A. There is a significant conversation between an ancient master and his student that is relevant for the current situation: “How can I avoid heat and cold when they come?” “Why don’t you go where there is neither heat nor cold?”.
‘Go where there is neither heat nor cold’ means to see everything as empty, which, as often previously mentioned, is seeing everything with all the labels describing it detached from it. When there are no labels, imaginary lines that distinguish all things from one another, there are no human beings, no plants, no birth and no death. The state without any labels is referred to as the Buddha, or the Pure Land. To experience this state is to see the Buddha, or to enter the Pure Land that is without heat and cold.
When we see everything as empty, that is, when there are no labels at all, there is neither corona virus to infect human beings nor human beings to be infected by it. When we can see the current situation in this way, we can enjoy our lives as usual as if there were no virus. This, however, doesn’t mean that we don’t have to be watchful about corona virus but means that we are sufficiently vigilant though not so seized with fear that we lose our reason and become so selfish as to stockpile daily necessities. When we remain calm as usual, we can not only be cautious and more effectively prepared for danger but also make wiser decisions than when we are at a loss being captivated by fear.
So, the attitude that Zen practitioners should take in the current pandemic situation is to live as calmly as if there were no corona virus whilst being vigilant enough and to take care of, or comfort those who are in trouble mentally, or materially, due to the current circumstances.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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