It was really good to hear the news on the radio this afternoon that relief supplies had reached the New Orleans Convention Center, though it was a bit disturbing to have it put in the context of the National Guard “regaining control of the facility.” What’s important is that a lot of people are getting the help they need, and judging from how the mayor of New Orleans has put pressure on the feds lately, I expect some of the people stranded in other sections of the city will also get the help they so desperately need. And soon.
But what really gives me hope is the fact that, although many people were out of hand and blinded by anger, rage and fear, the situation at the Convention Center and Superdome didn’t spiral completely out of control — no one torched the places, nor was there any mass violence. Even in their darkest hour, it seems the majority of the people affected by Katrina managed to hold on to their humanity.
There is a school of Tibetan Buddhism called Dzogchen — “the innate great perfection” — that teaches each of us have a Buddha within. According to Dzogchen, we each have the innate capacity to be a Buddha, an enlightened one, if we take the time and quiet our minds long enough to see what’s inside. The situation in New Orleans demonstrates to me that even when someone reaches the lowest imaginable point, there is something good inside — Buddha-nature, if you will — and that when we hold on to that goodness, we can, perhaps, get through anything.