Wednesday, July 22, 2009
My Nature Walk through Bushwick
Yesterday morning I went out early - bright & chipper, pumped on caffeine - and what's the first thing I see? A rat on the sidewalk with its head gnawed off. Gad. There goes the muffin. I mean, I realize that this is Bushwick, not the Berkshires, and they probably have their share of headless rats up there as well. But why must my morning include such carnage? As for the rat, poor old sot - what the hell'd he do to deserve that? Was he late on his rent? Did he cheat on his wife? Or was he just a decent, hard working rat who got in with the wrong pack?
And while I'm at it, what about good and evil? Who gets to decide another's fate? If the rat was an evil rat, then you could say that justice was served. If he was a loving and honorable rat, then we'll agree that it's a crazy world to end his life so viciously. But is it fair to make such a distinction? Let's say that he was a rat of a rat; that he raped, pillaged, and murdered other rodents throughout his adult life. Did he deserve to die in such a way? I mean, sure, he's just a rat, and a bad-ass rat at that. But would you be willing to sentence him to such a violent end? And if in fact he's innocent, why would a just God allow such an unjust act? How are we supposed to reconcile a world with such injustice, and still hold onto the idea of a just God?
According to advaita, this is an example of dual thinking. The idea of good versus evil is a mental construct that we drag around with us, and one which prevents us from seeing the world as it really is. From the advaita perspective, without evil, there is no good; they are interdependent. Without darkness there is no light; without sorrow there can be no joy. Nisargadatta, the great enlightened teacher, had no patience for people who whined about God being cruel. He stated that God is whatever God wants to be! S/he makes the rules, and breaks them when She sees fit. So if you see some egregious injustice in the world, don't try to use it as evidence against God. It's not going to stand up in a court of law, any more than my using the abundance of love, joy, and goodness as proof that He exists. God is above all of that, and it's outrageous that we should presume to know the mind of God on any issue. Beheaded rats included.
Turns out that the photo I pulled off the web (above) is actually called a Blue Berkshire rat. Ha! Well, that clears things up a bit. He really did get in with the wrong crowd. Poor guy. He should've known that Brooklyn is no place for a decent rat.