I am speechless about Japan. All I want to do is pray. So that is what I will do here, today, in the small room of my blog.
God, please help the Japanese people. Protect them from further harm. Keep them healthy and strong. Find those who are still alive and rescue them. Reunite families separated by the flood. Speed healing of their physical wounds. Soften the blow of the wounds – psychological, spiritual, emotional – no one can see, but which they have suffered.
As for the nuclear plants, God, please stop the devastation here. Now. End the threat of nuclear meltdown, seal all radiation leaks.
Help us to work together to help them.
So be it. So it is.
I don’t know what else to say – except for this. In the past few days, I have witnessed an exquisite outpouring of beauty as people on Twitter, Facebook, television news programs… all over the world add their voices to the collective prayer for the people of Japan.
And then someone tweeted this: “This is karma for Pearl Harbor.”
Once again, i found myself speechless – with outrage.
This had to be the most nonsensical misunderstanding of spiritual principles I’d ever encountered.
As this is a ‘spiritual blog,’ I am gonna respond to that assertion here.
1) You don’t know nothing about karma.
Contrary to what many (especially here in the West) believe, Karma is not a punishment; it is an intricate and infinitely enormous balance, the scope and nature of which we humans will never be able to grasp.
Karma (Sanskrit: कर्म IPA: [ˈkərmə] ( listen); Pali: kamma) in Indian religions is the concept of “action” or “deed”, understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect (i.e., the cycle called saṃsāra) originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain,Buddhist and Sikh philosophies.
‘Karma’ is an Indian religious concept in contradistinction to ‘faith’ espoused by Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), which view all human dramas as the will of God as opposed to present—and past—life actions. In theistic schools of Hinduism, humans have free will to choose their own actions, which require only the will of God to implement karma’s consequences. Buddhism and Jainism do not accord any role to a supreme God or Gods, but the principal belief is the same. In Indian beliefs, the karmic effects of all deeds are viewed as actively shaping past, present, and future experiences. The results or ‘fruits’ of actions are called karma-phala.
2) You don’t know even more about cosmic karma.
Cosmic karma, as opposed to personal karma, is even more complex. To use this word at all, we must put ourselves in the conceptual world from which it arises: India.
Eastern tradition holds that all things are connected – and by all things I mean ALL things : you, me, the North Star, that ant crawling along the sidewalk, that glass of water on the cafe table in Italy – everything. Try to imagine this: all that is interconnected in one vast and limitless web of connectivity, each intersection studded with a glittering jewel. Try now to figure out the cause for ANYTHING.
You can’t. Neither can I.
We don’t even know ourselves.
Invoking concepts such as karma to serve our own nationalistic revenge fantasies for things that happened long ago – is lame, and also, dangerously foolish.
It stirs up trouble. It also cuts us off from our own experience (which is why we do it. To push our own feelings: fear that such a thing could happen here, fear that our own lives could be suddenly swept from us in a tsunami of events over which we have no control.)
At a time when we should be standing with the Japanese people, such statements may make us feel justified in not caring, in hardening our hearts to their suffering but they do nothing to help us cope with the feelings such events stimulate within ourselves.
They also do nothing to further the evolution of the consciousness of the world toward peace – and that, above all, is the required spiritual ‘work’ of our time.
How to deal with things like this from a spiritual perspective
- Feel what you feel. Instead of looking into the past for ‘reasons’ for ecological disasters, remain present, asking: What feelings does it stimulate in me? Use it to question our own foundations. We might use it to ask: Where are my waters rising? Where are my ‘power stations’ built on fault lines?
- Use it to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Practice the balance-board experience of not knowing the cosmic ‘why’ of such large scale events
- Sit with the suffering of others and let your heart open. Feel what you feel arising within yourself and just sit with that. Don’t reach for the easy way out – the feel-better fix of blaming the victim or seeking to ‘explain’ the discomfort away with lofty spiritual concepts.
Let the pain in. Let it pierce your heart for this is how our hearts break open – and we are able, perhaps for the first time, to fully feel our lives.
Let it remind you that life is short, that there is much to be done. Let it remind you to fully feel your life, to fully love the people that populate your world, to fully light your own path to joy.
Though we may never understand the ‘reason’ such things happen (or whether there is a reason at all – perhaps they are simply random events) we will meet what comes – in world events, and in our own lives, with renewed awareness and with true compassion.
Sit in your living room and mourn with the Japanese people – and when the danger has passed, and the rebuilding begins (and it will begin), sit in your living room, and rebuild your brave, broken open heart.
God bless Japan. God bless the world. God bless you.