I love great conversations, like the one I posted on April 10, 2011 between Ram Dass & Terence McKenna in Prague. This week I found another interesting conversation I want to share with you. It’s between Benjamin Smythe & Rick Archer (Rick is interviewing Ben). Although, this conversation might be easier for those that are familiar with people like Ramana Maharshi, or teachings based on Advaita Vedanta (known in the west as Non-duality) — I think it’s a universal discussion about life that we can all relate to. It’s about the things that we are all passionate about (in one way or another), even if we have opposing views.
I’ve embedded the video for you to watch, & below that, I posted my thoughts.
Please note: the interview is almost 2 hours long. So watch it when you have the time. But please watch it so that you can hear both sides of the conversation before you read my comments below. (The bold sentences in quotation marks are from Benjamin Smythe, my comments on his points are underneath.)
“What does any of this have to do with that love?”
I love when Ben said that line in the interview. It reminded me of the one thing that is my saving grace. The one thing that unblindfolds me & allows me to see clearly. It’s a question that brings me to the truth.
“What is the truth?”
You can veer from it without suffering. You can stray for a while, but when the suffering starts to appear (& it always will), it’s best that you return to the truth. The suffering is a direct indicator that you have gone too far.
This “truth question” is especially effective in my relationships (be it family, friendships, or romantic partnerships). When I get upset with someone, or I am on the verge of calling it quits because of opposing views. When arguments or frustration arises, & the relationship begins to feel like work, like a struggle. That is when I gently ask myself: “What is true?” And without a second thought, the only truth in that relationship is the love. I remind myself that love is unconditional. This means that it’s impersonal. It doesn’t get its feelings hurt; it doesn’t have needs or desires; it doesn’t believe in right or wrong — it just is. Whatever it was that I was upset about really doesn’t really matter. And more importantly, it will always change — so why get stuck on it.
When I bring my mind back to love in its highest form (love that is unchanging), what is unimportant falls away, & the dust begins to settle. This allows me to be in the moment (with clarity), & I am able to be present.
Ha! I really liked that line. It’s so practical. I think in one way we can say, “Yes, we are all connected & everything is prefect, so let’s let everything be”. But then, on the other hand, “Yes, we are all connected & everything is perfect — now be the change that you want to see”. If you feel that you have a level of awareness, take responsibility for those that don’t & increase your load. They are connected to you, remember? Pay for them, clean up after them, forgive them, assist them, share with them.
Just like a messy room, it’s fine the way it is. It never has to be cleaned & it’s not wrong for being dirty. But when the dust piles up, & the critters take over, & it begins to smell, & it’s hard to keep track of what is in there. I would say that it might be more pleasant for everyone that has to use that room if it were kept in order — or if someone was responsible for it. And the one who is asking, “Who is the one that is responsible for this?!” is always the one that is responsible. Because that person has the awareness to see the mess as a problem. Often, the ones that create the mess, don’t see it as a problem. So when I say that person who sees it is responsible, I mean responsible to help raise the level of awareness for those around them, as well as to get their hands dirty & help clean it up.
“Violence is not relative!”
I know that violence is relative simply because the person committing the violent act has a different view of it than I do.
I understand what Ben is getting at and defending. But to me it simply boils down to levels of awareness & levels of violence. Stabbing, shooting, or bashing someone is extremely violent, most of us would abhor such an act, yet most of the population does it in inadvertently when they eat animals. The average person eats approximately 198 animals per year. These animals are killed & eaten simply for taste or profit, not because people were starving or left without a choice. In some minds, that would be considered extremely violent.
But more than hate crimes, prejudice, racism, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or murder committed by people — we cause violent harm to ourselves in grater numbers. Nothing to me is more rampant than self-hate & self-harm. Nothing. (I’m only referring to the violence in our lives.) The physical & mental abuse we put ourselves through is so numerous, it’s beyond my comprehension.
The violence towards another being usually happens because we first have violent thoughts about ourselves. If we were to get a group of people together & ask them: “do you hate yourself?” They would more than likely laugh & say, “Of course not!” Yet live in their heads & hear their thoughts (& watch their actions) for a day, & you will find out whether they do or not.
Self-imposed suffering is the greatest source of suffering in my opinion. And if we got passionate about resolving that issue, I’m sure it would have a domino effect on many other issues that stem from self-hate, such as the violent treatment towards other living beings. The bottom line for me is: if people truly understood the impact of what they were doing, they wouldn’t be doing it. Some of us really can’t “see”.
We all have this lack of awareness in various aspects of our lives. Some lack it more than others, but still, all of us have this “blindness” to some degree. It’s up to us to take responsibility for our own suffering, & at the same time, help to minimize the suffering around us — by doing what we can to help & by doing what we can to not create more abuse. (This includes abuse to the earth we live on, & abuse to the living beings that inhabit it.)
I see the points that both Benjamin Smythe & Rick Archer are making. I just wanted to add my thoughts. And yes, by all means, use a net if you can! Try your best to save even the beings that cause harm (including yourself). Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Trust love. Breathe easy. One day at a time. One breath at a time. Every moment you are alive is an opportunity to be more aware, an opportunity to care a little bit more.
I think this poem by Rumi wraps up this conversation perfectly:
Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.