The past few weeks the reality of the world’s ugliness has been at the forefront of my mind. The hatred, intolerance, and fear of mankind for itself is in terrible display. Most of us live in conditions that, if they don’t outright kill us by disease, starvation, or violence, wear away at our souls to such a degree that we become bitter and hopeless or angry enough to kill ourselves and lash out at the unfair world at the same time. The idea of killing babies in their mother’s arms comes to seem the only way to adequately express our hatred and despair, our own endless pain.

I guess.

So, hell is here on earth. That seems, on the face of it, to be a reasonable conclusion. Now, the Buddhists will say that this hell is of our own creating, that all these suffering souls suffer because of:

1. The Karmic retribution for their own past bad acts and lack of understanding and compassion, and
2. Their mistaken ideas of reality that prevent true understanding, and thus the growth of compassion and the breaking of the grip of samsaric reality.

The nice thing about this belief system for someone like myself, who is relatively pain free and lives an incredibly bountiful existence, is that I can look at the dead, blown up babies and mommies and say, “Well, really, it’s some working out of Karma….it seems horrible, but it’s a mistake to take any of that too seriously. It all works out in the end.”

It feels awfully pat.

I can’t make out an answer that works for me, although I am inclined to just ‘make room’ for my own lack of understanding, and to view the suffering of others around me as a goad to my own weak and pitiful sense of compassion. As a way to break the ego’s grip on my world-viewing contraption, to shake it loose so that I might be able to see with new eyes.

And, of course, it is also true that Heaven is here on earth as well. Or Nirvana. Call it what you will, every joy, every happiness, is available to us here and nowhere else. It is all dependent upon the individual, I suppose. A combination of careful looking, of trying to see without judging exactly what is, from moment to moment, as well as flooding the world inside and out, with all of the love and compassion you are capable of producing. Not to change the world, but to love it as it is. With the ugliness. With the terror and pain.

How beautiful we are in our distress.

How beautiful you are in your pain.

How beautiful indeed.

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