The New York Buddhist Church

May 11, 2020

During the early stages of the coronavirus I was overjoyed to hear so many people saying that we are in this together, united in the fight against this dreadful global pandemic. But now I am extremely disappointed over all the arguments that have recently arisen.  Arguments like whos to blame, whats  in it for me, when can I go out, where do I go for answers, why is there not more cooperation, and how is this crisis ever going to end so that we can get back to normal?

I certainly do not know all the answers, but putting politics and such arguments aside, it seems to me that we should not forget how critically important it is to continue working together with one heart and one mind toward one common goal  to get rid of this terrible danger that is a threat to everyone.

Trusting that the experts in science and medicine and our leaders in business and government and elsewhere will come up with the necessary solutions, the only thing that I can do is to contribute in my own way by supporting their efforts.

An inspiration for what I am doing right now, which is basically to stay home, comes from the experiences of my own mother who I spoke about during this past Sunday service, on Mothers Day. When I was about ten years old she became infected with tuberculosis and was isolated in a special hospital for two years. The hospital building was very high, and the only contact I was allowed to have with her was to look up and wave to her from the ground while she looked down and waved to me from her window. Hi Mom, I would say, not really understanding why I could not be with her. Everybody assumed that she would die, but nobody had the heart to tell me, not even my father. Fortunately however, and as she believed, miraculously, she did fully recover. It completely changed her life! Before her illness, her whole life was centered around the family business, making money, how to make it and how to use it. After her illness, her thinking became very different and she would say that the most important thing was to take care of your health. Without health, she would often say, there is no way you can make a living, or for that matter, sustain a living. It took a life-threatening illness for her to be able to say something like that, and with deep gratitude, she turned from devoting most of her time to business, to also finding the time to help others, as she herself had been helped. 

I also spoke on Sunday about how Buddhas love is like a mothers love, unconditional, and I spoke about the Bodhisattva Kannon (Kuan-yin) a mother-like figure, widely revered for her many compassionate qualities. Within the crown of Kuan-yin sits the image of Amida Buddha, who through skillful means (upaya) brings the Dharma in the midst of suffering to save us all. How thankful we are.

Our reading on Sunday was The Threefold Reguge which for me emphasizes the relevance of our need, especially now, for spiritual togetherness even as we are physically apart. I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dharma, I take refuge in the Sangha, the community,(May we, together with all sentient beings, become units in true accord, in harmony with all things).    

The concept of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha does not exist independently. Collectively they express the oneness of all things. This oneness can overcome any form of negativity and disunity, bringing us back to positivity and unity. It constantly reminds us that the pieces of the puzzle scattered by the pandemic need to come together in order to make us whole again. 

Namo Amida Butsu.