Author Topic: A Buddhist monk confronts Japan’s suicide culture.  (Read 8731 times)

Ensapa

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A Buddhist monk confronts Japan’s suicide culture.
« on: June 24, 2013, 06:09:58 AM »
Perhaps this is how the Tibetans should deal with the self immolations?

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From time to time, Ittetsu Nemoto gets a group of suicidal people together to visit popular suicide spots, of which there are many in Japan. The best known is Aokigahara forest, the Sea of Trees, at the foot of Mt. Fuji. The forest became associated with suicide in the nineteen-sixties, after the publication of two novels by Seicho Matsumoto, and even more so after Wataru Tsurumi’s 1993 “Complete Manual of Suicide” declared it the perfect place to die. Because its trees grow so closely together that they block the wind, and because there are few animals or birds, the forest is unusually quiet. The Sea of Trees is large, fourteen square miles, so bodies can lie undiscovered for months; tourists photograph corpses and scavenge for abandoned possessions. Another common suicide destination is Tojinbo cliff, which overlooks the Sea of Japan. Visiting such a place turns out to be very different from picturing it. The sight of the sea from a cliff top can be a terrible thing.

At other times, Nemoto, a Buddhist priest, conducts death workshops for the suicidal at his temple. He tells attendees to imagine they’ve been given a diagnosis of cancer and have three months to live. He instructs them to write down what they want to do in those three months. Then he tells them to imagine they have one month left; then a week; then ten minutes. Most people start crying in the course of this exercise, Nemoto among them.

One man who came to a workshop had been talking to Nemoto for years about wanting to die. He was thirty-eight years old and had been institutionalized in a mental hospital off and on for a decade. During the writing exercise, he just sat and wept. When Nemoto came around to check on him, his paper was blank. The man explained that he had nothing to say in response to the questions because he had never considered them. All he had ever thought about was wanting to die; he had never thought about what he might want to do with his life. But if he had never really lived, how could he want to die? This insight proved oddly liberating. The man returned to his job as a machinist in a factory. Previously, he had been so averse to human company that he had been able to function only in certain limited capacities, but now he was able to speak to people, and he got a promotion. . . .


http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/06/24/130624fa_fact_macfarquhar

Jessie Fong

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Re: A Buddhist monk confronts Japan’s suicide culture.
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2013, 08:33:42 AM »
Not all suicidal people can come out of this situation. It does good if there are people who are caring enough who can listen and help them to come out of that state.

But are we competent enough? Are there groups who are actively engaged in this? Have they been successful in saving lives?

I think people attempt suicide because they see no way out for whatever problem is haunting them.

Wikipedia explains ... Suicide (Latin suicidium, from sui caedere, "to kill oneself") is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair, the cause of which is frequently attributed to a mental disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse.[1] Stress factors such as financial difficulties or troubles with interpersonal relationships often play a role.

yontenjamyang

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Re: A Buddhist monk confronts Japan’s suicide culture.
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2013, 09:02:51 AM »
Japan is notorious for its suicide rate. Some research put it at about 21.7 suicides for every 100,000 population. With a population of 127 million, that means there are over 27,000 suicides per year. That means there is one suicide every 20 mins. Male suicide outnumbered female suicide by 2 to 1. The main reasons of suicide are unemployment, depression and social pressure.

A contributing factor to the suicide statistics among those who were employed was the increasing pressure of retaining jobs by putting in more hours of overtime and taking fewer holidays and sick days. According to government figures, "fatigue from work" and health problems, including work-related depression, were prime motives for suicides, adversely affecting the social wellbeing of salarymen and accounting for 47 per cent of the suicides in 2008. Out of 2,207 work-related suicides in 2007, the most common reason (672 suicides) was overwork. (Source, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_in_Japan) We can conclude that then reasons for these Japanese suicides are for the selfish reasons stemming from social-cultural factors.

The reasons for the self-immolations are for patriotic reasons akin to going to war and dying as a soldier. His Highness the Dalai Lama has stated clearly that his is sad and we take it against these self-immolations. He further stressed that his want autonomy for Tibet and not independence. The self-immolators are from the camp who want independence but yet they take Him as their spiritual head. The problem is that they do not listen to their Guru.

In conclusion, I think the self-immolators are not committing suicide as the Japanese. So the solution is rather different.


pgdharma

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Re: A Buddhist monk confronts Japan’s suicide culture.
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2013, 04:34:15 PM »
Ittetsu Nemoto has dedicated his time to preventing suicide by offering refuge to the suicidal in Japan. I feel this death workshop is a good way to deal with suicide. As in the case of the young man who sat weeping during the exercise with nothing to write-down. That shift in thinking changed this man's motivations--rather than see only reasons to die, he now saw infinite possibilities. How can he cast a precious life away so easily if he hasn’t fully experienced it yet? With that realization he was saved from suicide.

As the saying goes, “Live never turns out the way we want, but we live it the best way we can. There is no perfect life, but we can fill it with perfect moments.”

Ensapa

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Re: A Buddhist monk confronts Japan’s suicide culture.
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2013, 08:15:29 AM »
Suicide isnt exactly a way that most people use to escape, but rather, it is a response that people have when they are stuck (or think that they are) in a situation that they are unable to find a solution to. Support from friends and family is crucial but it may not be enough to help the person out as it is often a mental thing, and not a physical thing usually. They need to know that their situation can be changed and that they are in power and no longer oppressed.

dondrup

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Re: A Buddhist monk confronts Japan’s suicide culture.
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2013, 08:16:00 AM »
Death is a taboo subject and many people do not like to talk about it or even face it.  Japanese Buddhist monk Ittetsu Nemoto had brought about some awakening and realisation in the group of suicidal people.  Those who plan to commit suicide will have a first hand experience of how it is like when they die committing suicide by visiting those popular suicide spots!
 
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But if he had never really lived, how could he want to die?


It is when one faces death directly one realises that he has not really lived life as shown by the machinist.  By realising that committing suicide is being selfish, irresponsible and a waste of one’s life, one starts to live his life meaningfully.

Midakpa

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Re: A Buddhist monk confronts Japan’s suicide culture.
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2013, 03:01:33 PM »
I like what the monk is doing and I think there should be more people like him conducting workshops and talking to suicidal people. There are people out there, not only in Japan, who actually encourage suicides and teach others how to commit suicide, as if it's a natural thing to do. They have become so disillusioned with life that death is the only way out. They are only acting out of ignorance. If they had been given Buddhist teachings, they would never act in this way. I think it is the role of the sangha to teach and advise lay people how to face difficulties, that death is not the solution to their problems. The monk is offering these people another perspective of life in a skillful manner. The sangha should be more active in giving spiritual guidance and support to lay people who lack the knowledge and spiritual practice that come in useful when times are bad.

RedLantern

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Re: A Buddhist monk confronts Japan’s suicide culture.
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2013, 04:42:41 PM »
Japan's high suicide problem is due to it's conformity culture,Japanese has to appear harmonious with his surroundings{peers and seniors}despite his personal grievances,anyone who tries to vent his despair will be regard as an outcasted.Such suppressive environment does not extend at the workplace,it extend to every minute he is awake.
In light of of an ongoing increase of suicide rate,although many things have been proposed regarding prevention.They are more or less under a mental health type of prevention policies.

bambi

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Re: A Buddhist monk confronts Japan’s suicide culture.
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2013, 03:03:35 PM »
Wonderful that people are getting help! In this modern times, many people are just too selfish to think about others. But to have someone like Nemoto help these troubled and suicidal people is what many need especially in place like Japan. Isnt it sad to be born without any aim and all you ever think of is how to die? The exercise may or may not help all the suicidal people but not trying to help them makes it worse. And when those that decide not to commit suicide, can teach them Dharma too.  ;D I hope that Nemoto continue to inspire people to want to live...

vajrastorm

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Re: A Buddhist monk confronts Japan’s suicide culture.
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2013, 02:58:01 PM »
In a country like Japan, which seems to have a 'culture for suicide' , the workshops held by Nemota appears to hold out hope for those who would contemplate suicide. From negative states of mind, people are being guided towards a shift to positive states of mind .  As the causes of suicide that have been given here - unemployment, depression and social pressure - seem to arise from the same sense of insecurity and an inverted sense of self-importance,  the way out of dark negative contemplations(that lead to a downward spiral and to suicide ,a place of no return) may be to shift focus on self to focus on others.

It is good to train people from much earlier on to learn to engage and relate with others, to be less introverted and more of an extrovert , to be less self-absorbed and more caring and concern for others.  However, I also feel that if people are made to fear the unknown beyond this life, they are most likely to hesitate about taking their lives.

See these lines of the famous soliloquy from Shakespeare's  "Hamlet" :

"To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of trouble
And by opposing end them. To die- to sleep,
No more: and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to.........
....................To die - to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream - ay that's the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause -......
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong...........
............Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear  those ills we have
Than to fly to others we know not of"?

When we have a chance to study and meditate on the Death Process(as all Buddhists of the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition are taught to do), then we will see that , even before we begin to show the outward signs of death, the whole internal death process will unfold in all its dreadful and horribly uncontrolled stages. Our elements dissolve and we will be visiting frightful(hitherto unknown) terrain! All this will strike terror in our hearts and we would not ever again think of doing as we will with our lives.

 

kris

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Re: A Buddhist monk confronts Japan’s suicide culture.
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2013, 03:26:31 PM »
In many parts of the world, the pressure on life is getting stronger and stronger, especially in developing countries. There are a lot of peer pressures even starting as young as 7 or 8 years old when kids get into school. When kids grow up and goes into employment, there are even more peer pressures as well as pressures or expectations from parents. I would say these pressures lead up to suicidal cases, well, at least most of it.

Another main reason for suicidal is the purposeless of life, especially when someone lost their career, marriage, etc, and it seems there is nothing left. Moreover, the world (and media) is telling us to be "successful", to be rich.. and spirituality is not cultivated.

I felt this is an issue which can only be resolved by spirituality, and the best way is to instill spirituality to kids when they are still young...

fruven

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Re: A Buddhist monk confronts Japan’s suicide culture.
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2013, 08:18:09 PM »
It seems like a form of death meditation but having cancer with limited time to live is different from being suicidal. Death meditation is wonderful form of therapy for everyone because we would eventually have to face all death any day in the future. Reflecting on what is the meaning of your life and what you have done will lead to self-healing. For serious cases of suicidal tendency I feel it is important to seek medications combined with meditations.

WisdomBeing

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Re: A Buddhist monk confronts Japan’s suicide culture.
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2013, 04:54:45 PM »
When we think about the precious human life as explained in the lam rim, we would not wish to commit suicide as a human incarnation is so rare. No matter what crap life throws at us, there will always be people who are better off and people who are worse off, so why be so wrapped up in how awful our current state is? I do not wish to belittle those who do contemplate suicide because i do think that these people are really at the end of their tether BUT if they could only step back and see that life is actually not so bad, then perhaps they will abandon suicide and choose another path instead. Dharma is that path which offers people a different way of looking at life and i have often had suicidal thoughts myself - which i hadn't shared with others. Suicide just seemed an easy way out. Then i realised that i didn't have the stomach for it! :) So i just soldier on and live to fight another day...
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

Dondrup Shugden

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Re: A Buddhist monk confronts Japan’s suicide culture.
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2015, 03:06:54 PM »
In Japan to commit suicide is a act of honour and many great heroes from times of the Samurai era had committed suicide when met with failures.

As such it is most kind of Nemota, a monk who understands the preciousness of a human life to throw some light to the ones who do not seem to see it.

A lovely incident of a monk being the light to a group of people who gave up hope on life and the immense preciousness of it.

Good lesson for us who when faced with obstacles and difficulties will fall into depressive moods and find it hard to get out.  Focusing on what we can do for others helps a lot to alleviate us out of our own imagined doom.