I read this book a while back called Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, and the story left a profound impression in my mind. The story revolves around these three kids. You see them in school and you follow them through their teenage years and adulthood. In many ways they are very relateable. As teenagers, they have this whole range of emotions that we as adolescents ourselves went through. There's even this little love triangle where the two girls like the same boy, and maybe some of us can relate to that too. But in this story, there are many things about the characters that are not relateable. For one thing, they are not going to grow old. They are not going to travel and see other places. They are not going to sit and wonder about what they should do with their lives. This is because they were born for the sole purpose of being organ donors. When their body wears out after the third or fourth donation (I am using this word loosely), they die. They are born because their body parts have value, but their lives essentially do not.
It is a piece of fiction, and we may dismiss it as such. It's not real. It's a work of the writer's imagination. We can claim that all too easily. But if we get down to the mentality of such a twisted way of thinking, it already exists. The story is about how one group of beings sees another group of beings as inferior, and their use outweighs the interests of these individuals in the eyes of those who benefit from this arrangement. It is slavery. We already do this to animals. Countless animals are being bred as we speak for the sole purpose of being used. We use their body parts for experiments, for their meat, for their milk, for their eggs. And yet we may not immediately see how the fictional story is much like our present reality.
This is what I think. We live in a society of disconnection. And the disconnection begins with the denial of our own experiences. Didn't we at some point feel sick but pushed ourselves to go to work or attend that important meeting or fulfill that obligation that we have? Didn't we at some point in our yoga asana practice saw someone in class doing an advanced pose and in our egoic desire to get to that pose ourselves we wanted to deny what our body is telling us? How about those times that we became emotionally rattled, and we noticed a little bit too late that the quality of our breath has changed, our heart beat raised, our voice shaken? If we have a challenging time connecting to our own bodies, no wonder we cannot connect with what we do to other beings' bodies. The attempt of our ego to take over has had self-effacing effects to our compassionate nature. And I am quite fed up with it.
We hear about wars and famines and murders and rapes and our ego will dismiss them as events that have nothing to do with us. I sometimes wonder how I would feel if I ever came to a dire situation and everyone acted as though it had nothing to do with them. I wonder how many of us would be so comfortable in our disconnection if the tables were turned and we become the commodities for someone else's benefit. And I am quite fed up with it.
But the beautiful thing about being fed up is that we reach that point where we say enough is enough. We reach that point where we demand change. And that is how we find yoga. It is a practice that allows us to reach into the deepest parts of our souls to heal our disconnection. It is a practice where we are able to see others as different and the same both at once. It is a practice where we are challenged about the concept of the "other". It is a practice where we see ourselves in the other so much that, as my teacher Sharon Gannon says, the other-ness disappears.
Slavery exists today in the form of violence towards nonhumans and we can end this only when we heal our disconnection. Please watch the documentary Earthlings, and with all honesty, please ask yourself if you can still see them as "others". Your heart is full of kindness and I know you won't be able to turn a blind eye and claim it has nothing to do with any of us.
Let us be fed up. Let us take it personally. Let us move the world to a more compassionate direction.