I haven’t been a perfect Jain this month. I’ve slipped, given into temptation…I even enjoyed a little bit of grandma’s famous Thanksgiving cooking yesterday, but today, I’m proud to be a Jain and saddened by humanity.
Last night, my wife and mother decided to venture out for Black Friday sales. My mom has never done this and my wife wanted to go out of curiosity. They made it seem like a show, as if going to the zoo, and that’s exactly what it is. I begged them not to go.
“People are f@*%ing crazy out there. Please stay home.”
“Oh it’ll be fun to watch,” my wife said and kissed me goodbye. “Love you.”
They were out all night. I couldn’t sleep. Worry plagued me because greed, wants, desires, and unconquered passions lead to this:
And to top it off, there was a shooting reported in a mall about 20 minutes north of us. Oh, not to mention the Wal-Mart employee trampled to death in New York. Over what, the latest gizmo, gadget, pair of shoes, utterly transitory, life-less (ajiva) mess that will loose our interest sooner rather than later over the next shiny thing we see?!
Who are we? What have we become?
In the “rest” of the animal kingdom, stampede fatalities usually occur as the herd avoids predation. They are simply moving their butts in high gear for survival. Our species, since we’ve apparently evolved beyond the food chain, preys upon itself while fighting over an video game.
Remind me again why we are the alpha species on this planet?
Our spiritual leaders and philosophers had it right. Check out their teachings–all of them–and what do you find in common? Compassion for life and the suspension of greed/self. Every. Single. Faith. Teaches this. Over 5,000 years of spiritual evolution and we STILL DON”T GET IT! And it’s costing us our lives.
“All unenlightened persons produce sufferings. Having become diluted, they produce and reproduce suffering, in this endless world.”
That quote was spoken by a dude who spent most of his life walking around stark naked and teaching people to let go of their greed. The unenlightened here are folks who live in a mirage of desire and passions, of this season’s latest junk. Diluted, they repeat the same cycle over and over, the same Black Friday year after year. When will it end?
Yesterday, one of the Congregation members shared this story with us. Jains, who are strict vegetarians, spent Thanksgiving Day mourning all the millions of turkeys slaughtered for our feast. Oh those silly Jains, what a buzz kill! Really? What would happen if we as a species took just half of that sort of compassion and applied it to the world? I’m sure that many Jains, who are encouraged by their faith to release themselves from the bondage of material things, are disgusted by the wanton display of consumerism today as well.
This is the same sort of behavior that made Jesus break bad on the money lenders in the Temple. Lord Buddha also had words for those given to extravagance. Muhammad, Zarathustra, Baha’u'llah, Lord Krishna and the Hindu rishis, the Sikh Gurus–even most of our atheist, agnostic, and non-affiliated philosophers spoke out against this greed. And yet we continue. I was physically weak this morning as I pondered this while washing dishes. My wife walked in the door and found me sitting on the floor with my head against my palms.
Are we the higher species? Why is it that regardless of the faiths or philosophies they founded, these people all agreed on the same things? The simple answer is that we are the simple creatures and they are the higher forms of humanity. They evolved, we haven’t. We are writing our own ticket to extinction.
These higher humans come along every once in a while and remind us of these things but we get so caught up in creating new religions around them, that we miss the whole point. I can’t be part of that any longer. Today, I officially announce my exile from our current humanity.
And I invite you to join me.
This month is nearly over, and I think I’m finally getting the idea. Next month, the universe will show me how to finish the job. If you’ve got the guts to be more than a member of the mindless herd, then let’s do this.