Japan

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.

From Wikipedia:

Karma (Sanskrit: कर्म IPA: [ˈkərmə] ( listen);[1] 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 HinduJain,Buddhist and Sikh philosophies.[2]

‘Karma’ is an Indian religious concept in contradistinction to ‘faith’ espoused by Abrahamic religions (JudaismChristianity, 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.[3]

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.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Christie, Describe Happy

So beautifully written. Thank you for taking the time to compose those words in such a meaningful way! I woke up that morning earlier than I normally do and turned on the news… which I never do… just knowing that something was going on in a place that I adore. It’s been heartbreaking as you describe, but you are giving me something to do with the emotions. Sending all my love and energy to Japan!

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Amy

As we get accustomed to the ways of living in a global village, this is one of the side effects – this feeling of overwhelming powerlessness when disaster strikes thousands of miles away. It feels so immediate – water rushing through a village on the screen in our living room. We are not wired for this – not yet. We are tribal beings, programmed to respond to the suffering of other human beings by feeling and then doing. We have to learn new – more globally oriented – ways of responding. For me, the most powerful, for now, is prayer.

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erin margolin

It has been horrible to watch on television, Amy. I loved this idea for a post. I am heartbroken, and I have had to turn off the news. My heart cannot hold any more. All I can do is pray.

Thank you for saying so well what I have been unable to.

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Amy

As people come to my blog to share their feelings about what’s going on in Japan, there is a gathering together – a building a circle – quality to your arrival. It is helping me. I’m glad that what I wrote is helping you, too. It’s like finding a corner of rest in the midst of all of this 24/7 news cycle. Big scary news all the time isn’t good for anyone. There is so much happening in the world. It’s a very big place – and we are not meant to be taking it all in at once.

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jo miller

Dear Amy,
Thank you , Amy for this, a valuable gift to all of us.
Love,light & gratitude.
God bless. xo

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Patti

Thank you, Amy.

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Janet

Truly remarkable observations to an unspeakable tragedy. Unspeakable with words flowing like the tsunami. No, not flowing. Pummeling. Destroying. Avalanching. Thank you for making me feel about it and in the feeling, realizing that this writer has non words for it. Humbling in such a human way.

Your wisdom humbles me, Bella.

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Megan Matthieson

This is beautiful Amy. It really does pierce my heart, which is open like never before. I’m grateful to be able to feel so deeply.

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Wendy Kelly

Amy,

Thank you so much for this thoughtful piece. Just last night, I was trying to articulate to a friend the idea of “feel what you feel”

I wish I had read your post before the conversation~you nailed it (so to speak)

Thank you again,

Wendy

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Michael Odom @miko57

Great advice, Amy! All of us feel a need to respond to these events in some way. Your suggestions offer a compassionate means to deal with the suffering. Thank you for your insights.

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jane

BEAUTIFUL thank you – there is so much anguish on the planet at the moment… finding the beauty in love is crucial for me

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Lisa@Practically Intuitive

So beautifully written and stated. Karma is just one of those words that people *think* they understand and toss it around without getting it on the level which it was intended.
I appreciate the clarification.

I also appreciate your heartfelt sentiments. I, too, feel helpless and do what I can to hold the loving vibrations around me and send them outward.

Nice site – bookmarked!

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Luzia

Amy,

thank you for the beautiful words.

Events like this bring us to our knees while at the same time reminding us to live a joyful life. It is like living in two worlds at the same time, the witnessing of this enormous shift and staying centered. Staying centered in ones light is how we can help balance the earth back to it’s wholeness. Like you wrote above, a broken heart is an open heart and all we have to do is to decide what to fill it with, fear or love. I am still a beginner at this living from the love place, fear was where I used to feel comfortable .
Regarding Karma … I see it more as that the Japanese people in going through this tragic events are helping earth and humanity to find their balance. Big sacrifice on their part.
Namaste

Reply

Amy

What a beautiful way to think of karma – my view is similar. Essentially, I feel that all things are constantly moving into and out of balance – that the universe is designed to seek balance and that events like these are somehow a part of that balancing. Easier to see when we view such things through a lens that includes all of creation, not only humanity..

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