We're all afloat in a boundless sea, and the way we cope is by massing together in groups and pretending in unison that the situation is other than it is. We reinforce the illusion for each other. That's what a society really is, a little band of humanity huddled together against the specter of a pitch black sea. Everyone is treading water to keep their heads above the surface even though they have no reason to believe that the life they're preserving is better than the alternative they're avoiding. It's just that one is known and one is not. Fear of the unknown is what keeps everyone busily treading water. All fear is fear of the unknown. If someone in such a group of water-treaders betrays the group lie by speaking the truth of their situation, that person is called a heretic, and society reserves its most awful punishments for heretics. If someone decides to stop struggling and just sink or float away, every possible effort is made to stop him, not for the benefit of the individual, but for the benefit of the group. To deny at all costs the truth of the situation.
Chance and destiny are not adequate concepts for explaining karma. It's really a dance, isn't it!--a dance of sisters and brothers who come together by mysterious likeness and attraction. Their dances in turn come together with all the dances across the world. For some this can be joyless, even the dance of exploitation and murder, but for the Bodhisattva it is the great cotillion of intimacy.
What is it that caused your great-grandmother on her meeting with your great-grandfather to recognize him as her future mate and the future father of her children? You can call it a mystery, but it is a mystery that does not imply doubt. We can presume she felt something definite. She felt affinity.
How about the complex of affinities that bring you to a bank just as a robber comes in? Are you responsible for this situation? Lots of incidents led up to it, and once their results are in train, you might have no control. There is such a thing as world karma. I as the world am responsible, but there might be no way for me as an individual to help once the crisis has become acute.
It is time to turn to the traditional teachings, if you are so inclined, or simply to search on your own. Take heart, and from your own heart and mine we can weather this war that ranges all round us, and together we can embody and present the Way.
If we only practice compassion on the mind level, we run a great risk of our compassion being just talk. As we know, talk is cheap. To develop true compassion we have to put our money where our mouth is.
Source: The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 (Best Buddhist Writing), Pages: 174