As one who is prone to fear and anxiety, I find myself strangely calm amidst this storm of news about the corona virus. Fear is such a potent poison and I have lived with this my whole life. I understand how it stresses the body, stirs the emotions, and motivates irrational responses. If it were not for my Dharma practice, I think I would have been reduced to a quivering pile of anxiety long ago. Fortunately, this is not the case, and I thank all the buddhas and bodhisattvas for their support.
Vajrayana tradition teaches that our true nature, our buddha-mind, is free from fear—and hope. Free from fear in the sense we are naturally fearless in the face of illusory projections of the mind. We have just enough self-preservation instinct to deal with actual danger, but we are free from extreme thinking with regards to manufactured crises. We are also free from hope that things will be different than they are because wishing anything to be otherwise takes us out of the moment. We humbly and gracefully receive what is.
This may seem very passive. In reality, this is our most awakened condition. It allows us to be available to act swiftly and with skill to help alleviate suffering for all beings. If we are not paralyzed by impure perception, compassionate activity is unimpeded. In this environment of media and political fear mongering, it is all the more important we settle the mind and make ourselves available to be of benefit. Buddha taught, “If we act with an unsettled mind, all experiences will be unsettled. If we act with a settled mind, all experiences will be more settled and peaceful.”
So, it is good to wash our hands and not unnecessarily place ourselves or others in harms way. It is especially important to do this with great love and equanimity. If fear is the motivation, we foster fear in others. If love is the motivation, well, you get it.
(To be respectful of local health authorities’ intention to maintain mindful caution, it is possible we may choose to cancel our gatherings at the Dharma Center in the next few weeks. We will send updates as necessary via our email list.)