There’s a wide range of possibilities along the spectrum of enlightenment, from the philosophically curious to the full blown unattached guru living in their hidden mountain cave, but until we shirk off this mortal coil completely we are all still beings of flesh and bone which as such require “things” to some degree or another. Food, Clothes, Shelter, just to name a few.
Even the most holy among us can not go long denying these necessities of corporeal existence unless they want to leave it. Indeed, it is part of the very reason why we as humans must seek enlightenment in the first place: we are intrinsically tied to this fleshly vehicle which has needs largely beyond our ability or desire to control.
It doesn’t matter how holy you think you are at some point if you’re human you must eat, poop, and in the words of George Carlin have “a place for your stuff”.
I had thought this concept was universal and that even Gandhi himself at some point had to go out for toilet paper, so it struck me a little by surprise to have someone lash out when I made a post on social media bemoaning the long lines and lack of available check out cashiers at the local Walmart.
“Well that’s what you get! I won’t give those capitalistic money grubbing s.o.b.’s one single red cent of my money!” the person stated with pride. “I’d rather DIE than ever give them a dime!”
Apparently dear readers, some people are so granola that even their bullshit is shade grown free range fair trade organic of the exceptional quality that I, from my Babylon beshackled existence, cannot even begin to comprehend. Yeah. ‘Bout that.
Now, I can understand a lot of the hate for the big box giant…
They’ve been rumored to treat their employees poorly, or at the very least continue the systematic devaluing of human productivity through gross inadequacy and inequality in pay grades throughout their organization.
There have been accusations of racial discrimination as well as poor environmental practices and rampant sourcing of inventory from foreign countries like China despite all their red, white, and blue banner waving.
But I also have to live…
And that’s what a lot of people we talked to ended up answering no matter what their belief system, background, or level of supposed enlightenment.
Because Walmart has become what it is, and is everywhere in many cases there simply aren’t many other options – especially if you have kids or limited income.
Can you drive 5 miles out of the way further? Sure. You will likely pay a dollar or two more on many items too once you get there by the way. Gas just went up $.10 overnight by the way…
And before you get on your rectory recumbent bike of shiny golden holier than thou-ness: not everyone can live in a place located relatively close enough to the other things their lives require (work,school,home) to float down to Whole [Paycheck] Foods to do their shopping. Even if they could do that, and afford the food they needed, what would they do when they needed to buy something other than groceries? Kids need shoes. You need tools. Out of cleaner. Need tp. Forgot Q-tips. Gotta refill meds. Oh – and that’s just one week of real life not on the mountain top, swami.
Ethics and morals and caring and light are all fine – we need more of them all! – but a lot of good hearted every day hard working people face the very real pressure of needing to eat and provide for their families, and it doesn’t ease up just because the bank account is low.
Where Would Jesus Shop?
It’s been said that to live is to suffer; to find meaning in that suffering is enlightenment.
By that measure what it means to be aware is painted with a broad stroke indeed. What bears up under greater contention is the very real fact we human creatures must eat, and be protected from the elements to survive. Being also simple animals who operate under conventional laws we will generally seek to fulfill those very real physical needs in the most efficient, least costly (time, money, effort) manner – and it has been such since the beginning of our kind.
However, to be enlightened also carries with it in most people’s minds a certain amount of awareness or expanded consciousness specifically more in sync with the symptoms of the universe.
Can you wear sandals made by a 9 year old kid in a sweatshop to Bible study without guilt?
There are plenty of people who do. Good people. Kind, giving people otherwise and they don’t think anything about it.
Does that make them somehow less enlightened, less compassionate? Maybe it does.
Many, most even, likely think nothing of it because it’s just the way it’s always been to them; it is what it is. Hard to fault them so much, although overcoming ignorance is one of the principles of possessing spiritual stature.
But all the rest? They know. They know, and they choose to continue as they always have – sacrificing substance for convenience. Can we say that there is anything sage-like about that?
So, CAN you shop at Walmart and still be enlightened?
Yes. I think you can. But what would Buddha buy?
Doubtlessly, as an enlightened individual you should be a little more aware of the things you buy if you shop there and in general regardless. Choose the products not made far away, not made of synthetics, choose the produce that is trucked in the least distance, and maybe just choose to shop elsewhere when it makes practical sense.
Not everyone has the time, space, or talent to grow their own food and be as self-sufficient as they might like but you can support your local stores whenever possible and take advantage of local Farmers markets as well. These things can if nothing else help balance out the times when you find yourself having to visit the big box store.
In the end we must let our own conscience and heart guide us. There is no one end all answer here, like so many of the moral quandaries that arise when our modern world meets the spiritual one.
Wal-Mart’s growing trade deficit with China has displaced more than 400,000 U.S. jobs