3. ON OUR HEARTS NOT YET BEING
EQUIPPED TO BEAR THE PAIN OF THE WORLD
3.1. Before going any further into what this new equipment
has to be and how to get there, it seems important to me to specify
what large-scale karma can be. Later (e.g. paragraph 3.3 resp.
chapter 4), I will give some explanation on karma in a general
sense. Here, in the case of large-scale karma one may consider,
firstly, the karma of the earth as a whole (gaia), the karma
of continents, oceans, etc. As well as the karma of all kinds
of specific forms of life, including vegetation, environment,
climate, powers of nature, rivers, mountains, woods, deserts,
minerals, etc. This especially regards the way in which mankind
manages and mismanages these forms of life. By means of science,
technology, robbery. Large-scale karma also includes the karma
of mankind as a whole, and parts of mankind in the sense of the
so-called developed versus undeveloped parts, the so-called rich
versus the poor, the so-called white versus the black, specific
ethnic populations, tribes, nations, countries, cities, villages,
3.2. There is also karma related to the positions of men and
women in society. The positions of the young and the elderly
as well. There is the karma of forms of government, specific
religions, specific images of deities, sampradaya’s (sects),
ashrams, monasteries, churches, temples, houses. There is even
the karma of classes of objects, specific objects as well. Again,
especially considered in the way we handle, manage or mismanage
these. Culture in all its other appearances is subject to karma
as well. At the same time, culture constitutes the life-material
each one of us has to interact with - as chances for our development
as well as limitations. As there is the karma of teaching and
education, social institutions like marriage, family, parenthood,
rituals, sanskara’s (rites of passage), sacraments, specific
professions, specific sciences and arts, healthcare (physic as
well as mental), specific forms of that care, etc. One may even
think in terms of the karma of specific feelings, forms
of expression, ways of treating the human body, mind
and intellect, human relationships, work and leisure time.
It is said again: especially in the context of human usage or
abuse. And in the context of giving meaning to life.
3.3. It is not my intention to give a complete and correct
summary, or even in some kind of justified order, of everything
that might constitute large-scale karma. Starting with micro,
going to meso, to macro, including the many different scales
inbetween. Stipulating moreover that everything that is happening,
even on micro-scale, does have effects on all these different
scale-levels. No, my intention is to state how much of the pain
of the world we witness nowadays is related to the supra-individual.
To what I, as I said before, call large-scale karma. This can be called “karma” since
all of these phenomenon's arise from preceding causes. Moreover,
we understand such phenomenon's as karma since by themselves
they cause new phenomenon's. Which process continues in an endless
chain, in endless interferent clustered chains. Why this type
of karma can be called “large-scale” I think is evident.
I clarified that before. Nevertheless I repeat that. Since the
pain of the world and our witnessing of that pain are part of
large-scale karma. We do not witness one or two horrific situations
of seriously injured fellow men. No, we see a permanent stream
of hundreds, no, thousands strongly traumatised fellow men. Not
only now and then, not only in one place or the other, but simultaneously
from everywhere in the world. Showed in the most heartbreaking
detail. Whether caused by natural disaster, large-scale accidents,
acts of war, other forms of violence by men - be it physical,
be it psychological - or by whatever else. Apart from what is
happening million fold by depriving basic preconditions for life,
such as safety, water, food, housing, hygiene, health care, etc.
3.4. But let me state first: our pain of being witness to
the pain of the world means nothing if compared to the almost
unbearable pain of those actually involved. They are the ones confronted with pain, suffering,
physical and emotional burdens that by far surpass what people
in their lifetimes generally have to bear, and are able to bear.
Also the many direct witnesses, as relatives, friends, neighbours,
etc. In a related sense, the same goes for all those aid workers,
who provide help in fact. Heroes they are since actually giving
help to the seriously traumatised in fact means traumatising
oneself on a voluntary basis (5). And, in a more widely related
sense, I point to the encouragingly large and varied group of
supporters for awakening consciousness, for development and co-operation,
fund raising etc. We have to honour all of them. How then could
we, as virtual witnesses, complain about our witnessing of pain?
About confused feelings? About our, what I call “witnessing-pain”.
3.5. Therefore I don’t complain. I don’t. Nevertheless,
I take my pain and confusion, my witnessing-pain, serious. I
dare to do so now - after having paid tribute to the victims,
their relatives, the direct witnesses, the aid workers and their
supporters. Now I dare to stipulate that our being witnesses
of all of this surpasses our human ability to bear that. Our
heart, so it seems to me, is originally equipped only for witnessing
and offering concrete help in case of suffering on a more moderate
scale. On the scale of family and neighbourhood. On local scale,
regional scale... However, it has to be admitted: during our
human history the scale on which pain, suffering, injustice did
occur, and did become manifest as well, did constantly increase.
The same with the “sad-sad-effectiveness” of the
instruments of violence and the use of the own bodies and lives
by the ones handling these instruments.
3.6. So the question whether our compassion has grown sufficiently
is highly important, since the scale on which the pain of the
world is obvious nowadays has passed a critical limit, it seems
to me. Even to such an extent that we can speak of a new quality
in which it is demonstrated. As with steam compared to water.
In water, one drowns if unable to swim. And swimming can be learnt.
It does not require a special body or equipment. In a constant
stream of hot steam one burns or suffocates. Unless one can hold
one’s breath or is otherwise equipped to stand it. This
can be compared with what happens with our hearts: they are too
small, insufficiently equipped, for the permanent confrontation
with this new quality, which I called, by lack of a suitable
expression as steam compared to water, in short: “the pain
of the world”. Our heart is not trained or sufficiently
equipped for standing its witnessing-pain. Once more: giving
worldwide merciful response is beyond our capacity too.