Karmapa’s message regarding disasters in Greece and Laos

July 25, 2018

Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, shares the following message in the wake of recent disasters in Greece and Laos:

Dear dharma friends

The devastating wildfires near Athens in Greece have claimed the lives of at least 76 people. The scenes of people fleeing for safety from the flames, mourning the loss of their loved ones, may understandably give rise to emotion.

And so it is with the dam collapse in south-east Laos, which led to flash floods that killed at least 20 people, with more than 100 still missing. The aerial images of homes submerged by water, with villagers and children stranded on rooftops, may be upsetting for some of us.

The practice of the Buddha dharma is a path to mastering our emotions, rather than letting our emotions control us. This is not about being heartless or uncompassionate – quite the opposite.

It is at times like these, when natural or unnatural disasters strike, or when we experience tragedy in our personal lives, when the benefits of our practice – a practice of compassion – are most keenly experienced. The purpose of our practice is to give rise to Bodhicitta, the human heart.

Through the practice of the Buddha dharma, we are able to experience limitless compassion and wisdom. We are no longer overwhelmed by anger, fear, or other afflictive emotions (klesa), and are instead able to tap into our Inner Wealth, our innate values, for the benefit of all. We experience all compounded phenomena as impermanent. In time, we are able to let go of fear and anger altogether, and let compassion rise.

As I have said before, the compassionate heart is even more precious than a Buddha. In the human heart, we see limitless hope.

Therefore, let us practice and pray for those affected by these and all disasters, and may the benefits of our compassionate hearts reach all sentient beings.

With prayers

Thaye Dorje
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa