Leaving this world of pain – SUICIDE is NOT an option!

(This post is my personal view and does not necessarily reflect the position of any organization or group).

Cartoon by Navie

In 1976 when I was 26 years old, I said to my younger wife “Do you know in the year 2000 I’ll be 50 years old!”  We both burst into laughter.  2000 was so far away!  Now it is 2020 and my body is 70 years old and it’s not so funny anymore.  The years have gone by in a heartbeat.

As I get older, and because I’m suffering from a terminal disease, I realize my body, and my mind, are never going to get any better than where they are today.  Not only have I all the usual onsets of the body deteriorating with its’ aches and pains, but I also have the side effects of taking 6 different drugs  daily to keep cancer and other body ailments in check.

So, realizing my body and mind will only worsen from this day onward, I can see why people in my position may contemplate ending their lives.  But this is not a solution to the suffering of the body.  It is an option that will only cause more suffering to others and the person who kills his own body.  Why?

  • Taking one’s life is a very selfish activity. It affects others, our loved ones, and those left to deal with the results.  And depending on the mode of suicide,  it can affect those involved profoundly.  Think of the train driver if it is death by train, or the  policeman if it is death by police, or the car driver if it is death by car, to name just a few examples.  Or it could be a young child who discovers the dead body.
  • Things can get better. Things may look bleak now, but things can get better.  We don’t know what lies ahead so we needn’t get caught up in what we are feeling today. Relationships may improve and medical science is making advances all the time.
  • Every spiritual path decries the taking of ones’ life because spiritually speaking, suicide solves nothing, it only creates more problems, more suffering. We must have faith that we are in a temporary body and the suffering condition of the body will come to an end naturally.  Every day of our lives we experience and burn off the reactions of our past good and bad deeds.  If not now, we will just continue to suffer our karmic debts when we take on another body.
  • Also compared with other life forms, the human form is considered extraordinarily valuable in that, in the course of life’s experiences, humans have the capacity to reflect and grow spiritually. And it is often seen that the greatest of tests and challenges can actually bring about the most wonderful changes, even transcendence.

In this blog, in various places I talk about how I am an aspiring Vaishnava.  Acting like pain should be completely eliminated is a very Western idea.  Vaishnavas experience pain knowing that pain is part of the cleansing process of karma.  Whatever little or big debts I might owe are paid, burned off, rather than having to take on a whole new material body, and undergo the pain of birth and death again in my next life, and be faced again with my karmic debts.  It is by God’s arrangement that sometimes there’s pain so that any residual stuff gets burned off.  If we interfere with that by getting rid of all the pain of this body at the cost of consciousness, and the remembrance of the Supreme Person, this is unfortunate.

Though I know I am nearing the end of this life, I don’t know how much time I have left.  I feel that I have well outlasted my allotted time in this body, so I’m sure my time will be up sooner rather than later – after all, I am 70 years old with advanced prostate cancer.  My bodily aches and pains are something that, for now, I can withstand without pain killers, but unless I leave quickly from something like a failed heart, perhaps at some stage I’ll want some medication for pain relief.

When that time comes, I am hoping that I will have the faculties and wherewithal to monitor things so that I can avoid over medication and my mind and consciousness can remain clear.  However, it is wise that decisions about any use of pain medications be made while I can still communicate, before the palliative care stage is reached. Now is a good time to consider how often, levels, type, frequency, etc.  If required, pain medication generally works best administered steadily.  This is why it is best to communicate your wishes to those who will make decisions if you are unable to do so in your last days.

One last point; some may have allergic reactions to different pain medications, especially morphine. So, it may be possible to try your planned medications beforehand, under your doctor’s supervision.

Caitanya das aka Charles Robinson

P.S. On re-reading this, it seems to paint a bleak picture of my condition but it is not so!  I am very happy to be where I am now, and fortunate to have the knowledge to understand the dying process. I have no real evidence to think that the end of my life is imminent, other than I have a terminal disease and I am now in my 70’s. But I suspect as all of us get older and more frail, we think about the dying process and how it will be for us.  This is a good thing because here is another more uplifting and attractive side to it all.

(In another post I will go into detail about some simple meditations and how Vaishnavas, at the very end of life, desire to be able to joyfully surrender themselves into the hands God).


26 thoughts on “Leaving this world of pain – SUICIDE is NOT an option!

  1. I have not been diagnosed with any terminal illness, but just the everyday aches and pains of arriving at old age are depressing sometimes. So it is very valuable for me to consider the points you make in this very real blog. I think the advantage and opportunity of old age is contemplation on the nature of our temporal bodies, and who am I really?

    1. Thanks Deborah, Yes, if we’ve reached a ‘ripe’ age and haven’t done so already, now is the time to contemplate who we truly are and why we are here. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. Good morning, young man. It is so nice to hear from you. Your resolve is inspiring. It will help me navigate past November 30, at which time I’ll have made 80 3/4 circuits around our bright ball of gas, Sol. Of course, that 3/4 or nine months was en utero, so I don’t remember much about that period of my journey. My most recent days have been those of discovery: I have found aches in some parts of this old frame that I didn’t even know existed. But I’ve also found that a smile from my 7 year-old granddaughter and/or a WWII Glen Miller or Jimmy/Tommy Dorsey tune will cheer me up immensely. Whatever remains of our trip, I’m happy that we can make together, even if from afar.

    1. Hi again Jim, I think we were brothers in another life! It’s always so wonderful to hear from you with your take on life. Keep smiling my dear friend, Charlie.

  3. Hello Charles, Thank you for your very thoughtful message. I am also 70 and live in a body that is inexorably losing strength and agility, and daily adds new pains and limitations. That is the way Mother Nature made things. The end is coming, we all know that. And everyone faces it. The work that you do publicly with your research on vintage instruments and the work you do privately with your family and associates adds value to the world. Adding good works to others and the world is the best we can do. In old age, even in pain, the knowledge skills and experience you can offer and bring to bear are valuable tools that you did not have years ago. It is not the time to waste these tools, but to use them as best you can for as long as you can. I thank you and appreciate your works. Please don’t stop. We need you in the world.

  4. 🙏…”and it is seen that the greatest of tests & challenges can actually bring about the most wonderful changes, even transcendence”. WONDERFUL post, Caitanya das❣️😊 life in this world full of uncertainties & stress. And yes, an older body, even diseased, has the wonderful silver lining of learning one’s true identity ✌️Thank you for sharing. Yes, suicide or unprescribed drugs/intoxicants never a solution. Hare Nama🌺

  5. Happy that you are still here and posting. Yes, lasting youth and well-being are just not to be found on the bodily plane – a hard one for us boomers. We thought we could beat decrepitude?! Oh well….But as you’ve been hinting, there is transcendence, another realm. Looking forward to more posts before you leave us for that Divine place whence having once gone one never returns to this world of suffering. Aum Hari

    1. Thanks Sharon, nice to know people are still subscribed to receive notification of new posts. All the best, Chaitanya das

  6. I really like doing cartoons for you PoPo, this post made me think even though I’m only young. (Note from ‘PoPo’: PoPo is the name my grand kids call me).

  7. Great read ! Honest , thoughtful. I love the way you are able to put HUGE ideas (karma, what is life and what is death , etrnality, your personal spiritual quest, you name it !) into simple, kind words . This is quite a unique site you have created. And don’t forget the guitars . May all our strings be sweetly tuned .😂

    All the best . Look forward to your next post . ✌🏻

  8. Although my body is 20 years younger… there is never a day goes by that I don’t think of the inevitable
    Knowing full well it can happen anytime
    As I too am burning my karma in various ways and I too aspire for self realization and remembrance of my real real friend….with the little understanding I have….I am still scared. So, thank you Chaitanya das for sharing your blog
    Always helps me remember how temporary this place is and that there is another place… of real love and therefore I have nothing to be afraid of
    Thank you 🙏

    1. Thank you so much Darlene for your comment. Yes, we all have trials in this world, some more than others. But we try to remember the big picture and that this place is temporary and all our troubles and pains in this world will eventually cease. And keep our focus on the real goal, to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind. Much love, Chaitanya das

  9. It was really nice to see your email advertising your latest post. I have missed your articles.
    I can really relate to what you said about suicide, some 20 years ago I was in a very sorry state and wanted to end my existence.
    By my great fortune I met some lovely caring people who guided me spiritually. This changed my life in many wonderful ways.

    Thanks again for this blog, please post more when you can.

    Warm wishes David

      1. Namaste, dear Chaitanya das,
        I am reading through your wonderful blog. It is very inspiring, thank you so much 🙏
        I am living in a relatively young body, but I am dealing with pain on a daily basis. I’m sure it is not much compared to the suffering of others, but I am not good at dealing with pain. I wonder if you have any advice for how to distance oneself from the body and the accompanying pain? I’ve come to realise that I cannot change the fact that there is pain, but I don’t want it to distract me so much from my spiritual life and my chanting. Thank you so much and best wishes 🙏


  10. When I was 10, my eldest cousin was 30, and I thought, “Geez, talk about ancient!” Now I am 38 and I am way beyond ancient. Actually, a few months ago, for some weird reason, I thought I was turning 39 this year, then my sister corrected me that I was only turning 38, not 39. It felt so good to gain a year! [even though it was just in my head]. In the Philippines, they have a joke when you’re getting older than 31, “Oh you’re not in the calendar anymore!” [because the calendar only goes up to 31 days]. I’ve been out of the calendar for a long time, but hey, I’m still in the thermometer! [38] I’m just rambling now. I guess, I just got such a kick out of that first paragraph you wrote.

    Thank you for such an insightful post. What a great read! I didn’t think it was a bleak picture at all. Yes, it is a great idea to stipulate the kind of pain medications you would like when you’re no longer able to make decisions. When I was at the hospital because of an operation, the nurses kept giving me pain medication even though I didn’t need it. I went home with a prescription for 150 tablets of a narcotic drug, and 200 tablets of NSAIDs [two refills each, so really it was 300 tabs of narcotics and 400 tablets of NSAIDs]. Crazy.

    Hope your health is good.

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