The story of Samson takes place at a time when God is punishing the Israelites for not following God’s laws. They are living under occupation by the Philistines. The Israelites long to be free, but nobody is strong enough to lead a rebellion. God then came to a couple that was too old to conceive and said that they would have a child who would free the Israelites – he would have superhuman strength, but should not drink alcohol or cut his hair. He was born and grew up without any further signs. Everyone knew he was strong and they wanted him to lead a revolt, but Samson knew if he did so they would just all die. At one point, a Philistine patrol attacked his quasi-girlfriend and he defeated them. At another point, he wrestled a lion and won. His myth grew and so the Philistines feared him, so they tried to capture him. But he killed them all with a bone. Seeing that his people did not help them, he gave up on them and went out wandering. He came upon a kind Philistine family, fell in love with the daughter and wanted to marry her. Samson’s mother thought this was terrible because she was not an Israelite, but Samson married her anyways. At the party after the wedding, the Philistine army pressured the father of the bride to ask his daughter for the answer to the riddle that Samson posed to everyone. Under pressure she did so, and when the army captain solved the riddle Samson realized what had happened, became enraged and killed all of the Philistine soldiers who were there. Later the Philistines killed his wife, and then Samson started a Rambo-like solitary war against the Philistines. The Philistines didn’t know how to stop him through force, but they identified his weakness was beautiful women. So they sent a princess, Delilah, to him. She tricked him into falling in love with her, and she got him to reveal that his strength depended upon his hair not being cut. She then cut his hair, he lost his strength and was captured and blinded. The Philistines then proceeded to crush the Israelite rebellion. Samson then went to work as a slave in the Philistine iron mines, where he labored and regained his strength. At a party celebrating the Philistine victory, they brought Samson and tied him to some pillars to show off as a prize of war. Samson, though blind, requested God’s blessings for strength again and he tore the pillars down causing the entire temple to collapse, killing all of the Philistine noble court. This then turned the tide of the war and the Israelites were free of the Philistine occupation.
As a Kadampa, what does this story teach me about the Dharma?
- When we are confronting suffering, it is good to draw the connection between our suffering and our own past wrong deeds. The Israelites felt that the suffering of the Philistine occupation was God punishing them for their wrong deeds. The conclusion of this view is to accept the suffering as atonement and to redouble one’s efforts to follow moral discipline. While in Kadampa terms we would never say that Buddha’s punish us for our wrong deeds, we would say that our past wrong deeds are the cause of all of our own present suffering. This brings us to the same conclusion of the need to purify and redouble our efforts at moral discipline.
- Holy beings have the power to transform even our own uncontrolled delusions into something useful if we never abandon our reliance. This is actually a very profound point which can easily be misunderstood. Samson had three main minds: faith in God, lust for women and a burning desire for revenge. The latter two are obviously deluded minds. But because he had faith, and the people of Israel had faith in him and God, God was able to channel Samson’s uncontrolled deluded actions skilfully towards a higher good of freeing the Israelites from oppression. Thus, God was able to take even the impure and contaminated and use it for good because the power of faith of all those involved was greater than the delusions. In exactly the same way, we are still deluded beings. Even if we are still highly deluded beings, uncontrolledly forced to follow their deceptive advice, if we rely sincerely upon Dorje Shugden he can transform even our negative karma and delusions into our spiritual path – such is his power! Our negative karma may ripen, but our faith opens our mind to view our suffering with wisdom and therefore learn spiritual lessons. Our delusions may push us to engage in all sorts of stupid, deluded actions, but through our reliance on Dorje Shugden the mess that emerges from our wrong actions will still be what is perfect for our own and other’s swiftest possible enlightenment. Disasters may strike us due to our own deluded and negative actions, but through the power of the Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden, he can transform these disasters into a perfect condition for our enlightenment. We may not realize how at first, but over time it will become revealed to us how our past disasters were in fact our greatest blessings. It will be revealed to us how our own past mistakes are our greatest teachers. This does not mean delusions and negativities are good and are not to be abandoned, rather it means even if we are still deluded and negative, if we nonetheless maintain our faith the holy beings have the power to keep us moving forward on the path. Such is their power.
- The Israelites always believed in a messiah, somebody who could come and deliver them from their suffering and oppression. They believed this while under Philistine occupation, they believed Samson was sent to deliver them. They believed that with Jesus as well. As a Kadampa, how can we understand this? We can understand this through faith in the laws of karma. If you believe in a messiah, then you realize he will only come if you merit him coming through your atoning for your wrong deeds and by training in virtuous deeds. By purifying and practicing moral discipline in this way, you create the karmic causes for a higher rebirth free from oppression and gross forms of suffering. Higher rebirth does not just happen when one dies and is reborn, but it can happen many times even within a single human life. So by believing in a messiah and acting accordingly, you create causes for the situation to change and for you to become more free. Sometimes this may take many generations as the society as a whole accumulates the collective karma for their situation to change, but if people perservere with this course it is just a question of time before the “messiah” will come (will karmically appear). The messiah might not always be a person and the messiah may not always liberate us in the way we think, but the effect will definitely be accomplished. This is true due to the infallibility of the laws of karma. Understanding this, when we find ourselves in a very difficult or unfree situation, if we strongly believe in the “messiah” of pure deeds, we will be delivered from bondage. It is guaranteed!