Friday, January 31, 2014

The mountain of garbage

If you came across a tribe of people who live on a mountain of garbage, who are dirty from wearing only garbage, sick from eating only garbage, yet who stubbornly stay because they believe nothing else exists, what would you do?

Surely you would pity them and try to convince them to follow you to a cleaner place. However, that will not be easy, since the garbage extends from horizon to horizon, so cleanliness is an alien concept to them.

You may bring them clean water, or a fresh fruit, to prove that such a thing exists, but the trash has left such thick, foul residues in their mouths, that everything will taste like burnt plastic to them.

You may bring soap and a brush to wash their bodies, but they will grow suspicious and think you want to steal their beloved garbage. After all, they do not recognize it as garbage, but as wealth, they spend hours each day decorating their bodies with oil spills and plastic bags.

You may find that you have to sit down and have a philosophical discussion with them, to explain the concept of cleanliness. You will find that they worship the mountain of garbage as their mother, mater, and so call themselves materialists. Every morning they pray to the mountain to provide them more garbage. Your idea of "no garbage" will sound like poverty in their ears, like fruitless austerity.

Now your only hope is to convince them that there is something else, because you are different from them, and it is apparent that you are healthier than they, if they can recognize it through their eyes and ears full of dirt.

If you can convince even one of them to become clean and healthy, that will help a lot, since it proves that your apparent healthiness is not only your peculiar individuality. But the task will not be easy, since in their eyes nothing but garbage exists, and nothing but garbage has any value, so cleanliness translates to self-denial.

Yet you know that their belief is false, so you will not give up. Even if chemicals, radioactives and other unwholesome things penetrate them down to the bone marrow, the very heart of the heart of any human being is always pure. It may become dirty, but it will never become dirt. They may kill each other over a bag of garbage. In their eyes, what counts is that a bag was gained or lost. But in your eyes, the only thing that matters is the heart.

Now let us turn this thought experiment around so that we are the trash tribe, in this way please try to understand the position of guru as he tirelessly tries to convince us.

What is the character of garbage? It is old and decaying further. It is of little value, or altogether undesirable. It is not the fresh, original thing. Yet, if you are not careful, you may end up hoarding it. It is just like the material world, which will feel old when you get a taste for something higher.

1 comment:

  1. I just read something related:

    Question: I'm finding it difficult to give up my material identity? So I'm the problem?

    B.V.P. Swami: No, no, you're not the problem. Our identification with material energy is the problem. It's like this, the living entity is like gold. Is gold un-shining? It's always shining. Now if I take gold and drop it in mud, technically is the gold itself still shining? Yes. But the effect, do you see the shininess? So that's what we're dealing with. All one has to accept is who I actually am and everything else will pull away. If I think I'm that mud, I'm not about to wash it off. You understand?