By Praghosa Dasa
“One who is coming to kill you with weapon, he's aggressor”
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.7.16 — Vrndavana, September 14, 1976
It is seemingly becoming commonplace in our society now for such weapon wielding aggressors to cause grief, misery, pain, suffering and of course great mourning to an unsuspecting audience.
One of many worrying aspects of these senseless killings is the cool, calm and measured way they are undertaken. Practically since time immemorial we are familiar with crimes of passion, those crimes are even recognised by the judicial system to the point of mitigating circumstances being considered. We are also familiar with revenge crimes, wherein someone 'gets even' for some wrong they had suffered a week, month, year or decade earlier etc. Not that crimes of passion or revenge are in anyway justified but at least they offer some explanation as to 'why', why someone did what they did.
However the recent slaughter of cinema goers at Aurora, Colorado was neither a crime of passion or of revenge, rather it was pure in its senselessness.
That said, we know that not a blade of grass moves without the sanction of the supreme, so what possible explanation might there be for this particular heinous act?
We also know that we are all deeply affected by both association and the activities we perform.
“By bad association one becomes a smoker, one becomes a drunkard, one becomes a meat-eater, one becomes a gambler”
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.9-10 — Delhi, November 14, 1973
The problem is even further compounded if those activities and association are accepted by society as not only normal but laudable.
From that point of view it is interesting to note that the perpetrator of the Aurora slaughter was a neuroscientist. A fancy name and a job that many in society whether they be politicians, the medical profession or family and friends would laud as an important job for the future well being of human society. However what actually is it that a neuroscientist does? One thing they do on a regular basis is inflict cruelty, violence, pain, suffering and misery on sentient beings. This of course is all done in the name of 'experimentation' but whatever label it has, the suffering meted out to so many animals and so many different kinds of animals, is heart breaking.
Here are a few samples of experiments carried out by neuroscientists for many decades now;
Visual tracking, which involves monkeys having coils implanted in their eyes and the tops of their skulls removed, like the opening of a coconut when accessing the juice. Electrodes are then inserted into their brains and screws, bolts and plates are attached to the remainder of their skull so their heads can be fixed in place. Yet it doesn't stop there, the monkeys are then kept constantly thirsty so when they're offered the merest drop of water, they will cooperate fully with their masters or as the masters like to put it their victims are 'developing a work ethic'.
Other experiments include animals being given cocaine and other drugs till they are addicted and then given electric shocks to see how their bodies react under the influence of those drugs. Some of the addicted animals are also impregnated and when their babies are born, they are immediately snatched away from them, so as to measure what kind of effect such an early life trauma has on the mother 'junkie monkeys'.
The perpetrator of the Aurora massacre was also apparently engaged in the brain mapping of songbirds, where again the drilling of holes through the skull and insertion of electrodes is standard. He also apparently engaged in the full dissection of hummingbirds and mice. Now what sentient being can deny that such 'work' desensitises us to the very sanctity of life itself? Ironically there are other scientific studies that prove this very point!
Of course the argument can be made that not every neuroscientist goes on to open fire in a crowded cinema but equally; how can anyone deny that being routinely engaged in such extreme violence on defenseless sentient beings, will only seriously erode one's crucial faculty of empathy and compassion?
It would seem to be an occupational hazard of those engaged in such systematic and barbaric torture of animals, to have to set aside the normal emotions of sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, kindness, humanity and charity, and instead become indifferent, or much worse, to the sufferings of others. That is a tragedy in and of itself and as we have seen, can lead to other far more widespread tragedy.
The simple fact is that every thought, emotion and act that we engage in has an impact on us in ways that we often don't realise. Indeed the importance of apparently run of the mill items is emphasised by Arjuna asking of Krishna;
“What are the symptoms of one whose consciousness is thus merged in transcendence? How does he speak, and what is his language? How does he sit, and how does he walk?
Krishna's answer certainly does not include what happened at Aurora. Rather Krishna speaks about being pure, free from sense gratification and satisfied in the self. Until that standard is achieved everyone's contribution to society will be flawed to varying degrees, even if our chosen career is not neuroscience.