Just three hours ago I received a reply to a comment that I’d left on a YouTube video which was titled “Enlightened Beings Share Their Awakening, Mystical Experience”. I can’t even remember the video, and in fact I feel quite certain it was a different video to which I’d left my response (just goes to show you have to be extra careful that it is indeed that video on which you are commenting – what with the ‘autoplay’ feature, it can be that the comment you’ve spent time composing will be posted to the following video if you aren’t paying attention), but no matter – my comment and the reply are below:
Me: “This is EXACTLY right – the experience of enlightenement is awe-inspiring and it costs nothing (just time thinking/experiencing). Enlightenment is also INSIGHT – a deep understanding of the nature of reality as a whole because the dual/non-dual reverbereates in every level (scale) of existence.”
User saroi: “Thomas White you guys are monkey’s breed you guys should fuck and porn…not talk these meditation. I wonder people who eat cows talks about meditation
which guided by shiva.. go do your sick shits.. for all white people. you guys
will be resposible for the destruction of this world before time..”
Now, after I reported his comment for racism and hate-speech, I took the time to write him this:
Me: “Dear saroi, while I understand your anger at the video for ‘simplifying’ something which you feel is sacred, my response did not merit such hateful and racist words. It has been reported for that reason. Your concern, however poorly worded, does deserve a worthy and respectful response which I would very much like to give you, but I do not think the comments section of a YouTube video is the right place for it. For that reason I will compose a reply and will wait for a private message from you so that we can further discuss this via email if you so choose. In the meantime I wish you peace and tolerance for all human minds seeking enlightenment in whatever way suits them best. Kind regard and sincere compassion, Thomas.”
Here are the thoughts which his comment have provoked:
The underlying issue that saroi seems to be bothered by is one of the hypocrisy he sees in the Western person’s way of living. He, from what little evidence I could gather, is Indian (and may even live there today) and so of course he mentions the Westerner’s inhumane treatment of cows which are deemed sacred in Hindu religion, but he also mentions Shiva, god of creation, transformation and destruction.
Indeed, the Western world is very problematic – and the meat industry is just one of them. Improperly-disposed (if proper disposal is even possible) of nuclear waste is another, and of course the list can get very long, very quickly.
I cannot apologize for the Western consumption of cows for meat – for one it is not my place to do so (I alone am not responsible for the entire industry), and for another, it is a matter of differing opinions: I do not think that cows should be more sacred than any other animal – and that includes humans. That means all living creatures should be shown reverence and respect. So yes, indeed it is a bad thing to eat living creatures. But then what of plants and vegetables? Are they not living too? Yes they are – and plants were even here first on this planet. So should we forgo eating altogether? If a person wants to be irresponsible and ignorant, then by all means, they may starve themselves. However, for those of us who would like to continue living for the short time we have, we must eat. So then what can we eat? I don’t have the answer. Ideally, we’d be like plants and ‘eat’ the sunlight that falls upon our skin (photosynthesis). But that’s not an option for us either. It’s a problem also because you could eat one thing which one people calls sacred, so you would leave that alone, and eat something else, but then risk irritating yet another people because they deem that thing sacred. So given that humans must eat, and the matter of what they eat being problematic, the only issue here is moderation. The meat industry today is an absolute disaster for all parties involved: animals are being bred on scales and in quantities that are absolutely unreasonable and which are not sustainable on this planet. The waste produced by such large numbers of living animals has a global-scaled climactic impact. And not to mention the unbelievable inhumanity that people have shown towards these poor creatures which I find absolutely reprehensible and condemnable – I cannot begin to imagine how an animal breeder can be so callous and disconnected from their conscience to shove hundreds or even thousands of these suffering creatures into cramped spaces (I invite you to view the poultry industry and watch how thousands of chickens are flung by a fast-moving conveyor belt into plastic drawer crates which are slammed shut by the inhuman operator, often violently injuring the chickens who are panicked and attempting to escape or even just fit into the drawers – it’s disgusting and enrages me beyond words). And finally, the consumption of that meat, which came from an animal who was terrified right up to its last breath of life, is bad for the human body because it contains so many acids, hormones and other substances which the animal’s body produced in that high level of stress. It is bad all round, and I condemn the meat industry, be it cow, chicken, pig, fish or any other.
Then he mentioned ‘porn’ and ‘sick shit’ that Westerners do. Yes, porn can be a problem. It distorts perspectives and is another industry which has nefarious consequences. But again, it is not all black and white. There are participants in the industry who consent to it. There are people who want to work in that industry. There are people who make a comfortable living and do not mind their ‘work’. And there are people of course who find themselves in that industry against their will. Be it out of necessity or out of coersion. That too should be condemned. But what is porn to you is ‘art’ for someone else. Extremely conservative Westerners consider the Kama Sutra to be pornographic, and although that completely misses the point of the Sutra, it is nevertheless their perspective. Then there are pieces of artwork, statues, and photography of the female form in a state of nudity which still others consider pornographic. The only ‘sick shit’ I can think of that is – or should be – unanimously condemned, and is sadly not limited to Westerners, is child pornography and paedophilia. There is no place in this entire universe where that should be allowed. Sadly the universe doesn’t prohibit it – and it is again, up to us to make sure it doesn’t happen. But again, unfortunately it does happen and far too much (understanding obviously that even once is too much)!
So yes, it’s completely understandable that saroi feels outraged when he reads of a ‘Westerner’ talking about enlightenment. He feels that he is living a life of moral purity, and can therefore cast the ‘us versus them’ judgement. But he’s also not seeing a detail: one person talking about their own experience of their enlightenment does not mean the entire Western ‘civilisation’ has also become enlightened and therefore perpetrates and perpetuates the hypocrisy. One person who decides to become a vegetarian or vegan because they have seen and understood the deep spiritual stupidity of one living creature eating other living creatures does not mean that their neighbour has understood the same thing.
saroi, it takes time for the humans of the world to become enlightened. It’s the very root of the problem of Samsara and why I think that those who chose to become a bodhisattva have somehow understood even more deeply the nature of the problem, how Nirvana (Moksha) is impossible unless everyone – every last human and every new born human – become enlightened also: it’s the definition of Nirvana itself.
You do not know me, and I do not know you. I would like that to change, but it depends upon you. If you do read these words, please understand one thing: give everyone a chance to become enlightened in whatever way that best suits their brain – not everyone whas raised Hindu, and so talk of Shiva for example may mean nothing to them. That is why there are so many religions in the world – they are all metaphors for the same truth, spoken using words which are hopefully more meaningful for each particular culture. And rest assured – once they become enlightened, they will also see the stupidity of humans and they will change their ways – it’s part of becoming enlightened.
saroi: help people see the truth if they don’t yet – trying to belittle them and insult them will make their minds close only more.