So you are suicidal 2019.0104Rev.2019.0118 DRAFT

Well, so was I. Now, more than four decades after the grim time, I regularly experience what I craved and thought impossible when I walked “up to the face of God” with cyanide and a .45, and spat. Ironically, in that terrible moment the thought that my troubles would soon be over raised my spirits: I noticed a flower in the sun and bounced off my death as off a wall. I saw then that there was only one direction open to me, and that was the direction opposite the one I had taken to that time, the pristine direction toward other people, and toward an unknown God. I did not then, as I do not now, “believe in” God: I don’t “believe in” doorknobs and bootlaces either, but I know them with some intimacy.

So you want to kill yourself. Have you heard that ego-death, annihilation of the stingy self, an end to personal puffery, in short a suicide not of the body but of something less tangible, is exactly the high road to enlightenment? Does it not occur to you that the desire to kill yourself might be a healthy sign, and that annihilating your body in the process is simply misguided overkill? How to die without murdering yourself, though, that’s the rub.

I wish I could communicate to you how hard I have tried to find an answer for you, an answer my autistic uncle and my younger sister might have understood and then not killed themselves, and in my sister’s case also not murdered her husband. In the years of my effort half a dozen people to whom I showed the best I knew of what helps killed themselves regardless, so I seem to be a pretty imperfect savior of distressed souls.

All I can really say is that I was in a hell and found my way out. If this can happen to me it likely can happen to you. I owe my life to my own effort, to the help of many people, and most of all to the Universe that gives rise to everything—or as I say when I do not deny the reality of beings, to God. If you escape a hell-pit by means of effort and fingernails, then you praise God for effort and fingernails. If you don’t, then you weren’t in hell.

From what I can see the lost ones make two fatal mistakes: The first is to grossly underestimate the effort needed to escape hell, and the second is to overestimate it. In the first case the suicidal person believes that their circumstances are much worse than others’: They imagine that successful escapees catch a lucky break and have it much easier than they do, and they are shocked for example by how difficult it is to sustain basic meditative practice, as if they are specially entitled to ease. In the second case, the suicidal person pushes effort to grim extremes and, desperate for freedom, fatally abandons all effort in despair.

The first task of a person who would rather live if they could only see how, is to avoid the two mistakes. No one thing saved me from the twin errors, but basic meditative practice, performed both alone and with others, helped me to cultivate the right kind of effort, to balance self- and other-power, to make healthy choices, and to navigate life in all of its horrific grandeur.

A vestige of suicide mind stays with me even today, and that is a good thing: It reminds me that I live not only by effort, but by good beyond control—by grace. It is possible that I may yet kill myself. I hope not, and to that end I celebrate and practice life. However, I am not the artist in this universe: I am a drop of the paint. When I was most suicidal the thought of self-destruction filled my days. Today it is a small part of a rich life. If I live in hell today I also live in heaven. Overall I have found the best counterweight to suicide-mind is healthy choice, beginning with the healthy choice of basic meditative practice.

If you want to live and to live fully, and if you are willing to die a bit in order to live, then chances are good the choice is yours to make. Your own moderate effort together with the good beyond control can save you. I think I can honestly say I know something of your distress and I deeply regret your suffering. I wish you well and am happy to share further experience about what helps. However, please look for me only if you are willing to sit upright and still longer than is strictly comfortable.