"With the insight of interbeing, we have seen how nothing in the world, including our bodies, exists by itself, alone. All things are mutually dependent on one another. If things were never dirty, how could they be immaculate? Without suffering, there could never be happiness, and without evil, there could never be goodness. If there were not suffering, how could we look deeply into it to give rise to understanding and love? Without suffering, how could there be insight? If there were no wrong, how could we know what right is?
We say, 'God is good; God is love,' but if God is good and if God is love, does this mean God is not in those places where there is no goodness and love? This is a very big question. In the light of Buddhist teachings, we can say that the ultimate nature of reality, the true nature of God, transcends all notions, including the notions of good and evil. To say anything less is to diminish God.
"In the face of devastating natural disasters in which thousands of people die, there are those who ask, 'How can God, who is good, allow such suffering?'
"When we hear news of wars, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, earthquakes, tsunamis, or hurricanes, we may feel overwhelmed by despair. It is hard to make sense of it. We don't understand why some of us have to endure such suffering and death, but not others. The insight of emptiness can help. When a young baby, an elderly grandmother, a teenager, or a young man dies in a disaster, we feel somehow that a part of us also dies. We die with them because we don't have a separate self, we all belong to the same human species. Insofar as we are still alive, they are also still alive in us. When we can touch this insight of no self, we are inspired to live in such a way that they continue, beautifully, in us.
"Nirvana, the ultimate nature of reality, is indeterminate; it is neutral. That is why everything in the cosmos is a wonder. The lotus is a wonder, and so too is the mud. The magnolia is a wonder, and so too is the poison oak. Ideas of good and evil are created by our mind, not by nature. When we let go of and release all these ideas, we see the true nature of reality. We cannot call an earthquake, storm, or volcano 'good' or 'evil.' Everything has its role to play.
"So we may need to reexamine our way of seeing God. If God is only on the side of goodness, then God cannot be the ultimate reality. We cannot even say that God is the ground of all being, because if God is the ground of being, what is the ground of nonbeing? We cannot speak of God in terms of existing or not existing, being or nonbeing. Even the peace and happiness that arises from touching the ultimate comes from within us, not from the ultimate itself. The ultimate, nirvana, is not itself peace or joy, because no notion or category like 'peace' or 'goodness' can be applied to the ultimate. The ultimate transcends all categories."