Recently a story in the New York Times began:
For 25 years, the rhesus monkeys were kept semi-starved, lean and hungry. The males’ weights were so low they were the equivalent of a 6-foot-tall man who tipped the scales at just 120 to 133 pounds. The hope was that if the monkeys lived longer, healthier lives by eating a lot less, then maybe people, their evolutionary cousins, would, too. (“Severe diet doesn’t prolong life, at least in monkeys,” Aug. 29, 2012)
Did you get that–25 YEARS??? For 25 years they kept these monkeys in cages and half-starved them to see whether it would help people live longer. I just find that so disturbing. With hubris like this, no wonder the planet’s going to hell in a hand basket.
What it made me think about was gentle George Quant’s (TM teacher) remark that three things we rely on for success in life don’t work for meditation: concentration, will power, and control. But I’m not sure we should be relying on them in the rest of our lives either. Seems to me it’s attempts to control everything around us that’s made such a mess of things–that and the arrogance to think the world is here for us to exploit.
Remember that Wallace Stevens poem, “Anecdote of the Jar”?
I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.
The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and of a port in air.
It took dominion every where.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.