“At a certain point, there came to me the very powerful impression that I am rejected by God. This terrible thought pierced my soul right through; in the midst of the suffering my soul began to experience the agony of death. I wanted to die, but could not.”
Besides enlightenment my main topic of interest since 2000 has been near death experiences. These experiences that people report after many times being clinically dead suggest that life continues after death, but the research of these experiences also tell us something about suicide: it is not a way out.
While not always the case, some studies of near death experiences that happen to people who attempt suicide have shown that the depressed state of mind before the suicide can continue in the form of distressing experiences on the other side.
However, we also find that people come back from their suicide attempt with a renewed reason to live mainly because of the love and beauty they see in life after their experience.
One person, Anne, who attempted suicide in 1972, describes this peace and a beauty but while she was in the experience she suddenly came to realize that she “could not be taken as three children needed their mother.” Not only did she regain her sense of purpose in life but she also came back with a greater sense of faith in God and towards life in general.
Another person, Nadia, who also attempted suicide and experienced the peace and the extraordinary feeling of love on the other side, came back with this lesson:
“The sense of isolation we feel as humans is a lonely experience. Our serenity comes to us in small pieces. Like hungry animals we must savor each morsel with gratitude, knowing that beyond this life we will find limitless serenity and love.
As much as I wanted that, I was forced to realize that I had been tasked and that I would not be allowed to shirk from my responsibility. My choice was simple. I could live a twisted life full of bitterness, or I could accept my responsibility with an open heart.
One might think that such a decision would take many years of agonizing, yet it was as though I simply thrown a switch and turned on a new light — the light of my own responsibility. Since that day, I’ve not once contemplated suicide again.
This experience changed my life completely. Once I understood that I couldn’t go back, I stopped fighting with the world and began trying to pass on the love that I received to those around me.”
Nadia’s statement that “as much as I wanted that” still she was forced to accept her responsibility is a general conclusion. Whether the near death experience happens as an attempt of suicide or other causes like an accident, the majority of people return with a strong sense that life has profound meaning and purpose beyond our comprehension, and thus, wanting to leave this earth makes no sense.
Whether we believe in these testimonies or not, suicide is with guarantee not an end for the people we leave behind. Jerry went through a horrible event as his girlfriend over seven years committed suicide and he was left with the guilt of not having been able to save her.
He explained how he had deep regrets not having been more sensitive to the signs and felt that he should have said or done something different. He strongly believed she should still be here and that he somehow was responsible for having created the wrong alternative reality.
He also told the story of how, just prior to her suicide, he was at a restaurant where they were supposed to eat and he opened a fortune cookie saying: “You will be called upon to help a friend in need.”
After opening the fortune cookie that evening he told me that: “I actually felt as if I should have called her that evening but wrote it off as my being overly concerned once again. God, the regrets..”
The guilt and regret of not having prevented her suicide is too heavy for anyone to bear and for this reason I think he too looked for an easier way out. He told me: “Rene, I’m trying to decide if this was her path or if it were in my power to save her.”
While not everyone who attempts suicide has distressing near death experiences, I still hold the conviction that life has purpose and meaning, so intuitively is seems counter that suicide somehow should be an easy way out. Also, while suicide may seem the only way out during a depression this view is very much painted by the depression.
In my attempts to help him, he shared with me her suicide note that he entrusted me to use for the benefit of others. Not only does it show in the last paragraph her doubt through “it might seem that way,” but it also holds some valuable spiritual lessons about depression.
Here is part of the letter she wrote:
“Constantly dreaming waking dreams I could no longer sleep. So I took on consciousness once again. All of humanity I can hear, and theoretically I can help, but it is too much for one piece of God-Mind to sort out.
So giving all I could-all my dreams-I must die or find in something new life. It is like the song “good-bye my lover”—“I am a Dreamer and when I wake you can’t break my spirit—it is my dreams you take.”
Though the spirit continues to exist Dreams are life literally. I can only exist now as a living G/god for you by taking back dreams. But if you do not give them, I cannot take them. Yet my heart could not bear to have you. So I called on the Universe’s children to dream dreams for you in your sleep-walking, zombie-like state.
I thought all of you were dead. But then someone-a young girl, a young woman, showed me the dreams that still slept beneath the surface-the life within. So I found life in my heart again and wished to stay.
But the universe is not so kind, especially to the most kind, or at least it might seem that way…There really isn’t anything new I need to tell you. Even this I’m not too concerned if it gets out or not. I guess I just mean to write it as a nice little memento in place of a suicide note.”
She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder but there is very clearly a spiritual dimension to this letter. While the depression and isolation may be physical and in need of medical treatment, the sadness expressed in this letter is deeply spiritual like the dark night of the soul.
In Nadia’s letter she spoke of her own feeling of responsibility, and reading Jerry’s letter from his girlfriend makes me think of her responsibility of the people she left behind. I do not think that there is a way that we can escape our deep connections and thus our responsibility towards those connections. But we can escape the pain that leads us to making such a fateful decision.
A lot of people who have near death experiences have a hard time coming back to reality here on earth. After having experienced the profound love of ascending towards God on the other side, the coming back down to this world can be painful.
I myself experience this pain too. After having found God and knowing that love is the true nature of reality, it is very hard to see the toughness of life. I often cry spontaneously when I see images of people dying in war or through hunger, and the knowledge of this gap between the love and the harsh reality can be a very heavy burden to carry. I am very aware that it takes strength of the soul to take in that much pain and suffering.
It sounds like this is the pain she is talking about in: “All of humanity I can hear, and theoretically I can help, but it is too much for one piece of God-Mind to sort out.” But here we also have the insight of a spiritual powerlessness that arises from the pain. We know love is real and feeling God within us we want to help. But we do not have the power to heal the world from all the pain and suffering, so we are overpowered by the burden of knowing God and what true love is.
While many people or spiritual traditions only talk about finding God, I call this the pain of having found God. In the next chapter, we will look further into this pain as I will explain the concept of Descension and how it relates to Ascension and our ability to find balance in life.