Daily Tao / 131 – Meaning

golden-temple-lightning

Lightning tears temple asunder.
Divine wrath, or natural disaster?

There was a seaside temple in India that was struck by lightning. That minor storm was the vanguard to a full hurricane that eventually ravaged the entire countryside. The old temple was split from its roof line to its foundations. One entire end of the building was parted from its body like a severed head. Was this karma? Was this the punishment of the gods? Or was it simply an old building and an unfortunate accident?

What you say shows your attitude about nature, reality, and whether you believe gods intervene in human affairs. If you insist that there was some reason that lightning cleaved the temple, then you live in a world where uncertainty is the by-product of some supreme being’s emotional whims. If, however, you accept this incident solely as a natural disaster, then you also accept random occurrences in life. Such a viewpoint does not preclude any notion of the divine, of course. It merely states that not everything in nature is administered by some heavenly bureaucracy.

It is a simple fact that lightning split the temple. The meaning of this incident — if there is any — is determined by each person. One person regards it as a disaster, another as a good thing, while a third views it dispassionately. There is nothing inherent in the incident that dictates its meaning. It is enough that we all recognize that it happened.

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