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Desire to live and die

india Updated: Dec 10, 2012 00:42 IST
Pankaj Kumar

At times when we feel that our dreams will never be fulfilled, our talents will never be used, and our life will never become meaningful, we yearn for death. When we are in such a state of mind, what inferences can be drawn?

Philosopher Nietzsche said he who has a ‘why’ to live can bear with any ‘how’. He meant that a person who has a reason to live for will be willing to make the effort necessary for living and endure suffering in order to survive.

When a person suffers, he yearns for death; what he needs to do is not to end his life, but to eliminate his baser desires. According to Buddhism, it is the baser desires that give rise to suffering.

A close relationship with another person makes us want to live. We would not like to make an exit when we have a spouse, children or parents to look after.
When do we have the desire to live? When we have the hope that our talents will be put to good use, our dreams will be fulfilled and the well-being of our loved ones will be ensured. Life seems worth living when it is meaningful. But we must remember that the meaning of life cannot be understood solely by reasoning; one needs some kind of faith.

When do we wish for death? When hope is extinguished that we will be successful in our field; when we become helpless and dependent on others; when we do not have any close relationships; and when we feel that our existence is devoid of meaning.

We have to remember that even when the situation is very bad, suicide is not the solution. One should make an effort to solve one’s problems, and leave the rest in God’s hands.

Suicidal thoughts are often caused by depression. Depression can be caused by external conditions or changes in brain biochemistry. We have to bear in mind that even if the external conditions are bad, we can still live a good life if we follow the essential teachings of our religion.