February 2017 By K Geetanjali Despite the brutality and heartlessness documented by the daily newspaper, K Geetanjali takes comfort in the conclusion that people are only unconscious, and not inherently evil As I closed the newspaper this morning I felt shocked and a little depressed. I had just read how two medical students in Tamil Nadu had tortured a monkey before killing and burying it. A few days before, the newspapers had carried the story of a few other medical students throwing a dog from a roof top. “Where have we humans gone so hopelessly wrong that people in a profession supposed to personify compassion, are committing such heinous crimes? Why do people do the things they do?”, I wondered. When ‘healers’ turn predators, what hope is there? Isn’t this the byproduct of selling medical seats? When money rules the roost and determines your career path instead of the heart making the decision out of the soul’s calling, this is what the world will reflect. The projections of a distorted mind. However, if you give the matter some thought, you will realise that most people are not bad or evil, just unconscious. They are not out to harm others, just trying to find some happiness. Living in an illusory world, they define happiness through the distorted lens of a highly unconscious mind. The examples I have mentioned above are extreme cases of distorted minds that derive joy from the suffering of others. But living in an unconscious manner where we cannot see beyond our own needs, is more common than we think. While returning home from a PTM (Parent-Teacher Meeting) a few days back, my colleague was ranting about an unreasonable parent who had given her a hard time. “The parent knew I had had a long hard day which included teaching sessions in the morning and meeting parents in the afternoon. One would expect a human being to empathise with another human,” she ranted. “Instead she kept badgering me about her child, totally oblivious to my feelings!” After all the other teachers had wrapped up their sessions, this parent had apparently taken it for granted that my colleague should be at her service even after the scheduled time, failing to see her exhaustion. Another colleague calmed her down with her soothing words, “Forgive her for she was not conscious of how she was behaving. The parent was focussed only on one thing – her happiness. When your focus is so narrowed, you can’t see beyond your own nose. Where then is the question of empathy and compassion for another?” Her words brought to my mind the words of the great Master Jesus Christ who had said, while dying on a cross. “Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do.” Jesus was so present and highly conscious that even in his darkest moment he could see that people were not evil inherently, merely deluded and unconscious. Funnily enough I had an occasion to understand what this phrase meant that very evening! A friend of mine newly introduced to Whatsapp had been having a merry time forwarding messages from one group to another. Rita (name changed) found the activity so thrilling that she began forwarding the messages after just giving them a cursory glance, without reading them through. That evening when I reached home and checked my Whatsapp I was shocked to find that the Whatsapp group in our apartment was buzzing with activity. A mighty row was in full swing. Various people were leaving the group and others were expressing their disgust. The reason? Rita had forwarded a post where only one religion was extolled and the others were condemned. Ironically, Rita was one of the most peace-loving persons on earth with a secular attitude and a wide circle of friends of all religions. She was someone who took active interest in conducting all the religious activities in the apartment’s club house. All that was wiped out just because of a moment’s unconscious behavior. Was she a bad person because she had created a split in the so-far-united group? “Of course not,” I comforted her. “Every chain is as strong as its weakest link. If the group was so weak that a mere forward, designed by someone and forwarded in a hurry by someone else could split it, it was not united in the first place. Having said that, where you erred was in being unconscious of what you were doing. Feeling that it was the in-thing to belong to many groups you went overboard and began sending messages unconsciously without even checking them out. Nothing is right or wrong but all things have consequences.” The intention was not to harm, but unconsciousness had led to wrong action and thereby its consequence. And as a result my poor friend received the cold shoulder from many a nodding acquaintance during her early morning walks in the apartment. This upset her a lot and I could only advise, “Forgive, for they too know not what they do.” Whether it taught my friend a lesson or not, this incident left a deep impact on me. And when I cognized that all behaviour – whether mine or others’, arose generally not from good or evil but from a place of being conscious or unconscious, it became easier for me to let go and forgive. “Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do…” became my daily prayer and the instrument to cleanse myself of resentments and judgments. Soon after this incident I read a Facebook post about a young girl who had suffered so deeply in her biological home as a child that after being adopted she began hurting the little brother in her foster home with the intention of killing him. The post started off by recalling the distortions in that girl’s psyche and zoomed into the present where she is all grownup and working as a nurse, caring for others. She was lucky enough to have received therapy and loving treatment from her foster parents. A shift from deeply unconscious behavior triggered off by intense suffering, to an evolved and caring one, could be engendered by the conscious and loving behavior of her caregivers. Only deluded people can inflict suffering on other living beings. The more separated and fragmented one is, the greater the suffering and aberrations in the psyche. Of course I don’t ask that such behaviour be absolved. Unconscious people must face the consequences of their actions and receive whatever punishment the law doles out to them, but they also need to be treated as sick people who need healing. The antidote to unconscious behavior is bringing the light of consciousness into the world. Only exposure to the opposite qualities of love and unity can heal such aberrations. Want to know how whole and healed you are? To the extent you can rejoice at others’ fortunes and the extent to which you can go beyond your own self to help relieve their pain, you are whole. That is the true test of spirituality. Till then our work is not over and we need to plod on the path towards wholeness. Till our mind is wedded to the heart as one, till we can see the world through the third eye of unity knowing everyone else as an extension of oneself, our work is not yet done.
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