Inspiration | HardCore Zen | The Question of Suicide


This post is inspired by someone I have deeply cared about, (and still deeply care about, who introduced me to Buddhist thinking) and whom I wrote about in Beatific Smile No Black and White. I was exploring and came across a poignant post by Brad Warner on Hardcore Zen. I have been thinking a lot about the Buddhist view of suicide and the first precept: “I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking life.” In an article on the Buddhist View on Suicide Brad talks of his own pain in a very honest way:

“I put a bunch of rope in the trunk of my car and drove out to the Gorge Metro Park, just down the street from where I lived. My plan was to carry that rope out as far away from people as I could, find a sturdy tree and do the deed. But when I stepped out of my car I saw some kids playing in the field right near the parking lot. I realized I could never find a spot far enough off the path where there wasn’t some chance a little kid out for a hike, or a young couple looking for a make-out spot, or an old man with a picnic basket and a picture of his late wife might find me. Then I thought about my mom and how bummed out she’d be if I killed myself. And I thought about my friend “Iggy” Morningstar who’d killed himself about ten years earlier and how I was still not over that. I put the rope back in the trunk and went home.”

A very valuable part of this article, is that Brad suggests one can see this impulse as the possibility to cut off your former life and go in a completely new direction, without destroying the body. Thank you Brad Warner.

For me, in thinking about the suicide of Brett, (never again that beatific smile), it seems that somehow one needs to get to rock bottom, where one is faced with the possibility of extinction to this life, or the possibility of a rebirth to a new life within this life, (a kind of triumph, in my daughter’s words). Brett was a person of extreme contradictions. He wanted to become a Buddhist monk in India, when I first met him. Together we tried to actualise the best possibilities offered to us, by creating a Reiki Healing Centre, (The Arura Reiki Centre, pictured in the photograph in my previous post) and a shop called Padme. Brett became a JKD instructor and had the opportunity to actualise his positive potentialities. Sadly this was not to be.

Brett became involved in VIP protection and work with taxi anti-violence in KwaZulu-Natal, (a business fraught with danger and death). He moved so far from his positive self that I think it was hard for him to see his inner nature. Carrying arms and working in conditions of extreme violence, including tours to Iraq, just moved him into a world from which I don’t think he could return. I remember how he lived in ZuluLand, with others in this unit, with arms lying everywhere. He found it hard to live within society, he had kind of moved into a fringe shadow world.

Some of my greatest sadness is that I only heard about his passing via the grapevine. Only yesterday, did I find an Obituary for him published in the Sunday Tribune of March, 2007. The sharp pain I felt yesterday when I found this, has traveled into today. I felt a strong need to write about it. He left behind my three daughters, who never had the possibility to reconcile many of the things which happened, as Brett spiraled into deeper and deeper depression and despair. He left behind too, a young daughter and wife, as well as his father and mother and sister.

Who can know what happens in “the dark night of the soul?” Eckhart Tolle has this to say: “It is a term used to describe what one could call a collapse of a perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness.  The inner state in some cases is very close to what is conventionally called depression.  Nothing makes sense anymore, there’s no purpose to anything.” See Eckhart Teachings.

As Brad says, our thoughts about what WE could have done differently in these circumstances, are just thoughts. We like to organise our thinking. Somehow, some people just can’t turn things around that way Brad speaks about and the way he did for himself. He points here, to the importance of a rebirth in this life, the possibility of going in a totally different direction.

In all things we can just try to be kind and to take care. To anyone who has felt this way, take good care, it is always possible to go in a different direction and grow into a rebirth in this life. There is always the possibility of a new dawn.

My wish for Brett, may he find peace. So far did he travel from the picture of us with our precious teacher, Geshela Damcho, in my earlier post. Thank you Brett, for the introduction to the Dharma and for teaching me Reiki. Thank you again, Brad Warner, for sharing your story and valuable point of view.

Let me end with something beautiful, a murmuration:

Image purchased at Creative Market.



  1. I have been searching for Brett on and off for 10 or so years. I am shocked to hear of his passing. I met Brett when he came to live in Victoria Falls in 1998. I hope he has found his peace. My prayers to his family and friends. My heart is very heavy.

    1. Hello Lyn, thank you for taking the time to leave this message. How did you come across this post? I am so sorry for your heavy heart. Just know that for the short time that Brett was part of my life and my family, he was loved and cared about. It is good to hear from someone who also cared for him. Thanks for your wishes. Do take care of yourself.

      1. I simply Goodled Bretts name and came across your post. I had done it many times before, trying to come across an email address for him. I had seen something about Padme and had sent and email there, but never got a response. Only today have i been able to read your article in full – its very apt. Brett pulled me out of a very deep hole. His quite way, has stayed with me for all these years.

        I too, walked to a place to take my own life, and it was shortly after that that Brett came back to Vic Falls for a couple of weeks. He stayed with me, and we had long conversations.

        He was very special man. One of a kind.

      2. Hello Lyn, I closed Padme, the shop and Reiki Centre when I went to Thailand in 2004. The last time I saw Brett was in 2005, briefly after I came back to South Africa.

        I am sorry to hear about your own struggles. It is good to hear though that you overcame them and that Brett was able to help you. Do read the other piece I wrote about him here: I wish you the very best.

  2. I am sitting here crying after reading your article.
    I knew Brett 20 years ago.
    We were boyfriend and girlfriend for a while.
    I have searched for him on and off for years but to no avail.
    Lately he has been on my mind a lot.

    I am just so shocked and feel so weirdly sad.
    Literally can’t stop the tears as I type this.
    Even though I haven’t seen him for about 13 years?

    Lovely article.
    I am so glad I found it.

    Danielle xx

    1. Hello Danielle

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for your deeply heartfelt words. I am so sorry that you have felt so sad at hearing this news. It is beautiful that you have felt touched by him, and feel this so tenderly. My heart goes out to you. He had this effect on me too, I too searched for him. Finally I found the obituary from 2007. I felt the need to write about this and only posted this article last year, maybe that’s why you only found it now. I wrote another piece about him here: Wishing you all the best, take care Danielle x

  3. I am sitting here crying my eyes out after reading your article about Brett.

    I just can’t believe it.

    I knew Brett 20 years ago.
    We were boyfriend and girlfriend for a while.
    I last saw him about 2002 I think.

    I am just so shocked.
    I have been searching on and off for him for years but to no avail.

    He will suddenly come into my mind VERY strongly and I will go on a mad online hunt to find him but nothing.

    Then months will go by and it will happen again.
    Something made me search again tonight and I found your article.
    I wonder why I didn’t ever see it before?

    I am just so saddened by this.
    Crying as I type this.
    Weird as I haven’t seen him for years?
    But this has affected me so badly for some reason?

    He was a very spiritual person.
    Wise beyond his years and this life.

    Thank you for a beautifully written article.

    Danielle xx

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