Under the Right Conditions... (Part 2)

Continued... Read previous part HERE

The truth is that no one sees themselves as evil. But the truth is also that if the truth of one person is evil, then this is the truth for all human beings, man, woman and child alike. When Shinran spoke of his true nature “My spirit is one of nothing but indolence, and inside I am nothing but empty, deceitful, and fawning at all times. It has been impressed upon me that there is no truth in me.” If all people truly saw this true evil nature in themselves then they could not point the finger at someone else, labeling them ‘evil’. It would be foolish for a thief to slander someone else by calling them a thief.

Shinran, knowing his true nature said “under the right conditions, I, Shinran, would do anything.” It explains in You Were Born For A Reason, “As Shinran confesses here, the self is a potential brute capable of any act, however arbitrary and horrific. Shinran cannot point to any act as one of which he is incapable” (page 128). The shootings at the Sandy Hook elementary school last month could absolutely be deemed “arbitrary and horrific.”

However, if Master Shinran says that he is capable of any act, then what does that say about the rest of the human race? The difference, as Master Shinran says, is ‘the right conditions.’ Since Master Shinran is capable of any act, then one and all are capable of any act, the only difference being the lack of or availability of appropriate conditions.

For the Newtown killer, the conditions to commit the dreadful act were there. What were those conditions? He had a mental disorder; he might have been afraid his mother was going to have him committed to a psychiatric home; it’s said that he might have felt she loved the children at Sandy Hook school (where she apparently volunteered) more than she loved him, bringing out in him both anger and jealousy; he was reportedly devil worshipping. It is possible that there is a biological reason as well which is why the chief medical examiner in the massacre is enlisting the help of a geneticist to see if they can find such a cause. When we look at someone who has done a bad act, it needs to be looked at in the light of Shinran’s teaching. Without the guidance of the teachings, people are apt to make arbitrary and often times self-serving judgments. But with the guidance of Master Shinran’s teaching we can use events as moments for reflection and to think how fortunate we are that we are blessed with the good conditions we have in our lives.

Frank Costelloe, USA

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #24 | 2013, Under the Right Conditions... (Part 2)

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