Buddhism is selflessness, thus unselfishness, thus compassion for all sentient beings, thus universal kindness, thus a direct attack on all of the suffering in the world. The world doesn’t get all of this, but measures of kindness are increasingly popular everywhere. One who only watches the news can be excused for thinking that everything is getting worse, but it is not so.
- Health care is improving around the world, and we are finding cures for many dread diseases.
- Education is improving in quality and quantity, as multitudes of children are brought into school systems, and as cell phone and broadband access constantly increases.
- Almost every country’s economy is growing, except under a few remaining tyrannies.
- Population growth is declining in even the poorest countries.
- We are very close to Peak Carbon.
- There are fewer stupid wars than every.
Gapminders has details on all of these issues, and more.
All of this information is to the good, and all of these political views, too. But we are here for the whole koan, represented in Mahayana Buddhism by the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara/Kanzeon, who regards the cries of the world.
Kanzeon started off male, but was transformed into a female form over the centuries.
Shasta Abbey has rewritten the Kanzeon chapter of the Lotus Sutra to account for this.
In verse, Mujinni Bodhisattva asked,
World Honoured One, possessor of all grace, What reason is there for the Buddha’s Daughter, Great Kanzeon, to thus be so addressed?
When people hear Her name, and see Her form, And think of Her not vainly in their hearts, All forms of ill, in all the worlds, shall cease.
Kanzeon Scripture (Lotus Sutra, chapter 25)
In Buddhism, correctly understood, gender is bupkes. So are straight and gay.
There follows in the text a long catalog of disasters that disappear when we think of the power of compassion, aka kindness. This is not magic. This is not what the discriminative mind sees. This is what happens when evil loses its power over you, because you have broken through to purest compassion yourself. People have brought this compassion to Nazi concentration camps, to Soviet Gulags, to innumerable vicious wars, to dread disease, and so on.
OK, so how do we do that? In the same way we address every koan. We raise the Thought of Awakening. We set ourselves to it. We come up against the “red hot iron ball stuck in the throat that we cannot swallow or bring up”. We break through.
There is another Kanzeon koan.
Kanzeon has a thousand hands, and each hand has an eye. Which eye is the true eye?
Now, you might be puzzled by this. How could any of those eyes be false? But that is not what the koan is about. You have to show your own true eye.
It is like reaching behind your head in the night for your pillow.
In fact, it has nothing to do with eyes at all.
Now reach behind your head in the darkness of Samsara, with all of the paskudnyakery that is still going on, and tell us what you find. Can you reach all the way to Hell?