The New York Buddhist Church

March 31, 2020

 I wish I could simply say to the coronavirus, GO AWAY, SORRY, THERES NO ROOM FOR YOU IN MY LIFE, OR ANYONE ELSES.  But I cant.  I cant even control my own life, how can I control a virus?  It is causing so much fear and uncertainty.  By lessening my self-centeredness, the only thing I can control is my response to it by following the advice of health and public officials who are striving to keep us safe, and leaving the cure to the medical experts and scientists who are working so hard to stop it. 
The virus is controlling us.  It is negativity controlling us, resulting in extreme stress in our thinking caused by the unknown.  But we have a choice.  Obviously I cant tell the virus to go away, but I can forcefully and with all my might and my very being tell the negativity to go away.  In Buddhism, the sources of negativity, the causes of our suffering, are the Three Poisons, greed (want), anger (hatred), and ignorance (lack of knowledge or understanding), and the remedies are the practices of loving kindness, compassion, and wisdom.  These practices can also serve as the answer to overcoming the negativity caused by the invisible virus we cannot see, and the means by which one can transform that negativity into positivity.
Another enduring and valued antidote is the goodness and generosity of spirit shining through in the courage and selflessness of the health care workers and of so many others behind the scenes who are on the front lines of this battle.  We should be so grateful to them.  In point of fact, as difficult as times are right now, we still need to get on with our lives.  I never dreamed Id be giving my Sunday Dharma message to a camera, but thanks to technology, Im still able to reach out to you.  I really miss seeing you, and our lively interactions, but Im so glad I can continue to fulfill my role and responsibility as a minister despite the disruption in our normal routines.
One of the influences in my becoming a minister was the positivity, inspiration, and hope provided by Rev. Dr. Mitsuo Aoki, a religion professor at the University of Hawaii whose favorite saying was there is nothing greater than love!  For me, love is a dot in that all-inclusive, ever-widening circle of wisdom and compassion that is at the core of Buddhist teachings.  Please take a moment to reflect upon the countless blessings that we are constantly receiving, and think about ways to share these positive awakenings with all. 
Namo Amida Butsu