Author a American
You humans are a strange lot. On one hand you marvel about how complex and marvelous the human body is; on the other hand you can’t wait to commit genocide against all those human bodies. Seems like a contradiction to me, but what do I know? Call me naïve.
You know, Chris McCandless had the right idea but just the wrong venue. Getting away from the craziness of the world is a superb idea, starving to death in a bus abandoned in the Alaskan wilderness is another. It’s probably better to be a hermit in plain site. At least you’re around food and water.
Which brings me to the theme of this post: why is it so hard to be kind? It’s like pulling teeth just to get someone to give you space to enter the road in your car from a driveway. It’s like pulling teeth to get someone to hold the door open for you. It’s like pulling teeth for someone to reciprocate your act of kindness with a “Thank You.” It’s like pulling teeth to give grandma your spot in the food bank line or your seat at the front of the bus. It’s like pulling teeth to help someone who has fallen. It’s like pulling teeth to give an obviously schizophrenic man a break despite the endless stream of sentences he’s speaking to no one.
Would it kill you to not noisily smack your lips and mouth when you’re eating?
Would it kill you to silence your phone at a restaurant?
Would it kill you to keep your voice down while you’re on the phone in a public space?
Would it kill you to give someone a ride if they don’t have bus fare?
Would it kill you to apologize to someone you’ve bumped into in the street?
I could go on and on but you see my point. Kindness costs nothing but its rewards are plenty. Then again, I’m probably garden variety crazy.
One of my interests is human behavior. I am especially interested in how different people interact with each other. I am equally as interested in how a person behaves who has several strands to their genetic makeup and personality. Among other things, I’m autistic and a Jain – autistic by birth, Jain by choice. These two leanings can complement each other and, at times, work against each other. So far, these are a few pros and cons of this unique combination that I’ve discovered.
Pros: The Jain diet is extremely narrow and strict; in essence, I pretty much eat the same thing every day – fruits, peas, beans corn, rice, nuts and granola bars. For an autistic, this is not a problem as they are known for eating the same thing everyday anyway, some at always the exact same time every day.
Autistics tend to eschew modern fashion, so the latest styles at Nordstrom’s or Abercrombie & Fitch eludes them. In fact, some autistics wear the same things day in and day out. I don’t know if Steven Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg are aspies, but they do wear the same thing all the time, at least Steven Jobs did when he was alive. Jains practice aparigraha – own little, desire little. That Jain tenet works beautifully with the autistic ‘less is okay ‘ canon.
Cons: Logic. Some autistics are logical to a fault. Seeing is believing, abstract art is a waste of time. Counting, categorizing, compartmentalizing and collecting things are all pluses in the autistic world. Why play with a toy police car when you can take it apart to see what makes it work? These ideas are at odds with the Jain concepts of Heaven, Hell, the soul, karma and reincarnation because they’re abstract. They can’t be seen or felt; they must be simply believed.
Reconciling this dichotomy is a tricky affair, but my approach is this – Heaven and Hell are states of being. If you’re a gangbanger, or you’re full of hate, or you commit crimes often, or break the law often, or lie, cheat and steal or abuse drugs, then you’re living a life in Hell. You don’t have to wait to die to go into the fiery netherworld; you’re already living in it. Heaven is eschewing negative emotions and having compassion, charity and forgiveness in your life. According to the Jaina Dharma, owning and wanting nothing is also Heaven on earth. At least it is to me anyway.