THEOSOPHY ON SUICIDE

Contents - Suicide is not Death - W. Q. Judge - Is Suicide a Crime? - Blavatsky - One Suicide's Decision - Endersby - On Suicide - Ponsonby, Small - On Suicide - Maj. H. S. Turner - Quotes on Suicide from The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett

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Suicide is Not Death - William Q. Judge (originally in The New York World) As a student of Theosophy and human nature I have been interested in the discussion of the subject of self-murder to which The World has given a place in its columns. The eloquent agnostic, Col. Ingersoll, planted his views in the ground with the roots of them in the grave, giving the poor felo de se nothing beyond the cold earth to cheer him in his act, save perhaps the cowardly chance of escape, from responsibility or pain. Those who, as Nym Crinkle says, occupy themselves with replying to Col. Ingersoll fall back on the mere assertion that it is a sin to kill the body in which the Lord saw fit to confine a man. Neither of these views is either satisfactory or scientific. If suicide is to be approved it can only be on the ground that the man is only a body, which, being a clod, may well be put out of its sufferings. From this it would be an easy step to justify the killing of other bodies that may be in the way, or old, or insane, or decrepit, or vicious. For if the mass of clay called body is all that we are, if man is not a spirit unborn and changeless in essence, then what wrong can there be in destroying it when you own it, or are it, and how easy to find good and sufficient reason for disposing similarly of others? The priest condemns suicide, but one may be a Christian and yet hold the opinion that a quick release from earth brings possible heaven several years nearer. The Christian is not deterred from suicide by any good

reasons advanced in his religion, but rather from cowardice. Death, whenever natural or forced has become a terror, is named "The King of Terrors." This is because, although a vague heaven is offered on the other side, life and death are so little understood that men had rather bear the ills they know than fly to others which are feared through ignorance of what those are. Suicide, like any other murder is a sin because it is a sudden disturbance of the harmony of the world. It is a sin because it defeats nature. Nature exists for the sake of the soul and for no other reason, it has the design, so to say, of giving the soul experience and self-consciousness. These can only be had by means of a body through which the soul comes in contact with nature, and to violently sever the connection before the natural time defeats the aim of nature, for the present compelling her, by her own slow processes, to restore the task left unfinished. And as those processes must go on through the soul that permitted the murder, more pain and suffering must follow. And the disturbance of the general harmony is a greater sin than most men think. They consider themselves alone, as separate, as not connected with others. But they are connected throughout the whole world with all other souls and minds. A subtle, actual, powerful band links them all together, and the instant one of all these millions disturbs the link the whole mass feels it by reaction through soul and mind, and can only return to a normal state through a painful adjustment. This adjustment is on the unseen, but all-important, planes of being in which the real man exists. Thus each murderer of self or of another imposes on entire humanity an unjustifiable burden. From this injustice he cannot escape, for his body's death does not cut him off from the rest; it only places him, deprived of nature's instruments, in the clutch of laws that are powerful and implacable, ceaseless in their operation and compulsory in their demands. Suicide is a huge folly, because it places the committer of it in an infinitely worse position than he was in under the conditions from which he foolishly hoped to escape. It is not death. It is only a leaving of one wellknown house in familiar surroundings to go into a new place where terror and despair alone have place. It is but a preliminary death done to the clay, which is put in the "cold embrace of the grave," leaving the man himself naked and alive, but out of mortal life and not in either heaven or hell. The Theosophist sees that man is a complex being full of forces and faculties, which he uses in a body on earth. The body is only a part of his clothing; he himself lives also in other places. In sleep he lives in one, awakes in another, in thought in another. He is a threefold being of body, soul and spirit. And this trinity can be divided again into its necessary seven

constituents. And just as he is threefold, so also is nature - material, psychical or astral, and spiritual. The material part of nature governs the body, the psychical affects the soul and the spirit lives in the spiritual, all being bound together. Were we but bodies, we might well commit them to material nature and the grave, but if we rush out of the material we must project ourselves into the psychical or astral. And as all nature proceeds with regularity under the government of law, we know that each combination has its own term of life before a natural and easy separation of the component parts can take place. A tree or a mineral or a man is a combination of elements or parts, and each must have its projected life term. If we violently and prematurely cut them off one from the other, certain consequences must ensue. Each constituent requires its own time for dissolution. And suicide being a violent destruction of the first element - body - the other two, of soul and spirit, are left without their natural instrument. The man then is but half dead, and is compelled by the law of his own being to wait until the natural term is reached. The fate of the suicide is horrible in general. He has cut himself off from his body by using mechanical means that affect the body, but cannot touch the real man. He then is projected into the astral world, for he has to live somewhere. There the remorseless law, which acts really for his good, compels him to wait until he can properly die. Naturally he must wait, half dead, the months or years which, in the order of nature, would have rolled over him before body and soul and spirit could rightly separate. He becomes a shade; he lives in purgatory, so to say, called by the Theosophist the "place of desire and passion," or "Kama Loka." He exists in the astral realm entirely, eaten up by his own thoughts. Continually repeating in vivid thoughts the act by which he tried to stop his life's pilgrimage, he at the same time sees the people and the place he left, but is not able to communicate with any one except, now and then, with some poor sensitive, who often is frightened by the visit. And often he fills the minds of living persons who may be sensitive to his thoughts with the picture of his own taking off, occasionally leading them to commit upon themselves the act of which he was guilty. To put it theosophically, the suicide has cut himself off on one side from the body and life which were necessary for his experience and evolution, and on the other from his spirit, his guide and "Father in heaven." He is composed now of astral body, which is of great tensile strength, informed and inflamed by his passions and desires. But a portion of his mind, called manas, is with him. He can think and perceive, but, ignorant of how to use the forces of that realm, he is swept hither and thither, unable to guide himself. His whole nature is in distress, and with it to a certain degree the whole of humanity, for through the spirit all are united. Thus he goes on, until the law of nature acting

on his astral body, that begins to die, and then he falls into a sleep from which he awakens in time for a season of rest before beginning once more a life on earth. In his next reincarnation he may, if he sees fit, retrieve or compensate or suffer over again. There is no escape from responsibility. The "sweet embrace of the wet clay" is a delusion. It is better to bravely accept the inevitable, since it must be due to our errors in other older lives, and fill every duty, try to improve all opportunity. To teach suicide is a sin, for it leads some to commit it. To prohibit it without reason is useless, for our minds must have reasons for doing or not doing. And if we literally construe the words of the Bible, then there we find it says no murderer has a place but in hell. Such constructions satisfy but few in an age of critical investigation and hard analysis. But give men the key to their own natures, show them how law governs both here and beyond the grave, and their good sense will do the rest. An illogical nepenthe of the grave is as foolish as an illogical heaven for nothing. - The Lamp, September, 1894, Canadian Theosophist, vol 58-1, March-April, 1977 --------------

IS SUICIDE A CRIME? - H.P. Blavatsky [Originally published in The Theosophist, Vol. IV, No. 38, November, 1882, pp. 31-32. The rather long but thoughtful letter from an Inquirer is followed by serial answers from the pen of H.P.B. They are as timely today as they were when first published. "Fragments of Occult Truth" refers to a series of article written for The Theosophist by Allan O. Hume on the basis of teachings received from the Adepts.] The writer in the London Spiritualist for November, who calls the "Fragments of Occult Truth" speculation spinning, can hardly, I think, apply that epithet to Fragment No. 3, so cautiously is the hypothesis concerning suicide advanced therein. Viewed in its general aspect, the hypothesis seems sound enough, satisfies our instincts of the Moral Law of the Universe, and fits in with our ordinary ideas as well as with those we have derived from science. The inference drawn from the two cases cited, viz., that of the

selfish suicide on the one hand, and of the unselfish suicide on the other, is that, although the after-states may vary, the result is invariably bad, the variation consisting only in the degree of punishment. It appears to me that, in arriving at this conclusion, the writer could not have had in his mind's eye all the possible cases of suicide, which do or may occur. For I maintain that in some cases self-sacrifice is not only justifiable, but also morally desirable, and that the result of such self-sacrifice cannot possibly be bad. I will put one case, perhaps the rarest of all rare cases, but not necessarily on that account a purely hypothetical one, for I know at least one man, in whom I am interested, who is actuated with feelings, not dissimilar to these I shall now describe, and who would be deeply thankful for any additional light that could be thrown on this darkly mysterious subject (See Editor's Note 1). Suppose, then, that an individual, whom I shall call M., takes to thinking long and deep on the vexed questions of the mysteries of earthly existence, its aims, and the highest duties of man. To assist his thoughts, he turns to philosophical works: notably those dealing with the sublime teachings of Buddha. Ultimately he arrives at the conclusion that the FIRST and ONLY aim of existence is to be useful to our fellow men; that failure in this constitutes his own worthlessness as a sentient human being, and that by continuing a life of worthlessness he simply dissipates the energy which he holds in trust, and which, so holding, he has no right to fritter away. He tries to be useful, but - miserably and deplorably fails. What then is his remedy? Remember there is here "no sea of troubles" to "take arm against," no outraged human law to dread, no deserved earthly punishment to escape; in fact, there is no moral cowardice whatever involved in the self-sacrifice. M. simply puts an end to an existence which is useless, and which therefore fails of its own primary purpose. Is his act justifiable? Or must he also be the victim of that transformation into spook and pisacha, against which Fragment No. 3 utters its dread warning? (2) Perhaps, M. may secure at the next birth more favorable conditions, and thus be better able to work out the purpose of Being. Well, he can scarcely be worse; for, in addition to his being inspired by a laudable motive to make way for one who might be more serviceable, he has not, in this particular case, been guilty of any moral turpitude (3). But I have not done. I go a step further and say that M. is not only useless, but positively mischievous. To his incapacity to do good, he finds he adds a somewhat restless disposition which is perpetually urging him on to make an effort to do good. M. makes the effort - he would be unutterly unworthy the name of man if he did not make it - and discovers that his incapacity most generally leads him into errors which convert the possible

good into actual evil; that, on account of his nature, birth, and education, a very large number of men become involved in the effects of his mistaken zeal, and that the world at large suffers more from his existence than otherwise. Now, if after arriving at such results, M. seeks to carry out their logical conclusion, viz., that being morally bound to diminish the woes to which sentient beings on earth are subject, he should destroy himself, and by that means do the only good he is capable of; is there, I ask, any moral guilt involved in the act of anticipating death in such a case? I, for one, should certainly say not. Nay, more, I maintain, subject of course to correction by superior knowledge, that M. is not only justified in making away with himself, but that he would be a villain if he did not, at once and unhesitatingly, put an end to a life, not only useless, but positively pernicious. (4) M. may be in error; but supposing he dies cherishing the happy delusion that in death is all the good, in life all the evil he is capable of, are there in his case no extenuating circumstances to plead strongly in his favour, and help to avert a fall into that horrible abyss with which your readers have been frightened? (5) M.'s, I repeat, is no hypothetical case. History teems with instances of worthless and pernicious lives, carried on to the bitter end to the ruin of nations. Look at the authors of the French Revolution, burning with as ardent a love for their fellowmen as ever fired the human breast; look at them crimson with innocent blood, bringing unutterable disasters on their country in Liberty's sacred name! apparently how strong! in reality how pitifully weak! What a woeful result of incapacity has been theirs? Could they but have seen with M.'s eyes, would they not have been his prototypes? Blessed, indeed, had it been for France, if they had anticipated M. Again, look at George III of England, a well-meaning, yet an incapable Sovereign, who, after reigning for a number of years, left his country distracted and impoverished by foreign wars, torn by internal dissensions, and separated from a kindred race across the Atlantic, with the liberties of his subjects trampled under foot, and virtue prostituted in the Cabinet, in Parliament and on the Hustings. His correspondence with Lord North and others abundantly proves that to his self-sufficiency, well-meaning though it be, must be traced the calamities of Great Britain and Ireland, calamities from the effects of which the United Kingdom has not yet fully recovered. Happy had it been for England if this ruler had, like M., seen the uselessness of his life, and nipped it, as M. might do, in the bud of its pernicious career! - AN INQUIRER

EDITOR'S NOTES (1) "Inquirer" is not an Occultist, hence his assertion that in some cases suicide "is not only justifiable, but also morally desirable." No more than murder, is it ever justifiable, however desirable it may sometimes appear. The Occultist, who looks at the origin and the ultimate end of things, teaches that the individual - who affirms that any man, under whatsoever circumstances, is called to put an end to his life - is guilty of as great an offense and of as pernicious a piece of sophistry, as the nation that assumes a right to kill in war thousands of innocent people under the pretext of avenging the wrong done to one. All such reasonings are the fruits of Avidya mistaken for philosophy and wisdom. Our friend is certainly wrong in thinking that the writer of Fragments arrived at his conclusions only because he failed to keep before his mind's eye all the possible cases of suicide. The result, in one sense, is certainly invariable; and there is but one general law or rule for all suicides. But, it is just because "the "after-states" vary ad-infinitum, that it is erroneous to infer that this variation consists only in the degree of punishment. If the result will be in every case the necessity of living out the appointed period of sentient existence, we do not see whence "Inquirer" has derived his notion that "the result is invariably bad." The result is full of dangers; but there is hope for certain suicides, and even in many cases A REWARD if life was sacrificed to save other lives and that there was no other alternative for it. Let him read para. 7, page 313, in the September Theosophist, and reflect. Of course, the question is simply generalized by the writer. To treat exhaustively of all and every case of suicide and their after-states would require a shelf of volumes from the British Museum's Library, not our Fragments. (2) No man, we repeat, has a right to put an end to his existence simply because it is useless. As well argue the necessity of inciting to suicide all the incurable invalids and cripples who are a constant source of misery to their families; and preach the moral beauty of that law among some of the savage tribes of the South Sea Islanders, in obedience to which they put to death with warlike honours, their old men and women. The instance chosen by "Inquirer" is not a happy one. There is a vast difference between the man who parts with his life in sheer disgust at constant failure to do good, out of despair of ever being useful, or even out of dread to do injury to his fellowman by remaining alive; and one who gives it up voluntarily to save the lives either committed to his charge or dear to him. One is a half insane misanthrope the other, a hero and a martyr. One takes away his life, the other offers it in sacrifice to philanthropy and to his duty. The captain who remains alone on board of a sinking ship; the man who gives up his place in a boat that will not hold all, in favour of younger and weaker beings; the physician, the sister of

charity, and nurse who stir not from the bed-side of patients dying of an infectious fever; the man of science who wastes his life in brainwork and fatigue and knows he is so wasting it and yet is offering it day after day and night after night in order to discover some great law of the universe, the discovery of which may bring in its results some great boon to mankind; the mother that throws herself before the wild beast, that attacks her, children, to screen and give them the time to fly; all these are not suicides. The impulse which prompts them thus to contravene the first great law of animated nature the first instinctive impulse of which is to preserve life - is grand and noble. And, though all these will have to live in the Kama Loka their appointed life term, they are yet admired by all, and their memory will live honoured among the living for a still longer period. We all wish that, upon similar occasions, we may have courage so to die. Not so, surely in the case of the man instanced by "Inquirer." Notwithstanding his assertion that "there is no moral cowardice whatever involved" in such self-sacrifice - we call it decidedly "moral cowardice" and refuse it the name of sacrifice. (3 and 4) There is far more courage to live than to die in most cases. If "M." feels that he is "positively mischievous," let him retire to a jungle, a desert island; or what is still better, to a cave or hut near some big city; and then, while living the life of a hermit, a life which would preclude the very possibility of doing mischief to any one, work, in one way or the other, for the poor, the starving, the afflicted. If he does that, no one can "become involved in the effects of his mistaken zeal," whereas, if he has the slightest talent, he can benefit many by simple manual labour carried on in as complete a solitude as can be commanded under the circumstances. Anything is better even being called a crazy philanthropist - than committing suicide, the most dastardly and cowardly of all actions, unless the felo de se is resorted to, in a fit of insanity. (5) "Inquirer" asks whether his "M." must also be victim of that transformation into spook and pisacha! Judging by the delineation given of his character, by his friend, we should say that, of all suicides, he is the most likely to become a seance-room spook. Guiltless "of any moral turpitude," he may well be. But since he is afflicted with a "restless disposition which is perpetually urging him on to make an effort to do good" - here, on earth, there is no reason we know of, why he should lose that unfortunate disposition (unfortunate because of the constant failure) - in the Kama Loka. A "mistaken zeal" is sure to lead him on toward various mediums. Attracted by the strong magnetic desire of sensitives and spiritualists, "M." will probably feel "morally bound to diminish the woes to which sentient beings [mediums and believers] on earth are subject," and shall once more destroy, not only himself, but his

"affinities," the mediums. - Theosophia, Summer, 1953 ----------------

One Suicide’s Decision - Victor Endersby Here sits a man - calm and unmoved, to all appearances. He has just decided that tomorrow morning he will walk off of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. He feels no regrets. This is a choice. Has he been a failure in his business, in his profession, in his chosen field of activity? Not at all. He has come face to face with a fact. He has always known, or felt within himself, that sometime this choice would come - and now it is here. What stakes could be so high? No one has really ever understood the Suicide, save the Suicide himself perhaps (and those who can perceive the laws of mind at work on the inner side of human nature). How could anyone else understand, when the motive is buried within the consciousness of each one who makes that decision? The reason for suicide is not the same in any two cases. Here is a man who holds the "top" position in his organization, and therefore is able to delegate responsibility which he himself feels no necessity for ever assuming. How did this man know that some day he would face this choice? Because even as a little child he sought "oblivion" - especially, he obliterated the sense of responsibility about to impinge upon him - by means of excitement or over-stimulation of one kind or another. Not any one kind, but one kind after another - anything from excessive consumption of candy, and drinking a whole series of carbonated drinks (the place of carbon in human bio-chemistry is far from being understood) to saturation with sexual sensations. An exhilarating effect was enjoyed, followed by an "all-is-wellwith-me-and-the-world-again" feeling. But eventually, the power to obliterate uneasiness and insecurity diminishes. Theosophically speaking, what has been happening? The Egoic individuality from time to time reminded its alter-ego (the personal self) that now is the time to be about "his father's business." In the slumbering unconscious totality, however lay bundles of habits "conditioned" by the selfsatisfaction gained from gratifying the demands of the irresponsible personality. Among these defensive habits the prodding of the Ego stirred

only rebellion. Facing the resulting conflict was repeatedly avoided and put off - the personal self retreating into an "oblivion" which was beloved because it created the sensory effort of "at-well ness." As the mind has become more mature, it at the same time has become more fearful and more defiant. The Egoic will, striving to assert itself as "master" - which is the dominant drive bringing all self-conscious beings into incarnation - has been successfully materialized (by the ideas of the personal man) and transformed into a compelling desire for dominance. This has been successfully accomplished, but somewhere along the line, the moral equation has been left out and the back-wash of the rip-tide now begins to sap away at the feeling of selfsufficiency. As the surety of self-sufficiency ebbs, fear arises. A panic ensues. The panic is deadened or drugged again and again by excesses of one kind or another, but ever the surges of mounting fear arise with each new washing back upon the consciousness of unassimilated debris. First, perhaps as a child, the rejection of fear took the form of "temper-tantrums" - an attempt to assert the will as stubbornness; "I am going to do what at I want, whether I ought to or not..." But, finally, anger begins to replace the "temper-tantrums." Anger (and "righteous indignation") now is one of the few remaining satisfactions. Like sexual excesses, the force of anger galvanizes the personal self into a "factitious life" - precisely comparable to the false animation of a kama-lokic "shell." Anger also brings a spurious sense of oblivion, an apparent calm, since it obscures the real issues at stake, covers over the perception of principle, and renders the mind opaque. But the inner voice speaks again, and the mind knows that an Egoic choice is upon it. This path of oblivion to the needs of others and to the reality of one's identification with all selves cannot be pursued further. T h e i n n e r voice gives warning; anger must be surmounted. Anger is the preserver of the oblivion and the "destroyer" of the Perceiver, so far as his connection with that particular personality is concerned. Coldly, the intellect - "divorced from soul and spirit" - can make the decision. If it is made in anger, the personal man will lose his soul. If made without anger, only the body will be lost, and that is the preferable choice. Always in the background is the Egoic realization that the oblivion of anger will in time quickly snap the life-line between soul and body, and the path between will, for the incarnation, be destroyed. The lower mind of the man is not always aware of this, but his soul is. The personal man sees suicide as preferable to trying to fight his way back to full control, or to facing the inevitable moral dissolution. This, then, may be the decision made in the horrible solitude of the Paranoid type of Manic-Depressive.

-------------UNSEEN CAUSES OF SUICIDE The analysis in the foregoing article seems true. The statement regarding the conditions of "loss of soul" or otherwise on the part of the suicide, in the last paragraph, is perhaps an over-simplification. Such an outcome, we believe, will be largely determined, not merely by the suicide's state of mind, but by his course over many past incarnations. Some might draw an implication that there can be a choice between less and greater evils in suicide; but suicide itself is the choice of greatest evil by the personality. The article brings up the tendency toward reasonless despair with suicidal tendencies, increasingly found in the young who, apparently with everything before them, succumb to black despondency in the absence of any fitting cause. We believe that this "causeless" melancholy is about what the Germans call "Weltz-Schmertz, or "world-pain." Certainly common observation shows that extreme moods are due, not to circumstances, but to the individual as a variable. What drives one man to despair and suicide, will sometimes be passed off by another as a minor problem, or even a heartening stimulus to effort. Numbers do away with themselves for reasons that no other human being is ever able to find out, even when the victim is apparently "on top of the world." Perhaps there is among us an unrecognized number of men who have progressed to the twilight fringe of that ordeal of Initiation spoken of as the "Dark Night of the Soul." It is a condition in which all things fail and darkness becomes absolute without, leaving the man alone with whatever of inner light and higher will he may have acquired. This state has a history leading up to it, and a purpose in it. Fascination with the delights of matter is foreign to the Self, which is embroiled in it only for learning and the discharge of ancient duties. So far as that Self is concerned, one lesson in one particular material experience is enough. But incessant repetition, based upon the illusion that matter is itself worthy of seeking, finally brings the soul-knowledge of the hollowness of such things down into the unprepared consciousness of the lower self, where the enforced recognition can bring only despair. From the material plane this despair necessarily appears causeless; because what lies back of it is not having to put up with inferior enjoyments, but the unconscious, unformed recognition that matter is all joyless in essence. In successful Initiation met by one duly prepared, the despair following upon discovery of the worthlessness of material living is short-lived, giving way to the "light that never shone on land or sea," the light that never dies, which can be seen only when the veils of matter are rent and have fallen. Those who

meet such a revelation unprepared, unknowing of its nature, without the momentum of a developed spiritual will to carry them through where all vision and knowledge are gone for a while - these are among those who fall into stupefying vice, insanity, or self-murder. So we think. - Theosophical Notes, Feb., 1952 ------------------

ON SUICIDE QUESTION 4 - I read in today's paper (December 8, 1972) that a Methodist minister is in favor of setting up clinics to help certain people commit suicide with dignity. Could you tell me whether the Theosophical philosophy could support such "euthanasic suicide," even if such, as this report indicates, "could be carried out with the loving understanding of family and friends?" IRENE R. PONSONBY - No. Theosophy can never support suicide under any circumstances. With pity for the victims and sympathy for those concerned, the theosophical student considers the act and the above suggestion are due to profound ignorance of the universal law of human existence. Theosophy maintains that man is a spiritual, composite entity, an inseparable, integral part of the Universe, his Home, in which he lives and evolves under the guidance and protection of its laws. Fundamental among these laws are Reincarnation - rebirth in a body of flesh and adapted to development on Earth - and Karma: the law of cause and effect. Man has lived on Earth many times before, and in those lives he has, by his harmonious or discordant thought and action, made himself to be exactly what he is today - happy or miserable, healthy or diseased, fortunate or unfortunate. At his birth in any given life, he possesses his individual reserve of universal life-force. This force vitalizes his composite constitution until exhausted at his natural death. No law may be broken with impunity; and the law of Karma is very strict, completely impartial and just, its accuracy tempered by compassion so that ultimate good may result. Therefore several factors in suicide must be

taken into account. No one who commits self-murder can be considered quite sane at the time of his fatal act: his motive, age, and the quality of his life just ended act as ameliorative factors. Nevertheless, the immediate future of the suicide is very dreadful. He has repudiated his kinship with the Universe. He has ruthlessly destroyed the physical structure of his own building, and defied universal law. As a result the then excarnate entity, after an indeterminate period of unconsciousness, finds itself in the kama-loka, where is must live over and over again the last dominating impression left on his consciousness when on earth: the act of suicide, until the last drop of the ego's life-force is exhausted, which happens only when the time of death would have come naturally. Then only is the excarnate being free to continue its journey through the inner worlds in the majestic process we call 'death'. Finally, to the individual who feels he is at the end of his endurance, Theosophy says: You and the Universe are one; its powers and strengths are yours; trouble and suffering are means of growth; they will pass. Call upon your spiritual strength, the real man or woman of you. Face the future with courage. This is the Way of Universal Wisdom. (References: The Key to Theosophy, H.P. Blavatsky, pp. 227-28; Collected Writings, H.P. Blavatsky, IV, pp. 189, 259-61; The Ocean of Theosophy, W. Q. Judge, pp. 107-08; Studies in Occult Philosophy, G. de Purucker, p. 617; The Esoteric Tradition, G. de Purucker, pp. 693-99). W.E.S. - Dying with dignity and 'suicide with dignity' are two different things. They both concern an attitude of mind, and in this regard the theosophical philosophy is most helpful. Theosophy helps one know himself. When he is faced with problems of almost overwhelming psychological force he knows he cannot avoid a solution by 'blanking out' so to say; suicide is no help; for he will have that same problem to face - eventually, in some future life, and it will be more difficult then. He knows also that for some reason or another he is responsible for his mental condition of turmoil, and that therefore in the long run only he can change it. But he knows too that he is not essentially an evil person; he has performed good deeds in this life and other lives, and the fruit of these acts at the right cyclic time will come to him as a benevolent force which will help him in solving seemingly impossible problems. He must learn, therefore, to cooperate with universal nature; learn to quiet the stormy tempest of his intermediate nature, so that the waves that seem so overpowering and uncontrollable will gradually subside and the forces tearing him apart become neutralized. He can then pursue his way with growing degree of calmness.

Dying from the attacks of incurable disease is altogether another matter. Here the patient is facing his last months or weeks or days knowing that the medical prognosis is that he cannot recover; he is in great and perhaps constant physical pain. Is then "euthanasic suicide ... carried out with the loving understanding of family and friends" justifiable? 'Suicide' is the wrong word. The wise physician, with the cooperation of patient and family, is in the position to alleviate the patient's pain by medicine and drugs. He does not put an end to life, but he does not galvanize a body into continued tortuous existence against the very protest of the body just for the sake of keeping it alive; he cooperates with Nature in easing the way out for the soul, prepared in degree and ready for release. This is not taking the patient's life before the destined time has come; it is not suicide on the patient's part; it is merely sensibly cooperating with Nature in these last moments when the Real Individual must separate itself from the temporal personality. To keep a body 'alive' by stimulants and drugs in its last hours is not 'dying with dignity'; but to let the reincarnating soul continue on its journey, aiding its release by wise medical care administered to the body, seems, as I understand the theosophical philosophy, a sensible and wise course to pursue. This is a far cry from euthanasia in any form, an act or practice we are not as a people morally fit to use, nor is it ever right to seek to contravene Nature's own majestic processes. Once we come to understand that man is an immortal soul, and as such is essentially deathless, destined to return life after life in order to learn in this great schoolhouse of the Universe, and that he is responsible for his acts and thoughts, then the difficulties surrounding this problem fade away. - Eclectic Theosophist, March 15, 1973 --------------------

Thoughts by the Wayside - On Suicide [by Maj. Hubert S. Turner] Spread over the front pages of most of our larger newspapers, quite recently, was a news report covering the suicide of a very prominent banker. The article covered the subject matter of some notes that this internationally

known man had left behind him, when he decided to try and improve his condition, by committing the error of destroying his body, the only thing which would allow him to improve his condition. The following are a few extracts from these notes: "I have no troubles of any kind, nor am I in bad physical health - but for a long, long time I have preen depressed MENTALLY, and suffered from melancholia that steadily gets worse. Except for this MENTAL depression, I have everything to live for: good friends, lovely business associates, and a good future in this world, with financial ease. But I am unhappy - MENTALLY." The presidency of the bank he headed paid him $72,000 per year [[1945]], so financial worries were not even a contributory cause to his problem. He owned a beautiful country estate, so an unpleasant environment could not have helped bring on his depression. The loss of his wife, two years ago, is the only thing that can be found in the record, that might account for the despondency noted. It is an interesting case, especially when so many people are assured that HAPPINESS always follows in the train of wealth and the possession of many THINGS. This man had all that, yet he reiterates he was MENTALLY unhappy. Searching for a key to the problem, we find it in his own repeated words "Mentally Unhappy." It is quite a common error to consider Happiness or Unhappiness as a MENTAL function. In reality these two Intangibles of Life are functions of the HEART and not the mind. The error comes from confusing the meaning of the words HAPPINESS and PLEASURE. The latter is something that tickles and appeals to the Mind, which is why Pleasure can be found in a Night Club, but never happiness. Happiness comes from a heart throbbing and invariably involves someone or something outside of the Happiness Feeler, which acts as recipient of the Feeler's Bounty. This is why Happiness is felt in the presence of a Loved One, the latter being the center or focus of that which is poured out. Pleasure is felt in the presence of something, which appeals only to the MIND and which operates from outside, poured out towards the individual who "Feels Pleasure." From this we can see that this victim of his own folly could not find happiness, merely because he looked for it on the Mental Plane of Life, instead of looking for it on the Spiritual Plane, where it belongs. The heart responds to influences of a Spiritual Nature only. It is the attachment to things and the conviction that all else is confined to the mind, that is the cause of all the Unhappiness in the world. The heart is simply starved, contact with anything Spiritual stops and the mind and body left alone with themselves, find the tie unendurable, so the MIND causes the body to destroy itself. And that causes us to consider that perhaps that very same thing is

what is happening to the entire world. The World Soul has shriveled up or atrophied from disuse. The World Mind and Body are simply appalled at having to get along together alone, so the World Mind devises frightful Engines of Destruction to destroy the World Body; in order that World Mind may live alone with itself. MORAL: - If you are Unhappy, unlock your heart and get interested in something outside of yourself, and HAPPINESS will always follow. And that's Heart Doctrine Theosophy! - The Wayfarer. (From Theosophia, May-June, 1945)

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Quotes on Suicide from The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett ....But there is another kind of "Spirits," we have lost sight of: the suicides and those killed by accident. Both kinds can communicate, and both have to pay dearly for such visits. And now I have again to explain what I mean. Well, this class is the one that the French Spiritists call -- "les Esprits Souffrants." They are an exception to the rule, as they have to remain within the earth's attraction, and in its atmosphere -- the Kama-Loka -- till the very last moment of what would have been the natural duration of their lives. In other words, that particular wave of life-evolution must run on to its shore. But it is a sin and cruelty to revive their memory and intensify their suffering by giving them a chance of living an artificial life; a chance to overload their Karma, by tempting them into opened doors, viz., mediums and sensitives, for they will have to pay roundly for every such pleasure. I will explain. The suicides, who, foolishly hoping to escape life, found themselves still alive, -have suffering enough in store for them from that very life. Their punishment is in the intensity of the latter. Having lost by the rash act their seventh and sixth principles, though not for ever, as they can regain both -- instead of accepting their punishment, and taking their chances of redemption, they are often made to regret life and tempted to regain a hold upon it by sinful means. In the Kama-Loka, the land of intense desires, they can gratify their earthly yearnings but through a living proxy; and by so doing, at the expiration of the natural term, they generally lose their monad for ever.... (MLs, p. 109,

Theosophical University Press edition. [fate of accident victims following this]) .....The rule is, that a person who dies a natural death, will remain from "a few hours to several short years," within the earth's attraction, i.e., in the Kama-Loka. But exceptions are, in the case of suicides and those who die a violent death in general. Hence, one of such Egos, for instance, who was destined to live -- say 80 or 90 years, but who either killed himself or was killed by some accident, let us suppose at the age of 20 -- would have to pass in the Kama Loka not "a few years," but in his case 60 or 70 years, as an Elementary, or rather an "earth-walker"; since he is not, unfortunately for him, even a "shell." Happy, thrice happy, in comparison, are those disembodied entities, who sleep their long slumber and live in dream in the bosom of Space! And woe to those whose Trishna will attract them to mediums, and woe to the latter, who tempt them with such an easy Upadana. For in grasping them, and satisfying their thirst for life, the medium helps to develop in them -is in fact the cause of -- a new set of Skandhas, a new body, with far worse tendencies and passions than was the one they lost. All the future of this new body will be determined thus, not only by the Karma of demerit of the previous set or group but also by that of the new set of the future being. Were the mediums and Spiritualists but to know, as I said, that with every new "angel guide" they welcome with rapture, they entice the latter into an Upadana which will be productive of a series of untold evils for the new Ego that will be born under its nefarious shadow, and that with every seance -- especially for materialization -- they multiply the causes for misery, causes that will make the unfortunate Ego fail in his spiritual birth, or be reborn into a worse existence than ever -- they would, perhaps, be less lavishing their hospitality..... And now, you may understand why we oppose so strongly Spiritualism and mediumship.... (MLs, pp. 112-13) ....As well call a suicide a man who meets his death in a storm at sea, as one who kills himself with "over-study.".... Would Mr. Hume call her [HPB] a suicide were she to drop down dead over her present work? Motive is everything and man is punished in a case of direct responsibility, never otherwise. In the victim's case the natural hour of death was anticipated accidentally, while in that of the suicide, death is brought on voluntarily and with a full and deliberate knowledge of its immediate consequences. Thus a man who causes his death in a fit of temporary insanity is not a felo de se to the great grief and often trouble of the Life Insurance Companies. Nor is he left a prey to the temptations of the Kama Loka but falls asleep like any other

victim. (p. 132) ....suicides who are not dead but have only killed their physical triad, and whose Elemental parasite, therefore, are not naturally separated from the Ego as in real death.... (p. 171)

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