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Buddhism and Justice

February 7, 2010

I get angry sometimes, stupidly angry. I don’t take it out on anyone, just stew in  my own juices – very bad thoughts – quite violent at times. It is hard not to have violent thoughts toward incredibly rude neighbors who blast music with the wall-shaking bass at two in the morning – this is even more anger-provoking considering our duplexes in this area are quite close to each other, and my mother is recover from surgery she had due to a recent diagnosis of breast cancer. I don’t like it when my mom and other family members suffer.

Yes, I know the first noble truth is “Life is suffering.” I’ve heard it interpreted as “all life is suffering,” and “in life, there is suffering.” I don’t know which one is more accurate, but I like the second interpretation better – there is a world of difference between the first and the second.

If I were a serious Zen Master or Tibetan lama or whatever, I would have no feelings of rage or violence or anything toward my neighbors, and toward the landlord who routinely rents out both sides of the duplex to people like this. We have been dealing with bad, sometimes awful awful neighbors for years. For only a year or it was quiet on both sides over there.

You know what? I am just a beginning Buddhist, and I have some mental health problems, which you are aware of if you’ve read some previous blogs. Don’t feel you need to read those though, rather heavy and depressing. Not much hope in them.

Sometimes I get the idea I would feel better hurting people who hurt me, even if they don’t mean to personally. I wouldn’t resort to violence unless I had to, but how ’bout a little creative vandalism? What about revenge? There is a Chinese saying, “If seeking revenge first dig two graves.” One grave is for one’s victim, the other is for one’s self.

Don’t worry, I won’t do it. I had made the decision many years ago, not to kill myself or others. I stick by this decision – the only exception to this would be killing someone in self-defense, or in the defense of someone else. Even then, bad karma perhaps? If karma be true.

Karma – cosmic justice – who meets it out? I have not found an answer – the impression I get is that karma is like gravity – just a natural law. I can’t totally get my head around it. Kinda drives me nuts, like so many other things. But, if karma is true, and I really really believe it, then I do not need to take action against my neighbors. Their own negative karma will catch up with them.

But, there has to be some way of seeking justice. Some form of justice must be karmically ok. What about taking the landlord to court in hopes that fines being imposed? What about the tenants? Nothing I can do to them legally.  Putting legal pressure on the landlord could indirectly affect the tenants, I suppose, and that would be alright.

Why do I even try to be a good person? I suffer every fucking day due to various conditions. I have found a little joy in life, but more pain than joy for me thus far. It is sometimes extremely difficult to work on anything that will enable me to get better, into a great career and out of my parents’ house. By the time I am able to do that,  if I am able, they might have to go into a home. They are both 65 now. I am 37. It will take me years to finish college, if I can somehow afford to take classes at a 4 year school again.

Is karma true? Did I royally fuck up in a past life, so I suffer quite a bit in this one, in so many ways? If I truly believed this, the pain would be less. I would just do my time much more patiently, and work even harder at making merit – burning off negative karma by virtuous acts and behavior – although some Buddhist teachings I’ve read say that if one is doing good just to make one’s karma better, then the good deeds do not count.

What a concept. All religions have some form of reinforcement for proper behavior. Christianity and Islam have a heaven of sorts, for Buddhists and Hindus, there is eventual nirvana. I don’t know what kind of afterlife Jews believe in. Not exactly a lot of Jews in this area to talk with. I read a lot of the Old Testament, when I was a Christian, so know some of what Jews believe, but a lot of their beliefs are unknown to me, and I’ve not been interested enough to do research on my own. Mostly, in my post Christian days – last 13 years or so, I’ve read about Eastern faiths when I’ve wanted to study religion.

Zen appeals to me somewhat – no god, kid, you are on your own, but here are some techniques to help you along the way. Work at them, sit and stare at the wall and BREATHE. You will feel you are going even more crazy, but trust me kid, eventually, you will GET BETTER. – Or something like that.

I don’t know if karma is true. I don’t know if pursuing any kind of justice is ok, or if it is always better to show mercy? There has to be a time when self-defense is ok. No one knows if karma is  true, and there is much disagreement as to what is karmicly acceptable.

I didn’t shoot my neighbors tonight, but I dwelled on violent and evil thoughts. I still feel rather shaken up and victimized. An all too familiar feeling. It is a bad thought though, to to think haha – their karma will catch up with them haha. That is still a vengeful thought.

I know I am horribly overly sensitive to react in such a way to noise pollution. No one has specifically targeted my family or done anything bad to them. I wonder if worse things were done, would there be anything I could do in retaliation that, under the teachings and practice of Buddhism, would be acceptable?

Where is the justice in Buddhism?

Perhaps this is just another koan to puzzle?

It is 3:45 am now.  The noise has stopped. At least the asshole neighbors turned the music down after I called them at 2 Am. I am still not feeling super peaceful. I have taken a sedative. I don’t want to be on any meds, but do want to sleep. I am waiting for it to take effect, and go to sleep – probably by 5 am.

I will try not to hate myself and my life, I will try to work at it. I will try not to hate my neighbors. I will try not to let the thoughts on karma eat holes in my brain. It is so hard to let go of wanting to know everything. But, as one of the good people who commented on a previous blog said, “‘Why’ is suffering.” Asking why is suffering. I believe that is true. I also hope, if the Buddhist teachings be true, there is some justice in Buddhism. Buddhism brings peace, but without justice, can there be peace?

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