The Experiment: Day 138 ~ Are You Alive But Not Really Living?

I have wanted to write to you about this for weeks but I haven’t known how to enter it here. The inspiration for this piece comes from one of the most beautiful and profound documentaries that I have ever seen called The Departure

“Ittetsu Nemoto, a former punk-turned-Buddhist-priest in Japan, has made a career out of helping suicidal people find reasons to live. But this work has come increasingly at the cost of his own family and health, as he refuses to draw lines between his patients and himself. The Departure captures Nemoto at a crossroads, when his growing self-destructive tendencies lead him to confront the same question his patients ask him: what makes life worth living?”

The documentary impacted me for days. Today I purchased the movie so that I could study it, could watch it again and again. There is something I need to study and take into my life here, and truly, it has impacted, is changing, my understanding of what my life’s work is to be about. Here, on my blog, I have been undertaking a search for happiness, but this is a journey that I have needed to go on so that I could find myself, could become well and whole and able to do the work that I am meant to do. I understand now that my work is not about finding happiness, it is about helping people to really live. Yes, we want to be happy, but before that we must connect with the will to live.

In the documentary we watch Ittetsu Nemoto lead people who are considering suicide, or who have, face what death really means in order to help them realize how much it means to really be alive. This is a powerful and intense training period he calls “The Departure.” He asks them a series of questions. They must answer his questions by making lists of answers, about things that are important to them in their lives, dreams that they have had, and so on, and then he has them remove these things, one by one, until there is only one thing left out of all of them, then he has them remove that. There is nothing left. This is death. Of course I cannot say this as eloquently as this process is shown on film, but this is why I wanted to buy the film, because this is so important. I have been suicidal in my life, I have been at the brink of darkness and despair without the will to go on, I have been so lost I never believed that I could be found. But I was, finally, I am. But there is still so much more to know, to understand, to discover, to live my way through. I really encourage you to watch this film, at least go to the link I have provided at the top of this post and watch the trailer.

Let me make this clear. Not being suicidal does not mean that you are really living. I believe a large portion of society are like the walking dead. They get up each day and go to work, come home, eat, watch tv, and go to bed. They do not have the fire in their belly that comes from having dreams and pursuing them. Many are dead inside like a limb not quite fallen from the tree but with no ability to produce leaves, still there but not animated, dynamic, growing. So, too, too much of society. In undertaking the search for happiness I was admitting that I wanted to live, that I wanted more, that I wanted to live more fully, that I wanted to dream again and I wanted to find a way to wake up every day and have the ability to take steps to make my dreams come true. If not why in the world was I still here? What was the point? And now I am awake but there are miles to go before I sleep. Being in the process of discovering my dreams and working toward making them manifest is the achievement of a dream in and of itself. This is more profound than I have words to express but I know that once we were children, full of life, and now we may have come to a place that is so far from what we were then that we can’t even imagine or remember how we once felt. Who were you then? Who are you now? Don’t you want to recover your lost self? Or maybe, if you had a childhood filled with trauma so you never did have the ability to feel that childlike sense of wonder and delight with an imagination that could take you to the moon and beyond, don’t you want to experience that before you die, no matter how old you are now? Do you want to live and dream and manifest new things, new ways of being in your life? God help us, I pray we all hope for that. And I want to be here to remind you of this because in reminding you I remind myself.

I live much of my life and work online, so when I read this quote by Ittetsu Nemoto in an interview in the Buddhist magazine Tricycle something in me woke up. If I am spending so much of my life here I must use this medium to help people wake up to their own lives and to live them fully, authentically, and without hiding who they truly are. We cannot allow ourselves to disappear in this virtual world. The truth is that this world is real for many of us, and we must not lose ourselves in it. I want to see and hear who you truly are. Take off your mask, tell your truth, save yourself while you still can.

“And with Internet communication becoming more widespread, particularly social media, you can’t show the darker parts of yourself, your suffering, because people won’t “like” your post. You just show the fun parts of yourself, the good parts, and increasingly you put on a mask. Your spiritual balance begins to disintegrate. The gap between your true self and the self you show to others grows wider and wider.”
Ittetsu Nemoto

Yes, I started this blog experiment because I wanted to find happiness, but what I really want is to be fully alive. I think the tenor of these posts is about to change. I hope so. We can find our way back to life. It is possible. Know that this is true. The possibilities are all around you. Begin here.

The Experiment ~A 365 Day Search For Truth, Beauty &
Happiness: Day 1 ~ Introduction To The Project
“Do or do not. There is no try.”

If you enjoy this blog a donation would be deeply appreciated to help me continue to bring “Maitri’s Heart” to you. Thank you, and many deep blessings to one and all…


  1. Beautiful Maitri! Simply beautiful.
    Love, Jean

  2. “in reminding you, i remind myself…”

    yes, an important truth. talking into the mirror of the universe


  3. Applause!! This is a thought provoking post! Thank you.

  4. To find our true selves, we become servants. And we become open to change, the only thing certain in life.

    • Indeed Noni, and going with the flow with change can be very hard. One moment at a time, the only way we stay centered and keep moving forward. A continual, life-affirming practice…

  5. Still no dream found. Just showing up every day, enjoying what I have. First of all my dog and the changes in nature I get to notice – because without him I would not be out and about that much.
    And if there is something I think about trying (like painting or riding or gardening) I give myself permission to try.
    Because my dream might be there. So far it’s fun. And that’s an improvement.
    Thank you again for sharing your journey. I travel alongside.
    Yours Silke

    • Hello Darling Silke, it’s so good to see you…

      Dreams, yes, I have found that they arise when we’re not trying to grasp for them. Showing up, as you do, allowing what comes to come and going with it if it feels right like painting, etc, is how the dreams show themselves to us. It is as if they are there, now, perhaps in the shadows, waiting for us to be fully ready to receive, and embrace them, ready to take the action to follow them. Keep following your intuition where it leads you, you are being led to your dreams.

      I’m so glad to have you with me here on this journey dear Silke. I will watch as it all unfolds for you. It is happening, I feel it. You are a miracle. Be all of who you are. You are a blessing and you are blessed…



  6. What an interesting post Maitri. I read it yesterday but wanted to mull the content over a bit before commenting. From what site did you watch the documentary?
    I agree that a lot of people, myself included many days, are just going through our routine motions rather than really living as our authentic selves. For most of my life I have put off focusing on that as something for later. But now it is later, when I have fewer responsibilities for family, work etc. and it feels like I would need to dig really deep to find that which has been put last for so many years.
    Thankfully, I do engage in some activities which give me moments or flashes of feeling fully alive. And for sure, each time I see my baby grandson my heart feels with delight. Being around friends a few times a week is also a good reminder about the bigger perspective of life.
    Ever since I had a near death experience many years ago, I have not been afraid of death. I do not actively seek it, but I do not fear it. I know I would be enveloped in love and that my soul will carry on beyond this bodily form. So, I’ve always thought ‘if it’s my time, so be it’. But then, I’m always a bit stunned by my gut reaction to hearing that someone I know well has died. So there’s a big contrast. Part of me would be at peace with death and part of me is stunned by it. Something interesting to ponder.

    • Dearest Joan, first of all the link at the top of the post for the documentary “The Departure” goes to amazon. It is where I both rented and then purchased the documentary. I believe they have a trailer on youtube for it too and if you put the title in Google you will find lots of links about the documentary and Ittetsu Nemoto himself. Here is the wonderful article from Tricycle magazine that I mention in the post…

      And I didn’t know you had a near death experience. This fascinates me and I have watched a number of documentaries on NDE’s in the last months myself. You know I am not afraid of dying, the things I am afraid of and worry about have to do with while I am still here. I used to wake up every day terrified about how I would live and survive in the world. Now I am less afraid as I feel better and better, I have more confidence in myself to be able to find a way to take care of myself. It is all part of this journey. We all have work to do while we are here. This is the year I am clarifying mine and trying to set my course for the work I will do for the rest of my life. It is a fascinating journey and one on which you must firmly keep yourself in the present moment because to look back can lead to melancholy and sadness but those days, whatever and however they were, are gone and we must let them go. If we are always attached to tomorrow and outcomes we can be too afraid to get up and just BE today. So the most important thing we can do is to stay very present and to fill this very moment with as much life and love and energy and attention as we can. It can be very hard, we will continually fall away, and then we must continually come back. It is a practice.

      Again, as I have so often said, I am so grateful to have you here to talk to, to share our journeys with each other. You make me believe that what I do matters. It helps keep me going. I will never be able to thank you enough.

      With tender love…


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