Do you think were all victims of our ignorance? I do. This is the genius and wisdom of Buddhism. Somehow, with the mind alone, the Buddhist monks
applied the empirical method to the events of consciousness, and a sort of "deterministic" landscape was described, whereby something happens
"here", and the response is fairly typical - so much so that the Buddhist psychologists anticipate the situation, and so describe it.
Perhaps it has something to do with the low oxygen levels of the Himalayas, interacting with the spiritual traditions developed in the Indus Valley.
Material was produced, as it were, in the jungles and forests; cities were built, and the Brahmans (i.e. Vedics) projected their manipulative
psychology on the masses, ultimately establishing a very stable - though completely unjust - society based on intrinsic caste systems.
In any case, compassion asks us to not "harp on the negative" - and why? Because for the person on the other end - the person you're speaking about
-the terms you use to describe him/her represent something they value about themselves. I am guilty of this all the time, and it speaks to how deeply
the society we exist within penetrates our psyches: we're being engineered to criticize and nitpick in ways that are counterproductive to our human
psychological health and wellbeing, primarily because we don't recognize the fractal continuity between our social relations (i.e. how we treat
others) and how our emotional and psychological processes operate.
The Amazing Power of the Context
It is interesting to me how the context is both the cause of our world situation (and every person's personal situation) and so explains the "evil"
of things; yet, at the very same time, contemplation of the deterministic effects of contexts and the suffering and confusion it causes in humans, and
the effects that has for animals and the ecoystsem, is utterly tragic. Can I believe in evil when I know to what exquisite degree the developmental
brains and feeling needs?
I believe in evil, of course, but it seems to be more synonymous with ignorance, so that the person enacting something evil is necessarily being
persuaded by a delusional knowledge - a spirit of arrogance, etc, which is ultimately a normal human aspiration gone berserk - having transformed into
something that is so beyond the individuals control that, given the existential nature of reality, it is perfectly understandable that the existential
would be emphasized as more important than the dynamical. All these existential philosophers have poured "within themselves", discovering truths
here and there, but all of them (minus Levinas and Merleau Ponty) are so clearly preoccupied with a misanthropism that can only be logically
understood as a projection from their own self-situation. Something within them is "disgusting". Some knowledge or truth about self torments them.
They have moved into the depressive realm, halfway between the state of resolved trauma (and the enlivenment/relaxation it releases) and psychotic and
manic idealizations. It is hard, apparently, and given the nature of how we work, it would seem to be important that a 'holier-than-thou' sanctimony
about 'what you would do' not be indicated by your way of being - for the simple reason that DEVELOPMENTAL SITUATIONS ARE DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE.
I once looked upon my grandmother on my dads side as a sad idiot for going to the jail where the serial killer Paul Bernardo stayed. It was pure habit
- and utterly true, from my perspective - that this man was a lost cause. At the same time, my grandmother went to a catholic church which preached an
apocalyptic "doomsday", so she did all this not with any psychodynamic knowledge of how the self works, but from a sense of 'this is what the
church says is right i.e. to "pray for their souls".
Now years later, I am not naïve as to how Paul Bernardo would experience my words of "having compassion for him", given his self states are
probably deeply entrained to representing his self and its feelings in idealized ways. But these idealizations are not in themselves neutral: they
are defense mechanisms against those feelings which would arise if the self looked upon itself in a different way.
The self and its states are as
much "objects" as the things of the world, and so this is why idealization works so powerfully: to dissociate the contents of consciousness which
the self fears will hurt it.
I cannot write this without thinking about how truly tragic it is that we exist in this situation. I don't believe in any definite heaven or hell; in
a certain sense, one persons heaven here will be followed by a hell; and the converse may be seen in the person who suffers here, and when they die,
having so little to "account for", they return to primal being, which is inherently a state of bliss.
The problem with these ideas is that they are overly histrionic. They focus the mind in the wrong way, and get us caught up in dualisms - what to do
"to avoid hell" shouldn't be a way anybody thinks. Similarly, only a person who feel deficient in some way will be persuaded by magic.
Anything anyone does has an intractable basis in cause and effect for its existence. The frustrating part is that these things CAN BE CHANGED. We
don't need to settle on any idea of reality being fundamentally "good" or "evil". It is - and expresses - both functions, and in human beings,
evidently, we can get deeply caught in the thicket of believing evil to be a necessary part of the self, when it isn't.
The Human mind reaches towards the depths of its very being when it sees the deterministic nature of reality; and the paradoxical effect, at least for
me (or someone who has spent some time developing a compassionate awareness) the very determinism of it all seeds into me a feeling of compassion; as
if to say, "what else can I do"? Indeed, if you're self is understood to be a temporary fiction, why not pursue the good, knowing that the good is
the ultimate state to which we return? It seems this knowing - this good - as Mattieu Ricard has written, has a sort of "inexhaustibility" about it.
Everytime you witness stupidity, there is a certain inevitability about it; yet, for the future, one may become inspired by knowing that your action
can change - however small - the human being experiences reality.