Question: We are daily confronted with stories and pictures of horrific sufferings in various parts of the world. We can do little to help physically, and the karma doctrine that these who are now tortured and killed have themselves been torturers and killers in past lives does not bring much relief either. Has Yoga anything to add?
Answer: The doctrine of karma is not meant to be used to diagnose the causes of the sufferings of others. Those sufferings are an opportunity for us to make good karma ourselves, by doing something positive to help.
As you say, physical and material help doesn’t solve the problem because the cause of most of the world suffering is not due to physical natural disasters like earthquakes. It comes from aggressive fury of human groups, from family feuds, local gang fights, up to inter-state wars. These arise from what is technically called causal cosmic ignorance. It can be alleviated by concentration on the underlying cosmic light, which it veils.
The individual is, in essence, a much bigger element in the causal sphere than in the physical. If the mind is concentrated, temporarily freed from selfishness and inertia, on cosmic light, then for that time it makes a substantial contribution to lessening the worlds suffering.
When confronted with some horrific image which upsets the mind, let one immediately (or as soon as possible) sit down, throw off inertia and selfishness and memory associations of who and where he is. Then meditate on light and peace raining softly down on to humans everywhere. For those who are drawn to a human form, the vision of Christ or of Buddha, raining compassion on humanity, brings immediate relief.
The yogin gets up from a fifteen minutes meditation, with the knowledge that something definite has been done for those others. He often also finds that in his own life, he is tending to do less harm.
© Trevor Leggett