Chapter 4: Earth and Sky Apart
You ask why Hemingway committed suicide. Hemingway’s suicide has another flavor, different from van Gogh’s. Hemingway’s whole search was the search for freedom. Birth happened; it was not your choice. You were thrown into life - as the existentialists say. You were thrown into it, it was not your choice. Nobody ever asked you whether you wanted to be born or not. So birth is not freedom. It has already happened.
The next most important thing is love, but that is also not possible to do. When it happens, it happens; you cannot manage it, you cannot will it. If you want to love a person just through will, it is impossible. It happens when it happens - -suddenly you are in love, That’s why we use the phrase “falling in love.” You “fall” into it. But you cannot will it; it comes from the unknown. It is just like birth. It is as if God manages that you fall in love with this person; it is as if the decision comes from the blue. You are not the decisive factor, you are more like a victim. You cannot do anything against it. If it happens you have to go into it; if it does not happen you can do whatsoever you want and it will not happen. Nobody can produce love on order.
And the most important three things in life are birth, love, death. Death is the only thing that you can do something about - you can commit suicide.
Hemingway’s search was for freedom. He wanted to do something that he had done. He had not managed birth, he had not managed love, now there was only death. There was only one thing which if you wanted to do, you could do. It would be your act, an individual act, done by you.
Death has a mysterious quality about it; it is a very strange paradox. If you are standing by the side of a small baby, just born, and if somebody asks you to say something absolutely certain about the baby - the baby is in his crib, asleep, relaxing - what can you say absolutely certainly? You can say only one thing: that he will die.
This is a very strange thing to say. Anything else is uncertain. He may love, he may not love. He may succeed, he may fail. He may be a sinner, he may be a saint. All are “maybes,” there is nothing certain about anything. It is not possible to predict anything. There is only one thing you can say - and it looks very absurd at the side of a baby who has just been born - only one thing is absolutely certain: that he will die. This prediction can be made, and your prediction is never going to be wrong.
So death has a certain quality of certainty about it - it is going to happen. And at the same time it has something absolutely uncertain about it too. One never knows when it is going to happen. There is certainty that it is going to happen and uncertainty about when it is going to happen. Both this certainty and uncertainty about death make it a mystery, a paradox. If you go on living, it will happen - but then again it will come from out of the blue. You will not be the decisive factor. Birth happened, love happened - was death also to happen? That made Hemingway uneasy. He wanted to do at least one thing in life to which he could have his own signature, about which he could say “This I did.” That’s why he committed suicide. Suicide was an exercise in freedom.