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‘The Sea Of Trees’ is an alternative name of Japan’s ‘Suicide Forest’. Believed by many to be very easy to get lost in, it is reminiscent of this Sahā World as a bitter ‘sea of suffering’, that is easy to drown in, if land is not found in time. With some said to had perished in the forest not by suicide, but by being lost, it is terrifying to imagine this ‘purgatory’-like state, trapped between actual life and actual death. Yet, this window period still offers some chances to change minds and ways.

A man is overwhelmed by guilt, over not being able to apologise to his wife, who just died in an accident. Entering the forest with a hesitant death wish, he encounters a desperate man, who has a life wish instead, who regretted entering the forest. Seeing the latter’s desperation, the first tries to find the way out with him, at first only for him. They go around in circles though, with uncertainty, filled with hopes and fears, much like us within our existential rebirths.

If accidents are believed to happen by chance, absurdity should just be embraced, with no reason to grieve at all. However, Buddhism teaches that even amidst apparent absurdity, there is order, there is karma involved. What matters is to learn what we can from what happens, as graciously as we can, and to make amends best we can. This would be the way to create new karma for the better. Suicide unfortunately creates among the most destructive karma, through oneself.

The duo have heartfelt chats over why they came to the forest. The second man had lost his sense of dignity when he lost his job. If this is an ego issue, the ego should ‘die’ then; not him. He did not really want to die; but did not want to live – thus his change of mind. Seems like he should seek liberation from the cycle of birth and death instead. Paradoxically, his wish to survive gave the first man a sense of purpose, to help him find the way out, while reassessing the worth of his own life.

As they encourage each other, it turned out that the second man was physically more lost, while the first man spiritually more lost. It is with compassion for one another, that we will be able to save one another. It is with kindness and forgiveness to ourselves and others, that we can all be redeemed. If we can be kind even when life seems unkind, our lives are immediately worth its troubles. If living to help one is meaningful, living to help all is most meaningful. It is Bodhicitta.

If feeling suicidal, do seek help as soon as possible. That there are many free and anonymous counselling hotlines means many do care for you, without any conditions, even if they are complete strangers… but you must care to look for them too. Together, let us help one another out of the sea of suffering. While the Bodhisattvas are always doing their best to help us, we should do our best to be Bodhisattvas for one another too, to help them to better help us!

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