Mar 15th, 2011
... WHY BAD THINGS HAPPEN ... TO GOOD PEOPLE. With the death of perhaps tens of thousands here in Japan, the suffering of countless more ... seemingly innocent children and others among the hardest hit ... some perspectives and teachings on why 'bad things happen'. Karma? Nature? Destiny? A Deity's Mysterious Plan? Simple bad luck? In fact, the truth is that none of us in this life ... none of us ... escape this life with our lives. Long or short, we are here for a time, having wondrously been born ... but do not stay here forever. And, while it is shocking and tragic to see so many have their lives and homes lost at once ... the truth is that most human beings will have such times sometime in life ... if not by earthquake(there was quite an aftershock about 4 minutes into today's shake-a-long talk, as you'll share) or nuclear fallout or flood ... then by a doctor's diagnosis, house fire, traffic accident or the like. The Buddha taught that such is the human condition ... times of old age, sickness, loss and death. All worldly things are impermanent ... including you, me and those we love.
Sounds pretty bleak! ........... But, It's Not! (or, better said, "not only" so heartbreaking).
For, no less, the Buddha offered a medicine for human suffering. Together with teachings on suffering and impermanence, he also taught us another way to experience, to see, to merge into, be at peace, one and whole in these things: ... loss yet never loss possible ... birth and death amid the deathless and unborn ... time flowing as the timeless, beyond count of 'long' 'short' 'young' 'old' ... the waters rushing forward while no place to go ... the earth's shaking in stillness ... houses lost while this 'True Home' remains. "Bad" things happen hand-in-hand with a Peace, tasted in Zazen, which swallows whole all small views of "good" and "bad". Although "all things are change", and some changes are hard and ugly ... there is that which dances with all change, and a heart which, when at peace, can fully let it all just be. Flowers are born of seeds, live for a time, then fall. Same for weeds in life, though we may despise them.
Oh, I do not want anyone to mistake my words for a lack compassion toward the countless people still hungry and thirsty, cold and uprooted just miles north of here, in this country that has been so kind to me for half my life. Far from it, and my heart is broken by what is happening here. But we must feel compassion for everyone, all sentient beings everywhere now suffering.
In the story of Kisa Gotami...
When her son died just a few years into his life, Kisa Gotami went mad with grief. A wise person saw her condition and told her to find the Buddha, who had the medicine she needed. Kisa Gotami went to the Buddha, and asked him to give her the medicine that would restore her dead child to life. The Buddha told her to go out and find a mustard seed from a house where nobody had died. Kisa Gotami was heartened, and began her search, going door to door. Everyone was willing to give her a mustard seed, but every household she encountered had seen at least one death. She understood why the Buddha had sent her on this quest. She returned to the Buddha, who confirmed what she had realized: "There is no house where death does not come." (Jesus also offered a parable of the mustard seed: To those who have faith the size of a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible to you).
NONE OF US CAN ESCAPE.
YET, NONE OF US EVER LESS THAN FREE WHEN SEEN WITH A BUDDHA'S EYE. For donations to the children and people of Japan and other places around the world also in need ...
Today’s Sit-A-Long video follows at this link. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended.