Life Beyond Death

The purpose of death
The nature of life after death
How we can prepare for death
How we can assist the dying

Suicide

A man should wait, and not take his own life until God summons him, as he is now summoning me. Socrates, to his disciples in Plato's Phaedo

To get a human body is a rare thing - make full use of it. Every second in human life is very valuable. Brahmananda Saraswathi, Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath

When taking a human birth, we have a plan to live on Earth for a certain period of time. This plan is not exact to the minute and may even be extended in some circumstances. But usually, everyone fulfills their original life plan, unless they commit suicide.

People may decide to end their lives for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes they sacrifice their lives for the sake of others. Or their decision may be the result of long-standing physical pain, or mental illness. But if the motivation is to hurt others or to escape difficult circumstances, this often causes deep regret that has to be resolved in the afterlife.

There are documented accounts of suicide survivors who recall their experience in the after death state. In most cases, they realized they had made a mistake and wanted to go back and choose again. As further testimony, consider that from the beginning of human history, suicide has been prohibited in every spiritual tradition. It is, after all, the violent taking of a human life. If we know someone contemplating suicide, we should try to persuade them to explore other options and seek help.

The purpose of human life is to gather contrasting experiences. Not just pleasant experiences, but the whole range of human experience. We may think that our lives belong to us, but this is an illusion. Our lives belong to the Divine. From this perspective, it's not about what we may like or dislike. And any attempt to circumvent life won't work. In the end, our experience will unfold as dictated by destiny. The more we understand this process and the purpose behind it, the easier it will be to accept what comes and move forward.

Aside from the negative consequences of suicide, it's important to consider the positive value of completing our life plan. Evolution is a continuous process on all the planes of experience. But in general, spiritual growth progresses much faster on the Earth plane and this is particularly true when we're faced with difficult circumstances. It's during these times that we have an opportunity to accumulate an extraordinary amount of spiritual essence, which becomes a permanent part of our spiritual body. From this perspective, a single day of Earth life may be equivalent to many years on the higher planes.

Great sages from all spiritual traditions have told us that a human birth is a precious opportunity and must not be wasted. This is not to say that we should seek out difficult or painful experiences. But if they come uninvited, we can be assured that they offer the opportunity for a quantum leap in our spiritual evolution.