Re: Re: Theos-World Who to blame?
May 11, 1999 06:48 AM
In a message dated 5/11/99 12:16:36 PM, Louis wrote:
<<If we come to the action in bits and pieces, holding
something back as it were, such as pervasive pessimism tends to do, we add to
and sustain the dilemma. So for me the doing, of anything that is
Idealistically resonant or compassion driven, is the only action worth
I totally agree with you, and I do not think I have been intellectualizing
the problem. Whether my stance is "pervasive pessimism" remains to be seen
-- or is it simply "realism"? The first Noble Truth of Buddhism ("sarvam
duhkham") is that everything in this world lacks the capacity to produce
happiness, that everything in the world gives rise to suffering. Not some of
the time or most of the time but ALL OF THE TIME. Western students of
Buddhism may think this is pessimistic -- "the worls isn't so bad" they think
to themselves. Quite the contrary, I see it as profoundly helpful and
optimistic. The Buddha is a great doctor, and is pointing out our illness.
This gives us a basis to identify the problem and change. Certainly, the
next three Noble Truths provide the cure!
I think all would agree that if the notions we hold are false, false action
is sure to follow. A misguided notion that human problems are easily solved
does not tend towards deeply helpful activity. My point has been (1)
Material aid only effects short term change and may result in worse harm (but
sometimes it is still the "right" thing to do) and (2) Karma is constantly
redistributing the wealth already.
I don't see Karma as simply retributive. I am aware of its all-encompassing
nature as creative activity as well. I see it as my duty to help where and
whenever circumstances permit (and that is NOT "all the time"). If the
retributive Karma "punishes" us for our selfishness, I agree with you that
the opposite attitute will present generally opposite results. But I
disagree with you that altruism necessarily takes the shape of redistributing
wealth. I see that lack of wealth is the result, not the cause of evil
karma, and I am more interested in mitigating causes, before they lead to
suffering. Once a person has cancer, certainly one can use the destructive
technique of chemotherapy, a more positive (and less reliable) macrobiotic
diet, and other ways to purify the impurities causing the problem. But how
much better to take preventitive steps that prevent cancer altogether?
<< Also, I do not buy the fact that it is their Karma, so we should just let
it go at that. To do nothing, to feel nothing, to remain intellectually
distant because my circumstances are a bit more fortunate at this moment, is
not acceptable to me. >>
I believe we should neither stand by passively, nor act simplistically and
harmfully out of blind compassion. I repeat, if distributing food and
clothing were enough to end human suffering, this would have been the whole
path the Masters instructed us to take. Rather, when we look at the overall
structure of Theosophical teachings, they are a revolution in goals,
thinking, attitude and feeling, which then of course as PART of the result,
leads to more compassionate action. But I think it is a grave mistake to
reduce Theosophy to compassionate action. Very often our compassion arises
out of deep ignorance, and we can mess things up far worse than they were.
Louis, I certainly don't disagree with your kind-hearted response, and I
don't think our attitudes are so very different. I only jumped on this
thread because I was reacting to the quite Marxist notion that if only we
could assure ourselves that everyone had food, money etc. all would be well.
I am positively certain that all would NOT be well. That doesn't mean of
course that we shouldn't share, but we should also be aware that throwing
money at a problem, while it may assuage our guilt, doesn't necessarily solve
anything and it may be worse. Giving a drug addict money (which will only be
used for more drugs) is a devastating attempt to help, made out of ignorance.
Providing a drug addict with rehabilitiation is a more useful step, but
sadly, having worked in a homeless shelter for some time, few addicts are
ready or willing to quit, even when they live starving on the street. And
THAT is the problem. When we begin to see ourselves -- ALL of us -- as
addicts to various things, ideas and attitudes, then we see that the matter
of helping humanity is far deeper than a crust of bread.
-- THEOSOPHY WORLD -- Theosophical Talk -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Letters to the Editor, and discussion of theosophical ideas and
teachings. To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message consisting of
"subscribe" or "unsubscribe" to email@example.com.
[Back to Top]
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application