Saturday, August 28, 2010

Reconciling the inherent perfection of all, with the harsh realities of evil actions.

In his most recent post about the Helpful Deity, Robert noted a problem that a lot of people run into on their quest for enlightenment. In his words:

"The HD also told me that It is the all. Well not really, Its words were more subtle than that but what was not subtle was, "If you reject anyone, you are rejecting a part of me." Anyone really meant anything. So, here is my conundrum. What human being does not reject the child molester, rapist, holocaust engineer etc.?"

Whether it is a God or Tutilary Spirit telling us this, an established teaching of the path we are working, or a direct realization stemming from your meditation: this is a question that all people seeking enlightenment eventually have to deal with. It is easily dealt with in the subtle mind-space of emptiness/bliss/clarity, but less so when we reach our living levels and need to justify our gnosis to our rational minds and the harsh realities of the day to day.

For me the answer to making this part of your normal view, and not just something that you know while in rapture lies in three things:

1.A correct understanding of Karma - real cause and effect, not this kind of tit for tat crap that gets passed off as karma.
2 Understanding the difference between causation and excuse.
3. Understanding that until ALL sentient being are enlightened, there will remain two truths: an ultimate reality and a relative reality.

For the first, it is a matter of realizing that everyone and every moment is a result of countless causes impacting the present moment and present mind, most of which you had no control over. Indeed when you see that even your generics and upbringing are things that you had no control over, but effect your view, it is easy to see how without a strong way to cut through the mechanistic responses that rule 99% of our lives - everyone is basically just running a program.

The difference between cause and excuse comes in because, even though we can look at a Child Molester and realize that: they have inherited neurological and psychological issues that predispose them to what they do - and thus make them worthy of compassion no matter how heinous the crime - they also have victims and thus need to be dealt with. Sadly we have a very revenge focused justice system, and it is hard for people to wrap their minds around the concept, but it is entirely possible to imprison and even kill someone out of compassion.

The last element comes in because when we realize that everyone has Buddha Nature or Christ Nature or Enlightened Nature within them inherently, and that everyone is in a cosmic sense where they need to be - we are making a realization based on the experience of ultimate truth. While there are many changes that can be made from this point of view - especially within the stream of self - there are many that cannot be made until all other beings have realized ultimate nature.

Its kind of like the "give peace a chance" argument. It would be great if we could all just do it, but the question is how do you get everyone in the world to wake up to that realization at the same time? It cannot be done in a moment. It takes ages and ages, which is the path that we are on not only as a species, but as all sentient beings in all the multiverses. The realization that we are on that track, but not there yet is how we know that we cannot reject anyone, yet must deal with them at the relative level all the same. Our realization behind our actions though is what makes all the difference.

Since this post is ultimately about compassion, I have a picture of Chenrezig up top and will close with the statements that Buddhists know as the Four Immeasurables:

May all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness
May all sentient beings be free of suffering and the causes of suffering
May all sentient beings never be separated from the happiness that knows no suffering,
May all sentient beings be in equanimity, free from attachment and aversion.


Frater Serpentis et Aquila said...

This got me thinking about something I like to discuss with other Christians I know.

We live in a largely "Christian" society, and living in the bible belt as I do, I know many right wing evangelical Christians who stand behind the government and our justice system.

I think a most telling story is that of the Apostle Paul, that before his conversion he was responsible for the deaths of lots of Christians. Perhaps it wasn't by his hand, but he permitted and organized it.

In today's churches and society, if a man with a track record like Paul walked in, he would certainly get turned over to authorities to be dealt with accordingly. But instead, he changed and became a huge forefather of today's Christianity. Now, people will quote his books left and right, with love and devotion for the guy, and will refer to the story as a shining example of God's saving grace and ability to transform people and lives.

This wouldn't happen today. He'd certainly be imprisoned or executed and he would simply be remembered as the man whose hands are stained with the blood of innocent people.

We are all where we need to be, indeed, as hard a concept as that can be to swallow.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post. The example of the child molester as a being worthy of compassion is particularly strong, and also casts light on the difference between compassion and "idiot compassion".

I live in a state whose courts have approved the involuntary and *indefinite* commitment of sex offenders who are believed likely to commit new crimes. These are people who have been found guilty of sexual assault, often multiple assaults, often of children, but have already served their prison time. In theory, under law they ought to be set free. In practice, numerous terrible experiences has taught us that it's just not that simple.

We have to accept that we don't know how to make chronic offenders well. Indeed, they will probably never be "well" in the sense of having "normal" sexual desires and impulse control. Many people see them as disgusting criminals who ought to be locked up or killed. I think it's both more accurate and more helpful to look at them as people with a permanent disability. Does that mean we just pat them on the head and shove them out into the world at large? No, and hopefully we never will again.

Needless to say, there are plenty of mixed feelings, and accusations of Constitutional rights being denied (AFAIK the Supreme Court hasn't yet made a ruling on this practice, so there may be a mighty big shoe waiting to drop).

I'm just glad we don't have capital punishment in my state. If we did, we'd probably be hanging or poisoning these people instead of trying to help them, even if "helping" them mainly consists of keeping them from hurting others.