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Suffering and Bioethics$
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Ronald M. Green and Nathan J. Palpant

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199926176

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199926176.001.0001

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Endure, Adapt, or Overcome? The Concept of “Suffering” in Buddhist Bioethics

Endure, Adapt, or Overcome? The Concept of “Suffering” in Buddhist Bioethics

(p.309) 16 Endure, Adapt, or Overcome? The Concept of “Suffering” in Buddhist Bioethics
Suffering and Bioethics

Jens Schlieter

Oxford University Press

The central position of suffering in its fundamental doctrines is a characteristic of Buddhism. Yet, Buddhists express the rather optimistic idea that all people are—in the long run—able to overcome suffering. Focusing on recent bioethical discourse, the contribution portrays the discourse regarding the alleviation of suffering of terminally ill and dying patients, the use of antidepressants, and the prognostics of suffering concerning embryos with certain diseases. The dying person, for example, should be able to develop skillful, wholesome mental attitudes—such as being content, tranquil, and focused. A palliative therapy with strong analgesics might therefore not be adequate if it precludes a clear state of mind. Buddhist scholars have expressed the fear that modern society may become a “painless civilization” (Masahiro Morioka) that loses sight of the meaning of suffering and its transformative power. The final goal is to cultivate capacities in order to fully overcome—and not to endure, nor to mitigate—suffering.

Keywords:   Buddhism, suffering, prognostics, palliative therapy, analgesics, painless civilization

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