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?
There was mention of the Dalai Lama blaming current Tibetan suffering on past Tibetan feudalism. But what about Cyclone Nargis? Payback for Ayutthaya? And now the earthquake… Much of the talk has centered on the fact that the people most hurt by these natural disasters are generally poor and innocent civilians. But I’m not going to get into that discussion. There is a brighter side.
While many Buddhists, like Stone, have mused about this question, many have also gone to great lengths to see exactly what is said about cyclones and earthquakes. Hence the five niyamas. Maybe karma isn’t exactly what we think it is (see Thanissaro Bhikku’s notes).
This morning I was surprised to find mention of this in a BBC article. I found the article fair and well balanced. Who would ever have thought that an international Western news organization would care to do so much research? I guess my news standards must have dropped below what they used to be.
Here are four of the five niyamas in the BBC’s words:
- inorganic or environmental factors, such as the weather
- organic or biological factors, like bacteria or viruses
- psychological factors such as stress
- and transcendental or spiritual factors (such as the sometimes powerful galvanizing effect of spiritual practice)
The provocative musing about someone’s “just desserts” is not the end of the story. Dig deeper and the way things work turn out to be more complex.