Logical and Spiritual REFLECTIONS
Book 5. Zen Judaism
Chapter 10. A world of mercy
There is a Jewish doctrine according to which this is a world of mercy (tempering justice), whereas after death we go to a world of (strict) justice. One’s first reaction to that claim might be: ‘what, you call this a world of mercy?’ Yes, the idea here intended is that the sufferings we go through in this world are very light compared to what we justly deserve. Thus, we are better off paying off our debts by suffering in this world, rather than having them exacted off us in the next world. For there, the full payment will be required, without mercy.
The teaching here taught is that we should take advantage of the opportunities for redemption offered to us by this world, because here we have freewill and can repent and do good deeds. Whereas, in the world after death, we can no longer fix our errors or perform positive mitzvoth (duties), but must passively receive whatever we have coming. Thus, this is a teaching designed to push us to act while we still have the chance to do so.
This idea is comparable to the Buddhist doctrine that to be born as a human being is a very exceptional opportunity to attain enlightenment/liberation (nirvana). Such a chance should not be wasted on vanities or in negative activities, but one should strive positively for removal of bad karma and for spiritual growth. Otherwise, next time one may be reborn in a less favorable estate, and become stuck in the cycle of samsara (birth and death, implying suffering) for eons.
Needless to say, one can see in this context the stupidity of suicide. According to this teaching, such an act is not an effective way to escape from one’s difficult situation, but only a way to make matters worse (in the hereafter or the next life). Trying to avoid challenges is useless and counterproductive. One should always bravely face the difficulties of life and cheerfully try to improve one’s situation as well as one can. Life is certainly a great gift. And time passes so quickly.
Lately, the media fashionmongers have started pushing relentlessly in favor of voluntary euthanasia or ‘assisted suicide’. Most Western countries have already made passive euthanasia (i.e. withholding life support) legal, and now some have legalized active euthanasia (i.e. killing) and the issue has become hot in most others. The advocates of this social innovation make it seem like an act of mercy – parading some people with terribly painful incurable diseases to excite our pity. These advocates are of course materialists, who do not believe in any sort of afterlife or rebirth.
They do not consider that it may be more merciful to allow the sufferer’s bad karma to play itself out on this earth in this lifetime than to artificially cut it short. They do not consider that things might be worse thereafter, precisely because the karma was not allowed to play itself out. How do I know? I don’t! But do they? Certainly not! They have no sure knowledge either, only mere speculations.
Moreover, the advocates of euthanasia do not really consider that helping someone commit suicide for whatever motive might still be murder. They are usually the same people or type of people who legalized abortion on demand, indifferent to the suffering and privation of life of the babies killed. They are close to those who support homosexuality, and in particular the adoption of children by homosexuals. They are people who consider their pursuit of any pleasure or avoidance of all pain as unquestionable absolutes. They do not acknowledge that we may earn certain pains or have no right to certain pleasures. They have little or no regard for spirituality or ethics.
And they have nothing to offer the suffering souls other than a quick and supposedly painless death. At least religion offers hope of cure or redemption. In situations of great suffering, why not try prayer and repentance? It might help, psychologically if not existentially. Also, when possible, try meditation.
 I mention this, due to reading often lately about youths – in Japan, in Britain – committing suicide. No doubt they feel afraid of life, and presumably have been given no spiritual education that would give them the strength and courage to face it.