Wisdom Over Justice 2
…people suffer more from their mind-state in the present than they do from the results of past bad actions playing out in the external world. No matter how much justice you try to bring into the world, people are still going to suffer and be dissatisfied as long as their minds are untrained in the qualities that make them impervious to suffering…Not only do people suffer when their minds are untrained, the qualities of an untrained mind also lead them to destroy any system of justice that might be established in the world. As long as people’s minds are untrained, justice would not solve the problem of their suffering, nor would it be able to last. This fact holds regardless of whether you adopt the Buddha’s view of the world or a more modern view of a cosmos with vast dimensions of time and no end in sight.
…the idea of a just resolution of a conflict requires a story with a clear beginning point—and a clear end point. But in the long time frame of the Buddha’s universe, the stories have no clear beginning and—potentially—no end. There’s no way to determine who did what first, through all our many lifetimes, and there’s no way that a final tally would ever stay final. Everything is swept away, only to regroup, again and again. This means that justice cannot be viewed as an end, for in this universe there are no ends, aside from nibbāna. You can’t use justice as an end to justify means, for it—like everything else in the universe—is nothing but means. Harmony can be found only by making sure that the means are clearly good.
…for people to agree on a standard of justice, they have to agree on the stories that justify the use of force to right wrongs. But in a universe where the boundaries of stories are impossible to establish, there’s no story that everyone will agree on. This means that the stories have to be imposed—a fact that holds even if you don’t accept the premises of kamma and rebirth. The result is that the stories, instead of uniting us, tend to divide us: Think of all the religious and political wars, the revolutions and counter-revolutions, that have started over conflicting stories of who did what to whom and why. The arguments over whose stories to believe can lead to passions, conflicts, and strife that, from the perspective of the Buddha’s awakening, keep us bound to the suffering in saṁsāra long into the future.
These are some of the reasons why, after gaining his first two knowledges on the night of awakening, the Buddha decided that the best use of what he had learned was to turn inward to find the causes of saṁsāra in his own heart and mind, and to escape from kamma entirely by training his mind. These are also the reasons why, when he taught others how to solve the problem of suffering, he focused primarily on the internal causes of suffering, and only secondarily on the external ones.
This reflection by Ajaan Geoff is from the book, Wisdom Over Justice, pp. 5-6.