Sunday, December 28, 2008

Defending Against Guilt

I find it interesting that some of the most hallowed spots on the planet are surrounded by starvation and abject poverty.
What does that mean?

When you completed the devouring of your stuffed turkey this holiday season (or whatever consumables you devoured), how did you rationalize the fact that your stomach was full while in 3rd world societies distended stomachs are indicative of the starvation and malnutrition of millions? We can't deny this as true, so how do we deny the guilt that most occur from such truth? How could we NOT feel guilt?

I'm just curious as to what rationalizations are used to offset guilt. I imagine, (from my own experience) just plain old denial or factual repression tends to work well for a time, but (also from my own experience) never entirely. Guilt seems to seep back into consciousness and of course, the "news" is not very helpful in repressing guilt when the images are right there in front of your face (just look at the situation unfolding in Gaza right now).
This has always been my difficulty with the concept of individual enlightenment as the Buddha and others proclaim. The prince left his palace to experience the suffering of the masses, only to sit under the Bodhi tree and become "enlightened." Unfortunately, that didn't seem to change conditions for the starving masses. They still kept on starving, even today. But I'm consistently told that I just don't understand Buddhism. Ok, so how do the Buddhists deal with guilt?
How do we dissolve the guilt that others starve, while we partake of abundance (or obesity)? Due to my particular field, I've always had an interest in the use of ego defense mechanisms (Freud) in order to cope with an absurd reality. So what do you use to defend yourself from this unfortunate aspect of reality? Do you absolve your guilt by "seeking enlightenment" or maybe by "being enlightened"? (so what the hell is that!?)

Suffering may be a part of this "oneness" we all love to speak about, but if we haven't fully worked to reduce suffering can we really say WE are part of "oneness"?

In fact, shouldn't we being doing everything we can? Shouldn't we ALL be selling our HDTVs or our Ipods and sending the money to the starving? LOL! Obviously, I'm as guilty as you, so the point is what should we do? Just accept that guilt is part of life?


I would imagine that an enlightened or awakened mind would have no difficulty alleviating starvation, otherwise why call it "enlightened"? Therefore, seems like more of the same old blah, blah, blah, to me.

Or maybe NO separate person has yet achieved "enlightenment" (yet), because NO one separate mind CAN? Maybe, inevitably, we will all need to be starving first, (spiritually/physically?) causing an equalization of 'experience' and, from there we can ALL be enlightened together!

Thanks for listening....