Today, I Mourn for our Species

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?

Mahavira telling it like it is.

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.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Beth Irwin

    Many of us have no part in these sales or the focus. Some of us stayed home today, feeling very blessed and thankful.

    This may be a good time to stop focusing on the worst humanity has to offer and refocus on the parts that are TRYING to detach from the stuff and look at the higher good. Education is what separates the animalistic crowds from the thinking, feeling, TRYING people working to be better.

  • Sam Karvonen

    Thanks Andrew for your honest expression of sadness and anger at the madness of modern consumer culture. Like you said, if anything, the theme of greed and worldly attachment unifies all the religions. Here’s a little compilation of some of the most gripping verses from different faiths on the subject:

    “He is dear to Me who runs not after the pleasant or away from the painful, grieves not, lusts not, but lets things come and go as they happen.” (Krishna, Bhagavad Gita, 12:7)

    “How easily the gale overturns a frail tree. If ye seek happiness in the senses, indulge in food and sleep, you too will be uprooted. But the gale cannot uproot a mountain. Temptation cannot touch the man who is awake, strong and humble, who masters himself and minds the law.” (Buddha, Dhammapada, 1:7-8)

    “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” (Jesus, Matt. 6:19-20)

    “Know ye that the life of this world is but play, pastime and vainglory; one to another ye boast and compete in riches and children.
    How the rain and the growth it brings forth delight the tillers but soon withers, dries up and crumbles away. In the Hereafter a severe chastisement awaits but also forgiveness and the good pleasure of God. What is the life of this world but deceiving pleasures?” (Muhammad, Qur’án, 057.020)

    “O Kings of the Earth! If ye stay not the hand of the oppressor, if ye fail to safeguard the rights of the downtrodden, what right have ye then to vaunt yourselves
    among men? What is it of which ye can rightly boast? Is it on your food
    and your drink that ye pride yourselves, on the riches ye lay up in your treasuries, on the diversity and the cost of the ornaments with which ye deck yourselves? If true glory were to consist in the possession of such
    perishable things, then the earth on which ye walk must needs vaunt itself over you, because it supplieth you, and bestoweth upon you, these very things, by the decree of the Almighty. In its bowels are contained, according to what God hath ordained, all that ye possess.” (Bahá’u'lláh, Summons of
    the Lord of Hosts, Súriy-i-Muluk, par. 13)

  • Editor B

    I very much feel where you’re coming from with this — but beware. In my opinion, separating oneself from the rest of the human race is moving into dangerous territory. I have often felt the same way, but even so — beware.