Is it my fault?

I the wake of the disaster in Japan, we always get this question: so if everything comes from my seeds, did i cause the disaster in Japan?

I was reading another article in that issue of Wired i have (mar.2011); this one is the cover story, “My Gadget Guilt: This is an iPhone factory in China. Seventeen of the company’s workers have committed suicide. Is it our fault?”

Essentially the story describes working conditions at Foxconn, a factory in China that employs one million people and builds 40% of the equipment that makes up the 150 billion dollar consumer-electronics industry.

It came under fire when it was revealed that in roughly a 18 month period 17 employees killed themselves. It got so bad that the company installed nets all around the buildings so that no one else could jump off.

Investigations reveal no hard evidence that the company did anything wrong (except perhaps allowing employees to work too much overtime (to the tune of 13 days straight at 12 hours a day); in fact they provide dorms for their employees (better than housing they can get on their own), commissaries, and even psychiatric care.

So question becomes, should I feel guilty that people are working in a factory 12 hours a day thirteen days straight to make gadgets for me that they can’t afford themselves?

The authors final conclusion is, “just a little.”

But of course, if we understand seeds, we know that what we perceive is coming from us. So yes, i created the disaster in Japan. Yes, i am responsible for the suicides at that factory in China.

But there are two ways to look at this. One, it’s my fault; I’m a bad person. Or two, if this is coming from me, i can change it.

There’s no word for “guilt” in Tibetan. We might regret something, but what’s the point of feeling guilty? Guilt says, “I’m a bad person, but I’m not going to do anything about it.” Regret says, “i did something wrong, let’s fix it.”

So how do we fix it? Geshe Michael covered earthquakes in one of my earlier posts. But how can i help a Chinese factory worker i will never meet?

Five percent of the world’s population cannot continue to use 40% of the world’s resources. When Geshe MIchael came out of his 3-year retreat, he made a scary prediction: if we don’t do something to change things, we could see our children working in Chinese sweatshops in our lifetime.

Why? What seeds do you think you are planting in your mind by being aware of the fact that you are living a life on the backs of others? Seeds that will result in a world that supports itself on your back. And not to scare you, but it’s coming, if you don’t plant different seeds.

So… how do i help a factory working in China, who i will probably never meet?

Give jobs to others. And not the crappy jobs, the jobs you like to do. 🙂

I think i told this story before: i used to take all the worst jobs at Diamond Mountain, and then dedicate the seeds so they people in China get great jobs. So eventually, those seeds will ripen as me seeing people in China not having to work 12 hour days.

See, the interesting thing is that we think we have to stop buying electronics, or write a letter to our Representative, or fly to China and write about the condition of factory workers there. You can do all those things, but it won’t help the factory worker in China. The only thing that will is being willing to accept dirty, thankless jobs yourself, and not force them on others.

Also, a really important idea we teach during the DCI retreats it the idea of limitless wealth.

Every last trifle we touch and consume, right down to the paper on which this magazine is printed or the screen on which it’s displayed, is not only ephemeral but in a real sense irreplaceable.

Because electronics come from sharing or giving them to others, if we all shared our electronics and gave them to others then everyone in the world could have all the electronics we want. If it’s true that the world is empty, and looks to me the way it does because of how i have treated others, then if i treated people in my world this way everyone could have anything they want.

Again, the best proof is the web. All the wealth generated by the web; where did it come from?

Being kind to others. 🙂

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11 Responses to Is it my fault?

  1. Peter Axtell says:

    Dear Eric, your post came just in time. i was on my way to clean up garbage, vacuum and sweep floors on one of my bank owned listings. Normally that isn’t anything i’ve had to do before but my seeds have changed and now i do. thought you’d like to know, i read your blog then i put on my ipod with one of your teachings and had a great time hauling garbage. i was thinking how lucky i am to have an opportunity to plant some good seeds. then i though about the people coming to look at the house and how much better it will be for them to see the place neat and clean. then i dedicated the merit. so thank you as always and PLEASE keep writing we are getting a lot out of the writings. Blessings, Peter

  2. Peter Axtell says:

    wish this site had spell check. i wrote though instead of thought. sorry (i won the spelling bee in 2nd grade you know….)

  3. Caroline says:

    Thanks for writing this post. I often struggle with where things are coming from and ending up feeling I’m a terrible person for creating the terrible things (or even just annoying things) I see or experience in the world. I finally did have an “aha!” moment a few months ago where I remembered that things being empty and ripening seeds coming from me also meant that I could change things. I need to be reminded of this regularly so that I don’t fall back into just feeling bad because I’ve created all these crappy seeds (so to speak).

    Also, it’s easy to feel helpless in the world when I think how few people I can help directly with my own two hands. So again, it’s good to be reminded that I *can* help people I’ll likely never meet or whose plight seems beyond my immediate ability to help.

    Thanks for reminding me of these things!

  4. Viet says:

    Hi Ven. Nyingpo,

    Yesterday in Venerable Phil’s class we had a deep discussion that i couldn’t resolve. Can you please help?

    1. It is said that karmic seeds produce/project mental images, but how caan karmic seeds which are changing things produce/project mental images which are unchanging? How can they ever affect each other? Similarly, how can mind, which is changing ever perceive emptiness, which is unchanging?

    2. Is it true that when you go looking for the raw data, you find that it too is a mental image? therefore there is no raw data? and that you can even change raw data with the planting of the right causes????

    • ericbrinkman says:

      dear Viet,

      So think of mental images as pictures. Can i take a photo of a blue sky with a black camera? You’re saying, “No, you can’t, because the camera is black.” It doesn’t matter. The projector/picture can be of anything.

      You’re right, emptiness can’t affect the mind/cause anything. It’s the perception of emptiness (a changing thing, because a perception is changing) that causes your mind to change.

      Yes, raw data is also dependent on a mental image. But no, that doesn’t mean that there is no raw data. It’s the other way around: show me raw data dependent on my perception, and i’ll show you something that exists; show me something that isn’t, and i’ll show you something that doesn’t exist–ie, something exists because it is a projection.

      So yes, you can change it. How did you think you could change anything otherwise?


  5. Sheshadri says:

    chop wood, carry water, dedicate – REPEAT!

    @ Eric – ur link for GMR Earthquakes is broken.

  6. ericbrinkman says:

    does anybody know how to add a spellcheck to wordpress? wait, it’s spell checking me… (evidently “spellcheck is 2 words : )

  7. Matt G. says:

    I love this. Keep writing. This post will help me remember to dedicate properly while I continue to clean up DMU and Jamyang. By the way, I love you and miss you. Matt

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