[This article appeared in the July 2013 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link: http://www.ultindia.org/previous_issues.html ]
According to World Health Organization figures, more than a million people commit suicide each year worldwide. There is a rising trend in youth suicide. Recently, a young actress of Indian cinema committed suicide because life seemed hopeless, as she was depressed over her career and her love life, making people wonder if suicide was the only remedy for pain.
If death obliterates pain, it also obliterates hope. If she had remembered to look over the hill she would have seen the rising sun just waiting to break through the dark clouds. It is only when things cannot get any worse that they start getting better. She forgot that time is a great healer, and if given a chance, it would work a great wonder. “They say there is no greater sin than that of suicide because you are kicking god’s gift of life in the face and proving you are not worth it. If you believe in afterlife and rebirth, books on the subject suggest that people who quit life voluntarily without learning their life lessons are bound to be born to such lives again and again till the lesson is learnt. Life is not always easy and it is the duty of parents to ground their children and instill values that will help them deal with the tougher moments. And, it is our duty to ourselves that we learn to accept the brickbats with the bouquets, that we learn to deal with difficulties just as we learn to enjoy the benefits of life and living. There is no greater cowardice than enjoying your spot in the sun and quitting the stage the moment life gets a little rough,” writes Vinita Dawra Nangia.
Some of the reasons for increase in suicide rates are breakdown in traditional family system, financial insecurity and unemployment—with the young, it is pressure to perform, and to prove themselves repeatedly. Nothing is worth ending your life for, and hence a person contemplating suicide would do well to remember that “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Try to think of those who are less fortunate than you. “Look at life in its entirety and understand the smallness of your present depression. Never take a drastic step in the darkest moment. Things will look better soon,” advises Vinita Nangia. (Times Life! [SundayTimes of India], June 16, 2013)
It is true that there has been unprecedented increase in the number of people committing suicide and some of them for trifling reasons.True and lasting happiness does not arise from money, amenities and luxuries of life, is the lesson which is generally learnt the hard way. Weakening family bonds and deteriorating human relationships wherein we are not sensitive to the needs and sorrows of another human being, are also to be blamed for increasing number of suicides. Modern man is too busy and has no time to listen to the problems of another and give him solace.
Ultimately, what we need is the right philosophy that by ending our life, we are trying to run away from a person or the situation in which we are placed under Karma, in this life. We may seem to succeed in escaping, but not forever. The fact is that even the most
unbearable and painful situation we are placed in has come to us under Karma, and only we are responsible for it. All we need to do is to try and learn the necessary lesson, if we are unable to change it. In any of our next births we will be once again placed in that same situation from which we tried to escape by committing suicide, till we have learnt to handle that situation and learnt the lesson. Hence the advice is, “Accept the woes of birth.” “Life is better than death, for death again disappoints the Self.”
Theosophy also teaches that a person committing suicide finds himself in the astral atmosphere only partly dead, only minus the physical body. Such an entity moves around in the astral atmosphere, near the earth, wanting to satisfy certain desires but unable to do so in the absence of the body and the consequent risk of generating terrible karma by trying to satisfy them through some living body. If the person committed suicide at the age of thirty and his natural life term was seventy then the astral entity will remain in the astral atmosphere for next forty years, only after that there is final separation of the Ego from the lower principles.
How could values degenerate if God is omnipresent? When people see evil all around, they wonder if God really exists, and if he does, why does he not do anything to make things better. On the other hand, there are those who believe that God is omnipresent— present in every creature, and every particle. If God is everywhere, why are things going from bad to worse? Why should anyone pray? If we argue that God has given free will and all that is evil is the result of human failings, then what purpose is served by God’s omnipresence? The very act of prayer is contrary to belief in God’s omnipresence. If God is omnipresent why does he need to send messengers to mankind at different points in history in order to rid humanity of evils? If God is present everywhere in the world there should be no need to undergo penance in order to attain to moksha or liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth.
The belief in the omnipresence of God is most likely an erroneous extension of God’s omnipotence. Since God is Almighty, the faithful believe that He is also present everywhere all the time. But if a person or thing is present somewhere, the qualities of that person or thing can be experienced there. For example, a jovial person spreads cheer, a kind person spreads kindness. Likewise, if God were present everywhere and in everyone, we should be experiencing His virtues and powers all the time. If God were omnipresent, the world would not witness any moral or spiritual degradation that would necessitate
His intervention. Mistaken beliefs, including that of an omnipresent God, are the result of human ignorance. Those who truly love God can experience His company everywhere and at all times. His powers and virtues are boundless but for that reason He need not be omnipresent. (Purity, June 2013)
In Theosophy God is described as an omnipresent, omnipotent, immutable Principle. Perhaps, to admit that God is not omnipresent is to accept that God is finite—probably a person sitting on a golden or lotus throne, on the outskirts of a planetary chain or a solar system. God, in Theosophy, is symbolized by Absolute Abstract Space. Space is really the container of everything—itself limitless, without beginning or an end. It remains unchanged by presence or absence of objects contained within it. Coming into existence of the Solar systems and Galaxies or their destruction has no effect on Space. There are two aspects of One Reality or God: transcendental and immanent. In the Gita, Shri Krishna says, “I created this whole universe with a single portion of myself and yet remain separate,” alluding to His transcendental aspect. The Eighth Chapter of the Gita is entitled,, “Devotion to the Omnipresent Spirit named as Om.” This Omnipresent Spirit refers to Atman or Spirit or Life or Consciousness which pervades and animates all worlds and beings.
The Spirit or the Self shines in all but it does not shine forth equally in all. It is the Great or Eternal Spectator mentioned in the Thirteenth Chapter of the Gita, which has been observing the drama of evolution. Atma, the One Life, mirrored in Buddhi, or Atma-Buddhi monad, is the Eternal Spectator. The Atma-Buddhi-Manas triad is the Eternal Pilgrim, which is the experiencer, the sufferer, the enjoyer who learnt in the mineral and grew in the vegetable and moved in the animal, and acts, feels, wills and thinks in the human. The Spirit in man has nothing to learn, and it does not evolve, but from it comes the power to create, to preserve, to destroy and to regenerate. The God in us, though omnipotent on its own plane, is quite helpless on our plane, till it is reflected in or assimilated by Manas or Mind. Mind is dual: (1) When involved in desires and passions, it is kama-manas, making man an animal-man, leading to degeneration of values. (2) When mind turns to the God within, the divine nature, it makes man divine, and then a human being is able to manifest all the virtues of kindness, compassion, fearlessness, as also, other “god-like” qualities.
H. P. B. writes: “Eastern wisdom teaches that spirit has to pass through the ordeal of incarnation and life, and be baptized with matter before it can reach experience and knowledge. After which only it receives the baptism of soul, self-consciousness, and may return to its original condition of a god, plus experience, ending with omniscience,” (U.L.T. Pamphlet No. 26, p. 8). Each one of us is essentially and potentially divine, which we must actualize.
When we are able to transcend the self-identifying attachment to not only family and loved ones, but also to physical form, ideas, desires, emotions, and overcome all sense of separateness, we reach the realization that “I am verily the Brahman,” while we are in the body. The Avatars and messengers come to this world, again and again, to remind us of the presence of the divinity within us.