25 April, 2012

No kingdom for me

One of the greatest pleasures in my life as a student was to attend pathology classes. Admittedly, I had a penchant for dissecting dead animals, road kill and four-legged flood victims that occasioned their fate into my hands as a pre-adolescent with a kin for all things mortal. By the time I entered High School, I was relatively au fait with internal anatomy, although relatively ignorant of more complex systems, such as how they integrated in a mechanistic/neurological/hormonal way.

At the university in Australia where I studied, we neophytes of knowledges were allowed to have 'hands on' experience only with cadavers - we were not trusted with live patients. It was a sorting ground for most first-year students. Some of my colleagues vomited immediately upon sight of the cadaver, others went a pale green colour. I would guess about thirty percent in all left within the first few weeks, primarily because the shock of 'reality' was greater than their dream of becoming a surgeon-healer. The reality hammered home to us those first few days was that death was inevitable and no matter how great the healer, patients still died.

A friend of mine was a medical student and I was even allowed to help him during human post-mortems. One has to have a certain proclivity for death and disease to perceive curiosity in this particular theatre. It is not for the light-hearted, or should I say light-stomached. One has to actually enjoy, even relish, the smells and sights of death and disease in order to study and understand how life works. So it was that as students of the healing sciences, we first study death in order to understand life. I do not suggest that this is the only way, and I am sure in a more enlightened society to come, this 'age' of kali yuga will be looked down upon as a barbaric era of ignorance, but until the days of ascension are upon us, I contend that students will still be studying cadavers.

It was not until I was a teenager and experienced the death of my first lover that the spiritual meaning of death and impermanence resonated in a profound way. The idea that my lover would never return, could never be with me again was anathema to my sense of how reality should be. Though I knew intimately what her body, or more specifically the disease was doing to her body, I was unprepared for my visceral reactions to what I was experiencing, to my lover dying. To see her body wrecked by cancer, and my heart bleeding impotently for her was a scar I still bear to this day. Though I had known death since youth, the reality of love-and-death as a new paradigm was a relative stranger I had just met. Tennessee Williams, in A Streetcar Named Desire, was one of the first to remark about the polarity between death and desire, a profound symmetry of physical desire and the love we feel for what we desire and how it is underscored by the trappings of imminent death and loss, and possibly insanity if we are unable to let go. Death is always meaningless except when we place a meaning upon it. Without the experience of death and  love, people can be totally indifferent to the suffering of others. What generates compassion for the suffering of others is only through the loss of someone or something we have a deep attachment to. That which we have not experienced, we cannot understand, even though it may be standing right before us. Or, more zen, 'if the paradigm fits, feel it.'

As an advocate of euthanasia of suffering animals, I have conducted the procedure in excess of 10,000 times over the last three decades. I believe this is the lower end compared to others in my profession as I strongly resist the procedure until quality of life is poor. However, it is a tremendous relief to see an animal slip into unconsciousness when they are clearly suffering both physically and psychologically. If these were humans, we'd be guilty of crimes against humanity. This irony is not lost on me, who believes in the universality of consciousness, which is equal across all Kingdoms, both animal, plant and mineral. Under common law, all Kingdoms can be killed except humans, where it is called murder. Yet we honour consciousness as a divine phenomenon. Jesus spoke of his presence in the wood and trees and the wind. He was not speaking figuratively. Every animal I have put to sleep had been performed with compassion, care and after consultation with the owners, who have invariably struggled with the decision a long time before approaching me. We seem to be quick to go to war with others over such trivial issues, yet with the same breath protest  against those who are suffering to have no right to liberate themselves from interminable pain.

I thank God I did not become a doctor. Animals are rarely hypocritical. They bite you up front and once their justice is meted, forget about it immediately if you leave them alone. They never harbour grudges, rarely spiteful, and almost never attack pre-emptively or unprovoked. A consciousness untrammelled by greed, malice or spite.

As Sophia Love remarks, in reality 'there is no kingdom; there is no king.  This is life, expressed in every conceivable form and beautifully connected.' Evil I am yet to find in any Kingdom except one, where love-and-death are deliberately confused and misappropriated. It is where one can love and kill at the same time, an hypocrisy that contradicts the natural experiences of true consciousness.

True evil can only be seen in the human kingdom, not in its natural form but when usurped by powers above it that threaten our sanity because it forbids us from letting go of natural emotions and moving to natural rest. We see this power as the great unseen architect, whose cat-like eyes and trident tail make mockery of every great human aspiration. Lucky we are to be soon emancipated from this power and restored to our natural state of oneness with the remaining forms of consciousness who are not hosts to their parasitic elements.