On Suicide

One of the many flaws in the idea of heaven is that there is no end to it. No sane human being would possibly opt for an ‘inconclusive’ existence, for the very idea has a morbid air of claustrophobia to it. We live in a three dimensional world, and our natures have been attuned to a peculiar way of existence. Our lives, just like our days, have a beginning and an end. How can a religion allure its believers to drool over an eternity of sunshine and luxury? What if we don’t like it there? What if the gift is not worth the wait? What If we want to quit?


Life’s beauty lies in the certainty of death. “It will end” is the tag line to all our miseries and joys. The temporary nature of present and the possibility of an exotic or horrid future, our lives are a tableau of uncertainties and probabilities. And how we choose, from the ever short menu of choices, is as charming as it is frightful a thing. So let’s suppose if the show is not worthwhile or the menu is boring, why not quit?


Camus said “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide”. What is the purpose of our existence? And if there is a purpose, is it being fulfilled? We can’t possibly know the answers to either of these questions. Life is a series of events that are carrying us from one age to another, year after year, ceaselessly loading and unloading the baggage of existence. The absurdity of it is that the conflict between what we desire and what we get is a constant background score that plays on while lives are withered. And yet so few of us contemplate the question, and fewer still find a satisfactory answer to it: Is it worth it?


I think its not. No, life is shit and treats most of us like shit. Consciousness is an overstep in the evolution of human beings, and we are just languishing in this epoch of a few million years, which hopefully will transform to an age that is less prone to such absurdities. The mediocre can find everything fascinating, from birch trees to Friday sermons, but the brightest of minds tend to get bored of this hula-balu. And rightly so.


At times when the terrors of life surpass the fear of death, when the boredom or horrors of existence become overwhelming, a conscious being must be allowed to exercise his/her right to liberation. Even if you choose not to, the very idea that you could end it all is consoling. The fear of death is at times not about when it happens but how it happens. Suicide gives one the freedom to choose the setting for his departure, in the manner that one considers suitable.


In Japanese culture, suicide is something that is not looked down upon, but is considered a sacred act, a ritual and an honourable thing to do instead of surrendering. A Samurai would commit Seppuku rather than submit to an enemy. A man chooses to end his own life, on his own terms and in a way he wants to.


But religion despises the very idea of Suicide for obvious reasons. Firstly, the fear of death is a constant currency for every religion, and the capital is lost if death becomes a friend and not a dreaded enemy. Also, death has to be an alien monster lurking in shadows and ready to devour you at anytime, and only a mighty supernatural being can possibly save you from that. This is one of the many reasons that all monotheistic religions denounce suicide. Because it acquaints us to death is a doorway, as a possible answer to all our problems. A friend, on whom you can rely for help in the worst of times.


But why does the State prohibits death? And even more preposterously so, why does it have a punishment for someone who attempts suicide? Is it to punish him for his clumsiness or to make his already difficult life a tad too unbearable? Over no other thing does a man have greater claim than his own life, and by encroaching upon this fundamental right the state is committing a gross act of encroachment into the private life of a citizen. Seneca called it ‘an act of great courage and bravery’ and urged that to end one’s life is a prerogative that an individual must be allowed to exercise.


And yet we live. Day after day, enduring the curse of existence, running around to find direction and make choices without understanding that we are all a kite stuck in a hurricane. But we live, because our life is not just ours. It belongs to everyone who loves us and holds us dear. To end one’s life is not necessarily an act of cowardice or bravery, but it is an atrocity committed against every single individual who loves us. By ending ones’ self, one takes away a part of their lives too.


If you drop a piece of iron or steel on the surface of water, it drowns instantly. The immensity of the sea swallows it. But If you attach a wooden log to it, even a ton of iron will float calmly on the surface and never let the sea consume it. Love is the wooden log that floats us amid all these pains and terrors. Love, and only love.




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