Stay with me: A Buddhist view on Suicide

I’ve always seen suicide as an act of great courage. But I respect those who consider it an act of great cowardice. I believe it takes courage to leave life, to know the pain we will cause to those left behind.

Most of all, it takes courage to believe that ending this journey is going to release the person from any sort of suffering in the future. While Buddhists empathize with the pain that the person may be feeling, however they don’t think that suicide is acceptable. Let’s see why.

Everything will come to an end eventually, everything will be okay

We all arrive here in life with an expiration date. We’re not given any information about the departing date for a reason, which is subject to a lot of discussion. Essentially, we’re perishable beings on a path to evolution. 

According to Buddhism as we reach complete enlightenment the need for rebirth disappears. After all, we’ve reached our goal. The only reason to return here is to help humankind in their developmental process. It is said some of the enlightened have done so.

Our journey, also known as Dharma, which has ups and downs. We’re the ones designing the next mile. Karma is action, it is what we do now, it is the seed we’re sewing in this very moment that has an ability to stretch years into the future. 

Dharma will have challenges and “tests” that are there to show us what we need to work on. Sometimes I feel that his pandemic we’re now (2020) facing is one of those challenges. It represents some sort of collective karma, in response to all the harmful acts we’ve done before. 

Isolation, unemployment, illness, and bankruptcy have invaded people’s lives without warning. People are tested, and asked constantly to look at life with a different lens. 

Spending time by yourself, learning about yourself and how you can use your time in the most productive way possible. But spending everyday with our family members has proven to be a challenge. Some are failing at this. A few countries have already registered that domestic violence has increased.

But, what about the ones still employed with good health and living in harmony with their family? Are they finding ways to help the needy? Fortunately, the answer is yes. The world has never seen an expression of empathy and compassion like the one we’re experiencing now.

How does this relate to suicide? Because in suicide people make the cognitive fallacy and believe that they’re alone in their suffering. What this year has proven, is that we are not alone. Our personal battles, and our ups and downs are shared with the collective. The microcosm is part of the macrocosm.

Is the decision right or wrong?

I’ve said this many times before and I’ll say it again, there’s no one watching you. So, don’t be afraid. If this is what you want. Buddhists don’t judge, they don’t spy on their mates either. What they will do is experience your pain and compassion, and listen to all your reasons for why you want to go through with your decision.

One of the main Buddhist precepts is no killing (or no harming). It’s not restrained to the other, but it also applies to the self. Suicide is a violation of this percept and that is not right or good. This is the whole purpose of Buddhism, it is to transcend suffering of the self and then to spread that message to the world.

The act of suicide, not only causes harm to the self, and the future of the soul. But it also creates life long suffering for all the people who will now live with the pain left behind by the act.

The act also reveals a great deal of delusion, hatred and attachment, which are the origins of suffering. A person who decides to take their own life does it believing it is an end (delusion). Life is hard, disappointing and people are horrible (hatred). And probably this person has not gotten what they wanted or has gotten what they thought she didn’t deserve (attachment).

Instead of dealing with the three monsters that build suffering in their heart, the person chooses to give up on understanding how the monsters manipulate reality. Instead the person must learn to find the source of their suffering, and understand what acts can free themselves of it.

To Buddhists when one dies, part of a greater unity dies. It reveals the extremity of individuality and separation.

What happens after?

Karma is the rule that guarantees justice and balance in the universe. It is also known as the law of cause and effect. What would a suicidal person be sowing if they put an end to their life?

I’m not able to give an accurate answer. I’m sure though that they’re not harvesting love or good, as their actions are not moved by love nor by good.

Some Buddhist schools believe that the person who commits the act, has to relive that suffering in their next lives, until they can fully overcome their challenge. 

Stay here

Any Buddhist that receives the news of a suicide that’s happened will pray for that person. They won’t judge the reasons. They know that this will not decrease any suffering. They’ll feel sorry for the waste of life and also try to comfort the family of the victim. There’s nothing more.

Death is going to happen anyway, there’s no need to rush. The suffering we’re intending  to overcome will come back stronger, since there’s a violation of a very important precept. 

The journey will continue after suicide, Buddhists are sure of that. The suffering will continue and probably the origins of that suffering will continue to absorb that person.

There is only one way out of suffering, and it is not death. It is nirvana, it is the awakening. It is perceiving that we are meant to join a Unity. And that we’re meant to help shine a light into the world once our own is lit.

Stay safe.