August 23, 2011

Contemplating Peace and Suicide.

photo courtesy of Jeff Chow, Boulder.

 I wish I could disappear.

At some point or another in our lives, most of us have felt so much pain that we’ve wished we would no longer exist. We endure a terrible illness, abuse, or emotional stress that feels unbearable and we wish we could just disappear. Have you felt this? I know that I have.

Upon the discovery that a friend recently decided to end his life, I’ve been contemplating why this has happened. How could someone feel so much pain and also feel that as though there were no other option? How could we as a society let someone suffer and not offer support? Are we all so absorbed in our own selves that we can not see that another being needs our deep listening and attention?

This tragic death of my friend has been a call to me to make some changes in my own life.

How can I be a better source of support for my family, my friends, and my community?

What can I do create greater peace on this earth?

The teachings of Thich Naht Hahn have been a great source of inspiration for how I’ve lived my life for several years. The past few weeks, I’ve been reading and studying the Five Mindfulness Trainings in For A Future to be Possible by Thich Nhat Hanh. With the news of my friend’s passing, I’ve taken to the fourth Mindfulness Training (although several do apply); “Deep Listening and Loving Speech.” The fourth Mindfulness Training reads as follows:

“Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am determined to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy and hope. I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain and will not criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or community to break. I am determined to make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.”

All of us want to be understood, to be accepted, and to be happy. In order to be happy and relieve our own suffering as well as the suffering of others, let us pay close attention to the words that we choose to tell ourselves, as well as the words we choose to tell others.

For example, if you look into the mirror in the morning and you tell yourself how ugly, lazy or unsuccessful you are, you are killing part of yourself; part of you is unable to fully live! Your cells hear these words and create discord within your being, you are not able to fully function. The next morning you look into the mirror and you tell yourself all the wonderful things about your life and yourself and give thanks for what you do have (your breath, your health, your legs, your child, or anything that you can appreciate) – you are living. You are able to bring joy and happiness to your being by remembering and noticing what you do have to be thankful for. The words you speak to yourself can create happiness or suffering.

My intention going forward to speak with love and listen deeply. I intend to communicate honestly and in the moment as much as possible with respect and without creating suffering in others. I intend look and listen deeply and hold meaningful and loving conversations.

Let us all from this moment forward, vow to look at our own individual patterns of communication and notice how we can listen more deeply, with love, and make a plan to make any needed changes in our own lives. Go to your loved one and tell him that you wish to listen to him more deeply and speak to each other with love. Go to your enemy and tell her you want to make peace. It is through creating peace in our own individual lives that we can create greater peace on this earth.

We are all responsible and accountable for the happiness of ourselves as well as each other. We have the power to create either joy or suffering. What will you create?


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