I was introduced to Pascal’s Wager by my college statistics professor. An evangelical Christian, she placed a short version of the wager not-so-discretely on her professional website: “If God does not exist, one will lose nothing by believing in him, while if he does exist, one will lose everything by not believing.”
I recently posted an article about “karma” that I found on the Examiner that I thought was very well written. As with any concept in Buddhism, describing what “karma” is the length of an article can be very tricky and difficult to do in a comprehensive yet easy-to-understand manner. I thought the author of this article, Emily, achieved both and therefore posted it on my Facebook account.
My friend pointed out that the way Emily described karma diverged from the way another author, Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw, described karma from another article I had posted on Facebook a while back. I reread both articles and she was right, they did conflict in the way they described “karma”. But both descriptions seemed valid. Both authors seemd to know what they were talking about and I never thought twice to think they conflicted until my friend brought it up. So who’s right and who’s wrong? Who has the more accurate description of karma?
Last night I was making rice and as soon as I poured water into the pot, I noticed some tiny dark beetles float to the top. This phenomenon isn’t at all surprising, but I felt bad. Because I now knew that I was going to wash these suckers out and flush them down the drain. They would probably all die out once I washed the dishes and sent dish soap coursing through the pipes. So much for generating good karma!
All the windows closed and the fan turned on, I tried getting to sleep. Then I heard that high frequency humming of a mosquito in my ear, and now I’m up again. This usually isn’t a problem I have in California.
When I was younger in Paris, mosquitos would fly in whenever I left the window open. I’d hear that sharp insistent buzzing by my ear, swipe at the air and roll over. But it would always come back. Never mind the precepts, it was tempting to catch and kill the bug. But my uncle had placed a statue of Guan Yin over the bed, and that was double the reason to not send the sucker onto a better life.
A few months ago I blogged about sex work and Buddhism, as it was related to some issues that had bubbled up in Cambodia at the time. I unsuccessfully tried to pull together some thoughts on the subject. I am very interested in discussing issues related to sex work because they are all at once highly politicized, ridiculously complex, rarely discussed and also very personal.
In the past few weeks I’ve seen different mentions of sex work pop up in Buddhist writing. Below I’ve collected a handful of views by Ven. Shravasti Dhammika, Ven. Dhammananda Bhikkhuni (Dr. Chatsumarn Kabilsingh), Brad Warner and Noah Levine. And of course I’ll leave you with my own two cents.
Karma: it’s a funny thing.
I have been meaning to respond to my partner’s post on Karma for quite some time- aside from raising questions about whether the earthquake was a result of China’s karma or not, and whether it is proper to say that a disaster is caused by karma or not, I feel it begs the larger question about if this type of discussion is even productive.
She has since apologized, and I don’t think she meant any harm. And I don’t think there was anything particularly unique about what she said. After all, Buddhists have been talking about this on the blogosphere since Cyclone Nargis.
Was it all just bad karma?