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Buddhadharma : Summer 2005
summer 2005| 6 |buddhadharma Buddhadharma the practitioner'S Quarterly letterS I SYMPATHIZE with any attempts to offer consolation for the recent tsunami catastrophe, including Robert Thurman’s piece in the lat- est issue of Buddhadharma [“The Consolation of Karma,” Spring 2005]. Personally, I doubt whether anyone coming to terms with the loss of life, family, and livelihood will be appeased by reflecting on the notion that “I/they must have done something bad in a previous life to have this happen.” This might merely add guilt and depression to one’s already overwhelming grief. Moreover, the sentiment that “any- thing bad that happens to you is a resonance of something bad that you perpetrated in a previous life” is not an accurate presentation of the Buddha’s teachings on kamma. In the Samyutta Nikaya (Connected Discourses) 36.21, the Buddha is reported as saying: Some feelings arise based on phlegm... based on internal winds...based on an imbalance of bodily humors...from the change of the seasons...from uneven care of the body...from assaults...from the result of kamma. That some feelings arise from the result of kamma one can know for oneself, and everyone under- stands that to be true. So any contem- platives or sages who are of the doctrine and view that whatever an individual feels – pleasure, pain, neither pleasure- nor-pain – is entirely caused by what was done before – overstep what they themselves know, and what is agreed on by people in general. Therefore, I say that those contemplatives or sages are wrong. From this, we could understand natural disasters, getting run over or mugged, etc., as coming under the heading of “assaults.” However, although there is no specific connec- tion between this-life disaster and past-life unskillfulness, there is the general reminder that “if you hadn’t been born, then you wouldn’t have had to experience this.” Thus, there is still the incitement for liberation, to curtail a future birth in this dan- ger zone. And if that still sounds too righteous and finger-wagging, there is also the reminder that the arah- ant only experiences physical pain, not mental grief (from the samyutta on feeling), which is another incite- ment to practice in the here and now, rather than lament over the past. After all, look at all the people who didn’t get hit by the tsunami; don’t tell me they were all innocent! Ajahn Sucitto Hampshire, England I WAS ExCITED to see the Spring 2005 issue of Buddhadharma, primar- ily because of the contemporary art that was featured in the article “Tiny, Slippery Spot of Mind.” It is good to see Buddhist artists and their work represented in something other than art magazines. Since art has always played an important role in the prac- tice of Buddhism, it is important for readers to be exposed to contempo- rary Buddhist art. Thank you for including the work of Gonkar Gyatso and other artists; however, a brief paragraph about the artists and their work would cer- tainly benefit the reader. Kristin L. Adolfson Charlottesville, Va. In THE SPRInG 2005 issue, “Ask the Teachers” opens with an account of a meditator who develops epi- sodes of full-blown depression and also suffers from chronic, mild melvin mcleod, Editor-in-Chief Tynette deveaux, Editor Barry Campbell Boyce, Senior Editor molly de shong, Assistant Editor seth levinson, Art Director liza matthews, Assistant Art Director Jeff Pardy, Editorial Assistant Board of ediTorial adVisors ajahn amaro, Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery Jeffrey Cox, Snow Lion Publications Zoketsu norman fischer, Everyday Zen Foundation, San Francisco Zen Center roshi Bernie Glassman, Zen Peacemaker Order Jack kornfield, Spirit Rock Meditation Center John daido loori, roshi, Zen Mountain Monastery Timothy mcneill, Wisdom Publications larry mermelstein, Nalanda Translation Committee reginald a. ray, Naropa University Barbara rhodes, Kwan Um School of Zen sharon salzberg, Insight Meditation Society robert a.f. Thurman, Columbia University, Tibet House U.S. Peter Turner, Shambhala Publications Taitetsu unno, American Buddhist Study Center michael wenger, San Francisco Zen Center (Organizations listed for identification purposes only.) Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly is a publication of the Shambhala Sun James m. 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