The Three Gates


Reading a Guardian article about Robin Williams and some of the opinions floating around made me think about my posting of Tuesday morning, which read:

“Spare a thought too (or donation) for the countless innocents being slaughtered in Gaza, Ukraine, Sudan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Nigeria and Pakistan as you weep into your cereals for Mork”.

My general thoughts were that the mass grieving of a celebrity (irrespective of their cause of death) was disproportionate next to the mass and unjust suffering and lack of empathy and media coverage in a country like Syria which has already lost 27,000 people this year (interestingly enough Syria has one of the lowest suicide rates in the world).

I did feel a bit guilty about the post as on the face of it, it was rather cold and I guess I was just trying to highlight the fact that there are media outlets who have the ability to help peoples perception of what really goes on in the world but either choose not to, are told not to by the government or get more ratings / money from the docile masses who believe (through either choice or indoctrination) in the tripe they pedal.

I hear that some outlets shared the exact details of how Robin Williams died and left out the important bit of why he died, what his true condition was, how it can be recognised, how the individual can self-realise that they have a similar problem, how it can be addressed and how people can formulate an opinion on it and then chose if it’s in the best interests of the public, friends or family whether you share that opinion either verbally or via social or public media outlets.

What I can say from personal experience is that when someone close to you commits suicide suddenly (both my aunt and uncle took their own lives), there is complete and utter devastation, there are initial feelings of anger and accusations of selfishness and cowardliness, but once one thinks logically about their existing condition and state of mind after those initial dark moments, those feelings quickly fade.

I do think that people with no personal connections to the likes of Robin Williams (especially those in the media themselves) or have no personal experience in having to deal with the suicide death of a loved one through mental health issues, have to be very careful in sharing their own negative opinions in a time when those who do or have known the deceased (in this case Robin Williams) are in genuine mourning.

Let’s remember Robin Williams for what he was, not selfish man or a coward, but an absolute comedy genius, a true game-changer in the world of comedy, as well as a superb actor, when he played the roles of Dr Sayer in Awakenings and Mr Keating in Dead Poets Society.

When sharing opinions about someone (especially someone who has passed away), if it’s not positive or kind or complimentary or sincere, silence is always the better option.

An old friend then put me onto something called The Three Gates, and after some research I found the following:

THE THREE GATES

The old Sufi taught that right speech had to pass through three gates. The first gate asked, “Is it true”? The second gate asked, “Is it necessary”? The third gate asked, “Is it kind”? The old sheik taught him that it would be better to be silent than to utter words that had not passed through the three gates.

For those that do not know, Sufism is the mystical side of Islam. This teaching is very similar to the kind of teachings also uttered by the Desert Fathers and Mothers of the early Christian era. Many basic teachings such as this one can be found in all the major religions. This is a great teaching regardless of what religion or philosophy you follow. Who among us couldn’t do a better job of guarding one’s speech. Try to avoid complaining, gossip, and any kind of hurtful speech. We are human; however, so there are times we do all of these things. We should strive to minimize complaining by focusing on gratitude. Minimizing hurtful speech through age and experience and being aware of ones own weaknesses will teach us to be more patient and tolerant of others. Even though we won’t always remain silent, it is better to be silent than to speak a lot.

 “One should not speak unless your words improve the silence”

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