February 22, 2016
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.
2 Peter 1:19
In a world that seems to have forgotten the individual behind the skin, we become frightened of continued existence. The results of our past which has led us to our current undesired situations makes us feel bound to a particular mode of existence and we feel trapped within it. The ideal life that we desire seems impossible and it feels like you are the only one who cares. Abandoned by a world that has turned their backs, suicide becomes such a tempting escape. But in dealing with such matters, one should learn the specifics of this decision, as the permanent action is not one to be reversed. If we are to contemplate suicide, we should first learn what it is that we are speaking of.
This heartfelt letter to my fellow human companion has no other purpose than to assist your decision. It is in attempts to present these arguments in an objective fashion. For Do not live your life and it is not my place to judge your actions, for it is not your life that I live. As you were thrown into the world through no choice of your own, you were given one primary responsibility and that is yourself. It is you that is in control of your own vessel: if your suffering is so great that you must end your life, then I am not one to judge and neither is anyone else, even when they say they are. Suicide is a choice and it is not the intention of this letter to convince you of anything else. All that I ask is that you hear this letter out and grasp any wisdom that it might pass on to you. If you have or are contemplating suicide, then I encourage you to read and think about this letter. A decision as important as a life needs careful consideration and reflection before the act. You would not desire to realise any different after the damage has been inflicted. The slide to non-existence is frightening when one "wakes up" before death. I am writing from experience within this topic and I hope that you consider my words.
I would like you to know my credentials to speak of this subject. I have suffered from suicidal ideation for much of my life. My cries for help were constantly ignored and I had no idea where to turn. After much searching, I turned to philosophy. Philosophy is not a magical pill that can cure over night, however, philosophy can present many perspectives that can give us the tools to make ourselves, and dare I say our lives, into the ideal that we desire most in our hearts. And philosophy will help our hearts position their attachments to healthy and pure desires. I am not claiming that philosophy will rid you of your human condition, but what I am claiming is that it can help you bear it and investigate methods to overcome it. No, these methods will not be written in chronological order for you, for this medicine is one that is created by yourself.In actuality philosophy will make things worse before they get any better. But when one places suicide on the table, we are faced with the greatest of all philosophical questions, "to be or not to be". To transcend the problems that we have created in life we must first slay our dragons. To look our demons in the eyes in order to study them. And when we find the root of the problems we are then in the position to find ways to remove them from our lives.
At first we will cover the topic of the existential crisis. The feeling of hopelessness and alienation in an abysmal world. Our attempts to pull ourselves up from the precipice is a frightening task especially when there is no rope from the world to be found. Here is a rope.
Later, we will consider some of the reasons why one might consider suicide and analyse some of its philosophical implications. To consider the value of life in attempts to clean up the taboo minefield that society has crafted. We will attempt to explore the topic that you struggle with as well as diagnose whether or not your own struggles with life have a deeper seeded root. For when we place our life on the line, we all struggle with the same existential crisis. If you are suicidal, what harm can come from learning some of the details of our suffering? It is precisely a result of this suffering that we now stand on this bridge. I am not here to talk you down. Just to talk.
To end, we will discuss transcendence. This is our ability to overcome ourselves. This section will be the most important content of this letter to you, my dear suffering soul. We will explore what it means to go beyond the self, giving the control of life back to the subject, namely, You.
It is the strong who will survive, for it is not the purpose of this letter to present you with an easy way out. For living life is far from easy. However, it is the intention of this letter to lead you to a road that can be walked if you so choose. For in honest and open discussion about suicide, we need to remember the importance of the topic. Your own incline towards suicide is directed at a drastic action. And sometimes drastic actions are needed to re-orientate ourselves. This letter will not direct you back into the comforts of your old life, for it is obvious that life did not work for you. If this leap from your old life frightens you, I encourage you to at least finish reading this letter before you make any decisions. This is your life and you can live it (or take that life away) if you choose.But for now, sit back and attempt to detach from your life and yourself while I outline some important topics that I believe that you should consider.
Just one more thing before we begin my friend. By the very fact that you are contemplating this very question places you in the best and most receptive position possible to enable change. When one no longer desires to continue existence, they become more free than ever before. Right now my dear reader, you are in a much better spot than all the other sleep walkers in the world. For the one who contemplates suicide is waking up. You are given a glimpse into the importance of philosophy, for your existential question is all enclosed around it. This letter will attempt to serenade you out of your slumber. And once you have woken, you stand in a much better position to decide whether or not you should end your life. Please hold my hand and walk with me and I will introduce you to the wilderness of the human. Let's now clear up the fog of the taboo topic of suicide.
We are forcibly thrown into an existence that we never asked for. We are raised in a fashion that we have little say over. We are socially enframed by our caretakers primarily and the external world of cultural normalities secondarily. After birth we study the world in order to make sense of it all. Eventually we discover that feet go on the ground and hat goes on the head. We explore the confinements of gravity and how our bodies react being pulled to the core of the earth. We attempt to articulate that abstract feeling in our souls but find it difficult to communicate to the other occupants of the world and this makes us frustrated. Thus we immerse ourselves in the language of our culture in order to better communicate because we realise that our comforts increase the more we are able to utilise its practice. Even from this young age we demonstrate an amazing ability of dedication towards what is not. For it is always the grail that seems impossible that is most rewarding to accomplish in life. As Heidegger might say, we are always living ahead of ourselves.
As we get older we are passed on a set of guidelines to live by. We are told when to brush our teeth, when to go to school, and when to go to sleep. We acquire a class lifestyle that will likely be passed to future generations. The mundane of the world is placed on a pedestal, and we are required to endure or embrace the ways of our company. We are pushed upon others similar ages to us and are required to make friendships or retreat into solitude. And making friendships is no easy task especially when the thoughts of one person do not harmonise with the thought of the other. Meaningful thoughts are discouraged by adults finding them ridiculous. Slowly each child learns from their environment how to "correctly" comport themselves in the world and they then hit puberty.
Our developing bodies and minds cause us much frustration. We are overcome with urges to do things that would be considered inappropriate. Freud would attribute this to our suppressed child rearing especially in the matter of sexual expression. Our Darwinian nature shows itself fully for the first time as we develop into beings towards reproduction. Just as we once learned how to walk and speak, we now learn how to shave. But this time our emotions develop deeper. We learn the power of words and the emotional attachments that they hold. We abstractly learn our way around romantic love and may make and break hearts along the way, and others may make and break our own. We come to learn our bodies and vanity becomes our identification. The way we believe that we appear to others is who we believe we are, and this self-conception will determine how we are seen by others. It will result in our self-confidence and the way we hold ourselves. The difficulties within emotional life are introduced to us and we are required to find ways to cope with the roller coaster of life.
Once we are able to take control of our emotions we develop into young adults. We invest into a detail in life and attempt to make an occupation of it. We study what we are required to in order to obtain that employment that we so desire, or we may already be lost in the abyss of life and not yet know what to do. We are presented two roads in education: the long or the short. For many, the desire to take the quickest road possible seems very attractive, usually leaving its long term results repressed or unconsidered. Our hunger for freedom weighs heavy on our hearts and we believe that this freedom can be obtained by enslaving ourselves into employment as quickly as possible. For we have been at first ruled by our caretakers and now desire to break from that. We transition our enslavement from parental to employment and government. And according to our social normalities, this is when one "grows up".
Eventually we find solace in routine. We play the television repeats over and over again. We find resentment within employment and as Marx would likely say, we despise it because the fruits of our own labour is being exploited from us by another. Yet each day we muster up enough courage to wake ourselves up to bring our bodies to work. With little fulfilment being found in employment, we look around our lives to find something else to cling to, something else to fill the emptiness in our hearts. So we attempt to manifest this within family. We marry and have children, repeating this chicken and egg process. But this time we are on the other side of the coin.
We grow older while repeating the process of our caretakers. We love our children and desire the best for them, so we indoctrinate them with what we have found to be best. They grow older and we experience their lives with them. We see them grow and become very protective as we would anything that we deeplycare for. The years go by and we learn from both our romantic relationships and our children. The mundane of employment becomes tolerable when the rest of our life seems to be fulfilling. The years race by and our children leave us. We might be proud of them but we invested so much of our lives into them that we are unsure how to let go. A new life presents itself to us and our direction is disorientated. To cope we may try new and different experiences, or we may retreat into the comforts and discomforts of loneliness. While our children are just beginning their journey, ours feels complete... or maybe incomplete.
We age and either become reflective in our years or immerse ourselves into hobbies. Our health deteriorates and our options reduce their scope. We slowly learn how to accept death and once we have been deemed too much of a hassle, we are administered into aged care homes. This is of course if we were lucky enough not to die by accident or of disease. Our children have children and we may be lucky enough to experience one or two future generations created from our own offspring. The process continues and we learn to rest in our coffin by seeing all the fruits of our lives. A life lived with the minimal purpose actualised: to endure through it to successfully reproduce the species.Do you see anything wrong with this picture? For this is the circle of life. But how are we to find and create meaning in our own lives? For this picture of a human life is the one that most current cultures and societies have placed as purpose. In actual fact this is the purpose of the society that we are placed in and not our own. The deep seeded void that we feel is enslavement. Enslavement by society. For this picturesque life is handed down and not your own. Considering this, what purpose do you have? Have you yet found your own purpose or you still wallowing confined to the chains of the purpose of the state? If this question rings any bells for you, let me assure you that all hope is not lost no matter what your age. But my dear fellow human being, I am getting ahead of myself. Let us first discuss your predicament.
We begin our journey in the maze crying and wailing. Eventually we learn how to crawl around it exploring as one would explore the moon. When we learn to walk we take adventures to new dead ends. As we get older we realise this maze to be a method of travel and we remove ourselves from our situated place and begin to walk. We walk great distances time and time again only to find dead ends. We become frustrated in life, for it never seems to be how we desire it. And how do we desire it? For that remains an abstract that we have difficulties to articulate. The path chosen is simply due to experience. For we are in a struggle to actualise the life that we desire, and the life that we desire can only be found through the experience and directions that we set ourselves on. As Hume might say, we must have experience before we are able to include that experience in our understandings. The life that we desire remains an unknown until that life is actualised. Therefore, life is but a game and it is us that must make our move, and after doing so stand back to watch the results of that move. The present is but a means to the future, and the past is our history book to learn from.
We therefore stand on the precipice of the mountain staring into the abyss of what could be. The feeling is daunting and our natural instinct is to step away from the edge. For when one looks down, they are not looking into the world but themselves. The possibilities within the self seems infinite but at the same time futile. When one no longer values their own life within their particular environment and community, that edge is such a beautiful spot to sit. For the abyss is so attractive to the suffering soul. For one not only has the ability to throw themselves off but also can choose where to throw themselves off. My fellow sufferer, it is not the intention of this letter to ask you to step away from the edge, actually quite the opposite. But it is instead the intention of this letter to equip you with the understanding to wisely make the choice as to where you could throw yourself into that said abyss.
Even though the precipice gives us comforts in our darkest hours, it also causes us pain. What could be taunts us and we can only seem to visualise it from afar. The magnificent mountain decreases its beauty the closer we get to it. The agitation of living in the present and striving towards the future wears away our endurance. We feel alone and alienated in a world that shows little or no concern for the particular individual but instead places its eggs in the basket of the collective. Unhealthy relationships are looked over and we feel trapped within them. We come to understand true loneliness independent of whether people are around or not. For you are not the same breed as those sleep walkers my friend. There is something in you that embraces purpose and meaning, otherwise I would not be speaking to you while you stand on that cliff. This despair that we feel is what Kierkegaard calls anxiety. And it is within this anxiety that we are most perceptive to see the chains on our wrists. Look at your chains my friend. For it is these chains that have led you to the edge of the cliff.
Who are you? Is your body you? Your thoughts or actions? Locke suggests that there is no thing in itself but only properties of those things. For example, try and describe a tree without its properties. The tree is a tree because it possesses the "treeness" of a tree. Without these properties there is no tree. This is similar to Buddha's onion, for we are but layers enclosed in nothing. And it is that nothing that truly is. In addition, one can never truly see a tree but only a certain perspective of the tree. Our human makeup does not allow us to truly perceive the tree in its entirety, but only gives us a snapshot from a certain perspective: we assume the rest.
Sartre expounds on this nothingness by relation to a coffee shop. You arrange to meet your friend there and you look around and see nothing, for the one you are looking for is nowhere to be seen. You sit down and wait for them, all the while filtering out what is, in search for what is not, namely, your friend. Thus this time, and maybe time and time again before you have given up on finding your true desires because your search for what is not has failed again and again.
Again I am not telling you to step away from the edge fellow suffering comrade. But please hear my words before you make that leap of faith. But let me assure you that there is hope. My proposition is by far not an easy road to travel, but nothing great happened over night. The path will give you appreciation for the life that you wish to make for yourself. Through the journey you will find and create meaning, forever forming your own destiny. For the more that you experience and learn, the more that your ideal life will change. You will become master of your own destiny and shape this world to suit yourself, instead of allowing the world to shape you. Human purpose is to surpass the limits of itself. Let us start with your chains...
How would you do it? What method would you utilise to end your life? Would you cut yourself and bleed out, jump from a precipice, throw yourself in front of a moving vehicle, poison or overdose yourself, hold yourself under water, stick a gun to the side of your head, or starve or dehydrate yourself? How much violence and suffering are you willing to withstand to carry out the deed? When one decides to fade from this world this becomes and important question. And most importantly, could your act stand as a universal allowance given to all mankind? If a loved one was to perform the act that you are thinking of, would it be okay? What moral responsibility do you have regarding your own life? Kant suggests that we must first consider our actions in relationship to the universal in order to carry out a just act. For example, lying would be immoral because we ourselves do not wish for others to lie to us. Thus lying is an immoral action because it cannot be made universal. If you are to perform the act, you should first consider as many perspectives as you can. Remember the permanence of this action. There is no undo button and if we are in error, we should identify it before we make decisions without an undo button.
Let us picture a world inhabited by unthinking automatons. Where each is stuck in their own programming, carrying out actions that they have conditioned their conscious to perform. This world is semi-functional as a collective, but when the individual is questioned as to why they do the things they do they are unable to answer sufficiently. If a question out of the "ordinary" is presented to one of these automatons, they become uneasy, for their way of life has just been questioned. The reasons for their actions is not consciously known and they become defensive to protect their way of life which the spotlight has just shined. The easiest solution is to remove the one "disrupting the peace" and that is exactly what happened. The one posing the questions was Socrates. The one now posing the questions is U.
For the one who no longer clings to life is not in as bad as position as they think. For suicidal ideation is but the birthing pains of a truly magnificent soul that is waking from their slumber. That soul is you and I hope that you continue to read and absorb my words. For they are written for you and come from the bottom of my heart. Let my song encourage you to open your eyes after a lifetime of sleep. It is you that I want by my side and not those who are addicted to their sleeping pills. It is time to rise my friend. Let me help you to your feet. When you rise let us dance together, but remember that it takes two to tango. It is not the intention of this letter to bring you back to the point where you can once again cling to life, for this is one of the follies of mankind, for clinging itself causes us suffering. It is your suicidal state that gives you power, for your life is no longer of concern. By this seeded desire for death has already brought you outside the box of the collective. Now I urge you to follow my words so that you can now learn to transcend your current suffering. Mankind is something to surpass. Are you up for the task? What do you have to loose? You are already contemplating ending it all. And that is why anything is possible with you my friend.
In order to repair a car one must first identify the root cause for the malfunction. Similarly, to fix your computer one must first find out what is causing your computer to act up. Humans are not so different in so far as we have underlying issues for the problems that we experience. This is why Western medicine can be extremely dangerous because so often it is only the symptoms that are being treated. If you fix your car with some tape or fix your computer by going around the problem leaves your equipment vulnerable to not only not taking care of the problem, but also will most likely make it worse or even cause new problems. The person that you have made yourself into to date can be explained not only from your past and your hereditary genes, but also in the history of the world that you were brought in to. To track back these causes both helps you to understand yourself and gives you direction as to where you might go in order to rectify these issues.
Thus, if you choose not to end your life then direction is given. To attempt to articulate the abstract of your own consciousness becomes your task. For this is no easy mission and failure after failure will result. But in each failure we reach success. In these pursuits we place ourselves on a staircase and if we make it happen we can travel up more often then down. Each failure as a step, because in each failure you get closer to the ideal that you search for. There exist very few situations in which we are able to leap over many stairs. One cannot leap over their own shadow. Make friends with your shadow, for it will remind you of what you once thought to be the "real world". Isn't it about time you wake up? You my friend are not your shadow.
If it is oneself that is not liked then one needs to find and work on the underlying reasons behind that. If it is the environment that is found problematic, one needs to take steps to change that. And if it is social relationships that cause suffering, repair or recreation is what is needed. One is never stuck in a situation. There is always ways out. To turn your back and walk away from it all is always an option. You are always where you place yourself to be. If all else fails, use your feet and walk away. For this solution can save a precious life. To repair and recreate, one needs a healthy atmosphere. It is you that are required to make that atmosphere. To turn around and start walking is sometimes the best solution. Your people are out there. You just have to find them. And I assure you that what you will be leaving is only a conglomerate of sleeping souls. For now I suggest that you stand up, stretch your arms, yawn, and prepare yourself for the road ahead.
"Why me?" you might ask. And I will tell you my friend. You are but a subject of evolution. Imagine a species of black butterflies that have brought into the world a minority of mutated offspring, this offspring being white. The atmospheric conditions are not appropriate for these butterflies as they are easily spotted by birds who would love to eat them. As a response, the strongest must fight for their survival. One of these white butterflies embarks on a journey for survival and travels up a mountain. This mountain is covered with snow and it is now the black butterflies that become the main course on the birds menu. Thus the white butterfly transcends its dietary problem. This mutated trait now becomes an advantage and is now envied by its fellow species. It is now this characteristic that other butterflies desire and the population is only to thrive if the mutation is passed on to offspring. Darwin might say that it is suffering that can inspire an entity to change its situation. But this butterfly was something special as it pushed on in its suffering to change its existence. You can be this butterfly. But with that being said, our comforts make us lazy. It was only this one butterfly that was able to act on the world instead of having the world act on it. The rest of the butterflies were merely sleeping. This, my friend, is your wake up call.
Thus our project in life becomes focused on the conditions that we suffer from so that we may no longer suffer. According to Nietzsche, the human is something to surpass. He presented to us an ideal of human that is worthy and meaningful to strive for. A human that creates their lives in the way that they understand best. Not a being that falls on dogmatics but instead one who creates their own morality as well as their own life. Nietzsche's project was that of the over-man to overcome mankind. And it is the demons in your own life that must be overcome. Just as in repairing a car, we need to identify and learn these demons before we have any chance to go beyond them. For when your demons become known, they fade away into the background, no longer important. To know ourselves is to understand what we can from ourselves and the world.
Do we have to suffer? Tolle suggests that we do not, for the only reason for our suffering is rooted in our thoughts that we should not have to suffer. While one suffers, they suffer because they believe that they should not suffer. For when one sheds this erroneous assumption and embraces or accepts suffering, the term "suffering" becomes incomprehensible. Suffering makes no sense without its bearer desiring to not suffer. The idea of suffering collapses when one accepts all that is and becomes without resentment. Thus, suffering is but an attitude created by our desire to not suffer. One might have to walk through overgrown prickly bushes before arriving at their destination. We must first walk through the valley of the shadow of death before we are to find green pastures. And as I said before, sometimes one must go down before going up.
What is this path that I present to you? It is the path directed towards health. It is the road to meaning and greater understanding. It is the drastic wake up call to your own life and your purpose within such a massive world. It is the road of the philosopher. For it is in our search to find ourselves that we are able to find the life that is best suited to us. To choose any different is to accept the unacceptable. And I know you do not accept this because you are ready to end your life. Instead, why not search for the divinity found within yourself so that you may share your best possible self with those around you. For if you give your all to make yourself into the best person that you can be, you no longer have regrets to worry about. And if you put your all into this task, you are in turn becoming the best that is possible: a perfect you. And it is through your divine self that you will attract your people.
So now I come to an end of this letter of love and care. You are now presented with choices which you may have not previously realised. Because you have read this you are now in a different position than you were. And this is the same with all philosophy, for when greater understanding is achieved, our possibilities increase and we are better prepared to make difficult decisions. I appreciate your time and persistence and you are now set free back into the world of your own reality with things to think about and plans to make. If you do decide to end your life, I hope it goes how you desire it. If you decide to run back to the comforts of your own miserable existence, then I also hope you fair well with that, however, I believe the results to be similar to suicide. For when greater understanding is achieved, it becomes part of you and you are then given a responsibility. You will not lose this letter because it has now become a part of you. And it is precisely this that makes the human so wonderful. You will always be more than you are, for we are beings of constant development. This is why each conscious second is so important. They are seconds that we are able to fine tune and develop in the most efficient way possible. Each second passes us and we are asked, "What of it?" And we have the option to reply, "To become more then I am." Have you gotten out of bed yet?