Thursday, January 14, 2010

How smooth are things?

Rubble and bleeding brown skin hits close to home for me. Horrible images and horrible sympathy for my students. A good many of my students fell into the socieo-economic group whose only recourse was to hope for a spot in the super dome, during Katrina. I was already back at college in Pennsylvania. My parents easily escaped. But some of my students stayed and saw horrible things. Some did horrible things.

I'm thinking of one of my students who saw a murderer killed in the super dome. He remembers how the M16s tore through the body. He was about eleven.

My family didn't have the easiest time either. 9 feet of water in St. Benard Parish. Never saw that house again. By the time I got back, it was swept away by organizations, mostly christian.

In post-Katrina New Orleans, things are better? That student has had more than one gun in his face for bicycles or ipods.

I don't see my job as easy, either. I often don't feel that I'm doing all that good. That I'm just putting out fires, one after another in the inner city classroom.

I hate the first noble truth. I've always been told that hate is the only real sin in Buddhism, if there are any, and I hate that I can't get past my own karma to help others. My body is moving, it looks like I'm helping, but I know I'm thinking, "Somebody needs to help me!"

I also suspect that knowing hate is wrong isn't enough. There's nothing to read or hear to realize that.

It feels rather childish. Like it's time to share my snack and I don't want to.

I want to feel empathy, real empathy. I'm just not open to it right now. I know I'll donate to the red cross, I know that Haiti needs help, and I'll give what I can, but what if I know that I'm not really feeling anything?

What should it feel like, anyway?


  1. I feel like I am always asking people to try and explain karma to me. But I guess maybe it doesn't really matter what it is.

    Helping is so curious. If I remember correctly, one teacher said you really can't help anyone. All you can do is assist someone when they ask. I am not sure why you do the job you do. I imagine you don't earn much respect, prestige or money for putting out fires all day in the classroom. But maybe you love your students, maybe you even empathize with them. When you act from love does it really matter exactly what you are doing? I was told on more than one occasion when trying to resolve a dilemma over choosing a course of action that we never really know what helping is or what the result of our action will be. But we are, for the time being, in these bodies, on this earth and we have to do something.

    It's okay to be confused, even at 27. No one ever said being a boddhisatva would be easy. Someone else once said the easy road is hard enough.

  2. Hate the first Noble Truth? Human life is inherently unsatisfying. It is. I find when I feel pierced by love for my grandson, I feel fear for his future, I hope I won't die before I see him grow up. Blake said "Joy and sorrow intertwined." During the feast, humans know the famine may come. I don't think other organic life goes through this.

    I let Melinda and Bill Gates give $1 million to Haiti - I don't have much money to give. I cry every night as I watch the news. I think of Kali the Destroyer. It is inherent in life that it can die, that's what life is. I am glad to have you back.