The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Thursday, May 22, 2008

"To The Tribe Of The Unborn"

The news coming out of China and Burma in the past two weeks has been overwhelmingly distressing.
Here in my little world, I offer prayers during meditation,I offer Metta throughout the day, but still feel a persistent sense of helplessness and sorrow.
Where, in the face of all this suffering, is a place to offer our compassionate action?  How, half a world away, do we help those in need, knowing that perhaps our financial donations may never reach the child who has lost his family, or the mother who's only child is buried beneath her school.  We see these faces in our tabloids and on news reports, and want to reach out to that very person, to somehow pull them into our world of plentitude and security, if only for a little while.
Meanwhile, those ruling Burma are slow to act, or decide not to act at all, in one of the most irresponsible, blatantly negligent episodes ever perpetrated by a modern day government against its own people.  
Intentional harm piled upon acute misery--here, Sentient Beings are truly living in a Hell Rhelm. And I include both perpetrator and victim in this Hell.
Government officials in China, perhaps realizing that the World Community is watching closely after the Olympic Torch scandal, and the crack down in Tibet, at least relaxed the strangle hold on news media for a moment.  Images and reports coming out of the worst hit areas were truthful and heartbreakingly raw.  At least for awhile, the rest of the country was seeing the truth without government repression and spin.  But even that freedom has withered, and in its place, there is now the familiar propaganda.  "Go China!" tops all headlines, while displaced people pour out of the mountains and countryside, most with nothing more than the clothes on their backs, searching for food and shelter.  
In one state news broadcast, the government has called for 30,000 tents from the international community. Where will 30,000 tents come from and how can those who need them now, wait?  The sheer numbers of those in need is staggering, both in China and Burma.
And another question--What has happened to New Orleans?
And here I sit, listening to Christopher Marlow read his lovely poetry,  wondering how to assist from my little perch, a bird with a voice and not much more.
Honestly, I don't know the answer.
Short of writing the check and sending it off with hope, short of offering "this Priest's body" to "be a raft to carry Sentient Being to the Other Shore"*,  short of loving myself, loving my family, loving those around me, both friend and non friend, short of helping on a local level to alleviate suffering, "What can I accomplish?"*

*To the Tribe of The Unborn:
What can I accomplish?
Even though not yet a Buddha
This Priest's body can be a raft to carry
Sentient Beings to the Other Shore.

--Dogen Zenji

Namu Amida Butsu!

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