Compassion in a Nest of Zombies

"Compassion in a Nest of Zombies" is a reminder that everyone needs compassion, even the most hideous.

Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.--The Buddha

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.--Dalai Lama

I have been lying awake in bed meditating on the dream before awakening. I was walking with my older son into a building, when, all of a sudden, a group of zombies moved towards us, some walking in that shuffling gait that the typical zombie promenades about, while others were actually running. Some of them had parts missing while one of them took a machete to its own head and sliced through it without any effect. I told my son to stay back while I went to confront what seemed to be the leader. I came up to the zombie leader and he laughed at me and told me to hit him (zombies could talk?). So I gave him a powerful punch to the face. He just laughed and seemed to grow stronger. I punched some more, blows like Muhammad Ali in his prime, and all it did was make the zombie grow stronger. This was not working.

Then my son did something that stopped the approaching horde--he cried. He went into a place of sadness. Not fear, not rage; but sadness. And the zombies just stopped dead (which is what zombies should be doing!) Seeing the effect, I too went into a sadness for this sorry situation that we all found ourselves in. I cried for me and my son, and especially for the zombies. And I started a conversation with my zombie assailant and asked him what I could do for him. He said he would like to be killed and to be put to rest; so I lifted a machete to ease him out of his misery, but he started to grow big in anticipation. So I stopped and said that violence to him wouldn't work.

And then I woke up.

So ruminating upon what would work for my zombie friend I have come to the realization that it is compassion. And only that. For who is my zombie friend? He is all of us who go through the day on automatic, caught in habits that keep us from living. A zombie is basically a body that is going on the most basic drive--to consume. We are a consumer society, consuming insatiably to feel alive. But this consumption is literally a wasting away disease--a coffin fit. Zombie movies are really popular these days as people get to live out this sick desire of blasting away human bodies without guilt, because these zombies are not humans; although they sure look like us, sans nice complexions and proper hygiene. What a seeming joy to just blow away bodies. Maybe this is the message of mass shooters?

But this does not free anyone, this heartless attack. We viciously attack our fellows who find themselves caught up in their habitual drives, like those who find themselves in the midst of scandals. This condemnation, this judgment, is a way of shooting up a zombie. After all, we don't really know them and it makes us feel alive...well, sort of.

We are all zombies at times. We have buttons that are pushed and we unconsciously go off in zombie mode. Or we see something that sets us off in the I-got-to-get-away mode or the opposite, I-must-have-it. Both are the same. There is no freedom. There is only reactions. Only by finding who we are, the Infinite Self, that needs nothing to be fulfilled, can we find freedom . Until we get out of this mad notion that we are bodies will we be free. But until then, with ourselves and with all our fellow sleep walkers, let us not cock that shotgun of judgment anymore and blow our brains out; let us reach out in compassion and remind each other, "Hey, you are not this."

The Sorcerer in the Box

The pain of shame creates zombies out of all of us.

The following is a poem I wrote a long time ago after returning from the Peace Corps. This is an excerpt from my book of poetry “Footprints Along the Shore of an Incoming Tide” . Just rereading the poem I noticed that the child I speak of watching over is my older son of the fore-mentioned dream.

As I finish my training as a Waldorf School teacher and observe children untainted by the mass visions of television, who are allowed to let their own imaginations blossom, I am even more convinced of protecting my son from that confounded box. I should know. I grew up with it, and suckled from its electronic tit so much, that when I walk in a room where its visions flash across the screen, only with the greatest of will can I tear myself away. And in meditations I must discard T.V. programs from my subconscious like emptying my bowels.

In some of the villages of Cameroon,
When a child dies, the parents
Watch the grave during the first few days,
Lest some sorcerer steal their bodies
And sell them down in Gabon as zombies.

I laughed at that:
Laughed at their superstition,
Laughed at their fears.

But now as a father,
I watch my people’s children unattended
In front of television sets,
And see the sorcerer in the box, unchecked,
Sucking out their minds
And plucking forth their eyes.

Then I observe the grown ups
Shuffle off to jobs they despise,
Their eyes staring straight ahead—
I am filled with fear.

And over my child I stand
And keep vigilance
Against the sorcerer in the box.

Janaka Stagnaro

Advaita Vedanta and Compassion
Buddhist Meditations
Anxiety and Depression

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Mara, the mind, spins anxiously around ranting about this and that, while the Buddha sits unmoved in meditation.

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