Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book
|Rinpoche gave the following advice regarding suicide.|
It is mentioned in the texts that there are evil beings who influence a person to fight and quarrel ignorantly and mindlessly. These beings shoot the five arrows of delusion, which also distract people.
1. The first arrow of delusion causes a practitioner to make mistakes, which causes him or her to quarrel with others.
2. The second arrow of delusion is distraction; an example is instead of practicing Dharma, it influences the mind to be distracted in drowsiness and sleep, also by the pleasures of this life, maybe food, sex, and so forth—this life's comforts and sense pleasures.
3. The third arrow of delusion interferes with the practitioner’s mind by making him or her extremely attached, for example, to sexual pleasures. Even devas manifest as a woman or man and make the practitioner manifest desire and lose the drop. It infects the mind to remember eating, drinking, dancing, singing, and attachment to those things, also to family members and friends, and it makes you delay your Dharma practice.
These black beings influence like that, by shooting the arrows of delusions in so many ways to make you abandon the celibate life and make your life impure and stained. Also, when maras influence the nagas and evil harm-doers, it can result in taking the life of a practitioner or giving harm to the body, causing sickness, and causing obstacles to arise to the practitioner’s meditation, such as ugly or terrifying forms appearing, uninteresting sounds, or distracting sounds. With so many things and in so many ways they try to distract the meditator to make him or her lose their meditation.
Sometimes the maras can manifest as Buddha to interfere with the practitioner. They can manifest in Buddha's form and harm the person by causing the person to feel pride in his or her mind.
4. The fourth arrow of delusion is changing the cognition of the object, changing the idea of the object. For example, maras influence the mind to think that something which has a suffering nature is pleasure, so that it becomes a basis for the mind to be attached.
Before, the person had no idea that this was a nice object, then suddenly the thought arises and changes toward the object. It can also change the cognition regarding reincarnation, karma, liberation, or the path to enlightenment. The person’s thinking changes, thinking that there is no such thing, no karma, no liberation, no path, etc.
Suicide is a result of the negative karma from criticizing people. Previously created negative karma ripens on the base of that negative karma, then these maras influence your mind and make the thought of suicide arise. It is not your own thought, somebody else influences it. It is harm to you by these maras based on your negative karma.
For example, when I went on the second pilgrimage that I made in Tibet, when we went to the Nepalese border, we were passing in front of a big mountain and it was snowing. There were two trucks before us. One went off the road, then the next one went off the road, then our truck also went off the road. The drivers were not drunk. Western cultures that do not accept spirits may find this interesting, as the drivers were not the cause, and it was not that they didn't know how to drive.
Some cars that came after us could not drive through, so we had to pull them through. We fastened a belt between the cars. There was a powerful spirit there that was harming and influencing the drivers’ minds. Then the driver has no control. That is why even though it was a wide road, everyone slipped off the road. It was not just one car. When it happened in our car, a few people were OK, Geshe Lama Konchog and myself were OK, but some people suddenly got sick, had headaches, their eyes went crooked, and their faces changed. With one student, a Tibetan nun, her face changed suddenly and her eyes crossed. Many people in the car at the same time got sick. Then I tried to put my protection on them and make a prayer, but it only lasted a short time.
It is common when you are traveling in certain places for cars to go off the road. In some places there are mischievous spirits who try to harm. There are certain spots where many accidents happen. There is a place in Tibet between Phagri and Domo, with a monastery called Pema Choeling; it is a branch of Domo Geshe's monastery. It is a very beautiful monastery, which has many animals and nomads. It has plenty of cheese, butter, and dry meat in the shrine room. Usually, in a Tibetan monastery, above the gompa in front there is a big row of statues, but in this one there are shelves filled with big circles of butter. In the outside area, in the kitchen, on table tops, and outside the door there are clay pots filled up with curd. In the middle there is very nice green yard and water. On the other side of that there is a main road going to Domo, Sikkim, and India. In this place is a protector called Namka Barzin. In his past life he was a Mongolian geshe who died with anger. Then he was born as a spirit, and that spirit is situated on that hill. There is a stone house for the spirit, as a place to stay.
In the past, when I was in Tibet, anybody who came by that place on a horse had to get off, otherwise the horse became disturbed and the person might be injured or blood might come out of his or her mouth. In the beginning, this even happened with the Chinese. Because it often happened, some people knew they had to get off their horse because the spirit disturbs the horse and then the person falls down and vomits blood. People who know the story don't ride their horses there, they get down and walk for a minute, and then after that it is OK. That is also due to people’s negative karma—it ripens. It can also influence a pilot’s mind in an airplane; it can make them fly in the wrong direction and then have an accident.
The essence, the conclusion, is, when the thought comes to harm oneself or harm others, you should think: “This is my mind.” You should remember that this is thinking influenced by others, who are trying to harm you, and therefore not follow these thoughts influenced by them. Otherwise, there is a risk of harm to yourself, to end your most precious human rebirth, through which one can achieve all happiness, whatever one wishes, the happiness of future lives, liberation, and enlightenment.
Not only does it destroy one’s happiness, up to enlightenment, it also makes one stop causing happiness in this life for others, also prevents causing others’ happiness of future lives, liberation from samsara, and the ultimate happiness: full enlightenment. That means it harms all sentient beings because it destroys the human body, which has all the opportunities to benefit others.
|Wanting to Commit Suicide|
|Rinpoche heard that a student in Hong Kong wanted to commit suicide. He sent her the following message, and later, she abandoned her idea.|
Please think that I am with you. I am always with you.
If you can, do the practice of the 35 Buddhas. It is good to recite each name of the 35 Buddhas 50 times. In one day, you can do half in the morning and half at night. After each of these two sessions, also recite the confession prayer at the end. You can do one confession prayer for all 50 sets of recitations. That is like doing 50 confessions at one time.
Please practice the Eight Verses of Mind Training and recite OM MANI PADME HUM after each verse, while meditating on the meaning of that verse. Begin with refuge and bodhicitta, and the four immeasurables*. This is extremely good to do, and each time you recite it is the same as giving me a billion dollars and will make me extremely happy.
*Note: The Four Immeasurables are:
How wonderful it would be if all sentient beings were free of suffering and its cause…
How wonderful it would be if all sentient beings had happiness and the cause of happiness…
How wonderful it would be if all sentient beings were never separated from the happiness of higher rebirth and liberation…
How wonderful it would be if all sentient beings were to abide in equanimity, free of hatred and attachment.
A student brought a friend who had contemplated suicide while depressed to see Rinpoche. Rinpoche gave some advice directly at the time, and the next day sent the following additional suggestions in a letter:
It is also very useful to think that depression is not that undeserved for me. I deserve to have this, because I have done negative actions, various ones, all sorts of negative actions, in the past, and not just in this life, but from beginningless rebirth, therefore I deserve to experience this.
The great bodhisattva saint Shantideva said: “In the past I gave such harm to others, therefore I deserve to receive this.” This is another very basic practice to make the mind happy, by accepting it and also by thinking of it as a result of karma done by oneself. When you think, “This is my karma,” it makes everything very simple. Whatever problem there is, this thought prevents there being too much fuss.
Generally, problems in life are created by the mind. This moment’s thought creates this moment’s problems. This moment’s thought is created by the mind of the past.
In the hundreds of volumes of teachings called the Kangyur, the Buddha explained depression that you can’t find a reason for, and also sudden states of depression and unhappiness that come when you wake up in the morning, and similarly in the evening. In his teachings on the shortcomings of not practicing the five lay vows, Buddha explained that depression that suddenly happens at nighttime is the result of sexual misconduct committed in the past. Since the action was performed out of self-cherishing, it becomes negative karma.
One solution is to purify the mental continuum of these sufferings. The purification is not only in order not to experience depression. There are many other sufferings to be experienced in the human realm, as well as in the lower realms. By purifying the cause of those negative experiences, suffering for so many eons can be avoided.
Performing Medicine Buddha practice, confession to the 35 Buddhas practice with prostrations, and Vajrasattva practice purifies not only the karma of sexual misconduct but also all other negative karmas.
The other technique is to apply the methods I mentioned before for transforming the mind into positive thoughts, looking at depression as positive rather than only negative, by thinking of the benefits of depression.
As I mentioned yesterday, you can recall how powerful it is to use that depression for meditation in order to generate a good heart and loving compassion. You can recall how this depression becomes the most powerful means of purifying the heaviest negative karma and the most powerful means of collecting the most extensive merit. That is how depression becomes the quickest path to achieve enlightenment.
This way, your depression is really very positive. It becomes so precious, like a jewel. You can make it so beneficial for other beings. You can use it to cause all happiness for all sentient beings, especially to bring them to enlightenment, by thinking of the benefits of the problem and using this technique for transforming problems into happiness. When you don’t know or don’t think of the benefits of the problem, your mind labels it a problem. You label it negative and then exaggerate. Then you think how terrible it is, how terrible I am.
One very important thing to be able to apply the methods I explained—especially to use depression to develop the thought of loving compassion—is to make a strong determination every day. Every morning, after you think of the meaning of your life, make this strong determination: “From now on, especially today, I won’t let myself be controlled by ego, self-cherishing thought, and will never be separated from cherishing others and from loving compassion, even for one second. I will never allow myself to be bothered by problems, to be disturbed by them, to make a mountain from this molehill.” Make a very strong determination: “I’ll be strong. I won’t do that.” Generate courage in the morning. Plan out your day. Then you can be ready when it comes, like an army that trains for years before the actual fight, so that when an enemy comes, they are ready. Similarly, you prepare in the morning to fight your self-cherishing thoughts. If you’re not prepared, you can miss the chance to achieve great inner peace and to use your problem to cause happiness for all sentient beings.
Please, I want to remind you again that, when the suicidal mind arises, there’s an external spirit involved, besides karma. The person doesn’t know, starts to hallucinate, thinking this is the only solution for peace and happiness. But it’s totally opposite to that.
Therefore, at the beginning, as I told you, you should look at your mind as the baby or the student and yourself as the teacher. Therefore, you don’t listen to the mind, as the baby. It’s very dangerous. Before you follow the mind, analyze whether the shortcomings of an action are greater than the benefits. Do whatever has the greatest benefit or at least greater benefit and fewer shortcomings.
Otherwise, if you don’t analyze, it’s very dangerous. It stops you from having vast amounts of merit, and giving enormous benefits to others.
Besides past negative karma, those outside spirits also harm you when the suicidal thought arises, so don’t follow it. Just ignore it. Let it disappear, like wind passing through.