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Rime Buddhist Center

Monastery & Tibetan Institute of Studies
"Achieving Peace Through Compassion"
700 West Pennway
Kansas City, Missouri 64108
(816) 471-7073
Lama Chuck Stanford

The following is Lama Chuck's monthly column that appeared in the Kansas City Star
newspaper on November 6, 2004.

QUESTION: "Is it wrong to be mad at God for the hurricanes destroying our homes and businesses?"

ANSWER: Isn't it interesting that we always must blame someone when bad things happen to us? We learn from an early age that blaming others is a way to get us off the hook. All of us like praise and we try to avoid blame. And if we are falsely blamed for something we, of course, get angry and try to set the record straight. So when a natural disaster occurs we have no one to blame but God.

Buddhism is a non-theistic religion, and therefore attributes everything that happens to us as the result of karma. Karma very simply is cause and effect. Every action we make has an effect in this lifetime or a future lifetime. When we are negatively affected by a natural disaster it's the result of our own karma. We often can't control the things that happen to us in this life. So, the important thing is not how well or ill favored our situation is, but how we deal with it.

We can choose to respond to painful situations with anger and blame or we can choose to respond with kindness and compassion. The actor Christopher Reeve who died recently, suffered a devastating spinal cord injury that left him a paraplegic. But rather than blame God he became an advocate for the spinal cord injured and for stem cell research. Despite his catastrophic injury he still made a significant contribution to the world around him. Likewise, when bad things happen to us we have the choice to blame or to make a positive difference in the world.

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