Some people have been asking about the recent incidents in the news. The unpredictable and sporadic nature of these events have disturbed them and those around them so much that they feel tension in their whole body and are unable to rest secure and safe. Take the gas explosion in Kaohsiung for example, in which a lot lives were senselessly lost and homes destroyed overnight. They expressed their concern that, if this were to happen to them one day, they would not know how to go on with life.
The atmosphere clearly holds a growing sense of misgiving, hollowness, confusion and uncertainty. Many feel dispirited when social incidents or recent events are brought up in a conversation, and a lot of them even mull over the idea of emigrating overseas or at least moving away from the place for a period of time. I personally think all these are meaningless. Those with even the most basic grasp of Buddhist concepts can understand on some level that all phenomena are the product of karma, which explains why certain events happen to certain people and places. Some places are engulfed in a distressing and maddening gloom, while other places are blessed with peace and tranquility. It also explains why some misfortune may befall a certain group of people while others just manage to avoid it with some last-minute situation that pulls them just out of harm’s way. Actually, to spell it out clearly, this is exactly what the Buddhist teachings elaborate through the concepts of impermanence and collective karma.
If one understands karma, one will clearly see that every circumstance can be traced to a cause. There is no such thing as an accident. As for the question of tolerating stress, it has to do with one's habits and adaptability. From as early as primordial times, humanity has struggled to survive an incalculable number of natural disasters. Sometimes an entire region is swallowed by floodwater coming from nowhere; at times tectonic plates lying quietly under mountain ridges suddenly clash with such swift and overwhelming power that countless lives are destroyed in an instant. Doesn't the legend of Atlantis also inform us the omnipresence of karma and impermanence?
People live their day to day lives in an habitual fashion. Subsequently, if they are accustomed to a comfortable life, they will be unable to bear or accept any sudden setback or injury. This is a unique quality of humankind. Practitioners, however, should be thankful towards everything bestowed upon them by nature and by external circumstances, for these things are our homework in a classroom that demands we learn to face and study these subjects. Rather than shaking our heads in exasperation and curling up on the sofa, it would be better to let go of the past and to welcome a fresh start. I often feel that as long as we keep a warm and positive mindset, never arbitrarily forsaking the right intention and the right mindfulness (two aspects of the Noble Eightfold Path) that one has worked so hard to establish, performing what needs to be performed in the given moment with calmness and wisdom and getting rid of our karma as we follow the path it has set for us, we can definitely embrace a brand new life at any time. As for people’s deep-seated and nagging fears, there is no need to be overly anxious because everyone has the absolute potential to face up to the challenges imposed by external circumstances. By force of habit, people turn away from these difficulties, thinking that they are unable to resolve them, and so they stagnate in their established ideas and cement their feet to the ground. In actuality, once the dark night has passed, isn’t the breaking of dawn sure to come again?
From Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche