Hurricane Wilma And Its Aftermath
October 30, 2005
Dear Ven. Chodron,
I hope this finds you in good health. I am writting in behalf of
our Buddhist group here in Cancun. You must have heard about the
hurricane that hit this area. Even though we were prepared for a
major hurricane, the destruction and devastation is beyond imagination.
Members of our group were not harmed and we all had a safe place
to endure the storm. Unfortunatelly, looting and vandalism took
over during the disaster, for the first time in Mexico's history,
so now we also have to look for safety even after a week.
It is difficult for me to explain how we all feel. There are people
that stand strong and positive, others feel broken and find no hope.
There is much suffering around. Besides reconstruction of the city,
the economy is paralyzed. We know we'll have to work harder but
at times it seems very difficult.
Ven. Chodron, would you please advice us about practice during these
tough times? We've been following a program as you suggested in
the past. Previous to the hurricane we were doing analytical meditation
on precious life in depth. I hope we all can get together in a couple
of days and practice together. Personally, I found great inspiration
in Green Tara, as well as Tonglen. What do you suggest?
I was in India and just
received your email. All of you in Cancun have been through an ordeal.
Although we hear teachings on the disadvantages of cyclic existence,
the ignorance in our mind prevents us from meditating on this topic--we
don't want to think that suffering will happen to us. So while this
experience has not been pleasant, it has opened your eyes to the
dangers of cyclic existence and now you understand better why our
teachers encourage us to generate the determination to free ourselves
from cyclic existence.
Yes, the tonglen--taking
and giving practice--is good to do. Think, "As long as I'm experiencing
these difficulties, may it suffice for all sentient beings who are
going through hard times." Think specifically of those who
have been in hurricanes and imagine taking on their suffering with
compassion and giving them happiness with love. When we spend some
time considering others' problems, our own difficulties appear more
manageable in comparison. Sure, we have problems, but in comparison
to what many others are experiencing our difficulties aren't so
bad. Our mind becomes stronger and more courageous; we know that
we can manage the situation all right.
Green Tara practice, too,
is very helpful. Imagine Green Tara in front of you, or if you've
had the initiation, imagine becoming Tara yourself. From Tara's
heart, beautiful green light radiates and touches each and every
sentient being. It purifies their negative karma and eliminates
their misery; it also fills them with the realizations of the path--love,
compassion, wisdom, and so on. When you feel that your physical
energy is in a slump or that your mind is depressed, then imagine
Tara's spectacular green light filling you from head to toe--going
into every cell of your body. At the same time, Tara's optimistic,
compassionate energy fills you, giving you a sense of hope and willingness
to work to improve the situation of yourself and others. Then dedicate for the enlightenment of all sentient beings.
This whole experience is
a teaching in impermanence. Watch how things arise and at the same
time cease. The hurricane came and went. Our moods come and go.
The situation around us is constantly changing; our emotions are
as well. Thus, don't make anything solid and concrete in your mind.
Avoid forming a negative view of what you're experiencing or thinking
that it will last forever. It won't. Since the hurricane struck,
you've received so much kindness from others and you've been able
to give kindness and optimism to others as well. So rejoice in the
goodness that exists in the universe and generate the bodhicitta
Sending my love and good
wishes to everyone in the Dharma group,