Let’s face the bitter truth, Jasmine: it was not your circumstances that caused you (and those other celebrities) to snuff out their lives…the real assassin was and is the ego — the false self that seduces us into believing — despite all the misery and seeming unfairness of life — that we should be given all that our little hearts desire — in your specific case, a stellar celluloid career and the love of an honorable man.
There’s an acronym for the EGO that hits the nail squarely on the head: Easing God Out. When the untrammeled ego dominates one’s view of relative reality, sanity, love, compassion – all higher qualities – go right out the window. Who is “god” in this context? The noble part of your being, the Self which includes everyone and everything, manifest and unmanifest, and whose nature is, according to rishis and jnanis of the east, pure existence-consciousness and bliss.
If only you had summoned up the courage to stick it out, Jasmine, you might have gradually uncovered the peace that lies below all angst. There being no accidents, however, perhaps your suicide was necessary in order for you to learn a crucial lesson: the next time you are blessed to inhabit a human body, you may well be imbued with the gnosis that your spirit is immortal, and therefore learn to make the most of your precious life.
You are the Light itself!
Rely on yourself, do not rely on others.
The Dharma is the Light; rely on the Dharma.
Do not rely on anything other than the Dharma.
I first heard these words of Gautama Buddha during a sesshin at the now defunct Fire Lotus Zendo in mid-Manhattan. Next day, I printed it out in 40 point bold and stuck the sheet above my bathroom mirror. Boy, did it transform the sick way I perceived my existence! No more room for the self-pity that had haunted me for so long! Because I had an implicit trust in Gautama’s words, I now had no excuse but to find happiness within myself, and no way to blame the world for my misery. That process of mining inner gold still goes on….
What did Gautama mean? Simply that we must stop expecting others to make us happy — for the light shines within each and every one of us, and merging with this inner radiance brings ineffable peace and happiness. However, uncovering this light takes patient effort, wisdom and discipline; it is meticulous and relentless inner work that most humans shy away from for a plethora of reasons.
What is the dharma Gautama speaks of? In this particular context, it meant two things: one, the goldmine of eastern teachings so easily available in this age; and two, doing that which you were born to do, to follow your bliss, as Joseph Campbell urged us, regardless of negative or positive consequences. As that old saying goes, Buddhas can only point the way — it is we who must walk the path.
According to eastern philosophy, the highest reason to be grateful is that we’ve been given a precious human birth. Precious human birth? I hear you snort incredulously. Didn’t you just present all those depressing stats on world hunger, poverty and illness? What’s so precious about living like that?
True enough; most humans on this planet do not possess the ingredients necessary to bask in their own inner light — because they are constantly engaged in the brutal battle for basics. But if you are reading this post, chances are you do have a precious human life —you are clearly literate, most likely open to change since you are reading a post many might dismiss as spiritual claptrap, and enjoying a standard of living that allows you to surf the net.
If we possess all our faculties and can access tools that expand mind and spirit, then we have been gifted with what the Buddhists refer to as “a precious human life”. What separates the intelligent human from other species? Viveka, or discrimination — while all of us are subject to the entire gamut of good, bad and neutral experiences, humans alone have the intellectual power to slice through the mess and discern how to avoid future suffering.
Why does practicing gratitude on a daily basis work so well? Here’s a simple answer: if the classical definition of karma is the movement of the mind, and what it produces in terms of speech and action (meaning, thought, speech and action), and if it is this karma that produces our perception of relative reality, then changing the very root of how we think must eventually transform our reality.