Demons of the Forest: Sometimes its hard to see the truth through all the lies

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  1. Neil Gaiman
  2. Voyage Of The Fallen
  3. Neil Gaiman - Wikiquote
  4. Inside Japan’s ‘Suicide Forest’
  5. Unembraced

The signs of your true Self were there from the beginning.

Axe Murder Boyz - The Demon (Unforgiven Forest Version)

The truth—as the great spiritual masters have taught—is that all of life is conspiring for our awakening and fulfillment. Just as there are certain plants that require rough soil to activate chemicals that make them heartier and better able to thrive in their environment, the challenges I faced created the perfect conditions for my growth, compelling me to push my roots deeper and strengthen my inner structures.

Like certain seeds that need a forest fire to germinate, those early childhood experiences sparked a fire within me that cracked open the seed of my potential and allowed it to grow. What I can now see is that all of these powerful promptings were my acorn or true Self guiding and directing me, creating opportunities for me to cultivate the inner and outer conditions necessary for its emergence. The same process is true for you. Your soul is your soil, and if you generate the right inner conditions—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—your seed will have the right nutrients to thrive.

No matter how thick the clouds may be outside or how dark the night, the light is always shining within, ready to illuminate the seed of your true Self and nourish its growth. God made man in His own image, and man has been trying to return the favor ever since! In other words, we keep trying to understand God in human, material terms, like some anthropomorphic being sitting on a cloud.

Neil Gaiman

But this is an overly literal interpretation of ancient teachings. This divine inheritance includes our ability to decide what we focus our awareness on i. We have been born under a case of mistaken identity. And almost everything we see, hear, and experience—almost everything produced by society—keeps us in the dark about who and what we truly are. Our mistaken identity is that we are merely human beings having an occasional spiritual experience; that we are born in sin, circumscribed by our personality, a product of our culture and family, conceived on a certain date, destined to die.

We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Sin, as it turns out, is not some demonic quality of our soul; the word is an archery term that means to miss the mark. The only original sin we were born with is this false belief about who we are. This human incarnation is a magnificent thing, like a work of art, with the potential to reveal great beauty and meaning. Your true Self is, as Genesis 1: Everything you need for your total fulfillment is already within you, constituted as a part of this essential Self.

And when you are more identified with your true Self—and learn to depend on it for everything—all your needs will emerge without the effort and struggle so common to the human experience.

Voyage Of The Fallen

I remember the first time this true self principle became real for me. It was before I stood on that stage I spoke about in the beginning of this book, and before I had the words to explain it.

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It was an initiation, something we all have at a certain point—often many points—on the path of personal growth. At a certain point, I had gone through my savings, had no work or future prospects, and had exhausted all external means of support. I was left with nothing but my spiritual insights—literally living on a prayer. As I was losing sight of my true self, I was also, to be honest, pretty pissed off at God.

One day, after groveling for another rent extension from my landlord, I sat in my worn faux-leather meditation chair and laid down the gauntlet: God, either there really is a true spiritual Self with everything it needs to fulfill its purpose, or this is all a bunch of bull. I meditated and prayed and beseeched and surrendered, trying to reconnect to this essential Self I had touched in my brush-with-death experience in that coral reef. Wave after wave of emotion rolled through me, threatening to drown me again, with no end in sight.

And in that moment, it was like a pressure valve opened inside my body, draining me of all anxiety. I crawled into bed and fell asleep. For the next few days, I went about my business, actually forgetting that I had a problem. It was my former acting agent, calling me with an audition. I immediately knew it was the answer my true self had trusted would come and accepted the audition. There are a few key elements to this experience that I want to highlight.

I just reconnected to that part of me that was already whole, my true self, had a feeling of my innate completeness, and then surrendered my control of the outcome. By making this connection, I cultivated the conditions in consciousness that allowed it to naturally emerge. Had I tried to visualize the outcome, I might have fantasized a variety of things, from getting a job as a spiritual teacher or writer for which I was unqualified , to winning the lottery or receiving an inheritance from a long-lost uncle one can always dream.

At first, as in my case, doing so might help you pay your rent and put food on the table—meeting your basic survival needs is often one of the initial results of making this connection.

Neil Gaiman - Wikiquote

But the underlying principle has more profound implications. The realization of your essential Self, and the resulting activation of the Law of Emergence, can transform every aspect of your life—and those lives that touch you—ending conflict, dissolving fear, and creating a world that works for the highest good of everyone. We spin our wheels trying to come up with solutions to all of our social, political, personal, and professional problems. We create new policies, more restrictive laws, bigger prisons, and more powerful weapons to attack the issues—or just twist ourselves into knots trying to solve things.

Besides these broader implications, an understanding of our true Self versus our human self is a primary condition in the successful activation of the Law of Emergence. To the extent you identify with the part of you that is changing—the human self—you create resistance to the part of you that is emerging—the true spiritual Self—much the way an acorn would if it identified with its shell instead of the oak.

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This prevents our evolution. We keep trying to solve the problems created by the human mind and its limited or distorted perceptions—problems such as separation, self-preservation, competition, and conflict—using the same mind-set that created them. But you can never solve a problem from the same level of consciousness that created it. When, however, you identify more with your changeless, boundless True Self, you stay rooted in your core, even as your human incarnation and external world continue to change form and reveal your ever-expanding good.

You no longer live from the level on which the problems were created. You stop doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. You enter into a peace and fulfillment no longer dependent on external conditions, but supported and fueled by the whole universe. While this is a liberating truth for our true selves and a great step up the evolutionary ladder, it can also be an overwhelming realization. A lot of causes have been set in motion—how will we ever reverse all their effects? She visits a beauty parlour to erase wrinkles and returns with the same wintry darkness Hanging pictures in bedroom and living room the young couple please each other's eyes leaving box of books for downstairs den The lips in her eyes and long hours in the mouth- no moist secret between us to reveal: All her predictions could come true had I paid her the fees for her writing psychic reflections on dreams I failed to realize in life Wrinkles on the skin remind me of time's passage year by year traveled long distances renewing spirit and waving good bye At the river-front in-drawn with Buddha's image in padmasana eyes half -closed, meditating his eyes not yet opened Stray fungi grow on the broken window frames beside my bed watery smell swells as if a corpse in the river Feeling the difference between a tin house and a weather proof tent: His first winter — recalls swirling snowflakes at Chaluka inside the fibrehut warmth of blue waves surging With black and white marks and nest of ants on its skin the tree grows taller shining through the geometry of sun, moon and halogen My voice brown like autumn crushed in noises I can't understand days pass in colours buried The sea smells from far off leaps to the sky I drive through the maze of returning folks with fresh catch on their head The sun couldn't help nor fish protest: I couldn't understand what's Hindu about having fish and onion after prayers by the river in the temple courtyard Fears to see his own image in her eyes so avoids seeing her again betrays his cowardice They watch her bare back to feel the body through crotch thank engraving pen she loves the etching on skin to enhance nudity Peeling the orange with manicured fingers she slits the rind from top to bottom, separates each section with artistry Dancing on the car top a girl holds the mike to express her love twists the audience Slung-jawed awake two grinning skeletons sit bolt upright in bed hear the shrieks next door but too scared to call the police The nightly ghosts crowd my mind's passage to forge gods' names in disguise I fail to scan the face of thought and life in the dark The chill outside deprives me of the bright moon I breathe in my fears: Night's prisoned friends keep me awake with planes flying over the ashram every now and then I watch the directions matter Unmindful of her body's joy the ascetic absorbed in vision or communion with muse I feel the ripples of fire One thousand miles travelling together in tense silence he and she contemplate the next round of duel I can't cement cracks nor save the frames from collapse: The yellowing patch on the lawn won't green with pesticides — the water infects the roots even if I am drying up here Each night speaks to me in flatulence, wheezing and pain in the legs: With years of rubbish he reeks of aborted dreams lives a stagnant pool cut off from the running source rots in the marsh like a frog They own little earth and seek to auction the sky: Lying all day with pain in the heels and sinking heart I read tanka and wait for miracle to sleep Burning without warmth one more hot and sweaty spell of summer, restless down with stroke, without light, fan exhausted, alone in bed Ageing he thinks of the ashes and the long trip ahead in spirit feels the earth he would become celebrating life New leaves welcome his shadow near the window the telephone rings perhaps to greet Naw Ruz: I didn't pray or keep the fast Like tramps and dogs they piss and shit I see I'm sucked in my own cracks: With moral twists name of god or religion they fly planes to bomb sheep of his pasture and expect grace for humankind Preaching peace explode 'plane bomb, car bomb human bomb and bluff the living corpses with politics of terror They claim to kill satan mass murder innocents and blow themselves up: I wonder how god condones vague prophets and their cult From the border rings he's stationed dangerously: No cakes or cookies to celebrate my birthday this New Year's eve lunar eclipse and blue moon cheer the cup in foggy chill Vibration of thought with their venom in groups my spirit disturbed I lose desire to live here conceal my angst in tanka Their loose tattle or loitering on the street changes nothing not even the hand they wave to penetrate the body Surging like a wave they image in the air and end up wriggling worms hiding through the thick hedges digging the dark undergrowth Is it the water or sweat flowing from the cleft they queue up to drink?

The sun of knowledge shining through the beer bottle under the neem tree: He takes out the letter and writes a poem on its back recalling the last words winds whispered through the stars that still shine in the sky Waving arms of trees conspire with overcast day to drench again the two of us look for shade under leaking umbrella Over the dried moss rains have grown new layers making the path more slippery for all of us falling is a postscript now Laden with new shoots the trees promise mangoes to celebrate summer: Waiting for the remains of sacrifice vultures on the temple tree stink with humans and goddess on the river's bank Awaiting the wave that'll wash away empty hours and endless longing in this dead silence at sea I pull down chunks of sky Two moons so far away yet so near like rain landing gently on my open arms Unknowable the soul's pursuit hidden by its own works: Conveying the inexpressible her lines and curves: Brooding condemning things not done and unable to undo he prays ceaselessly fails to stop now compelled to make a choice Try to sense her in a moment that she's never been I walk with light in hand how will she know it's me?

My legs heavy with pain don't move: When I roll within veins crackle like dried wood breathing is oppressed I can't leave the four walls to survive midnight attack Leisurely the birds keep talking beyond midnight hot humid summer keeps me sleepless too It is for their love of God they play loud music or chant His name on loudspeakers but it kills my peace the whole night I can't sleep Couldn't sleep all night darkness of thought spread over the mind with closed eyes I negotiate fear of missing the train and loss She is so upset with my repressed anger she doesn't sleep with me and questions too why I take alprax when it doesn't suit me An insomniac meditates at night and says: Short nights and long days sleep loss rustles a friction echoing in bed the cycle of cravings over and over again In his ochre robe the rebel sanyasin says he'll drop his ego like the skin's layers torn off and starts peeling an orange Did I kill a snake or do I pass forked urine the astrologer asks to calculate my future I tell him no and yes Unable to see beyond the nose he says he meditates and sees vision of Buddha weeping for us Resting his chin on the back of his palms he stands at the dusted railing to watch the planes roar and take off Silence of birds and moon so miserly I feel homesick: On the roof top she waits for her man with moon cake and lantern: Rises with the lingering shadow of the dream: Pie-eyed from the back door enters concealing smell from his sweetheart The maid fans burnt coal and dried twigs fire to make tea for her hubby lying in sun and shouting Filled with worries all her dreams in one basket- runs to catch the train sand and mud dried on hands ghost fish biting the lungs Burns spiders' net with incense stick in the alcove paper deity unmoved by prayers for safe sojourn in the new city In their drunken chant lurks divinity, the joy let loose in rhythm roses colour the spirit drowsily lost and regained It's prayer to sink into her flesh and bury myself in her breast to escape the faithless hands that never became mother Seeks music in love's masturbating keys at his bed's foot the breath of God lies forked like a tongue of briars The cocktail of drink drug and meditation- nightly yelps tease unshared guilt the hell of silence Transparent in a one-piece dress she tiptoes waving from the window not seeing him leave I love her undress the light with eyes that spring passion with kisses she leaves her name again for my breath to pass through It's not ageing but eternal delight: The beads of sweat on her breasts do not touch her years or face in candle light her shadow is more restrained than my thought A mist covers the valley of her body leaves memories like the shiver of cherry in dreamy January Watching the moon in the western horizon two haiku poets scratch each other's back and mock the rest as neophytes Once so intimate now uncomfortable strangers smile at each other in the party no one says my name even once At the crowded window implores the clerk to process his papers but he ignores, irritates at the end, abuses A black dog moves freely among reporters lying on the ground to shoot militants in Taj resisting the commandos Amidst trees without fruits and the rising jungle flowers a seasonal grace in colours coexist with disfiguring autumn Whatever the rut they mate without the season ejaculating hatred from their mouths and stink- their cum doesn't turn me on Covering with soil their ill will excreted from the anus at my gate in the morning even sun despises villainy Love runs awry in the name of Holi yields to revelry of colour and sex: Delayed monsoon may now come early and quench earth's thirst with respite from heat and power cut: I smell wetness in the air Fear of rain and driver's non-arrival at night spoils the cool drizzle this evening can't relish even the drink No one gives him what he needs after a day's hard work in lab — a lover, a good night's sleep and it passes again, waiting Eternity too short to quench love He walks down the aisle looking for the nave to kneel and slide out After prolonged heat wave sky watery explosion earth lovely doom Seasonal change viral suffering, realignment with doctor's bill Each morning the sun shines through window panes, revives the dream for verses Smell of kamini in front of my house excites: Each stone, drop, pebble waste of life in worldly self: In the darkness of backyard he searches his shadow: I stir the water to pierce clouds in it: He has no wind-rope to tie waves in the net: She reads my age in the synthetic dark of moustache and whitening chest Willow summer-sways its bough half-rests on the pole light goes off again Silence is sound in the blank of unthinking mind poetry is peace The child lost in letters and numbers spins new designs She waves a quick smile from her new Maruti— tyres screech The sun vanished in the blue morning couldn't last the flower's smile He sees the ape in the glass self-satisfied his own image The blue white dapples on the canvas seeing the eye of silence Sipping gin he says he loves sex each night but hates the smell They are skinny but skilful, can't be swatted: He sweeps yellow leaves or gathers years in a heap burns to merge with dust After hours of power-cut cobwebs in the room swing in thanks My bedroom a maze of cobweb spiders breed The red light is on: In nightly silence glides the airbus through the clouds trail of white smoke After sleepless night a drowsy sun tears the morning sky A lamp floating on river breast in bridal grace waves in the gloaming Looking for Taj in grains through sand storm find history trapped between toes Shining from the blade of grass a drop on earth's breast: I know waves that roar I live through silence of shore: I felt her fingers the strings of my son's guitar unplayed for a long time After hurried lovemaking we drift to sleep: Flickers of peace hide god in heart like running brook love in nudity Monsoon shower after a long heat wave monotony breaks Ripe on the branches mangoes fall one by one end of the season Coal grows golden each moment in quiet corners raw wind singes It hangs like a drop any moment evaporates love is gullible Morning mist rests on a swathe of pond lone fish looks for sun The moon glows and heat wave all through night scalds leaves kills butterflies The mynahs herald the day clamouring for moths Vacating the house he leaves four decades no thanks to any Not age but years of worries — his furrowed face The leaves sway to fly like birds free in the sky Long forgotten the beginning and the end: He closes the eyes expanding inner space a short-cut tour Looking lovingly she bends his head down to hers twines like a creeper Unable to change time my watch doesn't move moment at will The rains wash the paints that hide the face The frog in mirror slips by damp towel cold sets in slippy hands Half -fleshed faces track from behind the windows rawness of journey Falling chalk over head clouds understanding: Rains leave soil soft — seeds sprout with first sun pearly dawns Frosted faces dissolve in stale rain clutching female body We lie together filling our body with each other's sensation Celebrating forgettable memories at public expense A star shines bright beside the crescent moon: Shaking hands couldn't part with the henna on her palms Reluctant to climb the spiral staircase- bathing in kitchen Measures loneliness sip by sip at dining table From the alcove removes faded flowers and kills black ants 8.

Thick dust on leaves unwashed by rains for days- stagnant time Oleander and hibiscus blaze with passion- making love in sun Two wolves smell the carcass in field heat wave chills Dust storm this evening- end of the mango season without tasting fruit Throwing stones at unripe mangoes- two urchins Couldn't keep freshness of leaf in water The first rains coming back from the desert home- plateau souvenir One more empty day but in the mailbox a hint of hope tomorrow Where shall I keep the thirty years junk if I go elsewhere?

A sad soul under the mango— my husband Ending the night's long journey her short story Patterns of hair block the flow: Cooking smoke waves to the afternoon sun: Chilly night no soul on the road guard at gate Welcoming the sun dew drops on dry leaves-- an epitaph After the walk two women relax on bench exchanging tensions After cleaning the maid leaves behind an oily smell A tiny spider on the marigold sucking its golden hue Seeking its roots around oleander leaves custard-apple A Christ crucified with the violence of music in the hall After the party empty chairs in the lawn new moon and I A dead voice calling up at dawn: Such a wild change in the mirror beside her- I look a stranger Stoops to set pleats of her saree mid-August Meeting her once and so much love in one night to last the whole life Each sun aggravates sadness moment by moment: Narrowly escape the midair web of spider perched on hibiscus After extraction he gives me my old tooth list of drugs and new bill Collecting fallen twigs on road half -clad women Palms waving to greet the first rain of the season: I wait in the room Craving for a lick of the salt on her skin to become one with her Desire for diamond dies with price I can't afford: Wish I could be part of the quietude this morning: Between virgin curves he deep-breathes evening mist rests in the hollow A load of wood on her frail back autumn evening Their shadows dissolve and reappear walking along the river On a cycle he sells bouquets and roses peddling dreams A watchman gazes the stars on her body elements clack Alone on the platform wait for the train swatting mosquitoes Scars of existence- wintry sun and chilly night crouching on footpath A dead man couldn't keep standing- lies in dust Knocking emptiness I cross the valleys within now stand at stone gate Love's beauty happening in the soul God presence Silence of class test occasion for haiku thoughts lost in lecture To give voice to stone he chisels the soul-image Krishna plays the flute A lamp on the river— the breast in bridal grace waving in the gloaming In the spring sun the lone pomegranate tree smiling with buds The blue-white dapples on the canvass seeing the eye of silence The mirror is so small I can't see the ocean beyond my own look Silent Ram sheds tears over the bodies burnt in temple's name Violence breeders climb power ladder- peace stings Tears invisible on his water face Buddha meditates Through long shadows in the morning remembering gradual death After the 'plane bomb stuck between concrete rubbles a mother and child In the naked grave some flesh still clings to the bones: Lost in black box he searches love to live- smoulders in ash They still bomb lands for peace repeat August 6 They kill and hide in mosques pray, in fear kill more, and flee To hunt the hunters flames mate with flames- touch the sky Her presence- alien sensation in my veins In my courtyard swoop neem, peepal, cheeku leaves: Between her fingers and lips swaying some puffed rice Still fresh in the hanky's fold- jasmine Soft footsteps of students bunking class test Her smile arrival of spring at the bower A butterfly restless over the other trying to console Ahead of us-- racing hyacinths in the river Two lizards inside the switchboard turned on Two of us at the waterfall spraying love The whole night waiting for the train running late drowsy sunrise The night queen fragrance seeps in from the windows my bedroom blooms She snuggles up in my arms her dimples joy of heaven Her birth- a poem dancing in the eyes Swirling spiral of her skirt spills tides of dream and memory Echoes of night song flutter our embrace in bed: Drowsy day waning sex and love- seasonal trick Unattached- drop of water on lotus leaf Baked and cracked the sugarcane field melts into mud Receding winter leaves behind allergies One more year hanged with calendar- a new god Picking at a dead frog on the road- a crow A crow picks at cow's back in the afternoon- drooping rag-picker Green velvet from gate to door- monsoon end A moving train- confined in water bottle rhythmic ripplets Two toads croaking in the drain celebrate sudden shower Chased by a cat a rat sinking into the sand Sculpturing psyche in the city of dumb dreams: Elements clack in the small house shudder the harp and strings God, the first victim in the divided city: Basking in the past they grow backward and yet talk about the future Tattooed on her back a nude exhibits a nude- FTV model Cut wrongly each body a slave- grey faces Tainted tongues weave mazes to stop birth of light Continuing after ejaculation-- anti-climax Her wet lingerie reveals more than her body— I drown in her sea A stray sperm grows in the ovum blooms as puffball Winter chill- her face grows more wrinkles I see a finger point to the eye in her breast mist lingers on lips No letters today- addresses of his dead friends greying in diary With changing weather they look for sun and shade both: She resents remembering allah in her car In the class test etching nudes on the desk two late comers Night bombing oleander garden white as death Vultures waiting for the remains of sacrifice on the temple tree Seeking for the white of the sky in your closed eyes It's still overcast fumes rise from smouldering ashes- terrorists' attack On a marble grave mating sparrows celebrate peace in cemetery So much night around the street light- no one's safe Heat wave burns and blows the withered nests whole night birds wail searching for shades In the AC room last night's coldness continues: Clad in swimsuit her body in water sweeps waltzing ripplets He sees the world through the light of the body with single eye Bedside- our night clothes await washing It still lingers like the taste of stale love last night: Joy of union reduces as rhythm falls: She hides the mirror with rose and lipstick and keeps her fiction Reshuffling the shelves it's only dust, in alleys sneezing scholarship Gentle breaths prick cheek and chest unclinging looking away She undresses in dim light perfumes her body fills room with herself Love waves rise and fall between our shores of soul drinking each other's sea Shouting at her-- the breakfast aggravates fire in the throat The lone mushroom- - a pregnant woman stares out of the window After dinner leaves a freezing banana on the bed Moving shadows in the silence of the room- windows rattle Hungry eyes rest on their graffiti on the desk Face hidden at the window hear known voices Facing the sun the lone flower dying to bloom After the sunset wheels of a returning cart along the paddy Unmoved by the wind he sits on a rock wearing peace of the lake Unable to see his pale shadow reeling through vapour of the earth Night washes the sky-- the sun brings morning freshness to my window After days of depressing rains golden orb Her frisky bounce like snakebird springing its head in water preying Her eyes flash in dark the eel slides into her cave I watch the mirror They take off again their un thrown nets frighten fish- water turns whiter Storms circling within love is vision in action blue dot in deep space Sound turns fainter with greying geometry a rusted sign Hope in hidden words the invisible essence nearer dawn's glory The mountain doesn't know the river flows through its skin now stains memory Filling emptiness of the room with ikebana A fly flying in IC free of cost On a sheet of ice the chick trying to free itself from its mother's claws Two souls celebrate sailing on flames of white light new millennium The lone hibiscus waits for the sun to bloom: Rain-soaked sun sheds its sultry light-- her bare back Dew drop on a blade of grass rainbow A child's fingers feel the butterfly lying one with yellow leaves Shell -shocked or frozen he stands in tears on hilltop craving nirvana A dead leaf hangs by a spider's thread invisible in sun Staring at each other two fishes in half -filled tank ready for truce Only two of us- and a big house with roaming rats and cockroaches Meditation cell phone rings love echoes No god appears in the dark of my closed eyes— dream-image falters The little toddler with her fey appearance: Seeking good news I watch the lines on my palms taking new turns We meet again in the album ever fresh her memory Tending the hooks she blushes to see the line of jewels The half moon on her neck reminds of love before departure Her trilling laugh on the phone- spring love Falling leaves-- a sheet of autumn in the courtyard They all look for a little more moon coming back from movie Waves of mist shine with sun the day resumes laughter shakes each bough Fearing allergies he misses full moon party savours white light After morning walk the trio gossip each day fresh revelation The holy Ganges tolerates the city's garbage even rape and death Greeting the first rains after months of soaring heat-- the lone mango falls Exploring the world in haiku silence God an event The string of life lost in the knots of small things: Sweeping gelled leaves they raise dust in my compound agitate windpipe The lone letter box rusting in rain for years none come to open Prolonged rains keep dahlias from blooming- seeds die again Shining on rose-leaves silken layer of dew drops: Chilly wind slaps the window panes closed to keep cross-legged couples warm Cloud over cloud darken earth and hide stars: Red oleander and hibiscus calling morning to Kali Making love she presses with her nails: After lunch stretching legs in cubby-hole: Love tickles with erect pistil: Without washing hands he touches hibiscus for worship: After little rain lilies smile with hibiscus- the sun in May Too short can't reach the height: Around falling leaves a lone dreaming flower- mid-February 9.

Stands alone in the assembly of flowers- Valentine' s Day Not sad to die blooming after a day's rain- the mushroom A frog in the drain stares at the traffic light turning green December morning — the first roses in the lawn: It is also believed that next year will see a further rise in suicides due to the magnitude-9 megaquake and tsunami that hit the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan on March Already there have been several suicides by relatives of disaster victims, while the long-term effects of life in evacuation shelters may also lead to depression and thus, directly or indirectly, to further suicides, Cho added.

Inside Japan’s ‘Suicide Forest’

According to NPA reports, a major suicide trigger in was depression, and some 57 percent of all the suicide victims were out of work when they died. Among those, men in their 50s were most numerous, though men in their 30s and 40s has been the demographic showing the biggest percentage increase in the past few years.

Although financial worries are undoubtedly major drivers of modern-day suicide, other unique cultural and historical factors also seem to play a part. In some countries, suicide is illegal or at least largely unacceptable on religious or other moral grounds, but in Japan there is no such stigma.


The present-day acceptance of suicide stems from this, Cho said. The book, which this year posts its 50th anniversary, concludes with its beautiful heroine, who is involved in a socially unacceptable relationship, heading into the forest to end her life. In fact that suicide trend in the forest peaked in , when Yamanashi prefectural police figures show people killed themselves there. In recent years, local authorities have implemented measures to try and reduce that toll, including siting security cameras at the main entrances to the forest and carrying out round-the-clock patrols. At the entrances there are also signs that read: The signs were erected by year-old Toyoki Yoshida, who himself attempted suicide due to debt.

Vigilant shopkeepers also play a role in the prevention effort. Hideo Watanabe, 64, whose lakeside cafe faces an entrance to the forest, said that he has saved around people over the past 30 years. On one occasion, he said a young woman who had tried to kill herself walked past his store. She had part of the rope around her neck and her eyes were almost popping out of their sockets.