The Bridge Idea

When I was in San Francisco a week and a half ago I walked over the Golden Gate Bridge. This Bridge always fascinated me. It is one of the great American landmarks. Many experts were convinced that it was impossible to built. It spans across a 6,700 foot strait, the water has strong tides and currents and is up to 335 feet deep.

To me the Golden Gate Bridge is a great example of the power of the human will When we are inspired to do something we can achieve it no matter what.

Walking over it I remembered a story that I read in a German magazine when I was about 10 years old about a stunt man calling himself  Kid Courage who tried to set a new free fall record. He landed on his back and died on massive inner bleedings. He was not the first one to jump.

The Golden Gate Bridge is said to be the most popular suicide location in the world. The first one occurred only days after its opening 1937. About 1200 people jumped until counting ended in 2005. The deck is about 260 feet above water. It takes four seconds to hit the water at 88 miles per hour what is almost always fatal.

When I was in my early 20’s back in Germany I had a very good friend his name is Günter. We both hated our jobs. He was working for an insurance company and I was working for a bank. We both decided to quit our jobs and would hang out frequently. But doing that of course did not make us happier either and we would constantly contemplate committing suicide. We called it “The bridge idea”. The plan was to find a nice bridge to jump off to end our suffering.

Today I am far away from being suicidal. The opposite is actually true; there is a lust for life that I have not experienced in the past. Still I could not help it to stop in the middle of the bridge to imagine what would happen if I would jump. Would I be the 27th known survivor? What would go through my head in the four seconds before I hit the water? If I would die where would I go? Would I meet my grandparents and my friend Klaus again? How would it feel to have no body? Would I still exist without it? How would the world on the other side look like? What is death?

To me death and spiritual awakening are very similar. The only difference is that in the second case we can keep your bodies a for little bit longer even though we would not associate them with being who we are at this stage of our development. Finding ourselves means that at a certain point what we thought to be, our illusionary self has to die. The same happens when we physically die. Since our bodies have a beginning and have an end they are not real. When we die or have a spiritual awakening only the truth, the real remains. What remains is what never had a beginning and an end, what remains is what we really are without all these ideas and beliefs we had about ourselves. Enlightenment and physical death both end the illusions we had about the world and ourselves.

Standing on the deck in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge 260 feet above water level I realized that spiritually I have jumped a long time ago. I have not hit the water yet but being in the air falling at a speed of 88 miles per hour knowing that the water is getting closer helps to be honest to yourself and let go.

I smiled and kept on walking.




 “The Bridge Idea” Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California 05-11-08 at 03:39 PM

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