Karma and the Fierce Buddhist Activist


Most people think that being an activist means getting out and protesting. While usually this is true sometimes it takes place right in your neighborhood. In the following true event I was able to act as a Activist and a Buddhist. The situation presented me with two challenges. One to modify the negative behavior of the individuals and two to educate them on what Karma really means. I was also given the opportunity to learn from them and improve my knowledge and communication skills. But what it really gave me the opportunity to do is to practice being equanimous in a heated and possibly dangerous situation.
Recently some new people moved onto our block. Since they moved in, their cars have been set on fire (which I was first on site and put out before the Fire Department got there), windows smashed and one of their children killed in a drug deal gone bad; in their old neighborhood. After talking to the mother we found out that she moved her family to avoid exactly what happened.

Unfortunately, the children, all above 18 and legally adults, did not want to change and kept up their activities. One day I decided to talk to them about their behavior. One of the females warned me that if I did not stay out of their business then Karma would get me. She was taken back a bit when I told her that I was pretty sure she had no idea what Karma was as I was a Buddhist. She then stormed back inside slamming the door.

This little interaction caused me to look up what current pop culture thinks Karma is.

Here are some of the items I found.

Dannii Minogue: “Karma Is A Bitch” She seems to have has no idea what Karma is. Nor does the band “On Results” who has a song titled “Karma is a bitch (you stole my dreams)

Neither does it seem that Ida Maria has any clue. Take for example her song “Bad Karma” if you look at the lyrics you can tell that she totally misunderstands what Karma is.

“You better believe in karma
baby it’s gonna sting
the wheel of life’s gonna do you in
so I don’t really have to do a thing
you took me outta my money
you messed up my love life and my career
you better believe in karma
guess it’s gonna start getting weird right here “

Then we have the song called “Karma” by Spout who’s lyrics include.

“Have you met my friend Karma? – she’s a bitch
She’ll make things happen that you never wished”

I also found a book published by Truth Hurts Publications which publishes such books as “Thugs are for fun.” They also publish a book called “Karma Is A Bitch” which seems to be full of misconceptions about Karma. I present a quote from the book.

“The question is when will Tony figure that out?
Maybe when he starts getting his Karma
instantly and mercilessly he’ll get the hint.”

I think you get it now. Though we could also make an argument that the also do not know the etymology of the word “Bitch. It seems that the word comes from the O.E.  word bicce, probably from O.N. bikkjuna and is generally defined as, “female of the dog” (also fox, wolf, and occasionally other beasts). But, perhaps they mean it in way Chaucer used it in “bicched bones” meaning “unlucky dice. This definition comes from  the M.E. bicched “cursed, bad,” a general term of opprobrium.

But I digress, so lets move on.

During our next encounter I decided to become a fierce Bodhisattva. This encounter was spurred on by them leaving trash and having broken windows and such around their front yard. Given that we live 4 feet apart this was unacceptable. I waited until they came home and went outside to talk to them.

At first they told me to mind my own business and get back inside, rather menacingly. I calmly walked towards them, they stepped back towards their house. I mentioned to them that their mother moved them to give them a safe place to live and to improve their lives and that if they wanted to live on our block then they needed to step up and change. All the while I kept moving towards them and they moved backwards to end up on their doorstep. I stood my ground right on public property, never breaking eye contact. I used a calm tone and polite language and eventually they started to listen.
After a bit we all sat down and talked about what they wanted. I was also able to slip in a quick lesson about the difference between Karma (what you sow) and Vipaka (what you reap) and since that day they have re-roofed the house, fixed all the windows, removed the trash and in general stepped up to the standards of their new neighborhood. They even shoveled my walk during the blizzard this year.

About fiercebuddhist

Welcome. I am happy that our paths have crossed. Here you will find various poems, articles and photography. I hope that you enjoy them and visit often. I am currently working on writing “A Haiku A Day” so that I can, perhaps, have enough good ones for publication. If you are wondering what a “Fierce Buddhist” the following declaration should clarify. The “Fierce” in FierceBuddhist I define as “an obligation to do what I can to benefit all sentient beings, not just those close to me or those I agree with. If I see something or someone that is hurting others I must step forward and do what I can to assist them.” In the Army and in the dojo I learned how to defend myself, family and country but that does not mean I endorse the use of force. Two nonviolent examples of Fierce Buddhists that come to mind are Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama. While I do not claim be even close to them I can strive and so can you. Furthermore, my Buddhist name, given to me by Sensei Kubose, is Seiyo. His interpretation of my communication and interaction with him led him to this name. He told me Seiyo means “Fierce Sun.” The sun shines on everyone without prejudices without giving preferential treatment to anyone. This is tough to live up to, as you can imagine, but it sure sets the tone for my life. In Buddhism this is called a Fierce Bodhisattva. I am only on the path to Enlightenment and can only say to be a Fierce Buddhist.

2 responses »

  1. Dear Fierce Buddhist,
    I found your story by typing into google Kharma and Activism.
    Lately, I been asking myself questions about this. As a Buddhist I believe that Kharma is personal to each individual and you cannot change someone else’s Kharma. Also, in being an activist how do you know that your activism just isn’t an excuse to exercise your ego?

    Thanks for your time,

    • Dear Stephen,
      Thank you for your comment and question. My studies on Karma are ongoing and I cannot discuss the topic in-depth but I like your thinking. As for activism I try and follow the Buddha’s advice to Simha. The Buddha told Simha that if he sees an unjust act or crime being committed he should act but “let him not harbor hatred in his breast.” I try to be an activist in this manner, leaving my ego out of it, but then again I am only on the path and not yet enlightened. 🙂 I hope this answers your question. Take care my fellow traveler on the Dharma path.



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