BEIJING, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Threcent self-immolations by monks and nuns in Tibetan areas of southwest China's Sichuan province have seriously violated the fundamental precept of Buddhism, said a renowned Tibetologist in a signed article on Tuesday.
Those who set themselves alight and killed themselves in a cruel and extreme manner breached the Buddhist tenet of not killing and delivering all living creatures from suffering, said Li Decheng, director of the Institute for Religious Studies under the China Tibetology Research Center, in the piece, published by Xinhua.
Buddhists should abstain from taking life, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech and drinking fermented beverages, principles which are known as the "Five Precepts" and constitute the basic code of ethics for all Buddhism followers, according to Li.
Li quoted Buddhist scriptures as saying that taking no life is a fundamental precept that must be observed, and of all forms of killing, taking human life is the most serious sin.
"Taking life, killing others and committing suicide included, are the most sinful of all sins, and not killing is the most noble of all acts of benevolence," Li said.
Most of the self-immolation attempts were reported in Aba county of Sichuan's Aba Tibetan-Qiang autonomous prefecture. Nearly all the victims were current or former clergy of the Kirti Monastery.
Some people embellished the incidents as "religious acts to show people's dedication to Buddha," "rare noble acts" and "the most benevolent deeds," descriptions which greatly tainted and deviated from Buddhist doctrines of forsaking evil and promoting virtue, Li wrote in the article.
Quoting Buddhist scriptures, Li said killing oneself or others, or instigating such killing, constitute "grave sins," and those who commit sins of this kind "must be expelled from the Buddhist circle, disqualified as a monk or nun and condemned to hell."
In addition, the precept of taking no life also calls for saving life, the writer said.
Cherishing life and opposing suicide have become principles upheld worldwide and countries across the world have participated in fighting religious extremism and terrorist and violent acts in the name of religion, Li said.
Therefore, self-immolations by monks and nuns must be stopped, Li said. Violations of Buddhist precepts should be prohibited to ensure the sound and lasting development of the religion.