Opening the Entrance to The Hell Realms
I was considering after watching the news this evening the kind of hell that our Japanese friends are enduring, especially those in the North. The death toll is expected to exceed ten thousand. Compounding that is the potential for a revisiting of radioactive particle and direct radiation induced diseases, especially for children who survived the ravages of their recent multiple earthquakes, and resultant tsunami, only to be dosed with the fallout from the reactor hydrogen explosions and rod storage fires.
The question always arises, Why?
Of course, until the scientific concept of Plate Techtonics was formulated in the field of Geological Sciences nobody had any real idea of what was going on, and folks superstitiously conjured up angry gods, and karmic consequences for individuals and even entire societies. Our search for explanations reflects our darker thoughts, hatreds, and fears. For example, Jews were for years called "Christ Killers" by the Christians as late as the nineteen forties and fifties by my memory, and it wasn't until Vatican II Council that Catholic leaders even acknowledged that Jews could go to heaven. Ironically it turned out that the same Catholic Hierarchy has since created an immense karmic debt for themselves, people thinking that there may be in fact such a thing as group kamma. For the exact same reason some think that The Tibetans were attacked by the military forces of Red China resulting in millions of them being killed. Then there is the not so irrational hatred of the Jews by the Palestinians, by Hesbullah, and by The Muslim Brotherhood.
Just recently a Christian community gathered to shout hateful epithets to family and friends, mourners , when their son and school mate was brought home in a body bag to be given a family funeral at a local church.
Consider also that thousands of innocent Americans died in the 9/11/2001 attack, resulting in tens of thousands of young men, women, innocent adults, not so innocent adults, fighters and innocent bystanders, those wanting only to be of service to their country to die, or be maimed for life psychologically and physically. Such as these endured and are to this day still enduring hellish circumstances...........all because of mental factors which resulted in violent actions, which in turn created a literal hell realm right here on Earth for them and those around them. Mothers and fathers grieve for their lost children and ask, “Why”.
Religious practitioners produce only inadequate and largely inaccurate explanations for the absurdities of sincere believers slaughtering each other and then ask their concept of a god "Why?" Answering only that “It is god’s will!”, or “God works in mysterious ways!”.....when the answer is so simple, as Buddha put it: "Violence leads only to more violence."
I have found in my almost sixty-seven years on this planet that there are many doors to such hell realms, and none of these doors are locked. All it takes to for each one of us to open any of these doors is an attachment to the delusion of self, a false belief, an irrational idea that we are somehow different from one another. Such delusions sometimes begin with an idea that our thoughts, views, and perspectives are somehow superior to those of others. We see that on online opinion forums and blogs constantly, when our individual false-egos raise their ugly heads with some sense that a personal violation of our delusional selves has taken place. So a perceived insult results in a retort. A retort is exchanged for a self-righteous volley of insults and rude comments, which then give rise to us harboring ill feelings towards those perceived to have somehow insulted, demeaned or, in some other way harmed our delusional selves.
Buddha taught us, "Violence leads only to more violence." It is true of violence in the play yard. It is true of violence on the battlefield. It is true of rude abuse in public forums. It is true on the subway. It is true during personal exchanges on online forums. In this way we easily open a door and create our own current and future hell realms.
To understand, verify and validate this concept, as we were advised to do in Buddhas Charter of Free Inquire, The Kalama Sutta, all we have to do is to look at how our own personal hells were created by us, and we will come to grips with the reason “Why?” hell realms arise around and within us. It is because such hell realms are of our own personal creation through our own personal acts of violence.
Buddha explained the solution in The Angulimala Sutta to a serial killer: "Stop!" ...and, "The only way to stop is to stop." “It is not enough to just want to stop.” “It is not enough just to plan to stop.” “The only way to stop is to stop.” Which requires that we ask ourselves a question: "Have we stopped?" If not, then we must examine and reflect thus, “Do we want to stop?” If not, perhaps we enjoy being in hells and being responsible for creating little hell realms wherever we go. Perhaps we are addicted to the feelings and the power that comes along with creating hells for ourselves. If so, the consequences of our actions are very easily predicted, and we may well deserve exactly what we get as a result.
As if it is not bad enough that we damage ourselves with our destructive violent intentional actions or inactions, the problem is as dear friends rightly pointed out, there are innocents around us who always suffer collateral damage, damages which almost always leave life-time scars and fill them with anxiety at first, fear, terrors, and eventually hatreds, which in turn results in resolve; that is resolve to even the score; what we in the Italian community call "La Vendeta!".
There is a Biblical quotation which I first heard spoken by a Russian safety engineer, a coworker, where I was employed in Rochester, New York: "Death and destruction to the fourth generation!" I don't remember the exact Biblical chapter and verse, but the idea was that god understood that if we hope to solve our problems with violence, we need to kill up to the fourth generation of those with whom we are engaged in war, otherwise there will be retribution. "Violence leads only to more violence."
Hence, Buddha's advisory to stop.
The United States is engaged now in three wars. It is true that these were not of our own choosing. Those who chose to act against The U.S.A. with violence are discovering the consequences of attempting to solve their issues with violence perpetrated against the most powerful military force “ever”, and the result is children coming home in body bags, and children along with their entire families being killed in their own home villages, simply because of an attempt to end violence with violence.
Discussing this a good friend wrote to me: “Write your congressman.”…which I did.
But even more important than writing our government officials, it seems to me that if we really want to destroy our personal hells, we have to stop being violent ourselves. And, we are the only ones who can do that.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.