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A religious discussion about natural disasters

BrianBrian Detroit, MI Moderator
edited June 2005 in Buddhism Today
First, let me start with this radio segment on NPR's Morning Edition. This is a report about how different religions are viewing the recent Indian Ocean tsunami disaster, and how religious figures are attempting to reconcile or explain this event in a religious context.

I'll summarize each representative's comments, and then give my own opinions about their comments.

First, a Roman Catholic bishop. His understanding seems to be that the reasoning God would "do" something like this is a mystery. He does state, however, that whenever evil people are killed by God, "some innocent people also perish".

I interpret this comment to mean that god chose this course of action, thus inflicting it on the earth; but with no explanation that is understandable to mere humans. This, to me, is another ridiculous personification of god. God "chooses"? God "Does"? God creates a tidal wave to destroy a lot of evil people, but writes off the "innocent bystanders"? God sounds a lot like a war general who "regrets the unfortunate, but inevitable loss of innocent bystanders", or better yet, believes in some unavoidable collateral damage. Sorry, it just sounds plain dumb to me. Yet another reason why I am no longer catholic. This kind of drivel reminds me of the "shut up and listen to what we say" garbage that was given to me as a youth in catholic church and catechism.

To me, this understanding of God, even in this modern, advanced, enlightened society that we live in and love, is no different from the purported reaction of ancient man to the great mystery of lightning and thunder. Not understanding that lightning is a big static spark, ancient man thinks there must be a big man in the sky hurling bolts down.. Perhaps he's hunting! The essence is: I have no freaking clue why this disaster happened, but let me try to cram it into my religious framework that I'm told must be true at pain of eternal suffering.

Okay, next up with have a buddhist monk from Washington DC. He said some buddhists may believe that these people deserved to die because their kamma made them culpable. He also qualified that statement by saying that he personally thought that idea ludicrous. He clarified his position by stating that a mass group of people like that cannot possibly act in the same regard, therefore a massive "kammic comeuppance" would not be possible. His last sentence was, "this was a totally natural cause".

I pretty much agree dead on with this guy (surprise).. It is insanity to think that any buddhist could possibly place kammic responsibility on 150,000 people that just so happened to all live on the coast of the Indian Ocean. That course of thinking is as dangerous as it is stupid. Sadly though, I am sure there are a lot of buddhists out there that believe just this very thing.

Next up we have a reformed Jewish Rabbi. He makes a bold claim (bold for most Jews that I know, anyway) that "god does not micromanage the universe" and had no control over this particular event. He claims that perhaps this was a punishment and that God may have known about the tsunami ahead of time, but god "could not intervene"..

What in the hell is this clown talking about? For any person who believes in God to claim to understand God or to even dare attempt explanations of God's actions is (I love this word) ridiculous. Yet another "I have no idea, but I sure have to sound like I do" bunch of hogwash. He did say one brilliant thing, though: "We are, at our core, retroactive meaning-makers". So true. After something happens that affects us on so many levels, we just feel this need to ascribe meaning to it. Why?

Next is a muslim Imam. He claims that 'of course' god created this tragedy, because god controls absolutely everything. He also says that while everything happens for a reason, people will not know the reason until they meet god.

You know, I'm down with islam. If I was theistic, I would probably choose islam. Every true muslim that I've ever met or read about (and obviously I'm not counting the tiny minority of idiot extremists - although the media would have us believe that all muslims are like them), is the most "faithful" and the most true to their religion of any theistic group I've come across. They DO have an explanation for everything. They at least admit "Who the hell are we to know? We'll just have to wait and see, huh?" If you believe in god, you must admit that this guy appears to make the most sense of the theists interviewed for this piece.

Now comes the baptist pastor. This guy says that everyone is stained by sin and deserves punishment. He thinks that whenever god creates a tragedy like this, he is calling HIM to repent (himself)... Now, I will give him the benefit of the doubt and hope he means that god is calling everyone NOT killed in the tragedy to account, not just him. So, I take this to mean that he kills a few people as a sort of spiritual wake-up call.

I have a low opinion of this man's comments. It is selfish and anglo-centric. I actually heard of a born-again christian on talk radio claiming that god punished the areas of the world that are the least christian. Yes, good job god, you killed a lot of brown people with one tidal wave. I'm gonna get on the phone and give money to the white preacher. praise god!

Last we have a hindu spiritual counselor from San Francisco. She takes a different approach on this and claims that nature is god, and people have been abusing nature, and so this is a natural result of this abuse. She also claims that the people who died were punished as a result of their bad karma.

I really hope most hindus don't feel this way, but knowing what I know about hinduism, I think they probably do. Hindu is pretty cut and dry on this kind of thing. I disagree with this line of thinking. I think it's a dangerous way to think, because personal accountability for the way you treat others seems to be lessened. You end up feeling that if something befalls a person (a child gets sexually abused or something), they somehow deserved it from their actions in a previous life. I really feel strongly that this is not the case.

As a closing statement, the reporter ties it all together by saying that a common thread amongst theologies is that the answers to these questions are not to be found in this life.

I guess one thing I'd like to bring up is the idea that I am seeing a sort of trend with all of these commentators. They seem to regard death as a punishment. "god punished this person" "god punished them", etc.

The only ones who are suffering are the ones left alive! That wasn't even mentioned! Look, I'll be perfectly honest. My attachment to my family is such that it would cause me great suffering if I were to lose any, or especially all, of them. I would not want to live.

Of course you know that I feel that this was just a random, chance event. Truly it was a horrible tragedy, but we can see all the truths that buddha gave us coming to the forefront right now. The people who are suffering are the ones who have lost things or people that they were attached to. This is just simply the plain observable truth. These things happen. They have happened, they will continue to happen. Nothing is permenant, even the very earth that we live on. Even the very ocean.

Now, let's get this site revived with some big discussions about this. The tsunami tragedy has not been brought up yet, and I have been trying to come up with something to kick off the discussion, so here it is. Thanks to NPR for the inspiration :)

Comments

  • edited January 2005
    Thanks for the summary Brian... I think you are right on with your commentary

    I find that any explaination that involves "god's reasoning" is simply ludacrious. Naturally I feel that the buddhist's monks comments were right on and at least he explained that some people are interpreting this as kammic comeupance but he does not attribute it to that.

    The jewish rabbi seemed to be on the right track that god does not micromanage the universe, but then he totally derailed (in my opinion).

    The rest of the people's explanations all involve god knowing or causing or controlling the tsunami, none of which i see any validity in.

    Not exactly the best way to start a discussion (by agreeing with everything you said) but its apparent that we feel the same way in most cases.
  • edited January 2005
    As I first started reading the article, I was thinking to myself "...I have heard this joke, haven't I?" However, I find it a little hard to believe that karma or God or anything caused the Earthquake other than plate techtonics. I read one story where a group from India predicted it ( http://www.enterprisemission.com/hyperquake.htm ) due to planetary alignments, but to say that this is Earth's/Mother Nature's/God's/Karma's way of getting back at us is a little short sighted. Seems like a cop-out honestly. Following that logic, does it make sense then that bad things happen to good people? What about good things happening to bad people? Sure there is a balance in the universe but I doubt 150,000 people were all that bad. My point is that this disaster was not on someone/thing's "to-do" list. It was the result of geology and friction. "If you pour water out of a glass, does it not spill all over the floor?" -Justin McNichol, January 11, 2005
  • BrianBrian Detroit, MI Moderator
    edited January 2005
    It all depends on the water's karma :lol:
  • edited January 2005
    What lke the Wizard of OZ??? " Are you a good Ocean or a bad Ocean?"

    Seriously, I trully feel for the people that lost so much in the disaster but, to say that it is some sort of devine plan... Come on, I mean ...Really.... Let's get on the conspiracy bandwaggon with it.

    Faux News, Dateline 1/12/2005

    "Russian Sub Sinks Off the Coast of China After Deploying Nuclear Warhead to Detonate Sumatra Disaster"

    AP-Today the carcass of a Russian sub was found floating in the sea of Japan after being fired upon for being out of it's native waters. It is believed that this is the same sub that is being blamed for the tsunami attacks that killed thousands over the Non-diety-specific-winter-solstice-holiday-weekend in Indonesia. The submarine's captian, when reached for comment, gave a stiff and cold respose to prods from a stick.---

    Really, this was a horrible thing that happened and all the world should show it's support but let's not try to pin it on anyone/thing. $**T happens...
  • edited January 2005
    Here is another related article I came across from the NY Times:
    here

    (You might have to register to read it, but it is quick and they don't send you any junk to your email addy)

    Anyways, I found it interesting all the various theories, especially when there are people saying that their neighbors got what they deserved because they weren't buddhist/muslim/hindu etc. These people are right in the middle of a horrible disaster and yet they are still infighting about who deserved or didn't deserve to be killed... where is the compassion?! Jeez...

    And who is Lord Buddha anyways? ;) (second paragraph)
  • edited January 2005
    I have to say that I agree with Justin. S#@t does happen. In fact, it is the first noble truth. Bad things happen to good people, life is like that. Now, knowing that bad and good are both pretty subjective, it is still the way that things are. The true measure of people is in seeing how they come together to help those who are really in need. It is true, Tycho, there are the minorities who are arguing about who's religion caused this and to be honest, from what I have seen, it is a minority. Everywhere I go, here in my home state, I have seen people rattling tins, putting together groups to accumulate clothes and other possessions to send across to the unfortunates still left alive. It sometimes takes a wakeup call like this for the world to realise that the noble truths do hold true. I know it is selfish, but helping out people who have it worse than I do, makes me feel good. And I guarantee that it makes others feel the same. Is this not the way as told by Buddha. Bad things happen and true happiness comes from letting go of physical possessions. You are all right when you say that blaming the bad things on others does not fix, change or cure anything. It ultimately makes the blamer look petty. These things do happen for a reason, I sometimes wish I knew what that reason was, but I am getting better.
  • edited January 2005
    Well, Brian posted this over on Keyboardjockey.com, and mentioned that he needed more non-buddhists on the site, so I hope you have room for a confirmed atheist :)

    I posted my thoughts on the Keyboardjockey site, but will paste them here for discussion as well.

    I recently entered a discussion on another forum I have been a member of for a few years. A large majority of the members there are female (like 98%) and a vast majority of them are Christian. There are some fairly "hard core" Christians at the site.

    One lady posted a thread talking about how, on her high school alumni board, she had posted comments that she was thankful and praising her god for having saved some friends of hers who were vacationing in an area hit by the tsunami. She said that she was grateful god's hand was upon them that day. She then went on to get several replies telling her that her friends were not saved by her god, that they were just lucky. She could not understand how so many people could not see how God was so great for having saved her friends.

    After sreading a few replies on the site from other people telling her that she was right, god is great, praise god, amen amen amen, we live in a lost world full of heathens, etc...

    I chimed in to say a few things. I said, look, many of you do not know this, but I am an atheist, and I am going to explain to you why many people do not agree with you.

    It boils down to several contradictions within the Christian faith (and applies equally to other major monotheistic faith groups.)

    - if you believe that your god saved anyone, even one poerson, then by extension, it means he chose *not* to save all the ones who dies. If he could save some of them, he could save all of them. Unless of course you believe he did not have the power to save them all...but that flies directly in the face of the whole "omnipotence" thing, doesn't it? So, why did he save some, but not others? Why did your god allow hundreds of thousands of innocent people to die, but hand picked a couple at random to live? Why should we be praising him for saving a handful when he had the power to save them all but allowed them to die horrible deaths instead? How is this a great and merciful god...?

    - many believe that their god controls all things. Not just the "allowed it to happen" theory, but actually controls all things. If that is your belief, then your god just killed these people. Murdered. Of course, there is much biblical precedent for god-initiated or god-instructed murder of thousands. So, if your god is the god who causes floods, earthquakes, etc, why should we be praising him for being good? Why should we be praising him for saving a handful when he had the cause the tsunami that killed them all? How is this a great and merciful god...?

    - or did your god just not have the power to do anything but save a couple of people? Is he really just a very limited power, and could not cause this, prevent this, or save them all, so he just grabbed as many as his limited power allowed him to save, and we should all be thankful for what little he was able to do?

    Whether you follow the "allowed it to happen" or the "caused it to happen" school of thought, either way, your great and holy guy in the sky either caused all these people to die, or sat back and did nothing about it when clearly your believe he had the power to do anything he wanted. So tell us again why we should be thankful he spared a couple of your friends...?

    The best answer Christians are able to come up with to this is that good old standby default BS answer: "God is mysterious. He works in mysterious ways. We mere mortals cannot understand his mysterious grand plan. But when good Christians die and go to heaven, it will be explained to them and they will be able to understand it. So be a good Christian and pray to god and tell him how great he is so that maybe he will like you enough to pick you for his team and you'll get to know the answers in your second life, the one we cannot prove exists but we believe it pretty feverishly so it must be true...."

    Ok, I embellished a bit on the end there, but the point is, the best answer they have to the glaring contradictions in their beliefs is to default back to the non-answer "mysterious grand plan." That basically translates to, "we don't know, and we won't ever know because we think it is beyond our ability to understand, so we will just ignore the question, because it is beyond us, and we are okay with that...."

    Atheists cannot accept that answer as making any sense. Neither, apparently, can Buddhists. But Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, etc, all have their version of this, and they very conveniently cling to it to help them turn a blind eye to anything that may show their god as weak, inneffectual, unjust, murderous, or just downright non-existent.

    Of course, on a board populated by a lot of hard core Christians, that explanation went down like a lead balloon.... Some were able to say "Ok, thanks for explaining what an athiest's perspective is....we don't agree of course, but at least we understand what the perspective is." Most however, did not see this as me giving an atheists perspective, but an attack on their faith, and gave me the "you are wrong, we don't believe that, god is so great, and if you seek him deligently and with a pure heart, he will reveal his ways to you..." Which, to me, is just a more flowery version of "he's a mysterious dude with mysterious ways, but believe hard enough and one day he'll let you in on the grand plan."

    Like I said, it's almost so automatic, many of them do not even realize they are doing it...

    Of course, it's a lot easier to see a paradigm when you are looking at it from the outside, rather than being comfortably trapped within it by personal choice....

    Dexter...
  • edited January 2005
    Well put Dexter. I find that often I can't help but laugh when I hear the "god is so great and works in mysterious ways that we can't understand" explaination. In fact it is taught over and over again in elementary religiion classes in catholic schools (i sat through them).

    I don't have much to say because I wholeheartedly agree with what you have said.
  • BrianBrian Detroit, MI Moderator
    edited January 2005
    I just fail to understand how anyone can say "I think god does this-or-that" or "I believe god did this but not that".... I'm trying to grasp that concept at a very basic level - how can a human who claims to believe in an omnipotent god dare to presume what god "does" or "thinks" or prescribe reasons for god's "actions"... It all serves to humanize god in a way that is just ludicrous to me. I really can't fathom that a grown, thinking, rational adult can have such an inane, childish view of god. They really do think there is a man in the sky, with a robe and a beard, doing human activities like "choosing" and "thinking" and "doing"... It's so simplistic, how can they take themselves seriously?

    If I were theistic, I would not expect to apply concepts like "god does" or "god thinks" or "god acts". They are too earthly and simple for an omnipotent being.
  • edited January 2005
    But really, what would Alannis Morisette do? I think there is a newer school of thinking that God isd not only human but is a female on top of that...
  • edited January 2005
    Brian wrote:
    I just fail to understand how anyone can say "I think god does this-or-that" or "I believe god did this but not that".... I'm trying to grasp that concept at a very basic level - how can a human who claims to believe in an omnipotent god dare to presume what god "does" or "thinks" or prescribe reasons for god's "actions"...

    I agree, but it goes way beyond that. It goes to the arrogant audacity for Christians to tell us that their god says that abortion is murder, when the bible does not ever talk about abortion, a concept that was not even really understood in those times. So when did god pop down and mention this, and to whom? Why didn't he just show up at the UN or the Vatican or something and make a globally viewed public statement?

    It goes to the hyprocrisy of the homo-hating neo-fundies who plan their next protest rally while chowing down at the local Red Lobster. Remember, god doesn't just hate fags (www.godhatesfags.com) but he hates shrimp too (www.godhatesshrimp.com) Oh and if they are wearing their blended wool/cotton shirts at the same time, they are doubly damning themselves. Oh, and if they slept with their wives within 7 days after her last period, they are triply damned. But it's more important for them to wave their signs and scream in the faces of people who are not hurting them in any real way, than to explain why they are ignoring 95% of the book of Leviticus themselves.

    Not a single one of them knows what their god says. Millions of them disagree with how to intepret any of it. About 2 dozen different Christian denominations, each thinking they have it all figured out, and are just a little bit more right than the next one. Yet they have the arrogance, the audicity, the hypocrisy to try and tell everyone else what they should believe, do, not do, because they alone *know* what god says.

    If I heard voices like that in my head I would see the doctor to get it checked out. But in some countries, it gets you elected President....:scratch:

    Dexter...
  • edited January 2005
    Well Said!!! :bigclap:
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited March 2005
    hello everyone, and thanks for the fun!
    One aspect of Religious doctrine I don't buy is that provided you believe in God and repent your sins, Heaven holds a place for you. if however, you are a diligent, hard-working, good citizen, who loves his neighbours, is well known for the good deeds you do and always smiles - but has no intrinsic belief in God, then tough luck, the Pearly Gates are shut to you, pal!
    I was born, baptised & raised a good Roman Catholic girl, but I suspect I've been Buddhist all my life (I was labelled as argumantative and insubordinate at my Convent school - yay me!) so sometimes the two doctrines cross or run parallel, and occasionally they diverge. I prefer to smile upon the similarities in the doctrines, and ignore the differences in the dogma. :)
    At the end of the day, it's all about walking the talk. "believe those who say they seek the Truth. Doubt those who say they have found it." ;)
  • edited March 2005
    i love that quote"believe those who say they seek truth. doubt those who say they have found it"
    where i lasted worked my boss told me it's ashame that you are such a good person and i won't get to see you in heaven. i was also praised for how smart i was , with the underlying tone of your so smart why aren't you a christian-hello! weird!
  • edited April 2005
    From a Christian viewpoint, God is love and would not kill people whether evil or good. For God's rain falls on the just and unjust alike (peace is all people if they simply find it what the meaning behind that is). Point being God would not do this and not kill anybody. Nature always acted like this before people and will act like this after people. Religion likes to scare people when something like this saying that God did this and that he smited the evil. But in relaity, if God is love he would never. All those people and only a few were probably bad but even then, they had goodness in them. So that theory is out. God would not do this. After all, Jesus and Buddha had the same principles and both said that tolerance is key and violence is wrong. So why would God be violent why would these prophets of inner peace and love be lying? They wouldn't.
    Perhaps the natural explanation is just to simplistic for some and they have to attach their religion to it to understand why this tragedy happened. A lot people living near the water, earthquake, no warning, people were bound to die. Nature is always funny about her ways. Such tragedy is not always simple. I feel no hatred to Osama for what he did, in fact fell sympathy because he does not know his ego and desire is controlling him. What happened on 9/11 is awful, but we still must show love to all even those who have done evil. Not a natural disaster but a disaster nonethe less and one that could have been prevented if one man dropped the ego and the other drop his ego (Osama and Bush).
  • edited April 2005
    You do know that they were working together in that plot, right?
  • edited June 2005
    Brian wrote:
    I just fail to understand how anyone can say "I think god does this-or-that" or "I believe god did this but not that".... I'm trying to grasp that concept at a very basic level - how can a human who claims to believe in an omnipotent god dare to presume what god "does" or "thinks" or prescribe reasons for god's "actions"... It all serves to humanize god in a way that is just ludicrous to me. I really can't fathom that a grown, thinking, rational adult can have such an inane, childish view of god. They really do think there is a man in the sky, with a robe and a beard, doing human activities like "choosing" and "thinking" and "doing"... It's so simplistic, how can they take themselves seriously?

    If I were theistic, I would not expect to apply concepts like "god does" or "god thinks" or "god acts". They are too earthly and simple for an omnipotent being.

    Brian you couldn't have said it better. Can someone explain to me how an "almighty" God possess the same humanistic features and characteristics as any average person? You would think that an all powerful God would in some way or other, want to distinguish himself from the rest of us. And furthermore how is it that an individual "man" controls the entire universe in unison? Obviously any rational person would be dumbfounded, but the Christians always have the same response to this, "you just have to have faith." Personally I don't find blind faith to be a substantial answer, which is probably why I am no longer a Christian.

    Now for my view on the Tsunami, I basically feel that nature has to run it's course. I don't in any way believe that 150,000 people were intended to die that day. Unfortunately they were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Although I do find it interesting that we only think there's a greater purpose to a natural phenomenon, at the cost of human life. For example if this Tsunami were to occur on a deserted island somewhere, everyone would continue to go about their daily lives accepting that it's a natural occurrence. Now factor some human casualties into the equation, and suddenly this natural occurrence (that would have happened anyhow) has a hidden agenda. It really boils down to the egocentric attitude that humans(the superior beings) have. Everything has to be about us, because the world revolves around us....of course! :wtf:
  • edited June 2005
    Tsunami answer number one for all the theistic questioners. 150,000 people died in the tsunami, this is true. you could not possibly have stoped it with all the faith in the world. and if you were there you would most likely have been a casualty too. now, since all religions teach about love and support of others ask yourself why dont we do something about the 40,000 peole a day that starve to death on this planet? THIS we could do something about. Here we could make a difference. we have the knowledge and the means to end this, what we lack in our leadership, political,religious and otherwise is compassion. most of the people I have talked to about this dont even know its going on. they want to believe God is in charge, quickly pointing out the "miracles". yet when things dont go as planned how could you then be angry? It must not have been Gods plan?! No you cant have your cake and eat it too.

    Tell them to get "angry" about this.

    shu jo mu hen sei gan do

    ^gassho^
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited June 2005
    "I never look at the masses as my responsibility;
    I look at the individual.
    I can only love one person at a time.
    I can only feed one person at a time.
    Just one, just one.... so you begin - I begin.
    I picked up one person - maybe if I didn't pick up that one person, I wouldn't have picked up the forty-two thousand.
    The whole work is only a drop in the ocean, but if I didn't put that drop in, the ocean would be one drop less.
    same thing for you, same thing for your family, same thing for the community, where you live:
    Just begin.... one, one, one....."


    Mother Theresa said this. I try to live by it.... you cannot help all the thousands at once, but you can start to make a difference in a small way. Kindness is contagious, just like smiles. And as the knock-on effect spreads and grows, then we know that anything is possible.
  • edited June 2005
    Change starts with the individual.
  • edited June 2005
    Which do we see first? the many or the one? I can get trapped by this. If I am all things and all things are me- no subject/ object no duality- then I can tell myself by feeding me I am feeding you!

    I realize that we must be peace to create peace but how am I to be food to end hunger?

    Just a thought

    ^gassho^
  • edited June 2005
    i agree with all of the posts on this one... a god wouldnt destroy his masterpiece and blah blah, techtonic plate shifting blah blah... however i wanted to make a point about that buddhist monk attributing it to karma....its not karmic retrobution to be killed by a tsunami! karma isnt scoring points to determine whether youre good or bad and depending on your karma ur spared or killed in natural disasters!....choices create consequences and consequences dictate choices... its cosainity...cause and effect...

    the whole "well... he must have had bad karma, thats why he died" thats nuts, that sounds like the dogma of christianity (go to heaven for being good and christian, go to hell for being bad and any other religion)

    i believe karma was a word that buddha used to try and sum up or explain "what goes around comes around"...you dont really "gain" karma, karma constantly affects u with everything u do.. if you do something good and helpful the good karma from that deed makes u feel good instantly, karma isnt reserved, racked up and tallied for 30 years later when determening whether a tsunami blows up ur house or not...

    just my opinion :p
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited June 2005
    Yes it is. But don't forget that we are all someone else's karma too...

    We carry our karma with us. And everything we think, say and do affects the karma of others. That is Causality - cause and effect. You cause something, someone else is affected. So it hits two people. You and the other guy. And what they think and say and do affects you. you see how interconnected we all are?
    True, the Tsunami was a natural disaster, and the loss of all those lives was catastrophically tragic. trying to find rhyme or reason for things like this is beyond the scope of the ordinary mind, clouded by illusion. I don't have any idea what the Buddha would say about it, and I would never presume to try to even hazzard a guess, so I'm remaining silent on this one.
    But The Dalai lama was asked
    "How are we supposed to rectify karma from a previous existence! No one can remember that far back!"
    He agreed... he replied, "I can't even remember what happened last tuesday! the thing is to be in the present Moment, to remedy and determine what we do now."
    "But", argued the questioner, "How do we know what the past held? How do we rectify what WAS?"
    And this is the reply he gave. It's worth thinking about.

    "If you wish to know what you once were, look at what your Body is experiencing now. If you want to know what you will become, look at what your Mind is experiencing now."

    Mental anguish will always, but always manifest in a physical way too. I am a therapist and I'm telling you, the truth of this statement has been borne out to me more times than I care to mention. You cannot separate the mind from the body. One will always affect the other.. cause... effect....cause....effect.... so whatever you once were has been carried forward to manifest in you, in some way or another. But leave that aside. That is for us to deal with personally, as we see fit, to make our lives more comfortable and easy.... It's not the cental issue here. Look rather, at what your Mind is doing now. because unless we can exercise control over everything that passes through it, and come out the other side, the veil of illusion will remain with us.... and so on and so on.
    This is why the Dalai Lama has said that Happiness can be achieved through Training the Mind. Your Karma is for you to control, mould and improve.
    Finished.
  • edited June 2005
    Didn't the Buddha teach that change is inescapable and universal? Well, it's true - every day, our earth is moving, in some places less than a millimetre a day, in some places something deep under the earth will give way and suddenly everything around will move a few hundred metres. I studied that earlier this year in geography and I'm 14 - surely the "wise" priests can see that the tsunami was a natural disaster. you were there and you died, you survived, you weren't there at all - it's just luck whether you were there or not. i agree with all you guys - this isn't down to karma.
    People should stop attacking other faiths and be thankful of what they have - a secure belief, a god (or not, as the case may be), a family, a community. When so many acts of kindness are committed everyday, why should you care if someone who brings a smile to someone elses face believes something different to you? If you follow this link you will see my website, on it is a poem i made up called give a smile... that's how the world should be.
    rhi-dee.blinkz.com

    :) hope you like it!
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited June 2005
    beautiful poem.... and I love the linkems!! I don't for the life of me know who it was, but it is said that if you get eight people together, one will know someone who the next person knows is connected to someone else, who is neighbours with somebody..... and it'll come round to the first person again! My B/F has been working away, and is involved in selling Mobile homes to English visitors... he's already met three couples with whom he's had a weird link... either geographically, or in a previous job, and the third knows his ex-wife ....! argh! Isn't that weird? Mind you, when there is the Buddhist stream of thought that says that at one point everyone we meet was a relative, distant or otherwise, we shouldn't be surprised, really.....!
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited June 2005
    Rhidee,

    Do you know The Dhammapada? Your poem sent me straight back to the Twin Verses. It was good.

    One of the interesting thing about getting old is that I notice more and more of these connections. And we live in an increasingly connected world.

    I think that most of the people who need explanations of "natural disasters" are simply working through the denial stage of their grief. And 'God' makes a great Aunt Sally on which to project the rest of the stages. Unfortunately, by doing this, we risk failing to process the mourning and horror as emotions arising in ourselves.

    If it is all down to 'God', I can remove my inner attention from the reactions in our body and mind, arising as emotion. I can also remove my outer attention from the relievable suffering that will last for years. Attention turns towards 'beyond'. As I have learned: energy goes where attention goes.

    I suppose it would be hard for a priest of any religion to say, "God is as irrelevant to a tsunami as to the outcome of an election." I would have more sympathy if more theists took the attitude of the late Catholic priest, C. C. Martindale, enjoined: that, in times of difficulty, we should pray as if everything depended on God and then get up from our knees, roll up our sleeves and get on with the job as if God had nothing to do with it. But I find it sad that so many appear to crave distraction from full-blooded attention and mindfulness that is what Dzogchen calls The View.
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