To continue on the discussion of tyaga, letting go of the results of one’s actions, in relation to giving in times of tragedy, but it also becomes critical in the acceptance of vulnerability. Earthquakes, hurricanes, viewing others become helpless engenders helplessness within ourselves. Listening or reading news about wars, diseases, natural disasters can leave the modern man or woman more informed but also more overwhelmed.
This is when the dual face of dharma, doing as one should, and tyaga become important. If one does what one’s job is, whether it is being a full-time mother, an admin professional, a doctor, or artist, then when the chance for dana, charity, comes up: give and let go. In the Bhagavad Gita, karma yoga is described as an offering. What happens thereafter is based on so many factors that there is no healthy choice but to let it go.
Working in the film industry, I became incredibly cynical when we began development on another Holocaust movie as the genocide in Sudan raged on. So many films on that genocide, and yet genocide after genocide had taken place after the Holocaust of World War II. Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Sudan to name a few. This might as well have been any old film. Yet, this was a professional endeavor over which I had little control, and I know the team was passionate about the subject. On the dana level, I did what I could in my personal activism…the rest — government policies, bureaucracy, and all the rest — were out of my control.
The tragedy in Haiti is not the earthquake itself; it is the effect of it on the people. Instead of shaking fists at tidal waves and earthquakes and other natural disasters over which we have no control, shake fists, join hands, raise voices, and put into action what one does have control over, such as the responses to such natural disasters; taking steps to to minimize destruction next time; and rebuilding a stronger Haiti.
People have short term memories and while Haiti is in the international consciousness, this is it’s time — we hope — to improve the situation there. That much we have control over.