For more than thirty years, I have been beset by recurrent depression. A very dark and ugly episode descended eight weeks ago and sent me careening into the abyss.
However, a stray bit from the world of light surprised me yesterday by cascading down to me, undeterred by the darkness of my indwelling hell.
It was a photo posted yesterday to the Facebook page of The Last Pig. The dark, disturbing image of the pigs in their own dank hell as they wait for the worst of all fates, which they share with their factory-farmed cousins, reminded me just how much deciding to quit pig farming matters to me.
Even from the darkest dark, I immediately understood that every day, each moment, we can live fettered by self-interestedness and the narcissistic self-pity for our own suffering, or we can live unfettered by our selfish selves, and simply greet suffering with a nod and notice it as it passes by.
Attaining Buddha-hood might take eons of reincarnation. However, embracing the Buddha-nature that all beings share is as easy as unfurling oneself like Lotus petals to the goodness of the universe: empathy, compassion, love – as easy as smiling, as easy as basking in the light of the sun, as easy as playing, as easy, in other words, as being a pig.
Being a pig means being present in the moment, fully, at ease with one’s own universal goodness. It means not missing now, this moment, by pining for some future time when things might be different. It means not dwelling on the past, living in regret. Most of all, and this is perhaps the most important teaching of the pig for the depressive, it means not being swept up, lost in one’s own suffering. One’s own suffering, like the heaviest, most dense mist, cannot endure the light of the sun. Nothing is permanent, not even mountains.
Being a pig means taking a step onto the path of right thinking; it means not fighting the mind of right thinking, it means letting it do what it is trying to do: be mindful, be aware, take notice, let go.
Thanks to the pigs, yet again, that impossibly small point, impossibly far above me, is shining brighter, has gotten bigger, and is much closer to hand.