Dear Dharma brothers and sisters,

I hope this email finds you and your family healthy and in good spirits.

As this pandemic is getting out of control, we can see, and feel, that it is bringing anxiety and panic to many. People are worried about catching the virus and even more worried about loved ones who are affected or who could be affected by this virus. But worrying and living in constant fear is not going to do us any good. Like Shanti Deva said, “if you CAN solve your problem, then what is the NEED of worrying? If you CANNOT solve it, then what is the USE of worrying?” What we can do is take control of our minds.  We can use this time to pray for those who have passed away, those who are sick and for those who are vulnerable to getting sick. On a practical level, we should adhere to the precautions mandated by our local, state and federal officials to flatten the curve. As we all know, it is important that we stay home, going out only for essentials and keeping a 6-ft distance from others. You are not only protecting yourself, you are protecting others as well!

While isolated at home, I wake up at 5 AM to pray and do contemplative meditation on Medicine Buddha, Tara, Vajra Kaylaya, and Guru Rinpoche. I do these practices all day, until about 9 PM.  For you my students, while you are at home, please don’t feel like you are imprisoned, allowing your mind to wander outside aimlessly while the body is inside.  Don’t waste your time mindlessly watching the screen. Instead, realize and understand just how precious this moment is, to be able to stay home. Until now, we have spent our time outside, running around checking off the endless ‘to do’s’ on our lists.  Remember, all the Buddhas have become enlightened by staying put and not wandering around aimlessly. Therefore, from a Buddhist perspective, being able to stay inside is a golden opportunity. Use the time to listen, read, contemplate, and meditate on Buddhist teachings.  I have uploaded roughly 12 years of teachings onto the Manjushri Dharma Center website.  These teachings are available for download:  http://manjushridharmacenter.org/teachings/.

You can also still follow our normal MDC routine as if you are here. We do Amitabha and Medicine Buddha prayers on Monday from 6:30-8 PM and meditation on Saturday from 10-11 AM. Practicing dharma doesn’t require you to be at a temple, your body is the temple.

As Buddha said, “You are your own protector. You are your own enemy. You are your own witness when good and evil is done.” Become your own protector! I will pray for your wellbeing every day but your effort will be more powerful to you than mine. I hope you will take my words to your heart and will be benefited. I am available for guidance and questions face-to-face through social media but remember that sometimes, it is good to be able to rely upon oneself to practice rather than purely relying on a Dharma teacher. I hope and pray that the sun of happiness will shine upon all the sentient beings and that all the sufferings will be dissipated soon. Tashi Delek to everyone!

From Khenpo Karten Rinpoche, posted to Facebook on Friday, April 3, 2020.  Translation by Dechen, Rinpoche’s niece.