Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer?

It is keeping peace and good relations between people,

as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.

- Prophet Mohammed


Day 19

Lately I've been having the most vivid dreams and I'm not sure why. There doesn't appear to be any connection from one dream to the next, but this heavy amount of dreaming is taking a serious toll on my ability to wake up refreshed in the morning. Since I wake up quite early in the morning, I make a habit of changing my alarm sound every week so as not to allow my mind to subconsciously ignore the day's starting bell. It used to work well, but not so much anymore. My wife is actually having to jostle me from my slumber and I hate that. Today was no different. My alarm went off in the middle of a dream and it took me several minutes to even recognize that the music had blended in with the dream and changed its course. My wife, who is a pretty light sleeper, assisted with a firm push that basically sent me off the bed and onto the floor. I snapped out of it, but remained in a very groggy state until work, where I got a heavy dose of tragedy.

Luckily, nothing happened to my friends or family, but as I was reading the Korean news, I came across this photo.

A related article described what had happened. 
A 20-year-old Vietnamese woman in Busan was last week stabbed to death by her Korean husband, who had a history of mental illness. She had got married just eight days before her death in a wedding arranged by an international matchmaking firm. 
If you were to read the article, you'd get a better picture of the situation here in Korea. Due to  many circumstances (gender imbalance, income gap, poverty, discrimination, face, mental illness, familial pressure) Korean men who live in rural areas are finding it very hard to find a Korean bride and are instead seeking them in SE Asia by-way of privately owned matchmaking firms. Seeking marriage in this fashion isn't evil unto itself, but when one factors in the strong sense of superiority and nationalism within Asian ethnicities, a simple spat can turn into something much more grizzly. They all seem to think they are the best and most worthy of respect from the rest. Koreans are certainly no different and, following suit, some of these men with $10,000 who purchase their bride tend to think that they are quite the catch. So much in fact that the Korean government has started mandatory classes to teach these cross-continent bride-seekers...
... that it is wrong to think that they are buying a wife and to hide things about themselves.
The current case is an interesting one for sure and will probably require new government regulations designed to protect both the brides and grooms from fraudulent matchmaking firms. Still, this poor Vietnamese woman has lost her life and when it gets down to it, only the man is directly guilty. Or is he?
"I committed the murder after hearing a voice from a ghost," he told police during the investigation. "He told me to kill my wife." 
It's going to be hard to jail a man who has been in and out of mental institutions over fifty times in the past five years, but if there is no punishment, then the diplomatic ties between Vietnam and South Korea are certain to suffer. It highlights the fine line that we walk when we don't call a murder by its name. 

As a Jain, killing of any sort is wrong and while I was reading scripture today, I came across the concept of Santhara or "voluntary death by fasting." This, to me, seems to conflict with the very foundation of what Jainism is, but I am in fact wrong on that front.
Santhara is the Jain practice of voluntary and systematic fasting to death. Jain texts say it is the ultimate route to attaining moksha [liberation] and breaking free from the whirlpool of life and death [karma].
It's suicide and even though Jains call it by another name, there's no disputing that it's an intentional death. Personally, I've never really seen a problem with thoughtful people who have decided to end their life. Whether it be because of terminal illness or a similar situation that Hunter S. Thompson faced, I don't think it's my place to tell people what they can and can't do. Remember, live and let live? Or to quote Paul McCartney, "Live and Let Die". 
No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun -- for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax -- This won't hurt. -Hunter S. Thompson
One of the things that I so love about some of these Indian philosophies is that they are practical and rarely engage in spiritual duality. This is a clear blurring of the lines which creates and almost excuses extreme behavior. They claim that normal depression-induced suicide is hasty and emotional and while I agree that only the weak commit suicide, I also believe that people who kill themselves in the name of a "cause" are less martyrs than they are convenient fishers of pity. Dying for a cause is noble. Killing yourself for a self-defined cause is an excuse for quitting.

We can dress up the word "suicide" all we want, but it boils down to a very simple fact that dying by your own hands for your own benefit is no more noble than killing a person for some sort of gain. I would never dream of condemning a religion for such an act as I believe "live and let live" is more powerful than my simple opinion ever will be, but sometimes we've caught to call 'em as we see 'em. The Korean man who saw a murderous ghost instructing him to kill is the same as the Jain who wants to believe that forced starving equates to liberation. It's lipstick on a pig to me.


  1. Kind of a sad post...but also thought provoking.

    In the US I think they might interview potential pet owners more thoroughly than it appears they screen husbands to be in the Korean bridal purchase business. Scary!

  2. That's scary right there. I'm going to do a little digging on that front.