The misfortune we experience from others
are rebounding effects of our evil,
be they from this present life or past lives.
It is often said that when we perceive others to be evil (i.e. to have misgivings), we are the evil ones, as the evils of the outer world are projected from our inner worlds, from our impure perceptions, and thus not externally ‘real’. For example, when someone gets on our nerves, it could just be that we are impatient. This might make some sense at first, but it is not always the case. If it is always true, to use a extreme example, that Hitler led to the massacre of some 50 million people would mean he is perfectly blameless, because his evil ways were merely projections of those affected. Though such deaths were the unfortunate expressions of their negative karma, Hitler was surely creating immense negative karma by actively choosing to be the means of expression. It is senseless to insist that Hitler did no evil; that the victims ‘did’ them instead.
How much evil done does it take, for us to realise one to be really evil? Let us hope it is not another 50 million! Though the idea that perceived evils are a reflection of ours is a good way to urge self-reflection before fault-finding with others, this should not be used to rationalise or excuse the actual faults of the guilty, who need self-reflection too, and our addressing, to set things right. Not doing so is to lack compassion for those affected, and to lack wisdom by clinging to delusion. If we believe all who suffer from evil-doers are just foolish victims of their impure perception and karma, we could become apathetic instead of empathetic. Since the workings of their perceptions and karma can be interconnected with ours, we should do our best to halt evil. To not do so when we can is somewhat ‘evil’ too, albeit indirectly, passively.
Since the Buddha has purified perception, does it mean that he never sees others’ genuine faults? If so, there would have been no need for him to encourage observation of various precepts for both the lay and monastic community. Without crucial moral guidelines, anything goes, chaos ensues and enlightenment would be impossible. It is a sure way of endorsing evil’s proliferation – by letting it go absolutely unchecked! We don’t say the Buddha was ever at fault for his clear perception of unenlightened beings’ faults. Out of compassion, he highlights our faults, so that we can change for the better. Within his equanimous vision, he also has discriminating wisdom, which discerns right from wrong. Without discriminating wisdom, skilful compassion can never be practised properly, and ultimate wisdom can never be realised perfectly.
The evil we create towards others
will have rebounding effects of misfortune,
be they in this present life or future lives.
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