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The Seconds of the Minutes of The Hours of the Days of Your Life

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  • NamoAmituofo
    _____________________________________________________________________________ The Seconds of the Minutes of The Hours of the Days of Your Life The Hours : 2003
    Message 1 of 1 , May 6, 2004
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      _____________________________________________________________________________
      The Seconds of the Minutes of The Hours of the Days of Your Life



      The Hours
      : 2003 Academy Award Winner for Best Actress: Nicole Kidman
                           2003 Golden Globe Award Winner for Best Picture (Drama)

      Taglines
      : Always.
                     :
      Our lives. Our story.
                     : The time to hide is over. The time to regret is gone. The time to live is now.


      Plot Outline
      : The story of how the novel "Mrs. Dalloway" affects three generations of women,
                             all of whom, in one way or another, have had to deal with suicide in their lives.
                             -imdb.com

      The film is a film that celebrates life with all its complexity and with all its difficulty and all its tragedy, but in the end is a film that says moving forward with life, life itself is the most powerful most wonderful thing that we have. -Stephen Daldry (Director of "The Hours")

      Based on the Pulitzer-prize winning novel by Michael Cunningham, “The Hours” employs Virginia Woolf’s classic novel and central character Mrs. Dalloway, as foundation and inspiration. Spanning three different eras, during one day, the film focuses on the parallel lives of three women joined in their depression, alienation, and search for love. –DVD Sleeve

      It's about time, it’s about staying alive & facing death, happiness & sadness, love & hate, illness & wellness being lost in others & finding yourself, meaningfulness and meaninglessness, selflessness & selfishness, interdependence & independence, clinging & letting go, compassion & wisdom. -shian
      _____________________________________________________________________________

      Is Life Worth Living?

      Perhaps the first existential question is whether life is worth living. Interestingly, the only way to find out is to live life well and learn from life. From the perfect life, the Buddha’s example, we can see that True Happiness can be attained. The Buddha taught us that even if we find life fraught with suffering, we can rise above it. Thinking that we can escape suffering via suicide is a big delusion, going a long detour away from the True Happiness we all want. In fact, suicide only prolongs suffering. Our consciousness is so strong that it will not simply extinguish upon death. Also, to die by suicide is to die unhappy – how can one have a happy rebirth then? It is wiser to muster courage to face life’s problems. The only thing that can happen when we overcome obstacles is to become stronger. Otherwise, we are only so strong, or rather, weak.
       
      Greatest Happiness

      Virginia writes in her suicide letter that Leonard has given her the greatest possible happiness. But what is True Happiness? Can it be readily given? Or self-attained?

         

      Tired of Life?

      Dan (in kitchen): You need to rest, Laura. You're just 4 months away.

      Laura: Dan, don't. I'm fine. I'm just tired.


      There is no tiredness greater than existential tiredness. And there is no awakening greater than enlightenment, which resolves all existential issues.
       

      Demons & Angels

       

      Clarissa (referring to hallucinations): Any visitors?

      Richard: Yes.

      Clarissa: Are they still here?

      Richard: No, they've gone.

      Clarissa: Mm. How'd they look?

      Richard: Today?

      Clarissa: Sort of like black fire. I mean sort of light and dark at the same time.


      Our dark personal demons, hallucinated or not, ironically shed light on us, about us.

      Covering the Silence

      Richard (to Clarissa): Oh Mrs. Dalloway, always giving parties to cover the silence.


      Do you always cover the silence by doing seemingly purposeful tasks?


      Craving for Everything

      Richard (to Clarissa): I wanted to write about it all. Everything that happens in a moment. The way the flowers looked when you carried them in your arms. This towel, how it... smells, how it feels. This thread. All our feelings, yours and mine. The history of it all, who we once were. Everything in the world. Everything all mixed up like it's all mixed up now... ...Sheer fucking pride and stupidity. We want everything, don't we?

      While Richard relished each moment, he was attached and craved to write it all down in detail, to own it all. It was this craving for life, to own life that made him give up when he felt he could no longer experience life as he did in its fullness.

      Who or What are You Living For?

       

      Richard (to Clarissa): Would you be angry if I died?... ...Who is this party for?... ... I think I'm only staying alive to satisfy you. (dialogue continues below)

      Who or what are you living for?

      Clarissa: So that is what we do. That is what people do. They stay alive for each other…. (dialogue continues below)

      If life merely for attachment to each other?

      Clarissa: …And the doctors told you you-you don't need to die. They told you that. You can... live like this for years.
      Richard: Well exactly. (dialogue continues below)

      We are all already dying by the second. Should we give up life simply because we are nearing its last stages steadily downhill? Can we not treasure life and carry on learning the lessons it offers?

      Clarissa: I don't accept this. I don't accept what you say.
      Richard: Oh. And it's for you to decide, is it? How long have you been doing that? How many years? Coming to the apartment. What about your own life? What about Sally? Just wait till I die. Then you'll have to think of yourself. How are you going to like that?


      While we should think and care for others, do we do it enough for ourselves? Will not facing the facts make things better or worse?
       
      What Do You Want?


      Nelly (in kitchen): What happens is, she says she wants something, and then it turns out she doesn't.  
      Other Maid: She never does, does she? She never wants anything.
      Nelly: Mmm... Especially when she's particularly after it.


      Are we not sometimes uncertain of what we want? What do we really want? Will we not want it later? All we want is True Happiness.
       

      Show of Love

       

      Young Richard (while baking cake): Mommy, it isn't that difficult.
      Laura: Now I know. I know it isn't difficult. It's just that I just want to do this for Daddy.
      Young Richard: Because it's his birthday?
      Laura: That's right. We're baking the cake to show that we love him.

      Young Richard: Otherwise he won't know we love him? 
      Laura: That's right.

      Things become difficult when we try too hard. Is love so simple? What is true love?

      False Confidence
       

      Laura (Describing the book "Mrs. Dalloway"): Oh it's about this woman who's incredibly... Well she's a hostess, and she's incredibly confident, and she's going to give a party, and maybe because she's confident, everyone thinks she's fine but she isn't. 

      Why are we sometimes like that? What is, or gives true confidence other than the Triple Gem?

       

      Why Worry?


      Kitty: Mm... I'm not worried. What would be the point of worrying?
      Laura: No, it's not in your hands.

      If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying? If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying? –Shantideva (A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life)


      To Save or Not

      Quentin (about bird in hand): We might be able to save him.
      Vanessa: Save him? I think you have to be careful, Quentin. There's a time to die, and it may be the bird's time.

      How do we decide when it is time for someone to die?

      What Happens When We Die?

      Angelica (in garden): What happens when we die?

      Virginia: We return to the place we came from.
      Angelica: I don't remember where I came from.

      Virginia: Nor do I.

      Virginia was contradicting herself in reply and her later suicidal action. She does not understand death, but chose it. We do not return to where we came from. We are reborn as long as unenlightened.

      Crazy for No Reason

      Louis (in kitchen): Are you still with... (Sally)?
      Clarissa: Yes. Still with her. Ten years. It's crazy.
      Louis: Why is it crazy?
      Clarissa: No reason.

      Why do we do crazy things for years for no good reason? Why not give up or try better alternatives?

      Fact & Fiction

      Louis (about Richard’s novel): Isn't it meant to be fiction? He even had you living on 10th Street.
      Clarissa: It isn't me.
      Louis: Isn't it?
      Clarissa: You know how Richard is. It's a fantasy. (dialogue continues below)

      There is some fact in our fiction and some fiction in our fact. Enlightenment is attained from clearly discerning the duo – reality and delusion.

      Suicide for No Reason?

      Louis: A whole chapter on "Should she buy some nail polish?" And then guess what? After 50 pages, she doesn't. The whole thing seems to go on for eternity. Nothing happens. And then wham! For no reason, she kills herself.

      Do we not do the mindless on and on “for eternity”? There is cause and effect for everything. Nothing happens for no reason. True Happiness is found by looking into the cause and effect of happiness and unhappiness in the Four Noble Truths.

      Courage

      Clarissa (in kitchen): I think you are courageous.
      Louis: Courageous? Why?
      Clarissa: To dare go visit. What I mean is to face the fact that we have lost those feelings forever. (Tap splurts) Shit. (dialogue continues below)

      Perhaps what we need to revisit the past is not courage, but willingness to let the past go and be unattached to the pain it entailed.

      Unravelling the Truth

      Louis: Clarissa.
      Clarissa: Um... I don't know what's happening. I'm sorry. I seem to be in some strange sort of mood. I'm sorry. It's uh, very rude of me. I seem to be unravelling.

      Unravelling the truth about ourselves to ourselves is necessary for understanding ourselves; it should not be stifled if True Happiness is wanted.

      Leaving Attachment

      Louis (in kitchen): The day I left him, I got on a train and made my way across Europe. I felt free for the first time in years.


      Sometimes the physical leaving of who or what we are attached to is needed to let our mental attachment go.

      Death Is Not the End

      Virginia (writing “Mrs. Dalloway”): "Did it matter then?" she asked herself, walking toward Bond Street. Did it matter that she must inevitably cease completely? All this must go on without her. Did she resent it? Or did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely? It is possible to die. It is possible.

      We do not cease completely upon death because our deathwish or “life-wish” is the force of craving that will propel us to the next life. Death does not end absolutely. Thus is the “romantic” idea of suicide a useless and harmful idea.

      Living Double Lives

      Vanessa (in Virginia’s home): Your Aunt's a very lucky woman, Angelica, because she has two lives. She has the life she's leading, and also the book she's writing. This makes her very fortunate indeed.

      Do we have more than two lives? Which is more real? Are you living the real one enough?

      It Only Matters If It is True

      Clarissa (in home): He did it this morning. He gives me that look.

      Julia: What look?

      Clarissa: To say "Your life is... trivial. You are so trivial." Just... daily stuff you know. Schedules, and parties... and details. That's what he means... by it, that is what he's saying.
      Julia: Mom, it only matters if you think it's true. Well? Do you? Tell me. (dialogue continues below)

      Is it true to you? Is your life trivial because you are lost in the mundane details, forgetting the big picture?

      True Refuge

      Clarissa: When I'm with him, I feel... Yes, I am living. And when I'm not with him... Yes, everything does seem sort of silly. ...
      Julia: Sally?
      Clarissa: False comfort.


      Why do we stay with false comfort and not go for true refuge? What is true refuge other that the Triple Gem? Why do we give false comfort sometimes? Why not give the comfort of the Dharma? While it is true that we are interdependent for our existence, she had forgotten the need to seek personal spiritual fulfillment- to see herself as she was without reference or attachment to him. She was merely living in his shadow, not in her own light. Richard too was living in her shadow, confessing he was struggling to stay alive only for her sake.

      Attachment to the Past

      Clarissa (sharing with Julia) : If you say to me, "When were you the happiest?"  
      Julia: Mom...
      Clarissa: "Tell me the moment you were happiest."

      Julia: I know, I know, it was years ago.
      Clarissa: Yeah.
      Julia: All you're saying is... you were once young. (dialogue continues below)

      Are you attached to past happiness? Does it not deter you from being happy now?

      This IS Happiness

      Clarissa: I remember one morning getting up at dawn, there was such a sense of possibility. You know? That feeling? Hmmm? And I remember thinking to myself, "So, this is the beginning of happiness. This is where it starts. And of course, there will always be more." It never occurred to me it wasn't the beginning. It was happiness. It was the moment... right then.  


      Clarissa, contrasting from Richard in his final hour, recalls how she found happiness in the moment. She had discovered the importance of not procrastinating happiness, that it is by not appreciating the fleeting moment of now that happiness continually fleets us. Why delay happiness by the seconds, or even hours and days, when we are all dying by the second?

      What Obligations?

      Leonard: Virginia, we must go home now. Nelly's cooking dinner. She already had a very difficult day. It's just our obligation to eat Nelly's dinner.
      Virginia: There is no such obligation. No such obligation exists.
      Leonard: Virginia, you have an obligation to your own sanity.


      Indeed there are no obligations in life, other than for our own Enlightenment, or lack of delusion.

      Your Best Judge

      Leonard (discussing her illness): I can see that it must be hard for a woman of your... talents to see that she may not be the best judge of her own condition!
      Virginia: Who, then, is a better judge?

      Leonard: You have a history! You have a history of confinement. We brought you to Richmond because you had a history of fits, moods, blackouts, hearing voices.

      We are perhaps our best yet worst judges, dependent on the accuracy of our personal perceptions. It is wise to think we are not perfect judges, and keep an open mind to others’ opinions.

      What Stole Your Life?


      Virginia (lamenting on her illness to Leonard): My life has been stolen from me.


      What stole your life? Can anything steal your life from you?

      Is This You Speaking?

      Leonard (trying to dissuade Virginia from returning to London): This is not you speaking, Virginia. This is an aspect of your illness. It's not you.
      Virginia: It is me. It is my voice.
      Leonard: It's not your voice.
      Virginia: It's mine and mine alone.
      Leonard: It's the voice that you hear.
      Virginia: It is not! It is mine!
       
      Is it ever our voice speaking? Or our faulty perception’s voice, speaking from delusion to some extent?

      The Patient’s Choice

      Virginia (telling Leonard about her illness): If I were thinking clearly, Leonard, I would tell you that it is I alone who wrestle in the dark. In the deep dark, and that only I can know, only I can understand my own condition. You live with the threat - you tell me - you live with the threat of my extinction. Leonard, I live with it, too. This is my right. It is the right of every human being. I choose not the suffocating anesthetic of the suburbs, but the violent jolt of the capital. That is my choice. The meanest patient, yes, even the very lowest is allowed some say in the matter of her own prescription. Thereby she defines her humanity.

      It might be the right of every human being to choose his or her path, but it does not mean the path chosen is right. The meanest patient might need to be force-fed bitter medicine for his or her own good? But who decides? We are all patients with the ailment of having the prevalence of dissatisfaction in our lives. The Dharma is the best medicine for us.

      Living by the Hours, Dying by the Second

      Clarissa (discovering Richard unstable): You don't have to do anything you don't want to do. You can do as you like.
      Richard: But I still have to face the hours, don't I? I mean the hours after the party, and the hours after that.  
      Clarissa: You do have good days still. You know you do.
      Richard: Not really. I mean, it's kind of you to say so, but it's not really true. (dialogue continues below)

      Shortly before Richard's suicide, he laments. He was despairing at his condition, rendering himself unable to enjoy the party ahead, which ironically celebrates his life. Time for Richard crawled forward painfully, dragging tormentingly into the endless hours - simply because he continually fretted and evaded the moment, this second, lost in the hours ahead instead, as he yearned for the illusory release of death. Ironically, the book Richard wrote and won an award for is called “The Goodness of Life”, which he didn’t celebrate at the party he chose not to attend.

      The Voices of Deception


      Clarissa: Are they here?
      Richard: Who?
      Clarissa: The voices.
      Richard: Oh the voices are always here.
      Clarissa: And it's the voices you're hearing now, isn't it?
      Richard: No, no, no, no. Mrs. Dalloway, it's you. I've stayed alive for you, but now you have to let me go. 


      We are only as clear as we are undeluded. Thus, the voices of deception are always with us.

      Staying Alive for Each Other

      Only upon Richard's death did Clarissa feel liberated to truly live her own life. It took the crisis of his sudden death to wake her up, to clear her existential crisis. In the fullest meaning of
      "staying alive for each other", we also live for ourselves, so that we can live for others - effectively, with Compassion and Wisdom. Is this not the Bodhisattva path of realising Truth and Happiness by ourselves while we help others do so?

      What is Perfect?


      Dan (eating his birthday cake): This is just perfect.
      Laura: Oh do you think so? Do you really think so?
      Dan : Why, sure... ... This is fantastic. It's what I've always wanted.

       

      What is truly perfect and fantastic in life? What is it you want? Is what you want essentially what you need? Why are you not “there” yet?


      Idea of Happiness

      Dan (at dining table): I used to think about bringing her to a house, to a life. Pretty much like this. And it was the thought of the happiness, the thought of this woman, the thought of this life. That's what kept me going. I had an idea of our happiness. (Silence)

      How often is our idea of happiness not True Happiness? What went wrong? What is True Happiness?

       

      Why Does Someone Have to Die?

       

      Leonard (asking about her novel): Why does someone have to die?...
      Virginia: Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more. It's contrast.

      While this might be theoretically true, it need not be done practically through suicide – which only brings distress to the deceased and the bereaved.

      Mother’s Obligation?

      Laura (explaining to Clarissa): I left both my children. I abandoned them. They say it's the worst thing a mother can do.

      Interestingly, no mother is obliged to love her children – it is a choice. Our mothers already went through a lot of suffering to give birth to us.

      No Regrets?

      Laura: What does it mean to regret when you have no choice? It's what you can bear... ...It was death. I chose life. 

      The question is – Can we learn to bear more of the “unbearable” for everyone’s sake?

      Suicide is Not the Solution

      Virginia (urging Leonard to return to London): You cannot find peace by avoiding life, Leonard.

      Virginia (in suicide letter): Dear Leonard, to look life in the face, always to look life in the face, and to know what it is. At last, to know it, to love it for what it is, and then to put it away. Leonard, always the years between us, always the years, always... the love... always... the hours.

      Ironically and sadly, Virginia died by suicide., despite having uttered, "You cannot find peace by avoiding life." This too is the Buddha's message- only in facing life and death bravely can we find true peace, liberation. Attachment to life or death (as in entertaining suicidal thoughts or committing suicide) will not lead to True Happiness. Let us be able to let life go gently, willingly when the time comes... and yet have courage to live on while we have this precious life, to perfect our Compassion and Wisdom for all beings, including ourselves.

      Life Now is Your Life

      A woman's whole life in a single day, just one day, and in that day, her whole life. –Virginia Woolf

      "This day of all days... her fate becomes clear to her." –Virginia Woolf

      Part of what I love about Woolf is her sense of the singularity and beauty of every minute, every hour.  -Michael Cunningham (Novelist of the Pulitzer Prize winner, "The Hours")

      It is an ordinary day in the life of an ordinary person as told by a genius. By the end of Mrs. Dalloway, you understand that everything you need to know about human life is actually contained in every day of every human life. -Michael Cunningham (On the novel "Mrs Dalloway" by Virginia Woolf, who used "The Hours" as its working title)

      Noting the Hours

      What sort of diary should I like mine to be?
      Something loose-knit, and yet not slovenly, so elastic that it will embrace anything - solemn, slight or beautiful - that comes into my mind. I should like it to resemble some deep, old desk, a capacious hold-all in which one flings a mass of odds and ends without looking them through. I should like to come back after a year or two, and find that the collection had sorted itself and refined itself and coalesced - as such deposits so mysteriously do - into a mold, transparent enough to reflect the light of our life, and yet, steady, tranquil, compounds with the aloofness of a work of art. -Virginia Woolf

      Nothing has really happened until it's been described. Write a lot of letters to your family and friends. Keep a diary. Don't let a day pass without recording it, whether anything interesting has happened or not. Something interesting happens everyday. –Virginia Woolf

      Relativity & Reality of the Hours

      "Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour,  and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." -Albert Einstein

      "The hours are unreal- only this second is, only NOW is real. Don't be overwhelmed by the horizonless eternity of infinite lifetimes, or even the span of this very life. Because only NOW is eternal. Because NOW is your life." –shian

      It's one thing to have ideas about what you're determined to be or do, but the place where you actually have to live those ideas are the hours. That's where we live - we live in the hours. -David Hare (Screenwriter of "The Hours")

      Your Hours

      So much said, that was still all about "The Hours" of others. What about your hours? Your seconds? This very one second? This is your time. This is your life.

      _____________________________________________________________________________
      Compiled/Written by shian@... | www.TheDailyEnlightenment.com  

       


      THINKING ABOUT SUICIDE?


       

      Thoughts about dying and putting an early end to life are not as uncommon and occur to many. You may have had morbid thoughts about dying and ending your own life, or perhaps you know someone who does.


      Depression Could be the Cause




      Clinical depression - a serious medical illness linked to changes in the biochemistry of the brain - is believed to contribute to at least half of all suicides. It affects the way a person feels about himself and how he thinks about things. Characterised by overwhelming feelings of sadness lasting for more than two weeks, clinical depression is very different from a temporary case of “the blues” triggered by an unhappy event.

       

      Depression is often accompanied by a loss of interest in life, hopelessness and helplessness, and can be triggered in somebody who is going through stressful or traumatic life events, or who is terminally ill. Such distressing feelings generally require the attention of a healthcare professional and the treatment of medications. If you or someone you love needs help, you can call:

       

      v     Shan You Counselling Centre at 67419293

      v     The SBL Vision Family Service Centre at 6544 2263

      v     Hearty Care Centre at 6295 4622 and 629 4749

      v     Whispering Hearts Family Service Centre at 6795 1008

      v     Samaritans of Singapore’s 24-hour suicide prevention helpline at 1800-221-4444

       


      Death Doesn’t End Suffering




      People who contemplate of committing suicide may think that suicide is the only way that can take away all the pain and end their suffering. But in Buddhism, death is only the beginning of another cycle of pain and suffering for others and yourself. According to the Buddhist teaching of the Four Noble Truths – life is full of dissatisfactions. All the stages of life - birth, ageing, sickness, death - all the ways of being, wanting and striving are conditions of suffering. However, the Buddha also taught that the end to a dissatisfactory life is possible with the Noble Eightfold Path.

       

      The Buddha also taught us to realise the impermanence and insubstantiality of both life and death. Everything changes constantly. Nothing stays the same. Rain might come after sunshine, but so does sunshine comes after rain. In the realisation that people (their personalities, interests and attitudes) and life situations are unfixed and constantly changing, it becomes possible to approach each moment with an open mind. One is then able to react and adapt to new situations without clinging to outdated and inconsequential conceptions.

       

      We can live more in the present without hanging on to the past or worrying about the future since each phenomenon arises depending on causes and conditions that are coming into being. In Buddhism, the mind is also seen as the root of all good and all evil, the cause of both suffering and True Happiness. It regards the mind as the primary factor that determines the well-being of each person. Through meditation and counselling, the perception of reality for those with persistent negative-thinking can be adjusted. This will enable them to better cope with the unexpected changes of life.

       


      Buddhism’s Perspective to Suicide


       

      “If one knows how to treasure oneself, one should protect oneself well.”


      -The Buddha (Dhammapada)

       

      “According to the Buddhist teaching of cause and effect, since one does not realise the truth of all phenomena, or does not practise to be liberated from life and death, suicide is pointless. When one's karmic retribution is not exhausted, death by suicide only leads to another cycle of rebirth. This is why Buddhists do not support suicide; and instead, encourage constructive living, using this life to diligently practise good, thus changing the present and the future for the better.”


      -Chan Master Sheng Yen

       

      “Some people commit suicide; they seem to think that there is suffering simply because there is the human life, and that by cutting off the life there will be nothing... But, according to the Buddhist viewpoint, that's not the case; your consciousness will continue. Even if you take your own life, this life, you will have to take another body that again will be the basis of suffering. If you really want to get rid of all your suffering, all the difficulties you experience in your life, you have to get rid of the fundamental cause (greed, hatred and delusion) that gives rise to the aggregates that are the basis of all suffering. Killing yourself isn't going to solve your problems.”


      -His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

       

      “Taking one's own life under any circumstances is morally and spiritually wrong. Taking one's own life owing to frustration or disappointment only causes greater suffering. Suicide is a cowardly way to end one's problems of life. A person cannot commit suicide if his mind is pure and tranquil. If one leaves this world with a confused and frustrated mind, it is most unlikely that he would be born again in a better condition. Suicide is an unwholesome or unskilful act since it is encouraged by a mind filled with greed, hatred and delusion. Those who commit suicide have not learnt how to face their problems, how to face the facts of life, and how to use their mind in a proper manner. Such people have not been able to understand the nature of life and worldly conditions.”


      -Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda

       

      "This human body and life is difficult to attain but is now attained. The Buddha's teachings are difficult to encounter but are now encountered. If we do not use this precious body to help ourselves, till when shall we wait to save ourselves?"


      - Buddhist Saying

       

      If you would like to know more about Buddhism,
      please visit www.thedailyenlightenment.com or www.kmspks.org/download



      IS NOT CHOOSING LIFE SUICIDE?


      Question:


      If one is sick and refuses to seek further treatment because he believes death is part of the natural process of life, is it considered suicide? 

      Answer:

      Suicide is usually defined as the intentional taking of one's life through action or inaction for wrong reasons. (As opposed to noble sacrifice to help others, as exemplified by Bodhisattvas. Don't try this if you are not ready! An unready mindstate will "backfire" despite the best of intentions.) If there is a reasonable cure and one refuses, it is suicide through intentional inaction. If sickness is a good enough a reason to simply die, everyone would let babies who are ill to fend for themselves? But no one in his right mind will - for inaction would almost be direct murder.

      However, in terminal cases where the likeliness of cures working is not probable, choosing to die naturally and willingly with peace of mind is not exactly suicide - it might be wiser than struggling to stay alive. The decision, however, lies with the individual himself.

      Euthanasia, or dying by "mercy-killing" (whether self-administered or through instruction of others) is not a wise idea - it is active killing in the attempt to "shorten" suffering. The disadvantage is that though one dies wishing to terminate pain in this life, the karma of pain through sickness might (not definitely - as the workings of karma are hard to discern in detail) not be exhausted with the end of this life, and might carry on in the next life. This means it is only the pushing back the problem of not "facing the music", in fact worsening it. The person might thus be reborn very sickly in a new life, probably with a short lifespan. It is thus much wiser to be brave and face the inevitable pain now - although we all know this is much easier said than done.

      The crucial difference between the plain suicidal and those graciously letting go of life is the state of mind - is it filled with greed (for a new life, or for life to go on and on indefinitely), hatred (of present life and its problems) and ignorance (of the dynamics of life, death and rebirth)? Or is it filled with compassion and wisdom? The Buddha advised, "The body might be sick, but the mind should never be."


      Making crucial decisions of choosing life or death can be very painful and tricky - especially for our own loved ones. The matter of financial difficulties and pressure in keeping a family member who is very ill alive by life support systems is also a very real concern. There is no straightforward answer as there are many different conditions governing each unique situation. What we should always ensure is that we make decisions with the best of intentions with all the compassion, wisdom and resources we have.


       

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