[ Re: Cover, March 20-26] Your cover says it all. You are using the Bush administration's language to describe a preemptive war—based on lies, waged for the purpose of opening new markets for U.S. corporations and the creation of a permanent wartime economy, providing permanent profits for the war industry. For details, read The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein.
Operation Iraqi Freedom? You bought it hook, line and sinker. By allowing Bush to frame the language of the debate, you compromise yourselves before you even begin. The only freedom Bush is planning for Iraqis is the choice between McDonald's and Burger King. I expect better from you.
This letter is in response to The Radford Files article “Karmas and Dogmas” [March 13-19]. It's really great that the topic of karma came up because going through life without understanding karma is like driving a car without realizing the car moves left when you turn the steering wheel left, etc. Knowing how karma functions dissolves a lot of confusion.
People should acknowledge that the Buddha did not invent the law of karma, he discovered it. And once he discovered it, he did not issue commandments, he simply shared his findings! Just imagine the guy who discovered that citrus fruit prevents scurvy. Once he realized that, he naturally wanted to share it. Who would call this dogmatic?
There are five facts about karma that are really helpful to learn:
1) Karma is precise. Just as a pumpkin seed can only grow into a pumpkin plant, not a coconut tree, each karmic cause has a specific karmic result.
2) Karmic results are not immediate. Once we set something into motion karmically, it is absolutely certain that we will experience results, but it may take awhile. If we shoot an arrow into the sky, it takes awhile before it falls back to earth. It's the same for karma. This is why karma is not obvious, why it's something we have to study and verify. This is also why experiences can seem to come out of nowhere. Before we learn about karma, we have many cherished beliefs about causes and results. We may believe that things are accidental, unjust, divinely decreed or fated, for example. Such beliefs strip us of our power and objectivity and make it more difficult for us to respond skillfully to unexpected circumstances.
3) Karmic results are subject to conditions. We can either reinforce or mitigate karma we have previously set into motion. A pumpkin seed that is carefully planted in good soil, watered and fertilized is more likely to grow into a healthy pumpkin plant than one that accidently falls on dry, hard earth.
4) Karma has a tendency to increase. We are essentially creatures of habit and if we do something once, we're more likely to do it again—and again and again. By beginning to change even the smallest actions of body, speech and mind, we are able to make huge changes.
5) Karma is individual. Everything we experience is something we have created. There is no one else to praise or blame!
What this all boils down to is that, according to the Buddhist teachings on karma, we are each in the driver's seat of our own experience. What could be more inspiring or empowering? Pleading, cajoling, praying, complaining, fantasizing or ignoring do not make the slightest difference. But even the smallest action of body, speech or mind does.
You can investigate karma further in a book called The Jewel Ornament of Liberation: The Wish-Fulfilling Gem of the Noble Teachings by Gampopa.
Kathleen and Shawn Loudermilk
Albuquerque Diamond Way Buddhist Center
The Press Takes Clinton's Bait?
[ Re: Thin Line, “The Press Takes Clinton's Bait,” March 13-19] Everybody who I've talked to has had negative things to say about Clinton, not Obama. I voted for Clinton in the primaries and I believe my vote should be respected. Instead of respecting my right as a United States citizen, I have been insulted repeatedly. It's even more frustrating because the people who are criticizing my vote are from the same political party. The Democratic Party has handled this primary very poorly and has allowed the division of its members. In response to the complete lack of respect from other Democrats, I'm voting for a Green Party candidate this election. If the Democratic Party wants my support, it will have to learn to respect my vote.
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CORRECTION: Eight of the soldiers that appeared on last week’s cover [ “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” March 20-26] were paired with incorrect names inside the issue. The Alibi deeply regrets the error. Here are the names and photographs for those soldiers as they should have been represented.
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