Karmapa’s message following tragedies in Lebanon and India

August 8, 2020

Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, shares a message following the recent tragedies in Lebanon and India.

Dear dharma friends

Many of you must once again be taken aback by the recent tragedies. 

The news of the massive explosion in Beirut this week, which claimed many lives and harmed thousands, and yesterday’s plane crash in Kerala, in which at least 18 people lost their lives, are obviously sad things to reflect upon. 

When tragedies of such a kind unfold – on top of the global pandemic that we are all experiencing – they burden our hearts by making us feel helpless, even though we want to do something about them. 

They confuse us by giving rise to the feeling ‘why do these tragedies occur repeatedly?’ None of us feel that we caused these obstacles, as we have an innate sense of being kind and pure. So why does it have to happen? Why am I feeling this way? Why do people have to experience such pain? All I can say is that it is perfectly normal for us to feel that way. It’s perfectly normal to feel such emotions.

But if we just hang on to this emotional reasoning and questioning then we will become lost in the emotional reasoning and questioning, and it will feel as though there is no way out. 

So even though most of us don’t know those who have lost their lives or those who are affected, nevertheless utilising the similarities we share as human beings will help us to connect with one another and, most importantly, it enables us to let the emotional reasonings and questions flow out and transform into something meaningful. 

To begin with, by focusing on the similarities we share, we can sympathise with them without having to know them intimately.

We can aspire for the deceased ones in such a way that they find the peace and happiness that they were always yearning for. Just because they have passed away from this existence does not mean that they lost what they strived for: their peace and happiness. They will achieve what they yearned for – through us.

Yes, through this lot of strangers, us. You see, they didn’t know us either. But because of the similarities we share, such as hopes and fears, their passing echoes in us, and therefore their dreams are not lost. Through our aspirations, their dreams will be realised by us for them. So, in fact, we can do something about these and all other tragedies. 

We, as beginner Buddhist practitioners, offer our prayers for the deceased so that their aspirations will be realised. 

I don’t know if this helps but when someone asks another to pray for someone’s passing, I always view that as the deceased’s way of making the living live a virtuous life. In that way the deceased ones earn merit through the living.

With compassion

Thaye Dorje 

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa