Karmapa on practice in the face of natural disasters

August 6, 2021

Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, shares the following message about natural disasters:

Dear Dharma friends,

Over the past few weeks and months, we have witnessed a host of natural disasters, and many more continue to unfold on an almost daily basis, reminding us of the power of nature to transform our lives at a moment’s notice.

Hundreds of people have lost their lives in the recent floods, wildfires, typhoons, cyclones and hurricanes, and thousands more have lost their homes, their possessions and their livelihoods.

When such tragedies occur, on top of all the challenges brought about by the global pandemic, it’s natural for us to feel weighed down and confused, and to ask ourselves why such disasters keep occurring. We experience a sense of powerlessness in the face of all the suffering we are witnessing.

While such feelings of helplessness and bewilderment are completely normal, I feel that as practitioners of the Buddha Dharma it’s important to remind ourselves that – just like birth and death – natural disasters are phenomena that we have no control or power over.

Nevertheless, we can learn from them by using them as reminders of how everything in life is impermanent.

Moreover, we are not completely helpless, because even though we may not have known the victims, we can nevertheless connect with them by focusing on the similarities we all share as human beings.

We can remind ourselves that – just like us – they were and are aspiring to peace and happiness, that just like us they had and have their hopes and dreams.

We can aspire for them to find the peace and happiness they were always yearning for.

We can make the wish that their dreams will be realised by us through our aspirations.

I encourage all my students to join me in such aspirations, and by doing so, we can transform these challenging circumstances into something meaningful.

With prayers,

Thaye Dorje
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa