If you have been following this blog at all you know that I spent some time in Nepal and that I hold it quite dear to my heart. There was of course a terrible earthquake there this weekend. Most people I know are safe, and there are still some that I am waiting to hear word about.
There are a lot of thoughts swimming through my head this weekend, so I will throw them down here.
First and foremost, if you want to know where to donate money that will do the most good two organizations that i am familiar with are
Karuna Shechen which is already well-established in Nepal through its clinic.
Rokpa, who I did some volunteer work for when I was living there.
You can find a list of other aid organizations, both local and global, HERE
PEOPLE AND THINGS
The death toll is now above 3000 and there are thousands more injured and without shelter. Apart from the human tragedy there is also the loss of world heritage sites and damage to temples that have stood for hundreds to thousands of years.
I, and many of my Vajra Brothers and Sisters have spent hours practicing and hanging out on the great Stupa at Boudhantah, and when I heard about the quake among my first thoughts were of that site. I felt a little guilty even to think of the welfare of thing when so many people were suffering. Certainly one of the criticisms of religion is that it spends money on temples and statues rather than simply alleviating the suffering of the poor and needy.
On the one hand people are certainly much more important than things. On the other hand temples and monuments like this serve to inspire people for generations beyond any ones lifespan and their endurance is important. The Stupa, and other sites in Nepal serve to connect and reconnect, offer common ground, and a real coalescing of the sacred and powerful.
CAUSES AND CONDITIONS
I received an e-mail from an apprentice today that asked the following:
What is the spiritual explanation for this? I mean, some of the most powerful spirits in the world have been fed, venerated and prayed to for centuries if not millennia in Nepal. Why would they let something like this happen, less than 100 years from the last devastating earthquake in that area? Is this a reaction to some grave offense? Temples and such have been completely destroyed. Is it a manifestation of some act of spiritual warfare in a conflict I am not aware of? Did the spirits of the land LET this happen for some unfathomable reason, were they UNABLE to prevent it, or did they actually CAUSE it? Are they indifferent to the people that build their temples and pray to them?
Another explanation – somewhat more comforting – would be they did what they could, in a continent that is geologically very vulnerable to such events. Maybe the earthquakes are a price to pay for the inherent power of the land?
I don’t think anyone can really answer this simply. It is a complex question with an even more complex answer. But if you really want to boil it down, its this: shit happens.
Magic and spirits do not prevent everything bad, they can help when things go bad, but shit happens.
When we do what we do to the earth and climate, shit happens even more.
Nepal has a LONG history of pissed off spirits causing drought, disease, and earthquakes and while there are many temples and offerings going on at any given moment there are also environmental atrocities that spirits certainly do not like. Mamo’s, Nagas, Yakshas, Rakshases, etc are not all sweetness and light. Some accept the offerings, others do not. It’s complicated and shit does happen.
That said I try not to throw blame around on spirits, or religions, or practices. I once visited a monastery with male and female outhouses marked SAM and SARA. It is a reminder that in SAMSARA shit happens…
First and foremost people should do the practices that they are familiar with in order to help Nepal. If you do Vajrakilaya practice – use it to help overcome obstacles. If you do Dzambhala Practice, use it to help money flow where it is needed.
Me, I felt a strong pull towards Padmasambhava practice and have for over a week now as well as Vajrakilaya. Kilaya I feel will be very helpful because of its connection to the Asura Cave in Pharping, a site I spent quite a lot of time at doing Phurba practice.
Those familiar with the 7 line prayer to Padmsambhava can add these lines from the Sampa Lhundrub which are said to help avert earthquakes and to alleviate suffering.