Thursday, October 20, 2011

Buddha, a Girl, and a Cow

Japan became infamous for the large numbers of people committing suicide. According to a source, over 30,000 people have committed suicide every year for more than 10 years. The peak occurred in 2004 with 38,000 suicides, the highest number ever recorded. In 2010, the number showed a slight decrease at 31,560, while the number in 2009 was 32,845. The suicide rate has not been lower than 30,000 since 1998. The reasons for suicide vary greatly. They include diverse factors, such as unemployment, financial problems, health problems, relationship problems, or difficulties with school.

Every religion in the world has a negative view of suicide. Christianity banned suicide in the fourth century, during the age of St. Augustine. Islam also prohibits suicide and teaches that people who commit suicide will go to hell. Buddhism forbids all forms of killing, including suicide, which is seen as one of the most deadly sins.

When Buddha was traveling, he happened to come across a girl standing on a bridge over a river. The girl took off her shoes and put stones in her clothes. It was obvious that she was getting ready to commit suicide. Buddha approached the girl and asked her to tell him her story. She answered that her life was full of pain. Her family was starving. They had no food, no money, and no work. She loved a man who did not love her. She became pregnant, but the man cheated on her. She believed that she should die to avoid giving her baby the same pain that she had gone through.

"Poor young lady," Buddha said. "I will give you a story to think."

Once upon a time, there was a cow whose job was hauling a cart. The cart was heavy and the distance was great. The cow had to haul the cart all day, every day. The cow wondered why he had to work so hard. He thought it was the cart that made the work hard. One day the cow smashed the cart against a rock and broke it. The owner was surprised and thought that the cart was not strong enough. The owner built a new cart out of steel and put it on the cow. The cart was almost 10 times as heavy as the previous cart. The cow regretted that he had broken the previous cart, but it was too late.

Buddha told the girl that killing oneself was the same as the cow breaking the cart. She would destroy her flesh, but she would not be able to escape from her pain. The pain she would suffer after her death would be 100 times worse.

Putting religion aside, committing suicide brings sorrow, pain, and agony to one's family, friends, and the society they belong to. It obviously does not bring an end to one's problems, but rather it brings additional agony.

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