I’ve been reading a couple of good books* by a Hindu swami named Sirshree. Nearly all of the wisdom in the books, regarding life and afterlife, corresponds to what I’ve learned or deduced through my ITC research. There are just a few points of disagreement, and at least one of them I may have to concede to the swami. It has to do with suicide.
My idea: Suicide usually, but not always, has harmful consequences after we die. It’s our mental outlook and attitude that are key to our afterlife destiny; if we take our own life while distressed, we’ll live in troubled surroundings for awhile, before finding paradise. But there are situations when suicide would be fine. For example, if we have a terminal illness in great pain, cutting life short by a few days or weeks or months would not be a problem, as long as we were otherwise happy and at peace. I’ve believed that for years… until the swami’s book and a casual chat with my wife forced me to reconsider.
The swami’s idea: Suicide under any circumstances is a mistake that can fill us with regret in the afterlife. Suffering is part of the Earth experience, and so it’s something to accept from a human perspective … and maybe even something to relish from the soul perspective. When we make the transition and reflect on our recent life, the whole experience becomes an important entry in our soul’s diary… and it’s a mistake to remove pages prematurely.
This morning Regina related the story of her friend Katie, whose father died recently at age 90 after spending several years on dialysis, with failed kidneys. By my beliefs, it would have been fine for him to have cut his life short once his kidneys failed. He’d already lived a full life and was essentially content. Why subject himself and his family to needless suffering?
Katie tells the story differently. During those final years she says her dad was transformed into a bundle of love and wisdom. He became an absolute joy to spend time with. He spoke of the importance of love and spiritual understanding, and people invariably had a warm feeling inside in his presence. One day he was asked, “Do you feel like yourself today?” And he replied, “Which self?”
Living those extra years, even in a bed-ridden condition that most of us would equate with a poor quality of life, allowed him to find love and bliss, making his suffering worthwhile and giving him the opportunity to take important steps toward self-realization.
Isn’t that the purpose of life on Earth, after all – – to connect our conscious physical mind with our finer spiritual mind, and bring the love and wisdom into this world through our thoughts, words, and actions? Isn’t that the meaning of self-realization – – to awaken to the real you and me, that eternal spark of boundless wisdom and love residing in our heart?
I think nearly all swamis agree on that: The purpose of life anywhere is to realize the true, eternal self within.
There are many obstacles here on Earth that get in the way of self-realization… and suicide is certainly one of them.
So, dear Swami, I stand corrected! Live life to its fullest… and get to know that fine, subtle, perfect self that is at the core of each of us. Experience the full range of joy and suffering found only on this most fascinating planet Earth.
(Incidentally, I’ve started this new year as planned – – doing deep, blissful heart meditations one to three times a day. I use a 10-minute excerpt from my Bridge to Paradise CD, produced by the Monroe Institute. That short clip moves me to a finer level of consciousness, then fades out, to leave me alone, silently, in a wonderful meditative state.
If you’d like a copy of that excerpt, click here, click on “hear a sample,” then download the file to your computer. Listen through headphones, and you’ll have some wonderful heart meditations!)
* The Magic of Awakening (a collection of questions and answers on esoteric and spiritual topics) and The Soul Purpose (a story of Siddhartha Gautama [the Buddha] with an important twist: instead of leaving his family to find nirvana in the forest, he is magically enlightened by his family).