This thought for the day is a two part idea, one from my own head that I have spent some time thinking on. Now I think I can effectively break down into words the underlying principle behind this simple phrase.
There is a common example I see pop up from time to time in the discussion of kharma. It is the idea of the young girl who is raped and killed by some evil man. He is never caught, and she ends up gone. The question inevitably arises: why does she suffer, why doesn’t kharma punish him, what did she do to deserve that? Before, I generally viewed this as a simple misunderstanding of how kharma works. For the most part, it is usually believed that kharmic effects don’t actually take place during the same lifetime in which they are incurred. It is only our desire for immediacy, and our inability to grasp that sometimes things take time to play out that confuses the issue. The show My Name is Earl, while cute and funny, is entirely inaccurate with its handling of the concept of kharma. I’ll still watch it though My old answer was a simple expansion on the idea: the innocent girl was not balancing out an act of this life, but something prior, and the criminal will indeed get his. Maybe not now, but later.
That being said, I found the flaw in my logic. While that answer is not entirely incorrect, it has one trap that we tend to fall into, and that is over-humanizing. We do this particularly in the girl’s case. We believe that due to her age, she is, by default, innocent. We believe that youth brings with it an inherent form of amnesty. That is not the case. The events that might take place to the young body do not change the idea that the impact on the being of the mind is entirely different. The self that goes beyond the physical body is far older, and far more experienced. The body is a vessel for that. It will get another, grow, and move forward and upward, knowing that now it is that much closer to escaping kharmic rebirth.
To us, we would view the event as a tragedy because we attach ideas like age of mind and body all to one constant, a point of birth. We then further apply false ideas of innocence on top of that. Layer upon layer of things that aren’t actually real. The result is that what really happens, never happened to a little girl. It happened to something older, wiser, and far more capable, beyond any understanding we can really apply with human concepts. The confusion comes from mixing long held, and widespread ideas, like the one of the one-off life of mind, body, and soul. One of the primary teachings of Buddhism is that we must escape that sense of "I"-ness. The belief that I am my body, that they are part of the same thing. What we refer to when we say I does not actually exist. The word "I" is just a lingustic tool to ease the association of relationships, the same way "he" or "she" is. The true nature of that person, what they are and who they are, lies far beyond our shortsighted words.
My second point is on the loss of self (don’t worry, this one should be shorter). I was talking to a friend the other day about having wisdom teeth taken out. Luckily for me, I was born without them, so it isn’t an experience I’ll have to deal with. But, the point was raised about anesthesia. As a Buddhist, we know we are supposed to avoid all mind altering substances. Clarity of the mind is a precious thing, and not something one should artificially cloud. You should never purposefully lose that sense of self, or control. That’s easy to say for substances of choice: alcohol, chemicals, drugs, etc. But what about surgery aids? What if you are in a car accident, knocked out, and they administer drugs to keep you under and do surgery, etc? It’s an interesting point of conflict. Obviously, the reasonable answer is that I would have to decline such types of treatment.
I dunno. It just raises an interesting point about how far one could go before the physical need for relief would overpower the mental need for clarity. One could argue that someone well trained in Buddhism and/or meditation could, through mental effort, block out and isolate any pain with little more than a local numbing agent. In that case, providing their own for of anesthesia. In any case, hopefully I don’t need to force my hand on the matter.