Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Powerful earthquake hits Sichuan China

The Dhammapada says:

"As rust growing out of iron itself eats that iron away,
even so, their own deeds lead evil-doers to states of woe."

When we do not take care of the body, the 4 elements that make up our body start to become imbalanced and sicknesses occur as a result. In the same way, when sentient beings do not take care of the world they live in, the same 4 elements that make up the world become imbalanced and disasters occur as a result. And the best way to take care of the body as well as the world is by refining our own mind. Following the cyclone in Burma, a powerful earthquake measuring 7.8 hit Sichuan province in China yesterday, causing extensive damage. The most recent death toll was reported to be around 9,600 and rising steadily. As the above diagram shows, the quake is so strong that tremors could be felt as far away as Beijing, Shanghai, Bangkok and Taiwan.
This diagram shows that the epicentre of the quake is at Wenchuan county of Sichuan province, not far away from Chengdu (the provincial capitol). Needless to say, Wenchuan and neighbouring counties are the hardest hit. Reports say that this earthquake is of the same magnitude of the Tangshan earthquake 32 yrs ago, in which hundreds of thousands people died. In Burma we see the destructive force of the unbalanced Wind element, and now in China we see the same force coming from the unbalanced Earth element. Thousands upon thousands of sentient beings lose their lives as a result. What is the cause of such unbalances?
A scene of devastation at the collapsed Juyuan Middle School in Dujiangyan town. Death toll not confirmed as rescue efforts still underway. Who knows how many school kids are buried under the rubble? Unbalances in the 4 elements in this world are caused by collective karma. This means those thousands of beings created the same causes in the past, now they are experiencing the same effects in the present. Because they went against the Way, they actually went against their own well-being and happiness. This is what it means by rust eating away the iron that it grew from.
Another collapsed building in Wenchuan County. It doesn't matter if those beings created the causes in this life or in previous lives, because karma drew all of them together to the same place to experience the effects in this very present moment. Yet in this collective karma there are millions of different individual karmas as well. Those who were supposed to die, die and those who were supposed to survive, survive. Everything follows it own Way, with no room for error whatsoever in the great scheme of things.
More collapsed buildings in Wenchuan. Those people there are just going about their normal lives, then wham.. suddenly they are buried under tons of concrete. This is a live example of the transient nature of existence. Whether they are the poor people living tough lives in the Irrawady delta or the well-to-do people living comfortable lives in Wenchuan, they are all equal when faced with the power of Nature.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao flying down to Sichuan from Beijing promptly to supervise the disaster rescue operations. Is there a way to be safe from the power of Nature? Is there a way to keep the 4 elements of the world in harmony? There is. The way is to live in accordance to the Way. To live in accordance to the Way means to refine the mind. A monk once asked Chan master Dazhu Huihai:
"Is there a Dharma greater than Nature itself?"
"What is it?"
"That which can know Nature."
Indeed, that which can know Nature is none other than our own mind. When our mind is obscured by delusion and clinging, we cannot know Nature. Only when the mind is refined, clear of defilements that the Way becomes evident to us. We will understand the rising and falling of all things, including the power of Nature, and immediately know what should be done. If we are supposed to avoid, we avoid. If we are supposed to save lives, we save lives. If we are supposed to die, we also die without any fear or regret. In that way, we are in complete harmony with the Way, such that we realize that we were never apart from the Way in the first place. Suffering ends right there. This is the true value of the Dharma that we seek.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

another strange incident in Qingdao now..algae infestions