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I'm so over life. I'm nearly 50 and I feel worn down by everything. The struggle to make sense of it, to find purpose and meaning, to make lasting friendships, to feel I belong somewhere, to survive in a capitalist society that puts money first and pits people against one another. The vacuous shallow emptiness of it all. To witness the awful violence and destruction that goes on relentlessly everyday.The heartbreak of it all and my own personal heartbreak of a very long relationship breaking down and changing and feeling unable to move on from it like a drug addiction.The conflicting, confusing feelings of both hating and loving ones parents for the hurt they caused and the lack of remorse they feel. The battle with my own dark side and the twisted comfort of lashing out and causing more chaos and hurt for others because of my own pain. I just want to go to sleep and never wake up. It feels like a nice option. I've thought about going to Mexico and getting some nambutal, going to a hotel room and ingesting it.

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    If you haven't already, it probably couldn't hurt to see a psychologist or therapist. It sounds like you have some unresolved issues. Also some kind of group therapy might help. – Mark Rogers Sep 9 '17 at 19:27
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    If you are seriously considering this "I've thought about going to Mexico and getting some nambutal, going to a hotel room and ingesting it.", please seek medical attention as well. This is a site about Buddhism, this is not a site about suicide, psychology og psychiatric help. For that you need to see a doctor. I'm not saying you should not post here, please do, but for those suicidal thoughts medical attention should also be sought, ie. if you are serious about commiting to them. – Lanka Sep 9 '17 at 21:00

12 Answers 12

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Look. You basically keep asking the same question. So my answer from last time still applies. But I suppose it's very hard to break through this mood, so let me re-emphasize a few things:

  • You are not alone to feel this way. I feel this way. Buddha felt this way. There is nothing fundamentally "wrong" about your situation. Feeling that everything is empty, is what some people would call a great realization. Hurray, you already have it, congrats. Yes, it feels shitty - they didn't tell you in the books?
  • The Buddha struggled with friendships too. You did not know? Yes, he did. Read the Mara chapter in Chinese Samyukta Agama. He thought something was wrong with him because of that. Then he came up with the trick to identify such negative thoughts as "Mara" and counter-act them with self-affirmative arguments. This was post-Enlightenment! If Buddha had to do it, guess what? You must learn to self-affirm!
  • Relationships are addicting. I know, I've been through some. Intimacy generates tons of dopamine or serotonine or whatever. Your brain gets addicted to that. Then you no longer get it. Then you feel like shit. This is THE drug addiction. Guess what, this is the way humans work. Every move, thought, impulse, perception is always accompanied by dopamine changes, plus or minus. So everything always hurts or delights - and then hurts when it ends. This is how life works, for everyone. Pain. So the only way out is to learn to trick the mechanism, by changing your definition of "good" in such a way as to be rewarded all the time. Makes sense? This is what Buddha taught.
  • Let go of your past karma. Meaning, stop feeling bad about the circumstances of your childhood and your parents, that led you to be what you are. It's not your fault, it's not their fault, it's not anybody's fault. It is just a sequence of causes and results, like the billiard balls. Everyone gets their share of this mess. Even Buddha did (putting aside the legend). His relationship with his father was awful. Father was ashamed of him, said he was a failure. And they never reconciled all the way until father's death. His mother died, and his maternal aunt who was his stepmother begged him to come back, and when he did not, she shaved her head and became first female Buddhist, just to be with her son. There was lots of drama in Buddha's life.

Buddha struggled with doubts all the time, he just learned to overcome them. You think it was easy when his students committed suicide? He thought, gosh what kind of teacher am I, if my students commit suicide! But then for the sake of other students who were still alive he put on a smile and said: this guy who killed himself has reached Nirvana, but you should practice breathing meditation and teach yourself to feel good, if you ever hope to achieve what I achieved. Makes sense?

Now, please stop beating yourself with negativity, I know it's hard, because I'm just like you - but please learn to be yourself, to assert your right to be in this world, and even to praise yourself. Killing yourself is a cop out. Buddha did not kill himself when he "awakened" to emptiness of it all, did he?

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Is it wrong to wish you could die?

I think it's an example of craving (i.e. a craving for something to not be, or to be other than it is), as described in the first noble truth.

I'm so over life. I'm nearly 50 and I feel worn down by everything

I'm so over 50 ... sometimes "worn down" can be good. The expression reminds me of this phrase:

Early this spring I met a musician, the composer Pauline Oliveros, a beautiful woman like a grey rock in a streambed; and [etc.]

Life's strange, isn't it.

There are a lot of words in your OP, "struggle", "confusing", "hating and loving", "battle" ... these seem pretty classically to be "the three poisons".

IMO these are characteristics of how we see the world, of how we relate to it.

For example, and I don't want to condemn your views but if you're asking how I live with mine, a kinder way to view a capitalist society (kinder than "puts money first and pits people against one another") is that it provides a mechanism or system for people to cooperate with each other (work with each other, trade with each other, give to each other) for their mutual benefit.

Whether you hate it is a matter of how you view it.

It seems to me wrong to kill yourself as a result of having, or of attaching to, "wrong views".

At school I learned that people (scientists) should select their views, according to whether those views are beneficial.

The battle with my own dark side and the twisted comfort of lashing out and causing more chaos and hurt for others because of my own pain.

Two things.

You might find that more tolerable to think of it as "a dark side" rather than "my dark side". Whatever it is -- anger, hurt, tit-for-tat -- it might be easier to view it as some phenomenon but not as "mine" nor "me". It's presumably "conditioned", so, learn to avoid the circumstances and views in which it arises?

Also, on the subject of suicide, I was told that suicide causes pain to other people (and so should be avoided even with "secular" views).

Also I recommend you re-read the verses in Chapter 10 of the Dhammapada. I find it's applicable as a statement about violence including self-violence.

I just want to go to sleep and never wake up. It feels like a nice option. I've thought about going to Mexico and getting some nambutal, going to a hotel room and ingesting it.

Thoughts come and go.

Maybe don't "go to Mexico", while you're feeling that way.

If you just want to go to sleep though ... I'd say "go ahead" and do that, go to sleep. I think it's better to be "self-indulgent" on the topic of sleep: if I find I feel sleepy then I take a nap or go to bed for the night. I'm not sure that kind of pandering to the body is approved of in Buddhism, but I think it's necessary (or at least helpful) for my mood and mental capacity. The Dalai Lama recommends sleep, e.g.

Then evening meditation for about one hour and at 8:30, sleep. Most important meditation! Sleep is the common meditation for everyone-even for birds. The most important meditation. Not for nirvana, but for survival!

Elsewhere, I think he recommended sleep as necessary for sanity? So if I want a nap in the afternoon, or whenever, I do that.

Dreams can be remarkable, but that's another topic.

Every sentence in your OP except the first was related to socializing, somehow: parents, society, relationship and so on. I actually spend time cycling, 10 hours/week alone: it is an activity that gives me no occasion to complain about other people. As a bonus it's physically healthy and informative, and Western medicine recommends exercise as something you can do to help alleviate depression.

  • And the Dalai Lama is so over 80, but he's very happy. – ruben2020 Sep 9 '17 at 13:42
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Some very concrete tips...

The struggle to make sense of it, to find purpose and meaning,

Try to end that struggle by firmly convincing yourself that there is no, can be no purpose and meaning. I assume you subscribe to secular buddhism. So then, life can by definition have exactly one purpose, and that is to make more life (make children). That's literally what life is about. So at 50 I daresay you already have children or it is too late anyways. And if you don't have some, don't feel too bad about it, we have too many humans on earth anyways, already.

But even getting children is not really sense/purpose/meaning, it's just what life (as a machine) "does" for a living. Since you probably don't believe in gods, there simply is no sense/purpose/meaning, and that is 100% OK!

to make lasting friendships,

You, as buddhist, should know that there is nothing that lasts. Losing my first friend was what brought me to this, and the realization that human relationships are as ephemereal as anything else is a great help in being more relaxed.

to feel I belong somewhere,

As "belonging" is probably based on being together with other humans, there can be no eternal, safe, belonging to anything. Everything can change at the blink of a moment. Try to be able to "belong" to the present moment, that should help. And I mean that literally, not in some religious sense. Find something that you can do in any single moment, at any place and time, to just shut yourself off. Maybe meditation, or just closing your eyes, or just standing there with eyes open and letting the world flow past you. That works (without great religious effort) if you really open yourself up to it, and gives great peace of mind.

to survive in a capitalist society that puts money first and pits people against one another.

As long as you don't take part in it (i.e. don't use money for evil, and don't actively pit people against another), just ignore it? If you feel money/items rule your life, then get less of them. Less items, less "stuff". Simplify whatever you can. Throw stuff away, old photos, whatever reminds you of anything. Instead of planning big vacations, spend your free days on meditation retreats where the main purpose is to be still, not to talk/listen all the time.

[...]

The answer is getting too long already. Be advised that everything you lament about is true and you can and should do nothing about it but to learn to see it as it is, accept it, and let it pass through. That is possible, it is healthy, it does not require you to catch religion, only to work on it yourself (where "work" probably is more "non-work" i.e. keeping your mind from going in endless loops over and over again...).

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No doubt life is painful. That is why Buddha instigated us to go beyond birth, and old age and disease and death by the realization of the final end of that succession of rebirths.

However suicide is not the answer to the problems. Buddha had said that "A brother is not , O Bhikkhus , to commit suicide.Whosoever does so shall be dealt according to law."

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From a Buddhist perspective, it is not wrong 'to wish' you could die. However, Buddhist principles would encourage you to be cognisant of that wish and view it merely as a wish & passing emotion (rather than act upon that wish).

Endure the wish, be cognisant of the wish, embrace the wish, let those emotions flow out. Personally, I feel much empathy towards the honesty expressed in the question because, although I am personally not suffering, I view life a lot like in the question. While I do not wish to negate or belittle your suffering, what you are going through is very common. I have spent the last two years helping a lady through this. I have been through similar existential disillusionment.

The Buddha expressed enlightenment & liberation in many ways, including as: "revulsion towards the entire world" (somewhere). However, it takes a fair amount of existential endurance & lengthy practice to reach such composure.


As for the "twisted comfort of lashing out and causing more chaos and hurt for others", let this thought go very quickly by discerning the futility & ignorance of this. However, as I mentioned, the existential crisis, this is the common path of many walkers, who are going through this or who have walked through this. The existential emotions & crisis take time to get through because they are related to the strong instinct of 'self'.


If you wish to talk by phone, my email is dhammadhatu@bigpond.com

Or there are monks willing to chat, such as Ajahn Brahm's monastery between 6 & 7pm Perth time (08) 9525 2420 or Ajahn Jag is cool: Daily 8.30 am - 10.30 am and 6 pm - 6.45 pm (03) 5424 1812

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From how you employed words I can see that you got fine mind, so is fine sense - sensibility. From your other post you talked about trying in vain for already 6 years. I just want to tell you, 7 is usually a completion of cycle, ancient Chinese knowledge. Maybe the ancients were coming from one source, we see trail of sameness: 7 days a week, 7 colours of rainbow, 7 continents for planet earth. So think about it, maybe this is the darkest of the night, just one second before daybreak, if you give up, you give up all your efforts of your past hard works, enduring already those sufferings, but in vain. Many people, when they experienced the greatest transformation of their lives, they went through grave suffering, nothing gained without pain. Even the Buddha spent time in Naraka, due to wrong-doing, recounted in other Sutras.

How can you be sured, ending life is ending suffering? If after we fell asleep, the next day we could awake, how could you know by death, there's not another birthing? If awaken the next day, the problem left there just like yesterday; with such vivid experience, is it wise to neglect the factual but to test the incomprehensible?

For the clever minds, they rely much on cleverness; when cleverness failed, the intellect. Yet if exhausted all the juices of the brian can't comprehend, the heart is the final lodging. How big is the heart - citta - 心, how big is your world, a powerful heart can initiate change. Little is known that normally we are living negating from our true nature, only .1% of our capacity is functioning, due to acadamic education, social taming, false knowledge labelled science... etc. The ancients using their own set of etymology they called asking for divine intervention, or the Buddhist called seeking refuge from the Buddha/Bodhisattva. If all your intellects fail, maybe its time to seek for your heart, which is the immediate channel, connecting to the immense source that belongs to all. Avalokiteshvara is the source of compassion and refuge for anyone who facing an insurmountable obstacle, chanting his name, connecting with this source, is very simple. May you be well and soon, claiming victory.

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First of all, you don't have to take your life, even if you didn't cure your suffering. There are many escapes available from pointless suffering in this world. You can travel, spend time online or even spend time playing video games etc...

But do you want to do that? probably not. And why not ? probably because there is a better alternative available. The possibility of ending suffering. All the issues you have mentioned are solvable. All of these are conditioned and all conditioned things can be ended, the Buddha himself said so. If things are not working for you in your current meditation practice, try to make some alterations (like picking a (different) teacher, changing the method to see what works better for you etc) but continue to practice, as that is the only way to end suffering in this life.

May you find peace, May you find your inner happiness!

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When the young Buddha realized that he was surrounded by everything that looked to him all wretched, he stealthily left the royal palace. In tranquility but in a different unknown place/s and company he slowly understood enough to remove wretchedness of many others... To fell a giant tree start cutting from another side. Do something to escape, but not from life itself. Nothing gets you to another nothing. Good luck in new adventures to break out loose..

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Wishing to die is Vibhava Tanha. In other words, craving to not experience unpleasant things. It is bad Karma. This yearning is caused by the ignorant view that life is going to be better after death. After your death you can be born again in the same society you dislike so much or it could be in a worst place since your near death Karmas are unwholesome.

The smarter thing to do is to live and work on letting go of all types of desires, including the desire to die.

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    But how do you know that the idea of being born again is not a false belief? You don't remember your past lives so you have nothing to go by except blind faith in religious teachings. I don't buy it. Secular Buddhists don't believe in what you're saying at all. For secular Buddhists rebirth is in this lifetime not in some non existent imagined one. Also if I have no self - Annatta, then there is nothing to be reborn anyway. I think that what you're saying is typical of religion in the sense that they use fear of after life to manipulate people in the present. I don't believe it at all. – Arturia Sep 9 '17 at 8:34
  • Ps - it's not a belief that "life will be better after death" it's a belief that there is no life after death. Non existence seems more appealing than this shit fight. – Arturia Sep 9 '17 at 8:37
  • Secular Buddhism isn't what the Buddha taught. It's a customized set of beliefs created by western materialists. This answer is based on Theravada Buddhism. There are many questions here that discuss about rebirth. This answer is not meant to repeat those arguments. – Sankha Kulathantille Sep 9 '17 at 15:47
  • You have skirted around my questions. How do you know? You don't. You have blind faith. I don't have that and never will. The Buddha didn't teach buddhism period. He taught the end of suffering. – Arturia Sep 9 '17 at 21:29
  • If you are genuinely interested in finding out about rebirth, research on the experiments by Dr. Ian Stevenson. Otherwise good luck with materialism :) – Sankha Kulathantille Sep 10 '17 at 4:35
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Better question is, is it wrong to exist? If so why?

Yes there are hardships in life one cannot deny that, but seems odd that through all the thick and thin we put ourselves through. We are ready to simply submit or surrender to an idea, that it is all meaningless. That somehow the end might give us meaning.

Perhaps it's not about the destination but rather the journey, if all you have come to is the realization there is meaning in death. Why prolong the suffering, why tell us at all about your problems? It would be simple and easy to take that pill right now.

However realize that if you do take that easy way out, you are essentially letting the world win, 'there is meaning' if you exist. Perhaps that is the closest humanly possible answer anyone can give.

I don't know too much about death, but if I could choose my life I would choose to live forever. Suffering or not, nothing to me justifies the end of oneself simply because their upset or bored.

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In the Vesali Sutta, you can find the story of some monks who committed suicide due to misunderstanding the teachings, then the Buddha gathered the remaining monks at Vesali and taught them to use the mindfulness of breathing (anapanasati) to dispel negative thoughts.

In this answer, you can find info on the adaptation of the mindfulness of breathing, into a medical therapy, called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which could successfully treat depression and chronic unhappiness, to the point that patients, in concert with their physicians, are able to eventually go off their medication for depression.

Then, there is another medical therapy based on MBSR, called Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), that can treat repeated bouts of depression and chronic unhappiness. Dr. Zindel Segal shows MRI scans and other research evidence in this TEDx Talk YouTube video, proving that recurrence of depression can be treated using MBCT, by allowing patients to establish a new relationship with the emotional triggers that cause them to become depressed again later. Please watch this video to understand how it works and how it could help you.

With that, as a Secular Buddhist who believes in science, I think you will find that MBSR and MBCT could help alleviate your chronic unhappiness. You should be able to find clinics or therapy sources that can provide these.


The other Buddhist practice that can help you is Metta. Please find some info on it in this answer. Metta can help you sleep and awake in comfort, and be peaceful.

All you have to do to practise Metta, is contemplate on this: "Happy, at rest, may all beings be happy at heart. Whatever beings there may be, weak or strong, without exception, long, large, middling, short, subtle, blatant, seen & unseen, near & far, born & seeking birth: May all beings be happy at heart."


And there's one more thing. You can try watching Ajahn Brahm's talks on YouTube here. I find his talks very humourous and very healing. Here are some: This Too Will Pass, Relax! Everything's Out of Control, Understanding Suicide, Depression, Self Esteem and Happiness, Love Your Sufferings, Peace is The Highest Happiness, Does Life Suck? and How to Be Positive.

Ajahn Brahm himself had been through a failed relationship before he became a monk, he was once very severely ill from malaria in Thailand and he went through being ex-communicated by his original monastery in Thailand because he ordained nuns.

  • Im not new to this .I've been practicing insight for 6 years. I know what all 3 of those are and I've tried. – Arturia Sep 9 '17 at 10:12
  • Sometimes, we cannot see problems in our practice or lives by ourselves because our vision is clouded. We need to seek help from others, by seeking a teacher, talking to others or signing up for therapy. – ruben2020 Sep 9 '17 at 12:16
  • I updated my answer with another suggestion: Watch Ajahn Brahm's talks on YouTube. – ruben2020 Sep 9 '17 at 15:19
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In your case it is wrong.

Why?

Because you would not escape from suffering.

You would be reborn again as a human on Earth, but this Earth would not be the same as this one. There would be many wars, diseases, famine, anger, violence. You would be without shelter, thirsty and hungry. You would be in immense fear. You would cry and be in physical pain. Then a disease would strike you and you would die.

This would happen over and over again. You would hear not even a word about the Dhamma. Meditation would be unknown to you for a very very long time.

After many rebirths in a world permeated with suffering, you would once again be reborn in this same world, same body, same problems, same everyhing ... once again you would need to face the same problems you're facing now. This time, you would not kill yourself. Instead, you would suffer until a disease would kill you.

Then you would be reborn and die again and again and again, faced with the same problems you're facing right now, until you would finally solve the same problems you're facing RIGHT NOW.

So what will you do? Will you take a shorter route or a longer route? It's your decision.

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    Oh please, you're full of it. What a load of religious bollocks. You don't know that anymore than Christians know that heaven exists or Muslims know they will get 50 virgins if they blow themselves up. You don't have a clue. You have absolutely no evidence of anything you just said. You're just some anonymous delusional person on the Internet who thinks they know everything but knows nothing. What you are saying is actually very cruel. To try use fear like that against someone who is suffering. I'm not so naive to fall for it but Simeon else could be. It's just wrong to talk such rubbish – Arturia Sep 9 '17 at 13:05
  • I understand you don't like what I said. If you don't believe in future rebirths, verify it with what the Buddha said about future rebirths. – beginner Sep 9 '17 at 13:33
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    I would call this answer "religious" in the negative sense in that you work simply through fear. You give no indication to the OP of what he should actually do right now. Somewhere between useless and harmful. – AnoE Sep 9 '17 at 15:52
  • No use of fear was intended. OP received indications what to do in this question and previous questions. – beginner Sep 9 '17 at 19:01
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    When Buddha used the word 'jati' ('birth'), he was referring to the birth of egoism in the mind. If Arturia can dwell with a clear luminous mind, free from strong egoistic thoughts, the suffering will end by ending 're-birth' of self-centred-thinking. Also, the Buddha did not teach people ending their life would be reborn again as a human on Earth. You are making this up. This is your own ideas and not the teaching of Buddha. – Dhammadhatu Sep 9 '17 at 19:07

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