Friday, September 02, 2005

Karma On A National Level

[I write the following with the utmost sympathy and passion for the plight of those caught in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.]

In the past five days, we've seen devastation second only to last year's tsunami in the Far East, heard reports of depravity on the streets, rape in the Superdome, snipers attacking fleeing hospital patients, policemen nearly killing a restaurant owner who wanted supplies so he could cook for the victims. From the media we get the usual pablum, and racial profiling (whites "find", blacks "loot").

And from our government? A vacationing Secretary of State watching Broadway shows, shopping for expensive shoes, and taking lessons on her backswing; an emergency relief infrastructure compromised due to National Guard/Armed Forces Reserves being used in a far off war; missing transport for thousands of poor people (mostly black) who couldn't find a place to stay, or find their own means of leaving town; and a vacationing president who takes two full days to react to what was obviously a national disaster, says the government doesn't have enough money to really help out anyone down there, asks his financially-strapped populace to help out, and (get this) turns to the international community for compassion.

Pretty fucked up, huh?

Now, if this were some other country, most wouldn't blink an eye. As horrendous as the footage from the far east was last year, there was still a certain amount of "that's over there" going on. Because this is happening here, when people look at the malignant chaos happening in New Orleans, they find themselves shocked (much as it happened during post-9/11), and ask, "what's going on?"

Well, there are plenty of scientific and political reasons for what's happening (read Molly Ivins' latest column for a sharp and incisive viewpoint on all this), but let's look at something a little more ephemeral: Karma.

Most of us are familiar with the basic concept of Karma. You know, cause and effect, what goes around comes around, etc. etc. What most don't realise, but many intuit, is that it's not just a person to person thing. Karma affects everything, and can grow in scope from person to community to area, growing in size to global and universal proportions.

The various sutras are filled with dire warnings about what happens to those who trangress the Mystic Law*, but many aren't as vivid nor as strenuous as those dealing with the events surrounding the activities of a "corrupt leader of a nation." (The worst is saved for the "enemy of the Lotus Sutra," which we may get into at some future point.)

Here, these are the direct result of continued unjust behavior by said corrupt leader (i.e. - burdening of the poor, killing of the innocent, influence by greed; but in Nichiren Daishonin's time, the biggest offense was, ahem, religious persecution). If this unjust behavior goes on unabated, and the ruler's power runs unchecked, then misfortune will befall the land/population.

These take the form of fires, lack of rain or too much rain, tumult, riots, death, revolutions, earthquakes, attacks from invading armies, comets from the sky (which, as recently as the 1800s were seen as a bad omen in Asian cultures)...

Now, let's see...Corrupt leader of a nation, religious persecution, abuses of power, burdening of the poor, greed influenced decisions, deaths of innocents. Okay, now, attacks from invading armies, riots, natural disasters, drought, civil unrest...


If the actions taken in the name of this country continue to be as rampant as they have been, we still haven't seen anything yet.

*Some would argue that, etymologically speaking, there isn't any difference between a god one worships, and a Mystic Law one should adhere to. The difference lay with where the power resides, one asks you to not to do something because it may piss off a higher power, the other places responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the person. One tactic uses fear, the other attempts to appeal to wisdom.

There is a difference, subtle, but important.


Blogger Stine said...

I couldn't agree more with your post. Dude, one of these times, we have GOT to get together and study some shit. I need more reading material. I've been slowly plugging away at the Writings of Nichirin, but I want something else.

What does one do, on a personal level, when these "deeds" are being done in one's name? Still trying to figure that one out.

On a side note: TWO women have asked me about my practice in the last week. Wild eh? I had drinks with one of them and left her with a few World Tribunes, and gave a few Tribunes to the other. It made me very excited.

7:06 PM  
Blogger the beige one said...

What does one do, on a personal level, when these "deeds" are being done in one's name? Still trying to figure that one out.

Speak out, wisely and loudly. Write someone, talk about it broadly, just take action. This is also like planting a seed, the more awareness raised, the wider it will be distributed.

Just put it out there, and don't worry about results...You may not reach your intended audience, but someone will surely pick it up.

Congrats on the shaka buku!

2:33 PM  
Blogger JJisafool said...

I've been reading off your links, and am curious about something. I hope it isn't an inappropriate question.

Your introduction talks about not wanting to get into a pissing contest about whose Buddhism is right. What are the criticisms that this branch of Buddhism receives? Who says it ain't the best and why?

Very honestly curious, as you know, cuz I think a lot.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Stine said...

Want. More. Posts. On. This. Blog.


4:47 PM  
Blogger the beige one said...

getting there...

5:20 PM  
Blogger Stine said...

More entries on this blog please.

5:44 PM  
Blogger JJisafool said...

What Stine said.

12:19 AM  
Blogger JJisafool said...

If you can imagine a judge with a divinely perfect understanding of Mystic Law, and that judge administers the Mystic Law, is that any different?

No trap. We just talked about this once, and never came back to it.

12:29 AM  

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