The Truth of Humans Revealed (Part 2)
(Read previous part HERE)
We have been committing crimes against one another since as far back as history allows us to know. Therefore it comes as no surprise to me now when crimes continue to occur. The seeds have always been within us...and will continue to be. It is who we are. If there were no laws there would be murder and rape all over the globe. The world will be rid of acts of violence only when the world is rid of human beings. We are by our very nature evil, said Master Shinran. In fact he used the words “evil being” as another way of saying “human”. We are truly beings with the potential to commit any kind of crime not matter how horific.
This was the truth that was revealed to Master Shinran when he was 29 years old. At that age, by the power of Amida Buddha, he was shown his true self, a self that is incapable of doing a single pure good deed and one that has no place to go after death but to the world of suffering. Master Shinran saw into his true self, but what has that got to do with all people? Because to the bottom of our true nature we are all the same. All human beings, man, woman and child alike are one in nature teaches Buddhism. We may have different ethnic backgrounds, speak different languages, and be from different social classes, but at the bottom we are one alike. Since we are the same at our core, for this reason the ultimate truth about one person is the truth about all people. The truth that Shinran saw in himself is the same truth that will be revealed to all people. Master Shinran said, “under the right conditions, I, Shinran, would do anything”. He understands that he has the capability of doing a deed no matter how horrendous. The karmic seeds are within him. Master Shinran is no different from the soldiers who committed atrocities in war, or the Boston bombers, or any other terrorist for that matter, whether they be from the Middle East, Northern Ireland, Africa or Asia. We like to think that that people who commit horrible acts of violence are different from us in some way. We might rationalize it as them having something to do with where they are from. It’s true that conditions such as the country one is from, and the type of religion one follows, the family one is raised in will have an influence on one’s behavior. These cannot be dismissed. But they are not the reason for the ‘seeds that make men thieves never being exhausted’.
We can paint everyone from that country with the same proverbial brush. But when you get to travel to such a country as Northern Ireland or the Middle East you are surprised to find that the people are not all terrorists and monsters. They are actually pretty nice, and just like you and me! But isn’t this where the surprise lies. The people who do these horrible crimes are just like you and me. In fact they are you and me, at our core. And it means that you and me are capable of similar horrendous crimes, given the right situation.
When we cannot find a suitable answer as to why people commit acts of terrorism, we label the person or people as ‘evil’ or we condemn the country they are from, or the religion they follow. Any answer is better than no answer. But no matter what kind of answer we try to come up with, none is the absolute truth.
Revelation of the truth of a person comes only from the experience of the self being revealed through the power of Amida Buddha. Try as we can, there is no other way.
Amida Buddha’s salvation is like a light being switched on in a room that has been eternally dark. But no matter how long the room has been in darkness, it takes only an instant to dispel the darkness. Once the darkness has been dispelled what was previously unseen comes into full view. The words of Master Shinran after he was saved by Amida Buddha described in detail the nature of the self that was previously unknown to him. When we read these words, we can read them as though it is our very self he is writing about. The revelation of his true self is the revelation of everyone’s true self. This is our true image reflected in the mirror of Buddhism. Let us listen carefully to the words of Master Shinran until the truth about our individual self is revealed.
Frank Costelloe, USA
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #29 | 2013, The Truth of Humans Revealed (Part 2)
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