March 26 : In the News

Some of the situations you see in the news might be difficult, and here is where you really should be careful with your understanding of karma. For example, you see refugees from Syria drowned while trying to cross the Mediterranean. What is the karmic cause for this? First, living in a war-torn country is the karmic result of the cause of killing and physical violence. Having a short life by drowning is also the result of killing, and so forth. Now, does this mean that they deserve to die? No. You really must make sure that in your understanding of karma there is no thought of karma as reward or punishment, and no thought of “they deserve happiness” or “they deserve suffering.” It is simply that certain actions have certain consequences and karmic results, that is all. 

You see human traffickers taking these refugees on board and making them pay exorbitant amounts of money, but merely put them on the boat and let them float in the Mediterranean. What kind of karma are they creating? There is a lot of covetousness there. They are doing what they are doing out of greed. There is not very much concern for others’ welfare, and they are being irresponsible in what they are doing. In a way, it is akin to stealing. It is akin to physically harming because even though they are not the ones who are actually doing it, they are creating the circumstances for it. What results are these people going to experience? 

They are lying too when they said, “I’m going to take you across and then you’ll get to Greece and you’ll be okay.” They are totally lying through their teeth. What kind of result are these scammers going to experience? Poverty. People will not believe them. They will not have support when they have problems. People will avoid them because of their lying and cheating. When they face difficulties, they will not have support when they need it. 

You do not rejoice and say, “Oh, I don’t like those scammers anyway, so go to hell, I’m glad.” No, we do not cultivate that kind of attitude that rejoices in other people’s suffering. But rather, you use it to understand karma and to generate compassion for everybody involved, both the scammers and the refugees who are being scammed. Like us, all of them are trying to be happy, and yet in the middle of their ignorance, they are creating the cause for so much misery. 

In that way, you look at the news and it helps you in your Lam-rim meditation, not only with karma but also with the cultivation of compassion and tolerance. These qualities can be very helpful. You think about this, and it really makes the whole thing about karma quite vivid in your mind. 

That is a way to transform watching the news or the media. You have to do something with your mind while you are watching these shows.

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