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originally posted by: Wang Tang
...for you did not choose to be born,
originally posted by: Wang Tang
There are several philosophical pillars upon which Western society is built on, pillars which I believe are not all too stable. Western thought has progressed off of unstable pillars and weak foundations, and I have made it my undertaking to identify some of these pillars. Read on, and risk having the foundation of your views taken out from underneath you. Choose to stop reading, and be forever enshrouded in curiosity.
Part 1: Something can come from Nothing
Part 2: The Illusion of Free Will
Part 3: The Curse of Comfort
“I am thinking about committing suicide.”
If you have ever heard someone utter those words to you, you know the heavy weight those words carry. Those words pierce your heart, darken your mood, and cause time to stand still. Your mind races as it tries to think of the right words, as your choice of words at that moment has life or death implications. In this day and age where suicides are quietly and steadily increasing in the civilized world, much more so than in third-world countries, let us take a moment to examine the suicidal thoughts that many of us consider to be only those of the irrational and the insane.
Let us begin our discussion of suicide by emphasizing its importance. 20th century French philosopher Albert Camus once said “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine of twelve categories – comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer this.” Here is my answer.
Let us consider life to be like a poker game. You are dealt a set of cards, and you play them against other players as best you can. You win some, you lose some, and your value to society increases or decreases accordingly. Most people live their lives reactively, reacting to the cards they are dealt, and accepting the value society places on them. However, a few people realize the absurdity of a game where in the end everyone will end up losing what they have won. A select few people rise above this reactive lifestyle by deflecting outside influences and proactively taking control of their lives. One of the ways in which people take control of their lives is through suicide.
On occasion people that are overwhelmed with life will have a brief moment of clarity and realize the absurdity of this game of life. This clarity stems from the contemplation of suicide. Why continue to struggle through a life where your value is low and regardless of the cards you are dealt you still seem to lose? Why continue to even play your cards, if in the end the outcome will be the same for everyone anyways?
Once again I will borrow a quote from Camus to better articulate these questions: “You continue making the gestures commanded by existence for many reasons, the first of which is habit. Dying voluntarily implies that you have recognized, even instinctively, the ridiculous character of that habit, the absence of any profound reason for living, the insane character of that daily agitation, and the uselessness of suffering.”
It seems to me life is inherently absurd, and any thought to end one’s own life is inherently rational. I imagine that most people would not consider suicide a rational thought. But then again, most people live reactively, continuing to live purely out of habit, and any idea that threatens to break this habit is viewed as false. In the Western world, we were born into a society heavily influenced by Christian ideas, ideas that claim anyone who commits suicide will die a sinner for rejecting God’s gift of life. St. Thomas Aquinas preached that suicide was the most evil of all sins, because it was the only sin one could not repent of before going on to the afterlife.
Suicide, I believe, is a method to take control of your life by ending it. It is a rebellion against the authority of God, against fate, against whatever force it is that determines our beginning and our end. It is your first true act of free will in your life, for you did not choose to be born, but you have the power to choose when you die. It is a liberating thought to know that you do have some form of control of your life. It is from this single liberating thought, of suicide, that you may embark on your journey of liberation towards Enlightenment, whether it is in death, or in life.
Once someone truly contemplates committing suicide, there are two options. One is to commit suicide, and attain a state of Nothingness through death. The other is to leave the poker game, and embark on a journey towards Enlightenment in life.
Once you seriously consider suicide, whether you follow through or not, you become much more powerful. You realize you can drop your cards and leave the poker game, and face a world of uncertainty where you discover a freedom of will within yourself. You can end your own life at any time by your own will, but if you can do that, imagine everything else you can accomplish that takes less willpower! You can quit the job you hate, you can finally talk to that pretty girl you’ve been afraid to talk to, you can run across America barefoot, you can do anything you set your mind to because you have looked death square in the face and said “wait one minute, I’m going to do this one last thing before I die.” And in this way you begin to exert your will over your life, and you begin to finally feel like you are actually living! And then you can say to death, “you know, maybe I’m not quite ready yet.”
This option, while it does not involve physical suicide, does involve an aspect of mental/spiritual suicide. It involves killing a part of your old self. Once you kill the part of yourself that was subduing your consciousness and causing you to live reactively, you become master of your soul. As Inazo Nitobe, 19th/20th century Japanese scholar noted about the samurai, “Him who once has died in the bottom of his breast, no spears of Sanada nor all the arrows of Tametomo can pierce.”
What is the way forward for Western society? We need to remove the negative stigma from contemplating suicide and emphasize that it is natural for rational humans to contemplate suicide. It is a topic that we do not discuss in schools, and parents are afraid to discuss it with their kids because of its sensitive nature. In many cases, churches lead the discussion on suicide, and while their efforts to prevent suicide are commendable, their underlying view that suicide is bad is problematic. We need to establish that suicide is a normal, rational thought so people are not immediately alienated as “troubled” or “insane” when they come forward with the words “I am thinking about committing suicide.”
originally posted by: Astrocyte
a reply to: Wang Tang
Suicide is not the only way of conceiving of enlightenment, and frankly, it seems like a poor candidate for affirming the specialness of the magic of living.
If you could peer inside your cells and see the magic of its self-creation, the thought of 'killing yourself' would seem obscene - indeed, a function of a confused and disturbed consciousness.
originally posted by: schuyler
What if you DID choose to be born? What if you thought about it a whole lot, yearned for it constantly, chose your own parents and your own circumstances promising that THIS time you would learn all you could from a life? Then you decide you can't hack it and quit, thus nullifying your own reason for existence.
originally posted by: violet
I sincerely doubt a person that close to taking their life is thinking about what comes after it. It's an " ending" about ending pain, ending the suffering. Everything else they tried to do about it failed to take away the feelings of wanting it all to end. It's a last straw. It's not about beginning a new journey. There's no desire to begin anything.