A few readers wrote to me with similar questions. They wanted to know the role of karma, what place it has in the events of mass destruction and natural calamities like earthquakes, tsunami, hurricanes, in war, in genocide, in plane crashes, in the case of massacres and so forth. Let me share my point of view on this.
As I wrote earlier, I do not believe that the law of karma is your answer to everything, every occurrence. It is possible to retrofit theories, to force a square peg in a round hole and cover the gaps with some adhesive creating the illusion of a perfect fit, it will only offer temporary consolation, short-lived solace.
Before I address your question, it is important to remember that it is conditioned mind alone that asks questions, the conscious mind coated by conditioning, it rejoices in calculations, in analysis, in exploration, it thrives on curiosity, it feeds on inquisitiveness. Not that anything is wrong with that, in fact, it is this very human trait that helped our race to surprise ourselves, to amaze ourselves, to rule all the other races, whether that is good or bad, is up to individual interpretation. Consider the following:
1. The Questioning Mind
Imagine, on the one side, having a mind that is endlessly asking questions, the same mind is addressing them, fielding them, dodging and answering them. That is probably how human intellect has developed over millions of years. It is like giving clay to a child, he keeps on creating different forms till the charm remains and then he moulds all figurines back into a ball and leaves it aside. He may repeat the process till he grows out of it, till he is fascinated no more, till he gets another toy. Similarly, your conscious mind keeps you busy, it wants to keep you fascinated, keep you engaged. It gets tiring after a while. Just like physical matter, mental matter can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only ever be transformed. Intellectual satisfaction from one theory today may give way to another philosophy tomorrow. Einstein put it aptly, “You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.”
2. The Quiet Mind
Now, on the other side, imagine a mind that is diving in an infinite ocean of bliss, it has gone quiet. It is alert, conscious, super conscious in fact, but it is not bogging you down with endless questions about some philosophy, some abstract theory you want to plug into tangible thesis; instead, it keeps you focused, your energies channelized, escalating your awareness to an entirely new level. Your most profound answers will emerge from a state of quietude. In a state of quiescence, you start to understand what is important to know versus what is more relevant, your answers will no longer produce more questions, and more answers and more questions and so on. It will come to a stop. You have to experience that state to know what I mean. I can only show the path, your deliverance depends on you alone. It does not come from scavenging second-hand knowledge, it comes from a dawning of inner wisdom, it is the outcome of quieting your mind so you may see the real you. It is easier to see what lies beneath the clear water when it is still.
I encourage you to tread the path of attaining quietude to experience a constant flow of bliss, you will get all the answers, more importantly, you will get all the right questions.
Onto your question now; let me segregate it into two parts:
1. Natural Calamities
Our planet has developed its own coping mechanism, an evolving ecosystem, a sustentative cycle, it is not dependent on the human race for its sustenance, and as such, does not see us any more important than an ant. It does not reason like us, if it did, we would be long gone. Acts of nature are simply corrective measures it takes to maintain its existence. Whether that involves spewing fire by erupting mountains through volcanic actions, or earthquakes to cast off the anomalies, it does so indiscriminately. Like the dog that shakes off water after bath, like the snake that sheds its old skin, Nature renews, realigns, rejuvenates itself.
There is a natural order to most things, when butter is brought next to heat, it melts, wonderful it is, it is not an act of grace or grief. For example, there may be no media coverage, no sense of loss, if a hurricane hits an abandoned island and no one is hurt, for, no one lived there. Explorers may seek answers, reasons, from an ecological, geological perspective, it is highly unlikely anyone will approach it through some esoteric philosophy, religion, through arcane laws. Predominantly because, a sense of attachment is missing. However, if the same incident takes place in a densely populated coastal area causing casualties, we start searching for an answer in religion, in philosophy, in divination and so forth. You may agree to disagree, but all religions, bar none, are mere philosophies; actionable items are called rituals. Great spiritual leaders passed on their wisdom and followers shaped it into religions.
2. Handmade Disasters
If I have my facts straight, every minute, more than two hundred fifty people die on earth. It is accepted as normal, it is standard mortality rate, they say. However, when a couple of hundred die in a plane crash, or, lot many in war, in crimes against humanity, we label this as abnormal; absolutely, it is. Yet, just because the scale is bigger, or because the act is concentrated, it does not mean there is an all-encompassing intellectual proposition to feed a satisfactory explanation. Searching for answers in a religious theory or some cosmopolitan philosophy is just as abnormal.
Behind most wars, most crimes, lies misguided human spirit of competition, of misplaced emotions, of misdirected energies, such heinous acts remain eternally hideous, driven by greed for power, for lucre, for position, they are commissioned to satisfy ego, lust, they are murky acts of glorified ignorance, unmistakable signs of a barbaric mind.
Since, we have an evolved intellect, how flattering, we like to give ourselves importance, somehow we feel that Nature, God, others, the world, must owe us something. We believe everything must have a meaning, our life, our death, every incident, every phase, every occurrence, has to be supported by some intelligent answer to appease the insatiable curiosity of the conditioned mind. There may be theories, scientific basis, cause-and-effect and what have you, that does not mean there is an absolute reason. Whenever anything undesirable happens, we want an answer, because most of us have been conditioned to believe that if you worship God, if you pray, nothing bad can happen; you derive your own truth from that.
So, where does that leave us in terms of praying, divine grace and God? Do they mean anything? Of course, they do. Can they help you? You bet. I will cover it in the near future, if not in the next post.