No matter how messed up your Life is, suicide is not the answer!!!

When did you ever ask to be born? Your lifetime is a gift. How can you then decide to end a Life that you has been ‘given’ to you?
I saw a note from a young reader this morning saying she read my post of two days ago – “Are you ‘sad sad’ or are you ‘happy sad’?”She confessed that she was just out of ICU after attempting suicide for a second time. She felt no one “really shared her sadness or was willing to understand why she was depressed”. Her note indicated that she was learning to cope with her reality: that she was perhaps having to deal with her Life, herself!
Indeed. Each of us is messed up in one way or the other. And we all have to deal with our quota of problems – some call it “s*%t” – by ourselves. Often times, Life may well be lonely. But sorry, I am not one who will ever support suicide as an idea – whatever may be the circumstances that drive anyone to that point.
Here’s what we need to understand. This lifetime of ours is a gift. None of us asked to be born. Life has been given, gifted, to us. For heaven’s sake, consider the miracle here. Isn’t it a miracle that you have been created as the human who gets the H1N1 (swine) flu and not as the swine that gives the flu? Even the swine did not ask to be born. Life has been given, gifted, to the swine as well. For all that the creator – if there is indeed one – cares, you may well have been created as a swine! So, know that, if you have been created as a human being, there must be a reason for it. And that reason is certainly not to feel depressed and to take your own Life!
A principal reason for depression is that your Life is not going the way you want it to. Simple. This reason may manifest itself in myriad ways but the basic concept is of not getting what you want. But hey, hold on a sec, will you? When did Life promise you anything? When was any guarantee given that your Life is going to play out this way or that way? Life does not promise anything. There are no guarantees in Life. Every product you buy comes with a user’s manual and a warranty. You – and I – are the only products, us humans, who come without any user manual to guide us or any guarantee that can assure us of a Life that we want. What this essentially means is that the best way to live Life is take it as it comes, to live with what is and to have no expectations from Life. The moment you expect Life to be this way or that way, and when it doesn’t go your way, you feel depressed. So, who is causing your depression, you – or Life? Besides, how intelligent is it to feel depressed over something that was never in your control?
Also, let’s not expect people to understand us either. It’s better to assume that no one will. And then when you find someone who understands you, well, won’t that relationship be worth celebrating? Your sadness is your own. Your happiness is your own. Don’t agonize over friends who don’t want to share either with you – the brutal reality is that such people were never your friends! You have made the mistake of calling mere acquaintances your friends, and you brood over their behavior? How intelligent is that? One of the best features that Facebook offers is when you add a friend, it asks you to categorize that relationship – is this a ‘close friend’, ‘an acquaintance’ or should this person be added to ‘another list’? I do this diligently for all my friends – even offline, off Facebook. And I would recommend you do it to. Let me tell you, it works!
Life has to be faced no matter what the circumstances. My wife and I have been enduring a bankruptcy for years now. For many spells over the last 8 years we have gone penniless. I have been called a cheat by my own mother and have been ‘disowned’ by my own family. As I write this, Vaani and I are not sure where our material Life is going – honestly there is so much debt to be repaid and no effort to reboot the business has kicked in place, the way we want it to. Yet, we are sure, that this Life must be lived, till it naturally ends, it is own inscrutable way, just as it all began! This is our story. But look around you – in your family, in your circle of influence, among your neighbors and colleagues – everyone’s got a personal story of pain, grief, guilt, sorrow and of facing Life stoically. If they can look their Life in the eye and live it, all of us too can!

I not going to tell this young reader – or anyone – that everything shall pass, that things will get better, that there will be dawn at the end of every dark night. I believe anyone attempting to take one’s Life is smart enough to know that all this is both true and fluff at the same time. Fluff because Life takes time to change. And it is people’s intrinsic impatience with Life, and a lack of understanding of what Life is, that drives them to suicide. But from experience I can tell this for sure: it is in enduring Life patiently that you evolve, you grow and you come to a point where you believe, like we do, that if you have been created you will be cared for, provided for, looked after – and loved! That you may not always get what you want, but you will always, always, be given what you need!    

Don’t interfere with Life

Ending your Life is not a solution to the problems you face! Suicide is a very selfish act – while it may end your physical tribulations, it may just begin a whole new set for those people who love you, depend on you and believe in you!
This morning’s papers had a shocker. Murli Mohan, 54, whom the entire film, TV and advertising industry in Chennai knows as “Horlicks Uncle”, had committed suicide yesterday. He had become famous after he did a few television commercials, directed by ace filmmaker Rajiv Menon, for Horlicks several years ago. Mohan was known to us – our son had acted with him in television commercials for Milka Wondercake and TVS Motors, over 15 years ago. We remember Mohan as a cheerful person and as a thoroughbred professional. Today’s papers said he had been depressed because he had been out of work for over six months now. I was deeply saddened by the news, more so, for the reasons that were being attributed to Mohan taking that drastic step of ending his Life.
This Life we have is a gift. None of us have asked to be born. Yet we have been born. And that is the gift, this lifetime, that we must learn to cherish and celebrate. None of us has the right to take away what is not ours. And this Life is not our creation – it is just a gift. So, let Life take you wherever it takes you. You simply flow with it. And let it end, when it must, and when it will, and you see the end – if it can be called one, that is – whenever it comes.
Interestingly, had he lived, today would have been R.D.Burman’s (RD, Pancham) 75th birthday. He was a genius. Someone who ruled the roost in Bollywood for 20+ years. Yet in the last decade of his work, he found work difficult to come by. Studios and producers – the same people who had waited in queues to sign him up earlier in his career – shut their doors on him. RD became depressed. And died, of a heart attack, beaten and side-lined. Yet, despite his depression, despite the rejection and humiliation, he did not give up. Every day, he made a fresh attempt to resurrect his career. It was one such effort that led to his meeting Vidhu Vinod Chopra and the making of 1942 – A Love Story, a film that won him a Filmfare award for Best Music Director, posthumously. Today, the same world, which once rejected him, holds RD’s memory on a divine pedestal and worships the man, his genius and his music!
Such is Life. Just a series of ups and downs, highs and lows. You – and I – have to face each of them stoically and with equanimity.
A friend famously remarked once, in the context of my bankruptcy and my inability to pay back my loans, “Someone who cannot keep up his commitments, especially with regard to money borrowed from people, has no business to live.” Indeed, one’s self-esteem gets punctured in such grave contexts like joblessness or cashlessness or any other. You may tend to conclude that it is futile to live. Yet, I firmly believe that low self-esteem does not give us the right to resort to a selfish act – suicide. Suicide may end your Life, but will make that of everyone around you miserable. Is that what you really want – for others to suffer at your expense? Motivation is an inside job. No one can help motivate you but yourself. In my case, I am blessed that my wife is by my side – walking with me, every step of the way, however treacherous the path may be. So, every day, we both wake up with a resolution to work harder to put our Life and business back on track. Every night we retire with the hope that the next day will be better and will bring with it a new beginning and a new opportunity. This is how we sustain our inner peace, our focus and our commitment to Life, to our family and to our creditors – one day at a time!
An unputdownable lesson that Life has taught me is this: Don’t interfere with Life with your whys, why mes, why nows? Just live with what you have, do what you can in the given situation to the best of your ability and savor each experience. Life will sort itself – and you – on its own, over a period of time!

How not to agonize over a Life that you don’t want

Don’t waste your time trying to make meaning out of Life. You simply can’t. Any effort in that direction will only frustrate you.
When your Life doesn’t go the way you want it to, your mind will throw up some seemingly relevant questions that also appear to be critical: “What’s the point in me living a Life that I don’t want?”, “Why should I go through experiences that make me suffer?”, “What is the purpose of Life?”. There can be more questions – it depends on how frustrated or disturbed you are with your Life. But none of these questions will be answered by your merely asking them. When you understand what Life is, these questions may not even arise and even if they do, they won’t matter.
The first point to internalize is that you, me, each of us is having a Life that we never asked for. You didn’t ask to be born, did you? So, the argument that you don’t want to live a Life that you don’t want is absurd. You have been created. And you must live as long as your Life lasts. Since you did not have a say in your creation, in your birth, don’t seek to have a say in your death. Let death happen on its own. It is inevitable as it is – so let it come when it must. You or I need not and must not be even thinking of death just because we don’t get some things that we want from Life. Instead invest the time you spend brooding in living. Life has not promised you a painless tenure on this planet. In fact, Life promises you nothing. So when you experience pain, which is natural and likely to happen several times in your lifetime, don’t resist it. Resisting is pointless. It is the resisting that causes suffering. Pain is just pain. Suffering arises when you wish that there is no pain. Drop that wish and bingo, all your suffering vanishes! Instantaneously, just like that! So, at one level, since your birth is choice-less and since you have no control over what happens to you in Life, it may appear that there really is no purpose to your creation. But if you look beyond just yourself, you will see how purposeful your Life can actually be. If you can share what you have with people around you – with those who need your love, your compassion, your understanding, your time, your knowledge, your talent or perhaps your money – you can make a difference to their lives. And that way your Life becomes useful. But even if you don’t want to touch another Life and just want to live all by yourself, Life’s beautiful when you stop imposing conditions on your Life and drop all expectations.
Life is beautiful as it is. The way it is. To see its beauty, to experience Life’s magic, you must let go of your urge to intellectualize it. You cannot make any meaning out of Life by applying reason and logic to it. It is an experience. And an experience is gone through, it is felt, it cannot be explained or understood. Every experience that you go through, whether you want it or not, teaches you something new about Life. And through your learning, consistently and continuously, you appreciate Life better.
In the face of Life’s trials and challenges, don’t think of death as an option. It is not. The important thing to remember is that very often, what you don’t want will arrive in your Life. You can’t get rid of it by wishing it weren’t there. The more you wish that way, the more you will suffer. But you can avoid suffering, if you simply accept Life for what it is. If possible, and if you are up to it, make a difference to another Life. In a choice-less Life, this is the only choice you have. And when you exercise it, not only do you encounter inner peace, you also prevent your mind from imagining absurd, morbid perspectives!

Kill that anxiety feeling before it consumes you

The feeling that we can’t live without something or someone is what makes us anxious and insecure. If we learn to deal with that feeling, we may even be able to live with any eventuality or outcome that we fear!

Yesterday a friend called to invite us for his daughter’s wedding. It was a special moment in his Life. His wife had committed suicide nine years ago. And he was left with two adolescent daughters to raise. So, when he called, the conversation touched upon how his girls had to cope with the loss of their mother and how difficult it was for him to explain to them why his wife chose to end her Life. “My wife was always insecure about our financial situation. Her fear that she cannot live without a steady income coming home each month is what drove her to depression and eventually suicide,” confessed my friend who is a self-employed professional.

It is often the fear of, or not knowing, what will happen that drives people to desperation. We are all gripped by this fear at some point or the other. None can escape it. The most effective way to deal with such a fear, with anxiety and insecurity, is to face them.

Instead of only asking ‘what if’ in any context, go ahead and answer that question. For instance, if you are facing uncertainty at work – meaning, if you fear a lay off – don’t just allow that ‘what will happen to me’ feeling to keep building up within you. Complete the scenario to the last detail – “I will sell my apartment or move to another city or leverage all my savings or whatever…I will survive a few months and then when I am totally broke, I will go live with my parents or brother or sister…and if they won’t have me, I will take up a small-time job and live within my means until I get the break that I will need to rebuild my Life and career.”

Play out the worst case scenarios, of whatever you fear, very granularly. You will be amazed how much you will benefit from such an exercise. For one, you will discover that whatever is the worst case per your imagination, accentuated by your fears, is not so bad after all. Your detailing that ‘what if’ script will reassure you that you can cope with any impending crisis. You will, over time,  also realize that the worst almost always never happens! And then you will further understand that all your anxiety and insecurity was such a waste of your time and energy!

Imagining the worst that can happen is not defeatist in any manner. It is the only way to kill feelings – like fear and anxiety – that may otherwise consume you. Your fears often blind you to your own resilience. Resultantly, you stop believing in your ability to face Life’s innumerable challenges. Looking your fears in the eye may not take any problem situation away. But it will most definitely help prepare you to meet that situation confidently when it arrives.

Drop Anchor – Move to your Center

When Life becomes unbearable to live, what do you do? What do you do when whatever’s happening to you defies logic and reason and seems totally unresolvable? Clearly, giving up on Life__and taking your Life, committing suicide__is not an option. Facing Life and continuing to live it fully, without expecting it to be any different from what it is, is the only option, and an intelligent, responsible response.  
Whenever you are in tremendous pain and are suffering from it, examine what’s causing you the suffering. Make a serious, conscious effort to understand what about your current situation makes you grieve. When you do this, you will discover that what’s causing you pain is beyond your control and is not really the cause of your suffering. You are grieving because you expect the pain causing factor to have not been there in the first place. So, to rid yourself of any suffering, or grief, you have to fundamentally rid yourself of all expectations. Here’s an irrefutable truth about Life – expectations bring agony! Expunge expectations and you will never suffer with or over anything in Life!
Expectations arise when you live at the periphery of Life. When you are attached to material things – money, fame, property or even to relationships. Attachment to anything perishable, impermanent or transient is bound to bring you grief. Isn’t it simple, plain logic? Isn’t it common sense? Think about it. If you know something is going to be short-lived, and is going to be eventually taken away from you, why not enjoy it as long as it lasts and why not be prepared to let it go when it’s time in your Life is over? Why have the expectation that it must continue to be with you forever? And why, through such irrational expectation, invite grief in your Life? Asking yourself these simple questions, and, through answering them, understanding Life better, can have a profound impact on you. It can take you to your center, to your inner core. Where you will find the strength, the courage, to live your Life peacefully despite whatever’s happening with it on the surface. The ocean is a good metaphor. When you stand at the periphery, among the waves, you witness the turmoil on the ocean’s surface. Wave after wave, comes crashing angrily on the shore. There’s a lot of restless energy at the surface level. But if you go to the ocean’s depths, lower, closer to its center, you will find a beautiful calm. It will be hard to imagine it is the same angry ocean, which is now serene and unmoved despite all the frantic action on its surface. Similarly, for us humans too, there’s a choice to go to our center.
Meditation is the only way to reach your center. And there is no one way to meditate. Don’t get carried away by populist prescriptions that you need to silence the environment to meditate or that you need to ‘go somewhere’ to meditate. Create your own way to meditate – one that makes you forget everyone and everything in the world and unites you with an ‘indescribable, invisible, yet imminently realizable energy’. It could be through whatever gives you joy – dance, music, writing, painting, gardening, cooking, housekeeping, walking, watching a sunrise or sunset, or simply being silent! Don’t force the way on you. Don’t insist that you put a framework to it. Do it once. If you love doing it, and you find losing yourself in it, keep doing it daily. Over time, you will be drawn to doing it effortlessly. And through this experience of losing yourself to what you love doing, you will train your mind to act not on the surface, the periphery, but to stay anchored deep, at your center!
When we drop anchor at the center we will find all that we are yearning and searching for – inner peace, bliss and the reason to carry on living!