Compassion and Responsibility for Action

An act of compassion is often an act that restores balance…The compassionate person tries to resolve problems by rebalancing. Sometimes the action required is gentle. Sometimes it must be violent. Those who are skillful at doing the right thing at the right time and in the right proportion are said to be superior among people: their actions are flawless and seamless.

To accept the importance of balance in our lives is to acknowledge consequences. Retribution follows wrongdoing. This does not happen because there is some karmic police agency ready to mete out punishment for the slightest infraction. Nor will the gods and devils pursue you for all your misdeeds.

There is retribution because when you do bad things, you create misery that remains attached to you in some way or another. Perhaps someone will come back to take out their resentment on you, or perhaps you will make some future mistake because of your shortsighted behaivor. Selfishness isolates you from others because you cease to care about even simple communication. Gradually your thinking will change, to the point that you cannot even convceive of what you are doing wrong, and so you will fall by your own folly. No one – except your own mind – is recording anyting. But that is devestating enough. “Divine justice” is the web of flaws that we wrap our lives in. There is no heaven, and there is no hell. There doesn’t need to be. Our hubris is the quintessential form of retribution. We create our own suffering.

-Deng Ming-Dao

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