Advice Regarding COVID-19
I would like to start off by saying, since COVID-19 is highly contagious, it is extremely important for us not to go to gatherings, and to stay home for the time being.
I will explain what I think about this virus, from my perspective as a practicing Buddhist monk. In general, disturbances in the outer elements of this world, diseases of sentient beings, war, starvation, and all that is undesirable has its root in the harmful thoughts and actions of human beings. Even this virus, while it originated in Wuhan, China, if we think about it, came from many causes and conditions.
We constantly seek to profit ourselves and defeat others; use and abuse poor animals for food; carelessly destroy the environment, the earth, the water, the forests. It seems to me that past and present actions like these are the causes of what is happening. This tiny virus is telling us that from now on we must be like one family, harmonious, loving, and compassionate with each other; I think it is sending us this message. In these difficult times we should think twice about what is most positive and definitely go in that direction. I don’t need to tell you that we are one family; the virus is telling us!
In Buddhism many interdependent causes and conditions are taught. We are now seeing, first hand, just how interdependent we are. For example, if we think about how the virus has affected small businesses and the stock markets, we can see how dependent we are on each other.
There are many methods for dealing with problems, such as praying to God. This is excellent and we should definitely do it. In addition, we, the roughly seven billion people on earth, need to change our ways of thinking and acting in positive ways; ultimately, this will bring about the healing that we seek.
Now that this frightening pandemic is before us, everyone must definitely be very careful. But we don’t want to become worried, frightened and traumatized. Fear and worry doesn’t help; it disturbs our mind and can even cause physical sickness.
If you have a problem and a solution,
there is no need to worry.
If you have a problem and no solution,
there is no point in worrying!
In particular, at present, staying at home is the best and only method we have to prevent the spread of the virus. While staying at home, don’t just be distracted by films and cell phones; instead, say prayers for the sick and dying. Pray for the benevolent doctors and hard-working nurses, rejoice in their actions with heartfelt gratitude. I have personally been taking this opportunity to be in retreat. I am praying, all day, every day, for the alleviation of this crisis.
We, human beings, are all one family so we must join together in unity. From now on, let’s promise and gather our courage to give birth to a new world of harmony, peace and happiness. Let’s take this virus as a sign to remind us to be compassionate towards each other and noble in our behavior.
With prayers that we be swiftly freed from COVID-19, I have written this as an offering to all of my brothers and sisters. ~ Khenpo Karten Rinpoche, Manjushri Dharma Center, in the afternoon of March 25th, 2020.