precepts, if you are unable to give directives to terminate care at the end of life, then I don’t see why you should be forced into that position. The person wishing for certain treatment at the end of life can make alternative arrangements. :pray:

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Dear Bhante @Snowbird

Sorry, an EPA is an Enduring Power of Attorney. This can be for health and/or money

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A person not in the correct state of mind may be considered a danger to themselves instead of considered lucid in the idea that they want to end their life. Life is precious, even in pain and suffering, and treating Loved ones who are suffering in Compassion is the key.

We all suffer. This is the First Noble Truth. Nowhere did the Buddha Teach that willfully ending someone’s life is the answer. I think focusing on the well-being on the person suffering is what He taught, so likewise, do the same. Blessings and condolences.

People with advanced forms of dementia often refuse to eat. Without eating people starve to death. It is thought they refuse to eat because the brain has so deteriorated that it simply stops telling the body when it is hungry. The signal simply does not go through.

In such a situation, the doctors treating the people will look for a living will or ask the power of attorney if they should force them to eat. Forcing people to eat in advanced stages of dementia is traumatic. Often they will fight and from the outside it often looks like an act of violence.

In such circumstances, while I agree that compassion is the best motivator, it often is not easy to tell what is the best action to take or not take. Certainly, I know of no precepts that indicate.

All of this is to say that end of life care is complicated and it is not always easy to identify the most compassionate care or not care. The thrust of the OP to me is not about purposely acting to end someone’s life. Terminal disease and are often the killer in these circumstances. The question as I understand it is what to do if you have power of attorney and the doctor is asking if you want them to perform CPR or the like when you know the person in question did not want this.


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One should not be insane with the precepts; but generally they give rise to the most wholesome behaviour. Forcing someone to eat is traumatic, but ending a human being’s life is more traumatic for everyone. The understanding abides in the knowledge of the value of human life. There is always a way out of suffering, that’s the Spirit behind Buddhism, otherwise our Philosophy would be faulty. :heart:

Do you regard not forcing someone to eat as “ending a human being’s life?” :pray:

There’s a world of difference (both karmically and even legally) between killing someone and not forcing unwanted medical care on them. If someone has a DNR or wants “the plug to be pulled” we should respect their wishes there.

Assuming you’re referring to assisted suicide (actively ending life) I agree this would break the first precept.

Seeing a dying loved one patiently through their pain to the very end is a powerful Dhamma teaching (for both of you). Sādhu on being there for them and demonstrating for them your practice of khanti and upekkhā :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Allowing someone to starve to death, especially when they are not in the correct state of mind, can be considered a form of abuse. If they die, the steward in responsibility could be liable for their death. It’s very difficult to get through, but in the Saha World these difficult situations and decisions come up, so it’s better to follow the Dhamma than emotions. Even fasting against Dhammic principles can be considered unrecommended, like for political reasons, because some have died from such things, and it isn’t treating the human body’s need to eat as it was intended. However, all respects for the best wishes that those give towards trying to accomplish something for society in fasting for many days like Ghandi, I just personally think people should eat. There’s always ways for social change. Martin Luther King took from Ghandi’s philosophy: boycotts, marches, etc. but he respected the human body’s need to eat in the process. I think nothing negative about Ghandi, however, I just deeply care for his wellbeing. Then again Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, all respects to Him, but that is a whole other story. :pray:

May you never be in the position of having to force feed a frail and dying loved one who does not know who you are and is terrified. May you never have to do this despite knowing that when they were of sound mind they directly expressed to you that they did not want this. :pray:


I’m all for not force feeding someone. However if they are on the brink of starvation there are issues such as the ones that come up with anorexic patients.

Thank you for your kind thoughts.

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I would never assist suicide because that’s clear for me that this is breaking the first precept.

Yes, it was a very powerful teaching but also very painful.

So thank you again, your answer gave me more food for thought :lady_beetle:

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Thank you. I think this is exactly the problem. What is one supposed to do when the other person doesn’t want to be force fed, get CPR or similar.

Palliative care is VERY rewarding but gets difficult when, i.e. your parents, know exactly how they DON’T want to end up. No discussion possible because beliefs or spirituality are non existent.

As Bhante Khemarato said; letting nature take it’s course is very different to killing someone.

Before advances in medicine a ‘natural death’ was the only option, there was no means of medical resuscitation.