I don't want to sound Vulcan, but I mean self sacrifice which is out of proportion, what do Buddhists say about it? So as an example, going on a dangerous hunger strike, in order that your well fed friend has another loaf of bread.

I got thinking about this via dying for the "one you love", but obviously that sort of thinking is off in Buddhism.

  • hey, any comment on the downvote friend :) – user2512 Aug 23 '17 at 19:40

Here are three possible angles to look at it from:

  • A genuinely selfless action can be a wholesome act of generosity and compassion. But...
  • A sacrifice of any kind can be wholesome or unwholesome depending on the deep motivation. If the action is meant to manipulate or punish others (or even yourself), it will have bad results. Sometimes we are not aware of how we can have selfish motives for apparently selfless acts, so we have to be careful.
  • One of the "fetters" that binds a being to endless rounds of rebirths is attachment to "rites and rituals". So fasting as an attempt to propitiate fate or karma or God, or to achieve some kind of magical outcome, is useless. Prior to his enlightenment, the Buddha spent years starving himself thinking that that was the route to liberation from suffering. His motivation was pure, but he realized that it was pointless to destroy his body.
  • yes good start if i were serious contemplating this rather than just asking a dumb question. with well wishes :) – user2512 Aug 23 '17 at 20:24

In Buddhist Jataka stories you find Bodhisatva (Buddha in a previous life) sacrificing his life to feed hungry animals etc. However, in Sutta what you find is the practice of the middle path or Noble Eightfold Path.


Self-sacrfice for me is doing the washing up in the temple (or anywhere else for that matter) - I'm doing it in service of the dharma, other motives (besides obvious practical ones) are wrong (this is on a good day btw, normally I'm doing it because I'm told to :)).

Other types of self-sacrifice often look to me like acts of extreme defiance coming from anger and ego, but I think it's a matter of choice ultimately.

  • 1
    If there is no-Self (無我), who is being sacrificed? If there is no-Self, who is doing the washing up - this is a Ch'an Ko'an :)? – Mishu 米殊 Aug 24 '17 at 10:32
  • The small self is sacrifed, the self left doing dishes is Buddha. – user10515 Aug 24 '17 at 12:44
  • i like this comment :) – Mishu 米殊 Aug 24 '17 at 12:55

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