Evidently, my last post about suicide scared a lot of folks. I removed the post twice because I felt it was being misunderstood and causing fear. I often share a learning of my life and that was simply the purpose of the the posts. Perhaps the learning was not clear. I apologize for having brought fear to my friends. I apologize for having used Robin Williams’ actions which were not my own. And I bow to those who called me and sent love my way. Thank you to those who wanted to remind me that my life is important. I feel the same. My life is important but not for the reasons that I teach or that I may have touched helped others with the work that I do. My life is important because it is not mine. It is important to know that the “I” is “We.” The “We” became very evident in the numbers of folks that contacted me.
I was told early on in Zen practice that I do not own my life…it does not belong to me. This teaching startled me. I thought in my mind, “Well, I thought I belonged to my mother.” I was startled because I felt “I” was sustaining my own life. However, in the true sense of life, we sustain life for each other. None of us, not even our mothers, are sustaining our lives alone. A death of suicide would have affected everyone. This life I am living is connected to the very lives of all others. “You can’t die that way, because then it would be difficult for me to live,” was a response to my post. A suicide changes the way we live, the way we see our lives because it is our life too that has been taken away.
A friend in high school took her life with a gun after school. She had told me that she had been sleeping on the porches of the neighbors. I wanted to tell her come sleep at my house but I didn’t say it. The next day she was dead. In those days after her death our lives were bound together in living and dying. The part of me that didn’t say, “I can help,” died with my friend. My friend had no idea how connected I was to her and that I speak about her from that day until now. Today, I never pass up a moment when I can help someone. I speak up immediately.
A friend also commented on the post “Not So Perfect Teacher,” that it is a right if someone wants to take their own life (and I believe she meant in the context of a grave illness situation). I thought long and hard on what she said. But everyone must commit such a suicide together. It must be agreed upon. Without consent having the right to take your life doesn’t matter if everyone who participated in the loved one’s life is not joined in the dying or death.
Although I have battled depression in my life (mostly prior to Buddhist practice), I was not depressed when I wrote the post. I imagine my saying I was feeling done meant the end of my life and it did. The end of my life as I knew it. Some part of my life was completed and I didn’t know what to do with that except leave the planet. But I did not leave instead I shared because this life “I” live is a “we” situation. When I wrote the post I was filled with encouragement about sharing. I wanted to share my innermost deepest self, albeit frightening, to the collective “we.” I often share my experience so that others don’t feel alone in the experience of ungroundedness; so they don’t feel it necessary to be so “perfect” all the time. Our imperfections are perfect. Without imperfections we would not experience healing, awareness, wellness, or peace. It is all part of living.
Thank you to those who heard a call for help whether it was one or not. And if you didn’t respond I did not take that as not being concerned. I felt you heard the larger call to let down one’s mask. May you experience peace with this life in this moment.