Monday, January 30, 2012
Musings Monday: Compassion, Anger, And Living your Path
(Image is of my G/Kuan Yin altar. As you may know, she is considered to be of the highest compassion in that she so wanted to help the world she chose to stick around, and since she couldn't help everyone at once, her head and arms split so she could better help the thousands who were suffering. I keep her statue as a reminder that the work is never finished.)
My purpose with my monday musings posts (which are basically rants, you know I'm angry all the time right? Hah) is not to wag my finger and tell everyone they're not doing enough, or not doing something the right way. My intention is to, just maybe, get someone thinking about how they feel about things and how they connect to their path, and give confirmation to those who might be thinking the same things at the time. I think outside topics are important to consider as we go through life on our respective pathways.
For all my posturing of working with death and 'dark, scary, bump in the night' things, and my considerable desire to rant all the time about things that make me angry (I have the wonderful curse of being an Aquarius with a Taurus moon, so not only so I feel the constant need to change the world, people who change the world for the worst make me double pissed) AND my considerable inability to be around huge portions of the populace, the place where all my anger and such stems from is actually a place of compassion.
I know, hard to consider right?
Let me explain how I see anger. The way I think about anger, I see there being a few types.
Situation 1: Petty Anger
Petty anger is like this. Someone butted in front of you in line, you get mad, you yell some shit. Or, someone is spreading rumors about you, you get mad, you move on. Petty anger is the little things that get on your nerves, but you generally move on from. Everyone has this right? Petty anger is usually stemming from something somebody did to you, and it doesn't last that long.
Situation 2: Sustained Petty Anger
This is where petty anger becomes a bad thing. When someone stole your parking space and then you follow them for 2 miles, yelling things, that's bad and probably illegal. If you gossipy friend spread rumors you were such-a-such a person and you cut ties with them and sustain that anger for the rest of your life--that's probably not a good thing for you, or for them. Sustained petty anger is what happens when a small thing leads you to hold a grudge for years, for something that really wasn't that bad, and frankly doesn't help you much.
Situation 3: Justified Anger
The difference between justified anger and petty anger is sometimes a matter of debate, but I see it like this. If you're being gossiped about and you get pissed about it, that's petty anger that should pass. If you're being gossiped about to the point at which the rumors are affecting your family, your job, your home, or anything in your vicinity in a negative fashion, you are experiecing justified anger. When people or things are literally trying to make your life hell, for no other reason than they want to, and you lose your job due to that, you have the right to be angry and seek retribution.
Situation 4: Worldly Anger
I consider this a different category because it concerns something other than the immediate family group/environment of the individual. Worldly anger is what one feels when one is filled with compassion. It may sound strange, but let me give you an example. When one is angry about the rainforest being destroyed, or animal poaching for fur and ivory, or nuclear dumping, or oil spills, or the rape and mutilation of young women in African countries, or the human rights crises in China, one is experiencing justified, worldly anger. The reason one experiences that is, somewhere in their mind, they are sensing 'HEY! IT'S NOT RIGHT THAT THIS IS HAPPENING. I MAY NOT BE ABLE TO TELL YOU WHY, BUT I FEEL THAT IT IS NOT RIGHT THAT THINGS LIKE THIS ARE GOING ON IN THE WORLD, BECAUSE THIS CREATURE/ENVIONMENT/HUMAN POPULATION HAS THE RIGHT TO EXIST UNENCUMBERED BY THIS TERRIBLE THING OCCURING.' This is what we may classify as compassion. When you feel deeply, horribly saddened when you see the mutilation, or human rights crises, or animal exploitation in the world, you are coming from a place of (worldly) compassion. It means you give a crap what goes on in your world, and it's not OKAY with you that it is going on.
Worldly Anger is the energy that is fueled by that compassion, and in turn becomes the fuel that makes us want to CHANGE what is happening. Without anger, there can be no change. Just compassion alone will not change the world. (And this is where you can say I'm not quite a Pacifist, I guess) The people allowing these things to happen won't marvel at your compassion and stop dumping bio-waste into the ocean. Anger is the fuel that makes things happen, whether for good or for bad, depending on the anger we're talking about.
To give you a real world example, as I'll reference it a lot, compassion and worldly anger is why I could no longer exist in this world without ceasing to eat meat. Once I realized what occured in this country especially, in slaughter houses and what have you, I literally wanted to cry for days. I felt a deep, uncontrollable anger that the world was capable of allowing such things to go on, to allow creatures without a human voice such deep suffering. Since I could do nothing to change it but suffer with this deep-seated sadness and anger borne of compassion, I just did what I could: stop supporting the industry. Sure, maybe it won't make a change in the long run, but it helps me sleep at night knowing that, even with such deep anger within me, I was not perpetuating that lack of compassion and dignity which I so hated.
(As a side note, no, I could not eat an animal even if I hunted it/raised it/it had a good life. I was born with this deep-seated, seemingly boundless sadness even at the thought of watching the life leave from a breathing, walking, living being's eyes. Yes, despite the fact I work with death. No, I don't think that makes me better that anyone.)
And yes, I also have the same compassion and anger for plants. Do you know the issues surrounding Genetically Modified Organism perpetuation in the USA? The very idea that we would allow, as a country, GMO plants into the food supply astounds me. The effects of GMO plant genes escaping into the environment are catastrophic, its effects on the human system largely untested, and the economic forcing out of small farmers in this country to make way for large scale corporations is a sin against everything rational, at best. These plants are not treated with any modicum of dignity, either, and frankly are bad for both humans and animals.
The same compassion fuels my rage against the human rights crises in this country and abroad, poaching, the absolute disregard for the environment the world over, deforestation, the plight of women in extremely sexist societies, and almost every other travesty committed on this earth.
I don't know if it's my Aquarian nature informing my Shamanism, or the other way around, but I literally wake each day feeling the weight of the animals and plants who suffer on this earth, in my backyard, at the hands of humans. I hear silent screams from every direction, and I feel ashamed to be a part of this race. The small way I make up for these travesties in my own life are refusing to support the industries that commit atrocity, and supporting those who are working against those atrocities.
I couldn't just practice my 'religion' in private. I feel the need to extend my work with Spirit animals, plants, and deities to the world at large. It wasn't enough for me to try and explain to my totems why I was supporting slaughterhouses, or to explain to my Shamanic guides why I was perpetuating the use of GMOS and deforestation through what I consumed. I felt like a hypocrite working these things in my Shamanic life that I was not prepared to apply outside it. I live my Shamanism every day, because I don't know another way to practice. Whether or not you feel the same is something to consider.
Links below to some organizations who I think are doing wonderful things:
The International Princess Project (Against enslaved prostitution)
Reporters Without Borders
Defenders of Wildlife
World Wildlife Fund