We had a Tsunami warning today because of the disastrous earth quake in Chile. I heard some sirens go off briefly around 5 am but didn’t find out about the warning till about 7 am when our land lady called and told us we needed to evacuate by 10:30 am. Hearing of the possibility of a giant wave crashing onto the coast nearby quickly put life into perspective! I have been dealing with some difficult business people in the last few days and yesterday was an upsetting day. The discontent about these events was still in my mind, but when it occurred to me this morning that maybe I wouldn’t have a home anymore in a few hours, this quickly helped to put things into perspective. The upsetting problem was no longer very significant in the face of the pending disaster.
Since there was plenty of time left before we had to leave, I decided to go to my Qi Gong class at 7 am anyway. This proved to be a good choice as it helped me relax. It created some space in my mind to think about what needed to be done. I also thought of the people that had died or were suffering in Chile and the suffering that this earth quake might now create in Hawaii and other places.
After the class I found out that my land lady’s information was wrong and we didn’t have to leave our house after all. We were far enough from the coast to be safe. So we stayed home and watched the event unfold on TV. The Tsunami came but fortunately it was not strong enough to create damage. The director of the Tsunami Warning Center explained that we were lucky because in 1960 a similar tsunami had devastated the town of Hilo. The difference between 1960 and today was that back then the waves were closer together and amplified each other, whereas this time this did not happen because they were further apart. Small change, big difference! This reminded me of the principle of cause and effect. The Buddhist teachings explain that everything in this world arises due to many causes and conditions and that these are all interrelated. While the basic situation between 1960 and today was very similar this little difference in the spacing of the waves made a huge difference.
As it happens, the topic of karma, the principle of cause and effect has been in my mind quite a bit recently. For the last few weeks my blog posts have been on freedom, happiness and destructive emotions. Although I had some more ideas for postings, a few days ago I started to feel that it was time to move on to a new topic. I have been mulling in my mind what topic to pick next and the one that came to my mind most often was karma, the principle of cause and effect. I was drawn to it because it would be challenging. In the same way that my mind tries to ignore the fact that negative emotions are harmful, it ignores the fact that my actions have long ranging effects and denies that the law of karma is infallible.
Today was a significant day in my life. A good day to start something new! I felt “karma was calling me” and said hello. This settled the question of which topic to pick next! Karma will be the new topic!
I am sure I will also keep reflecting on destructive emotions because it has been very helpful for me. I now understand much better how they create harm. It is much clearer to me why it is not beneficial to let my life be governed by destructive emotions like attachment and aversion. I also realized that there is no point to fight them or try to suppress them. Emotions are a wonderful and valuable aspect of my being, but they are not the objective and trustworthy source of information about my world that they pretend to be.
I also feel more confident now that it is possible to put an end to the tyranny of the five poisons. They may seem powerful but they are just sensations, ultimately they cannot harm me. Instead of looking at the world through the colored glasses of emotions, conditioned concepts, judgements, assumptions, habits, e.t.c., I can learn to look at things freshly with beginners mind. Instead of dwelling in thoughts about the past or future, I can learn to be more in the present moment and look at things freshly, as they are. I can question my concepts and challenge my deeply ingrained beliefs. I can step back from the rut and routine of my daily life and preoccupations and find a more authentic and true way of being. A familiar motto: “Yes I can!”
I wish the spiritual path were a linear process. Then I could just tick off negative emotions and go on to the next problem. Unfortunately, at least in my case, it is not that easy. For me, it is more like going around in circles, coming back to each topic again and again. Hopefully it will actually not be just going round and round in a circle but progressing in a spiral. I hope that by the time I come around again to intensively reflect on negative emotions, there will have been some progress in my ability to understand and apply the teachings.
I invite you to join me in my reflections on my new topic “karma” and my efforts to bring the understanding of cause and effect deeper into my life.