June 24, 2002
Primal and Global Responsibility - Part 3
When our needs are not met as children, we often remove our attention from the painful sensations in our bodies. In effect, life becomes an "out-of-body" experience. Primalling is actually an "in-body" experience where we finally return to the "Garden."
When we've been emotionally exiled from ourselves, we are not initially inclined to go back out into the world. The more deeply we feel, however, the more likely we are to wake up to our innate nature - connectedness. At first, this connectedness will happen within ourselves, with our loved ones, and maybe with our family and friends. Then we may be drawn toward a larger feeling community.
This outward movement does not always stop there. Our compassion and sensitivity can include other people throughout the world, as well as animals, plants, and the earth itself. Given the fact that we are all "cells" in one great "body," to care for ourselves is to care for others - and to care for others is to care for ourselves.
Given the epidemic of suffering that is enveloping the planet, it can be both painful and frustrating to engage the world outside our own circle. The problems are so huge that we often don't know where to start. Initially it is important to realize that we cannot fix anyone else, that change comes naturally from within - with the right support. The key lies in how we can support others through our own personal actions.
Those who cannot feel unwittingly abuse and neglect, and also exploit poor working people, defenseless animals, and entire ecosystems. These issues may seem very far from us, but they are not. Every single thing we buy and every resource we use carries the pain of the world beyond our comfortable existence. Every single dollar we spend is a helping hand or a knife in the back - sometimes literally. If we do not choose wisely, our dollars fund:
• bank and corporate investments in armaments manufacture
• companies whose factories support oppressive military regimes
• clothing manufacturers who use child and poverty-level labour
• gas and oil companies that destroy wildlife habitat
• food producers who contaminate the environment with pesticides
• product experimentation and testing that torture and kill animals
The challenges seem so monumental, it's hard to know where to start. Maybe it seems as if it's none of our business. But as Jacob Marley screamed at Scrooge, "Mankind is our business!"
Recently I met Carlos Chen Osorio, a native Achi farmer from Guatemala, and heard his personal story. In order to evict the Achi people from their ancestral home to build the massive Chixoy Dam, government forces massacred most of the inhabitants of the village. Carlos saw his children and pregnant wife killed. The hydro plant that now sits above the drowned village of Rio Negro powers factories that supply goods to people like you and me.
I've heard these stories by the hundreds and they have often just been words in my ears. But this time I heard the voice in my ears of a real person just like me - a small, gentle man with a soft, sad voice. I saw his eyes.
When Carlos was done, I got up, took his hand, and looked into those sad eyes for a few moments. He said "Gracias," and I said "Thank you." I donated money for his tour and went home to my family.
When I put on a shirt, I touch the person who harvested the cotton, the soil that soaked up the pesticide, and the bird poisoned by the effluent of the textile factory. When my innocent granddaughter goes outside she is prey to the violent sunlight that burns through a sky torn by our human exhaust. There is no escape from interconnectedness.
We Boddhisattvas cannot leave, we can only feel and respond. I don't have answers because there are none. But as a feeling person, I will not shut down again - I can only continue to open up.
Feeling finds its way.