The New York Buddhist Church

March 24, 2020

With the coronavirus all around us, everything has changed, even my cooking.  People who know me know that I love to cook, but I didnt realize until now how much I often wasted some of the ingredients.  Usually I cook vegan, but the other night I roasted a chicken together with carrots, onions and potatoes.  From the leftovers, I was able to create other dishes.  The next morning I fried the potatoes and put an egg on top for breakfast, I made a chicken salad sandwich for lunch, and I made a Chinese ginger soup using the broth from the chicken bones for dinner.  Last night, I even made banana bread from some overripe bananas I had put in the freezer!
The necessity of being more resourceful in my cooking combined with the stay-at-home restrictions makes me appreciate all the things that I had always taken for granted, the freedom to go outside and shop as I pleased, the ability to freely socialize with others, the pleasure of having dinner in restaurants with friends. Theres a sense of resistance that lies deeply within me and I wonder if we all feel the same, that we dont like being told what we can or cannot do!  But despite this feeling, its critically important not only for ourselves but for others to follow the orders and instructions of the public officials and medical professionals, and take all the necessary precautions theyve given us.  We need to understand that everything they do, theyre doing for us, for our safety and for our health.  We thank them, and we thank all the unsung heroes who are risking their health and their lives for ours.
In reality, even in isolation, we still have many freedoms, and many things we can do.  Besides cooking, Im paying more attention to my feisty cat Mikey who unconditionally wants to play and keep me company, Im speaking more often with sangha members, family, and friends on the phone, some of whom I havent spoken to in awhile, and Im spending more time trying to get my thoughts together and to be mindful of how whats going on out there isnt about me, its about the hundreds, thousands, and millions of people all around me.  We are all in this together, and thankfully we are still able to communicate and to connect.  Now that I have so much extra time, I might just work on my Japanese sumi-e ink paintings, or even get around to getting rid of some of the clutter in my apartment!
As we look to medicine, science, government and business to help us cope and navigate through this crisis, lets remember the teachings of the Buddha that remind us that because of impermanence, that because things are always evolving, situations will change.  When conditions are right, anything can happen, positive as well as negative.  Individually, were all trying our best, but could you imagine if we positively put our thoughts, speech, and actions all together, how powerful the outcome would be?  Although were apart right now, the Nembutsu embraces us as one!