Keep Natural Disasters in Mind

 A natural disaster, a so-called Act of God, doesn’t discriminate between its victims. It damages everybody – rich and poor, good and bad.

Whenever you have power over people, keep natural disasters in mind. Be godlike in your fairness.

Han Shan Deqing

We think of natural disaster as having an incredible ability to cause harm, and rightly so. Human beings think we are very powerful and in control a lot of the time. But once in a while a hurricane or tornado comes to remind us that nature is powerful too. And there is no discrimination. When a volcano erupted and destroyed Pompeii it didn’t just attack the people who were unprepared or the poor people. It wreaked havoc all over the place. Likewise, in the modern world people fall into the paths of hurricanes and wildfires and their lives are ruined, or worse they are killed.

We aren’t talking about natural disasters for no reason, or just to say, “Look how powerful nature is!”

There’s a point to this. We think of how much harm can be caused by hurricanes. We don’t always think of how much harm we can cause. We have to watch our actions carefully. That’s what the cultivation of virtue is about, because we have an incredible ability to cause harm to both ourselves and others. Part of the reason we are training in mindfulness is because when we’re mindful we are better at seeing potential consequences. It’s often the case that actions that seem harmless at the time do untold harm, not just to others, but to ourselves as well.

The hope here is that recognizing the amount of harm we can cause will help us choose our actions more carefully.

 

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 Daniel Scharpenburg is a meditation instructor and dharma teacher in Kansas City. He regularly gives teachings through the Open Heart Project, the largest virtual mindfulness community in the world.
Find out more about Daniel on his website and connect with him on Facebook.
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