A spate of suicides reported recently makes us wonder: What drives an individual to take his own life? The drastic action is perhaps due to intense despair and a feeling of helplessness.
The question then arises: What is life and what sustains it? No doubt the physical frame is sustained and supported by air, food and water. But at the psychological level it is hope, the perception of self-worth and moral strength that affirm the will to live. All excuses like loneliness, loss of wealth, humiliation, shame and guilt that might force the decision to give up on life midstream could be traced to the loss of the will to live.
Hope is the springboard of all activity. A new hour, a new dawn and a new year, all hold out hope. Hope can also spring forth in a manner that is unconnected with us. A good turn of events for someone else can kindle hope in us. However, hope could turn out to be a double-edged sword. Unfulfilled hope can be devastating, as in business, love and competitive situations. Grief might blur one’s vision but the flicker of hope helps us navigate the darkness of despair.
In contrast, death is total darkness. One way of handling this is to hope realistically rather than reach for something that is unattainable. There will be less chance, then, of falling so short of the goal that everything seems out of reach and hence, life will not lose all meaning. To act and not be distracted by the fruit of action is a good way to avoid such situations. The Gita advises us to remain detached from fruit of action.
Self-criticism and introspection are useful exercises to appraise one’s strengths and weaknesses so that one can understand one’s potential. This is not to sit in judgement and find fault. Any assessment of one’s worth can only be relative and so is not absolute. Comparisons are odious, wrote a poet. So when we desist from making comparisons, it helps us overcome a great many problems.
Everything in the world is there because it is of some worth. Ramakrishna Paramhansa said that a stone that lies on the road is there for a reason we might not be aware of. Every person likes to be loved, to receive compassion and kindness. No one would like to be hurt, deceived or offended in any way. So the universal moral code is clear: Do unto others what you would have them do to you. A convicted criminal appeals for mercy or clemency hoping that the very moral code he violated will somehow pull him out of the dire situation he has put himself in. In some cases a one-off moral transgression may make it difficult to justify the continuance of life.
Speaking a lie while being aware of the truth and doing wrong intentionally even while knowing what is right could lead to dilemmas that erode self-worth. A fractured mind, like a broken mirror, does not reflect reality. It leads to misconceptions and creates confusion, leading one to jump to conclusions. When one is unable to reconcile contradictions in perception, hasty decisions are made and when translated into action, these can have disastrous, and maybe irreversible consequences. Such as the decision to take one’s life.
A unified mind is the key to peace, happiness and fullness. It can help us see the whole picture rather then get trapped in ephemeral details. Not everyone might turn out to be a Beethoven or Stephen Hawking. However, by not getting disheartened by setbacks and by finding ways to overcome difficulties, we can learn to appreciate and enjoy whatever we have instead of calling it quits.
Lovely Thoughts for Lovely People Just Like You