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Buddha as part of the noble eightfold path preached that killing any organism is an unskillful action which results in bad karma. He also preached that every buddhist monk's final aim should be nibbana. In the Maha-parinibbana Sutta, it's mentioned that one cause for earthquake is a monk attaining enlightenment. Earthquakes result in the killing of atleast few organisms. So that should mean a monk should not pursue enlightenment. How does a practicing buddhist monk address this apparent contradiction?

Thanks.

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There are instances where the earth trembled due to certain significant event or a very meritorious person. But I do not think these are not very serious tremors. In recent times also these have happened. E.g.

Sometimes, even in this unhappy atmosphere, there would be a ray of hope. Sayagyi had said that on my arrival in India, nature would give a sign of my future success. I travelled by air from Yangon (Rangoon) and, as it happened, when I descended from the plane in Calcutta there was an earth tremor. The next day I read in the newspapers that it had affected a large area of northern India. To me it was as if the country was thrilled to regain the long-lost jewel of the Dhamma.

Signs of this kind had occurred in the time of the Buddha. Was this nature’s way of expressing joy at the rebirth of the Buddha’s teaching through the return of Vipassana? However, when I recalled the present difficulties, I felt that perhaps the earthquake had just been a coincidence and that it was senseless to give it importance. I needed to understand and accept the existing situation, which was bleak.

Source: First Vipassana Course In India

Killing many beings who a meritorious may cause natural disasters. In the past there is a Tsunami which hit Sri Lanka when an Arahat was killed. In such cases life may get harmed.

Being enlightened is beneficial to oneself and others. Generally as far as I know earth tremors arising from this do not harm beings.

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In the second of the eight parts what the Supreme Buddha said was, that if an Arahant so wishes, he/she can create an earth quake, but these kind of earthquakes do not create any harm to any being. There are a couple of examples of Arahants doing such at the request of kings, to show their powers.

In the Maha-parinibbana Sutta , The Blessed One states:

When an ascetic or a Brahmin or a deity of great power, of great majesty, has, through spiritual power, attained (complete) mastery of the mind, and has developed even a (slight) perception of this earth, or an unlimited perception of water, that individual who encompasses such spiritual powers has the ability to make this Earth move, waver, flutter, and shake. This is the second reason, the second cause for the occurrence of a great earthquake.

When the Bodhisatta (person striving for Buddhahood) The being (satta) heading for Awakening (Bodhi).descends from the heavenly abode of Tusita, and mindfully, with full awareness, enters his mother's womb, this earth moves, wavers, flutters, and shakes. This is the third reason, the third cause for the occurrence of a great earthquake.

When the Bodhisatta, highly mindfully, with full awareness, leaves his mother's womb, this earth moves, wavers, flutters, and shakes. This is the fourth reason, the fourth cause for the occurrence of a great earthquake.

When the Tathāgata attains the supreme state of Sammāsambodhi (unsurpassed and perfect Awakening), this Earth moves, wavers, flutters, and shakes. This is the fifth reason, the fifth cause for the occurrence of a great earthquake.

When the Tathāgata sets the unsurpassed wheel of the Dhamma rolling (expounds the Four Noble Truths to the world), this Earth moves, wavers, flutters, and shakes. This is the sixth reason, the sixth cause for the occurrence of a great earthquake.

When the Tathāgata, highly mindfully, with full awareness gives up the “Ability to determine to live further” (Ayu Sanskara) this Earth moves, wavers, flutters, and shakes. This is the seventh reason, the seventh cause for the occurrence of a great earthquake.

When the Tathāgata reaches Parinibbāna, leaving no basis for aggregates to continue remaining, this Earth moves, wavers, flutters, and shakes. This is the eighth reason, the eighth cause for the occurrence of a great earthquake.

These are the eight reasons, the eight causes, Ānanda, for the occurrence of a great earthquake. - (Maha-parinibbana Sutta-DN)

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The Buddhist scriptures explain the physical body ('rupa') is composed of the elements of earth, wind, fire & water & this 'rupa' is inseparable from mentality ('nama').

Therefore, when the mind shakes with rapture (joy), so does the physical body (which is made of the earth element) shake with joy.

The Maha-Parinibbana Sutta states:

What causes life, unbounded or confined — His process of becoming — this the Sage Renounces. With inward calm and joy he breaks, As though a coat of mail, his own life's cause.

This reality is most well-known by ordinary people when they experience sexual orgasm & also when women complete (the trial of) childbirth.

Mystics can also use psychic powers to send thought messages & emotions into the minds of other people. This will also cause the earth element within the bodies of those other people to shake.

Many reputed arahants have passed away in Thailand yet Thailand does not have earthquakes.

Sorrow is often connected to joy. When ordinary people think of the passing of enlightened beings, both the joy & sorrow in their minds causes the earth element in their physical bodies to shake.

The above said, if what is written in the Maha-Parinibbana Sutta is literally true then Jesus Christ must have also been a Buddha because the Bible states:

Jesus again gave a loud cry and breathed his last.

Then the curtain hanging in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split apart, the graves broke open and many of God's people who had died were raised to life.

Matthew 27:50-53

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