Lighting rolls across the sky as thunder roars on this dark starless night. In the very heart and eye of the storm there is peace to be found. In this age, and in every age before and hence, tragedy, injustice, strife and turmoil ripple across the land.
Today, I witnessed tragedy in the eyes of a young prostitute as she wept before Buddha, begging health for her family who sent her to work the streets and forgiveness for her wretched state and cursed life. Society looks down upon her and even her family despises her. But this life is payment to Buddha for the bad karma earned in her previous life. She believes—because Buddhism teaches—that everything that happens to her has been earned by her own hand and is deserved. There is no such thing as mercy, only debt. In her mind, the only chance for peace and redemption lay in selling the one possession she has, her body, to take care of her family. Buddhism places little value on women and teaches the ultimate good a woman can do is to care for her family at any cost.
If she were born a boy, serving in the temple as a Monk for a few weeks would earn enough good karma to outweigh a lifetime of bad and would bring unfathomable honor to the family. But, as a woman, in a family that is either poor or simply wants more wealth and prestige, duty, honor and Buddha require the ultimate sacrifice, a life of abuse and slavery to provide for those very ones who are so demanding and yet so ashamed of her existence.
Or, maybe she is a wife whose husband wants more money, so each day she slaves to take care of her family and each night she is dropped off by her husband to work the street. It is not the status of the girl in a family that determines her fate, it is the desires of others and the status of a gender Buddha did not consider worthy of value or honor.
Today I witnessed tragedy, as a woman, oppressed and scorned by the world, prayed and worshipped the very deity which enslaved her.
Yesterday I witnessed injustice as a hundred voices raised prayers to ears that do not hear and petitions to eyes that cannot see.
Barefoot, before the most elaborate statue of Buddha, I stood in the greatest and wealthiest temple in all Thailand. The voices required me to pay homage to their great god, the idol made by the hands of man–standing for an unjust law created in the deceptive heart of man–to bow before him on bended knee and lift up my pleas. No sacrifice or respect will I grant to that false god enslaving billions and leading them astray.
Quickly I fled the temple, my only sacrifice is the tears I weep for this people who reject the Alpha and Omega for a tottering statue decorated by the creative mind of man. I smiled as I saw the foundations of the temple were cracked and God’s nature was peeking through, eager to overtake and pull down the lies and schemes of man. All this will pass away. Every lie will be exposed. Every idol built up by man, especially those built on the sweat and blood of others, will fall.
Is there a distinction between the strife of the poor, the blind, the deaf, the cripple and the turmoil that rages in the hearts of nations? Their cries echo in my ears as their seemingly hopeless plight reflects strange and horrible lights from their still vacant eyes.
One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess who is Lord and it will not be Buddha. Only One name will endure and it will not be his. One day tragedy, injustice, strife and turmoil will be no more, nor shall we weep ever again. Truth will reveal every lie and each falsehood will be destroyed. The innocent, weak, and poor will be oppressed no longer. No deformity will exist among men and there will be no more beggars for all will find healing and answered prayers at the One True Temple.
Until that time, love is the greatest gift we have to reach the lost, wearied and hopeless souls in this world. One day Justice will reign, but until that day both the oppressed and the oppressor need the love and grace of Christ for both are enslaved.
Peace is found in the eye of the storm, for Christ is the center of all things. In Him all is and all is held together. As the rain pours down on this dark night, I pray it is the tears of Christ washing and renewing this desolate land.
June 22, 2010