On the sound use of mental suicide.

by Narkissos 86 Replies latest jw friends

  • BurnTheShips

    Narkissos, this song reminded me of your comments on this thread-not in a bad way or in a good, but it made me think:


    I'm not aware of too many things,
    but I know what I know if you know what I mean.
    Philosophy is the talk on a cereal box.
    Religion is the smile on a dog.
    I'm not aware of too many things,
    but I know what I know if you know what I mean.
    Choke me in the shallow water before I get too deep.
    What I am is what I am.
    Are you what you are - or what?
    I'm not aware of too many things,
    but I know what I know if you know what I mean.
    Philosophy is a walk on the slippery rocks.
    Religion is a light in the fog.
    I'm not aware of too many things,
    but I know what I know if you know what I mean.
    Choke me in the shallow water before I get too deep.
    What I am is what I am.
    Are you what you are - or what?
    Don't let me get too deep.

  • slimboyfat
    Nark, interesting thread that has resulted in some powerful answers. I am interested to know what your experience was, and why you feel it dangerous.

    Me too. I am also hoping LittleToe pops into this thread.

  • Narkissos


    It's difficult to "share" an "experience" of that kind -- not only because every "telling" is creative rather than "true," especially inasmuch as something rather "dreamlike" is concerned -- but also because we lack a common positive conventional vocabulary and/or imaginary reference system -- e.g., "I identified to consciousness itself" or "I was born again" -- to make sense of it. (Otoh, any "sharing" is also flawed by the above-mentioned stuff where it exists, since every hearer/reader tends to read his/her own experience, deep or shallow, into the common words). So if it makes no sense to you, please don't complain: you asked for it.

    I had been in Bethel (France) for about 4 years. I was already largely disillusioned with the WT organisation and teachings but I was not fully aware of it, perhaps because consciously realising it would have cost too much. During a few months I enjoyed very deep and free conversations with a close circle of friends, on an almost playful mode (nothing "serious" or consequential in my mind, but for the first time perhaps I was thinking and living, and enjoying it even before fully realising it). One friend in particular was very close. We experienced the uncanny sensation, for both of us, of thinking and feeling at the same pace, which was very unusual for both of us. It was not "discussion" in the sense of arguing with a worthy partner. It was rather a sense of mutual trust and harmony, allowing each of us to follow on the thought of the other, knowing we would meet again at the next step. It was extraordinarily light.

    I remember one day we prayed together (a very rare happening in Bethel, out of the everyday formal circumstances). During that moment I had the strange feeling of losing any notion of distance and time -- as if the room where we were was simultaneously both one tiny spot and immense. We talked about that too.

    At some point this friend has to leave abroad. We would probably never see each other again, or at least not in such conditions. I suddenly felt overwhelmed with the realisation (I mean certainty, not mere sadness or fear) that I would henceforth have to step down to the "grey zone" of ordinary life and communication, made of endless half-truths and misunderstandings. That thought was unbearable. I didn't think of suicide (my JW "moral code" was intact at that point) but I would have welcome instant death gratefully.

    Suddenly (I still can remember the instant, I was walking down the Bethel stairs) a strange thought came to my mind: I didn't have to live through that, I didn't have to stay captive in that meaningless "life" of mine. There was a hidden exit door at the bottom of despair. I could get out and just watch what would happen to my "character" the next minute. I felt instantly relieved: a sense of absurd lightness and joy succeeded to the anxiety. And, unlike many other strange thoughts I may have had before, it stuck. I had just committed my own irreversible "mental suicide".

    From that new perspective (which was "mine" without being "mine") I found I could face what I hadn't been able to face before (including the WT fallacies). Much of what I read in the N.T., but also in other "mystical" works, not all "Christian," became evident to me. The rest is on my profile (since I have finally written one).

    But the flip side is that it was also the end of a certain youthful, natural freshness, made of everyday fears and desires, as those who still are fully in their lives and roles daily experience. It makes you something of a "stranger in the world" (which, of course, mystical stuff extols, but makes practical life sometimes difficult for yourself and the people around you). In a sense, once you get past the mystical trappings (some never do, blessed are them!), you realise that you have fallen in love with death itself (or, at least, with "something" one of whose many names is death).

    Btw I agree with your suggestion that this kind of "experience" is probably unavoidable to some at some point of their lives. But this is definitely not one I would recommend to anybody, especially young people, and I am rather relieved when I see it lightly dismissed as pathological. Because I am convinced that, to an extent, it is. I don't feel the need to poison the health of others with the remedy of a sick person... and when I see another sick person reaching for a similar pharmakon, I am worried about diagnostic, prescription and posology...

  • slimboyfat

    Thanks for sharing that. It sounds like a very close friendship to me. I can remember a very close friendship I had in school, to the point of anticipating each others' thoughts. And when we were a part I missed him terribly. I worried for a while that my feelings for him might be sexual. But looking back I don't think it was sexual at all, just a very deep emotional attachment. Plus I don't have sexual feelings for men generally since. I recently got in touch with him again in fact which was an interesting experience. I had to tell him I no longer believed in the Witnesses for a start, and it turns out he has lost his own faith somewhat too.

    But I guess I may be missing something more to it than that in your story. Did you keep in touch can I ask?

    And how does your experience compare with those who had their mystical experiences alone I wonder?

    I have had some wonderful experiences in my life, but nothing mystical that suggested an altogether different reality. I have had the notion from time to time I would like to have such an experience just to know what others are talking about, or to convince me there is a God or at least "something more", but you have certainly given me reason to pause and reconsider.

  • Narkissos


    No we didn't stay in touch, at least since I was df'd (and that was 22 years ago).

    I had to tell this story as a background, but the "mental suicide" part was actually alone.

    And btw I don't believe it proves anything "mystical" or "transcendent". I am quite aware that a merely psychological reading can make sense of it just as well.

  • slimboyfat

    So the experience happened alone, but as I read it what it amounted to was your sudden realisation that you and your friend would soon be apart and the distress of that thought is what prompted the "mental disorientation". (I don't like this suicide talk sorry, blame the JW mental regulating)

    As you anticipated I guess this is something that is difficult for others (or at least me) to grasp, despite your patient explanation.

  • Narkissos

    Yep, that's why I seldom indulge in "personal" storytelling. But on this thread I felt it was due -- if only to prove its uselessness.

    Btw I think that "disorientation" only tells one side of the story. It was liberating, and empowering, too. Without it I might be an old and bitter Bethelite today, who knows?

    A few posts above I briefly alluded to Dostoevsky as one of the rare modern Western writers who did explore positively the connection between mental illness and "spiritual" experience. The epileptic "Idiot" comes to mind, of course. But I'm quite fond of the following excerpt of Crime and Punishment, too:

    "You should go to a doctor."
    "I know I am not well, without your telling me, though I don't
    know what's wrong; I believe I am five times as strong as you are. I
    didn't ask you whether you believe that ghosts are seen, but whether
    you believe that they exist."
    "No, I won't believe it!" Raskolnikov cried, with positive anger.
    "What do people generally say?" muttered Svidrigailov, as though
    speaking to himself, looking aside and bowing his head: "They say,
    'You are ill, so what appears to you is only unreal fantasy.' But
    that's not strictly logical. I agree that ghosts only appear to the
    sick, but that only proves that they are unable to appear except to
    the sick, not that they don't exist."
    "Nothing of the sort," Raskolnikov insisted irritably.
    "No? You don't think so?" Svidrigailov went on, looking at him
    deliberately. "But what do you say to this argument (help me with it):
    ghosts are as it were shreds and fragments of other worlds, the
    beginning of them. A man in health has, of course, no reason to see
    them, because he is above all a man of this earth and is bound for the
    sake of completeness and order to live only in this life. But as
    soon as one is ill, as soon as the normal earthly order of the
    organism is broken, one begins to realise the possibility of another
    world; and the more seriously ill one is, the closer becomes one's
    contact with that other world, so that as soon as the man dies he
    steps straight into that world. I thought of that long ago. If you
    believe in a future life, you could believe in that, too."
    "I don't believe in a future life," said Raskolnikov.
    Svidrigailov sat lost in thought.
    "And what if there are only spiders there, or something of that
    sort," he said suddenly.
    "He is a madman," thought Raskolnikov.
    "We always imagine eternity as something beyond our conception,
    something vast, vast! But why must it be vast? Instead of all that,
    what if it's one little room, like a bathhouse in the country, black
    and grimy and spiders in every corner, and that's all eternity is? I
    sometimes fancy it like that."
    "Can it be you can imagine nothing juster and more comforting than
    that?" Raskolnikov cried, with a feeling of anguish.
    "Juster? And how can we tell, perhaps that is just, and do you
    know it's what I would certainly have made it," answered Svidrigailov,
    with a vague smile.
    This horrible answer sent a cold chill through Raskolnikov.
    Svidrigailov raised his head, looked at him, and suddenly began
  • slimboyfat


    Is "disorientation" judged to have a darker connotation than "suicide"? I must admit that is to me a strange thought. In any case I truly did not in any way intend to demean what you shared. I really do appreciate you taking the time to explain this. I fully understand experiences of whatever kind are not solely good or bad in their effects.

    Without it I might be an old and bitter Bethelite today, who knows?

    Or stranger still a happy old Bethelite, who knows? Is that an impossibility?

    Also it is interesting that in the alternate JW path you would now be "old". Does apostasy truly slow the ravages of time? If so

    Sorry, I am just being contrary. Thank you for the reference. I know absolutely nothing about Dostoevsky. I will need to think about it.

    Best wishes,


  • Narkissos
    I am just being contrary.

    Are you quite sure about that?

    Nighty night.

  • doofdaddy

    Well Nark, a very interesting subject for me as I have, in the last few days, been rechecking Tolle's opinions.

    Firstly, I have had a similar experience (mental or ego suicide) to you and have literally faced death in the search for truth on a number of occasions since moving on from the jws. Suffice to say that I did a full circle on consciousness and reality, firstly going to the extremes of belief in illusion, even to the point of going to a shaman in Sumatra and asking for a ceremony to open my spiritual eyes (which brought on years of travel in India and a form of madness, or periods of lucid dreaming in a Jungian sense) to currently believing that ALL is reality.

    Tolle, I find quite boring in approach and message. I read a lot of Krishnamurti in India and Tolle not only parrots his message but apes his manner. Imho I believe he is making people spiritually lazy (staying in the grey, which is extremely dangerous) not enlightened. At least Krishnamurti preached, find your own truth.

    He is just another "guru" who will fade in time and his mantle will be taken up by another ear tickler (with followers still searching for truth without seeing the secret of personal responsibility)

    But I am sure that you would agree that if we keep pushing through though as individuals, the journey is well worth it.

Share this