Yesterday, when I got to work and learned of the earthquake and tsunami that had just hit Japan I posted a blog about it, a simple blurb, photo, and link from New York Times coverage followed by various updates throughout the day, ways to help with relief efforts, etc. Then the following interaction took place.
After my blog, a commenter posted:
Could the weather around the US along with the earthquakes in the mid-US and now the tsunami in Japan along with the West Coast and Hawai be part of a GLOBAL cause and effect? I know there is ways they can explain all of this but when will we start to feel the effects of all the negative karma (which there is more than ever) due to , what else, EGO! When I try to spread the word of Buddha’s teachings to others whom I think would be receptive I get looked at like a crazy person and quickly find myself alone! The more I recieve his teaching the more I see the problems I avoid! So, is this GLOBAL KARMA finally or is that impossible?
To which I responded:
Thanks for commenting [name removed],
Karma is always at work, both in ways we can understand and in ways that are beyond us. That said, I find it helpful to remember that the word Karma (Sanskrit) or Kamma (Pali), is most accurately translated just as “action.” Many people seem to have a conception of karma that is more along the lines of “reaction.” This isn’t necessarily wrong, for whether we observe the truths identified by the Buddha (Kamma) or by Sir Isaac Newton (Newton’s Law of Motions), it is clear that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” Therefore, while karma is action, not reaction, in a universe where absolutely everything arises out of causes and conditions, action and reaction are forever interdependent. They are one and the same. (Karma creates karma creates karma etc.)
For example, take the terrible tragedy in Japan: A massive earthquake in the ocean sent a giant tsunami at the mainland causing tremendous destruction, death, and suffering. Was this karma? yes. The earthquake itself WAS an action, a karma (something that happened.) But what was it that created this karma? Was it, as [name removed] is pondering, a global reaction to human ego, or was it simply the result of tectonic plates shifting underneath the ocean? My intuition tells me it was tectonic plates. This feels plausible to me, whereas good people in Japan being singled out and punished by the earth does not seem plausible to me at all. I think karma is very ordinary, essentially mathematical, and is not some type of abstract “cosmic comeuppance and/or reward.”
However, [name removed], have you ever heard the theory that under-ocean earthquakes may be related to offshore drilling? As I understand it, certain theorists believe that the oil fields underneath the ocean may essentially serve as a lubricant for the earth’s tremendous tectonic plates. When we remove this lubricant then these plates, which are sitting underneath the immense weight of the ocean, may snap and shift, thus causing large earthquakes and tsunamis like the ones that have hit Haiti, Indonesia, and now Japan. If this theory is true then it is clear that the karma of humanities dependence on fossil fuels is in fact a major factor in these terrible disasters.
Here are a few articles that relate to this theory that I was able to find through a quick search:
My best wishes and support goes out to all affected by yesterday’s tragedy, both directly and indirectly (which in a interdependent world is all of us),