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Haiti from a Pre-Enlightenment Perspective

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Haiti. Earthquake. Huge suffering beyond imagination. I sent money. I continue to send prayers

What causes earthquakes? The scientists say one thing, having to do with tectonic plates and magma. But the scientific worldview is a Western construct based on Cartesian thought (in other words, the ideas of Rene Descartes).

Good ol' Rene destroyed the wisdom of the ancestors, that We Are One. Instead, he replaced it with "modern" thought that everything is separate. Nature is no longer considered our very life itself, but an object to analyze and utilize. Individual separate from community. And the individual, Rene, chopped up into a bunch of different categories — mind apart from spirit apart from body. The body divided into a multitude of systems — nervous, skeletal, digestive, etc.

"Okay," you might be thinking, "You know a fancy word or two. But what does this have to do with Haiti and earthquakes?"

I'm getting to that. Let's take a look at some of the words of wise people in history. Over 700 years ago, Nichiren Daishonin studied extensively and wrote major works about, in part, what causes earthquakes. His point of view has little relation to the scientific worldview based on Cartesian thought that just about everyone nowadays accepts as "reality."

Nichiren Daishonin's words resonate with the Andean cosmovision when he writes, "Life at each moment encompasses the body and mind and the self and environment of all sentient beings … as well as all insentient beings … including plants, sky, earth, and even the minutest particles of dust. Life at each moment permeates the entire realm of phenomena and is revealed in all phenomena."

"Cool," you might be thinking, "But what does this have to do with earthquakes?" Patience, my friend. I'm getting to that. I promise.

Okay, we have the idea that We Are One. One Life. Now, this Life is cause and effect. Everything is connected. What we human beings do affects the earth, the Pachamama. How did this wisdom of our ancestors, that We Are One Life, get so lost and distorted?

According to Peter Kropotkin in Mutual Aid (read this book for free online!), all of our ancestors lived with the wisdom of the mystic law, that We Are One. But that wisdom started to get distorted and lost as some people started setting themselves above others in the community. These folks who put themselves higher than the rest were the merchants and the warriors. Today we call these groups the military industrial complex.

Getting back to Nichiren, he went so far as to say that earthquakes are effects of the beliefs that the leaders of the land disseminate. That's right. He didn't say that earthquakes are impersonal acts of nature that have nothing to do with us. In his time and place, 13th century Japan, there were devastating earthquakes, and other disasters. Through researching all of the Buddhist documents and commentaries in his country, he encountered wisdom from a couple of thousand years earlier, saying that when the leaders of the land go against the mystic law of life, then there are disasters and calamities, such as earthquakes. In his era, the leaders (political/military/religious) disseminated the erroneous belief that there wasn't much you could do in this life to change things. The best you could hope for was to practice a religion that promised that when you died you would go to heaven (or in their words, the Pure Land in the West).

Hmm… sounds kind of like the beliefs that some of the missionaries spread in the Andes (and elsewhere), destroying the wisdom of the ancestors.

Who are the modern day leaders of the land? Nowadays "the land" is a global village. The other day, on a TV in a butcher's stall in Bolivia, I saw the sad faces of several U.S. presidents mourning the disaster in Haiti. But were they self-reflecting and saying that from this moment on they will respect that We Are One Life and stop invading countries and killing people? That they will stop their friends who have transnational companies from polluting our planet? That they will close the School of the Americas and stop training terrorists? That they will stop supporting an economic model that is based on oppressing the majority of the people so that a minority can live in material luxury?

From my interpretation of the writings of Nichiren Daishonin, as long as the leaders of the land continue to mislead the people, going against the truth of the mystic law of life — that We Are One — then earthquakes will continue, if not grow worse.

Now is the time to reawaken to the wisdom of our ancestors. I strive to do this by chanting Nam myoho renge kyo with the Soka Gakkai International, playing the panpipes in community, and making music, movies, books, and art to touch your soul and make you think.

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About Lynette Yetter

Lynette Yetter is the author of the books "72 Money Saving Tips for the 99%" and "Lucy Plays Panpipes for Peace, a novel." Lynette is a permanent resident of Bolivia and a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program at Reed College.
  • Eric

    Boy, you sure got a lively discussion going. Good job on getting people thinking!

  • I sense that people have curiosity to know more about my thoughts. In order to most fully answer your questions, I invite you to do five things –

    1. Read my novel, Lucy Plays Panpipes for Peace. I make this easy for you. You can download the illustrated pdf ebook FREE until February 1 at MusicAndes.com

    2. Continue reading my articles on blogcritics over the next few months

    3. Listen to my music (mp3 or limited edition CD) at MusicAndes.com

    4. Subscribe to my monthly thematic Little Ezine, where you can encounter inspiring and thought-provoking material. Here is a testimonial –
    “Love your Ezine – – – and the gush of hope, energy and inspiration it brings!
    Wow!” – Richard Weekly, Poet

    5. Check out my music video and soundtrack

    After thoroughly perusing these five different expressions of my thought and heart, I invite you to post your feedback on my forum and tell me how these works have addressed your question.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my blogcritics article and posting your comments! 🙂

  • Thank you, Christopher!

  • Lynette, you have to put ASINs in articles, not in comments…

    If you have any general questions, contact the person who signed you up. If you have article specific questions, ask the editors via the email you have for them.

    Christopher Rose
    Blogcritics Comments Editor

  • Hello again, everyone!

    Thanks for the tip, Cindy! 🙂 I LOVE your “socks” analogy!

    The post that wouldn’t post had a number of URLs in it. After it got rejected, I found in the “comment policy” that all URLs should be in the form of links. But, I don’t see how to make a link, here. (I am using Safari on a Mac) Any suggestions?

    Also, I just noticed in the instructions to me as a new writer on blogcritics, that I should post an ASIN of an Amazon product with each article. [Edited]

    The style sheet says I should put the Titles in italics. But, here in Safari, the italics disappear …

    Any suggestions, other blogcritic writers who use Mac and Safari?

  • Lynette,

    It is html code that is simple and works no matter what your equipment/software. Here is a page that tells you how to make a link.

  • Okay. The “test” worked. Now, who can help me put in links? There are those cool links that Irene Wagner put in her comments. How did you do that, Irene? I’m on a Mac and using Safari. Does that make a difference? (I think the URLs I cited were the reason my post wouldn’t post…)

  • I try to either write in a word program or, minimally, copy what I am about to post before I hit the ‘post comment’ button.

    Comments are sometimes like socks here. And there is some sort of law that operates when you’ve taken a lot of time on a comment and it is detailed–that is the one that is surely a goner.

  • Hello everyone. Thank you for taking the time to read my first blogcritics article and to post your comments. The other day I wrote a long informative response, but it did not post. I am still figuring out this technology… So, this is sort of a “test” post…

  • Difficult to believe and difficult to understand. Now if you could just shed your attachment to SGI, you would be a true daughter of the Buddha.


  • Linda McHenry

    Long before life existed on earth, volcanoes, earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters were taking place. (But, there was no one around to label them as such.)

    If anything, today’s “natural disasters” are quite mild to the ones that fashioned the earth billions of years ago. An earthquake today is merely a sign that earth has yet not done with her transformation.

    Nichiren Daishonin’s belief that humans can control natural disasters with a common mind-set seems impossible to me. Where was that mind-set when earth was first hurled into its orbit and began to cool, and errupt in ways man cannot even begin to phathom?

    The disasters humans cause are not of rock and stone, but of oppression and prejudice, poverty and hopelessness. Let’s not blame the people for Haiti’s horrific ordeal, because it comes to close to blaming the Haitian’s populace for bringing this onto themselves.

    Haiti’s children, especially, will be forever scared mentally, physically and spiritually from this event. Their transformation will most likely take place amid “eruptions” and “disasters” of their own making, but how can we blame the children, or their grieving parents, or aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters for what changes will take place in their mind-set twenty years down the road?

    Haitians are part of our world-wide family and in need of a brother’s love and suppport. They are dying from lack of the simplest of needs, water, food, medical help, and shelter, not to mention our sympathy and our willingness to help, not our meager attempt to validate death in its ugliest forms.

  • Lynette,

    There are things you suggest that I doubt I could ever be convinced of. And then there are other things, your connections through history that are intriguing and may help me move forward in my thinking. And then there are things that are both simple and profound that I agree with like:

    We Are One. One Life. Now, this Life is cause and effect. Everything is connected. What we human beings do affects the earth, the Pachamama*. How did this wisdom of our ancestors, that We Are One Life, get so lost and distorted?

    I hope you write more.

    *I can go along with this if the meaning is mother earth/mother world, but notif it is representative of the spirit who causes earthquakes.

  • Irene Wagner

    Here’s the article on human behavior and fractals. Just do a find on “cotton market” or “astonishing pattern.”

    No one really has reality all figured out.

  • Irene Wagner

    This is from an article by Donald Turcotte of Cornell University’s Department of Geological Sciences.

    “But most geological structures are complex and appear to defy mathematical analyses. Yet in the complexity there is an order. Complex geological structures generally obey fractal statistics. Examples include topography, distributions of earthquakes and faults, and mineral deposits. An unresolved question is whether the fractal order is simply the result of scale invariance or the result of governing equations that yield deterministic chaos.”

    Scientists know why that the faults are there, and that they occur with a fascinating regularity that cannot be accounted for by deterministic models that we understand right now.

    It’s not just seemingly chaotic trends in nature that follow this strange pattern–its human behavior, too.

    Let me find a link about the cotton prices.

    I don’t really have any comment about Daishonin. He has as much of an explanation as to the WHEN’s of earthquakes as Daishonin does–and the scientists would admit it, too.

  • STM

    Until they prove it, I remain sceptical.

    So far, they haven’t been able top prove it.

  • “saying that when the leaders of the land go against the mystic law of life, then there are disasters and calamities”

    And just when exactly was there a time when the leaders of the land did not do this? Or is this just a guess on Daishonin’s part?

  • Irene Wagner

    Seismologists (Aussies!) take the butterfly effect seriously.

  • STM

    Or a butterfly landing on a flower in Tasmania, which sets off a whole chain reaction of events that leads to the earthquake in Haiti.

    Or perhaps the snake spirit, disturbed and awakenening in fury …

    The more plausible reason: Haiti sits on a known fault line that runs through the Caribbean from Port-au-Prince to Kingston.

    It’s known as the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone.

    Most earthquakes happen in areas where there is a known fault line, or in a zone surrounding a known fault.

    Add in some poor construction practices and voila, you have the answer.

    I don’t doubt that we are all one on this planet; but I do doubt that any of these things getting out of kilter causes killer quakes.

    None of this explains Haiti’s poverty, either. There’s a simple explanation for that: greed, and no genuine rule of law.

  • Irene Wagner

    Job suffered because he was good.

  • Irene Wagner

    Job is a very old book, and the first chapter doesn’t take long to read.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Does that mean, Ruvy, that we also must consider the fact that they suffered in Haiti because of a “pact with the devil?” Or perhaps a herd of unicorns was racing around in the earth’s core and caused the earthquake? Oooh, oooh – maybe it was James Cameron! What about Namazu, a giant catfish that some Japanese people believe causes earthquakes?

    By all means, let’s consider every crackpot “theory” behind this tragedy lest we be considered closed-minded or foolish.

  • Funny how only Heloise and the author is willing to look at all this from a point of view that differs from the scientists who think they know it all – and who don’t.

    Only closed-minded fools would ignore some possible source of knowledge that would explain the hell the Haitians are suffering in now.

  • STM

    Heloise: “And we said just suppose we are about to witness another sinking of Atlantis?”

    Nor do we know whether it actually existed.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Looking like a fool with your pants on the ground…

  • Lynette I was just talking about this with someone who thinks like me. And we said just suppose we are about to witness another sinking of Atlantis? We don’e know how it sunk, when or where. But I spent two years on a Yahoo group that explored it. I actually had recall dreams about the sinking. And so did many others. It was fascinating.

    Also the 2012 Hopi prophecies and my study of astrology tell me that when there is a planetary lineup that is coming in 2012 it means earthquakes and volcanoes like we’ve never seen before. I mean China has not recovered from theirs yet.

    It will not be the end of the world but the planetary lineup won’t go away quietly especially as it involves some of the outer planets. They move slowly and grind against each other like the plates in a fault.

    I think we could witness a modern-day Atlantis in the Caribbean. I think there is a Nostradamus predict about it too.

    I never heard of the guy you cite. But I have studied mysticism. It means that there is a supernatural force that ties us all together simply. Or “from the one come the many.” Is the quote I recall.

    Keep thinking.

    Remember the “Insiders” don’t think, react or live like those who don’t have the knowledge brought over from Atlantis to Egypt.

  • And don’t forget the Incas culture of sacrifice.

  • Before the Age of Reason the answer to earthquakes and other natural disasters was usually human sacrifice. If there’s an earthquake then throw a virgin in a volcano. Crop harvest, assassinate the king to restore the balance of the cosmos.

    Is that what you want to go back to?