There have been many articles written, many books published, many years of protests, talks, teach-ins, sit-ins, hunger strikes, speeches, walks and endless prayers to bring about the end of human suffering, the end of war, the end of genocide. It is almost a fact to say that no one can take this any more.
No mother can stand losing another child. No nation can stand another war. No forest can stand more abuse. The animal kingdom is screaming in agony for the end of the incessant torture it faces on a daily basis. And the human race is praying to the heavens for the end of war, the end of genocide, this useless, unneeded and horrifying sorrow. What is the solution? Can we ever be free of this madness?
War, genocide and unnecessary suffering is not a product of nature. Some may say that human nature is violent and fights for its survival, hence war is inevitable. People derive this from observing nature and seeing that sharks devour their prey with heartless attacks. Lions defend their territory and even kill cubs of another lion in order to impregnate the lioness that has already given birth to other cubs.
This is a valid observation. However, most people fail to realize that, for instance, turtles have survived for over 200 million years and are a most docile creature. Plants have been around for billions of years and flow in harmony with the universe harming not even a single atom in creation. Humans, being part of the mammalian species, might be prone to defend themselves and their families, even if it means perpetrating violence upon others. However genocide and the dropping and building of countless nuclear bombs are beyond any natural act of defense.
No animal species has slave labor camps, or endeavors to destroy the planet that sustains it in order to increase the number of zeros in its bank account. Perhaps a certain amount of violence is inevitable, but what has become our reality is beyond even the devil’s wildest nightmare. If we use nature to prove the inevitability of violence, stating that we are a species of animal, we must also realize that no animal destroys the land that it lives on or kills 100 million of its own species in one century alone. No animal worries incessantly about the future or hangs on to the past. No animal knows racism and inequality.
So what is it that humans have that enables them to create such horror? What do humans possess that animals don’t? An overactive brain with repetitive thought patterns that keeps humans in bondage to cultural conditioning, conditioning that allows for wars to become a norm, conditioning that creates untold misery on an individual level with thoughts such as, ‘I am not good enough,’ or ‘What about me, what’s going to happen to me?’ These thoughts, these emotional patterns that have been living inside the collective human mind for eons, are the cause of this madness. Just like most of the horror and violence inflicted by humans upon humans is unnecessary, so too are 90 percent of repetitive thought patterns that go on and on, causing nothing but pain. The mind traps us in a stream of thought and disallows us to see the true nature of things. It keeps us stuck in suffering.
If we wish to end human suffering we must step out of the stream of mind and watch the thoughts from a detached place of wisdom, a wisdom that realizes that, ‘I am not my mind.’ This statement is radical and unbelievable to us humans because we have been caught in the madness of the human mind for generations and generations.
The realization that you are not your mind and its arbitrary thought patterns is a radical one. But so is the idea that war is unnecessary. We have been at war for so long that we can’t even imagine what it would be like to live in a world free of war. Just like we have been trapped in the human mind for so long that we don’t even realize that we can be free of it.
‘The mind is a most wonderful tool, and is necessary to function in this world, but there comes a point when it takes over our whole life and that is when dysfunction, madness and pain set in. For example, there is nothing wrong with cells dividing inside the body. However, when this happens in total disregard to the entire organism, cells proliferate and we have disease. The mind has taken over human beings. It has grown into a dangerous monster that if unchecked may end up killing all life on the planet and finally itself by killing its host’ (Eckhart Tolle, ‘The Power of Now’).
If we truly can’t stand the pain anymore, if we are really serious about ending war, violence, pain, genocide and human suffering we must first start by freeing ourselves from our mind. Each one of us must step out of the insane stream of time and mind and realize that we are not bundles of conditioned reflexes destined to act out unoriginal thought patterns, patterns that have kept human beings in bondage to suffering for eons.
When we start watching our thoughts we realize that there is intelligence much more vast than the human mind. It is not through the mind that the miracle of life on earth came into being. The mind didn’t create the unfathomable genius of a single human chromosome.
Life is eternal and vast. Life is free of suffering.
It is only the mind that is limited, ignorant to the true nature of things, the creator of endless pain. Once we free ourselves from the mind, we will still be able to use it, but it will no longer be able to use us. This then will be the end of suffering.
We will then inhabit a world free from war, genocide and pain. We will then live in harmony in this paradise that is the planet Earth, located within the unfathomably beautiful and awe-inspiring galaxy that we call the Milky Way, one of billions of galaxies in the inconceivable vastness of space.
Leron Kattan is a fourth-year English major.