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Chapter 7: Session 7

Marcel says, “Suicide is the only real philosophical question.” I had no idea of Marcel then. Perhaps at that time there was no Marcel, and his book had not been written yet. But this is what I said to the Jaina monk: “If you don’t want to be born again, which you say is your desire, then why do you live? For what? Commit suicide! I can show you a way. Although I don’t know much about the ways of the world, as far as suicide is concerned I can give you some advice. You can jump off the hill at the side of the village, or you can jump into the river.”

The river was three miles away from the village, and so deep and so vast that to swim across it was such a joy for me. Many times while swimming across the river I would think it was the end, and I would not be able to reach the other shore. It was so wide, particularly in the rainy season, miles wide. It looked almost like an ocean. In the rainy season one could not even see the other shore. When it was in full flood, that was when I would jump in, either to die or to reach the other shore. The greater probability was that I would never reach the other shore.

I told the Jaina monk, “In the rainy season you can jump into the river with me. We can keep company for a little while, then you can die, and I will reach the other shore. I can swim well enough.”

He looked at me so fiercely, so full of anger, that I had to tell him, “Remember, you will have to be born again because you are still full of anger. This is not the way to get rid of the world of worries. Why are you looking at me so angrily? Answer my question in a peaceful and silent way. Answer joyously! If you cannot answer, simply say, ‘I don’t know.’ But don’t be angry.”

The man said, “Suicide is a sin. I cannot commit suicide, but I want never to be born again. I will achieve that state by slowly renouncing everything that I possess.”

I said, “Please show me something that you possess, because, as far as I can see, you are naked and you don’t possess anything. What possessions do you have?”

My grandfather tried to stop me. I pointed toward my grandmother and then said to him, “Remember, I asked permission of Nani, and now nobody can prevent me, not even you. I spoke to her about you because I was worried that if I interrupted your guru and his rubbishy, so-called sermon, you would be angry with me. She said to ‘Just point toward me, that’s all. Don’t be worried: just a look from me and he will become silent.’ And strange.it was true!” He became silent, even without a look from my Nani.

Later on my Nani and I both laughed. I said to her, “He did not even look at you.”

She said, “He could not, because he must have been afraid that I would say ‘Shut up! Don’t interfere with the child,’ so he avoided me. The only way to avoid me was to not interfere with you.”

In fact he closed his eyes as if he was meditating. I said to him, “Nana, great! - you are angry, boiling. There is fire within you yet you sit with closed eyes as if you are meditating. Your guru is angry because my questions are annoying him. You are angry because your guru is not capable of answering. But I say, this man who is sermonizing here is just an imbecile.” And I was not more than four or five years old.

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