Good morning sangha. What a karmic tidal wave we’re in, like The Perfect Storm! A pandemic and an earthquake, for goodness sake! Outside, blue-gray clouds hang low on the Red Cliffs. The air is wet and fresh and cold.
Healthcare scientists and epidemiologists are letting us know that prevention of infection is going to be the smartest way through this. Social distancing is a big buzz-word right now, for good reason. It is one of the major keys to prevention and “a flattening of the curve” to prevent the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.
Rinpoche and I have spoken about this, and I have followed his example and gone into retreat. It’s been five days now. Urgyen Samten Ling, Great Vow Monastery Genpo Roshi’s sangha – all of them have suspended gatherings, and are moving toward Virtual Buddhism to maintain the functions of the sangha.
Open your mind, broaden your perspective and see this as an opportunity to go into full or partial retreat. We distance ourselves for the sake of the most vulnerable, whom we might otherwise infect. And along the way, we find great benefit in having the pace of the world slowed down, even though Mother Nature had to play a pretty forceful hand, to be heard.
There is a mental and physical change that takes place within a couple of days of retreat. The solitude quiets body and mind. A rhythm of meditational practice periods throughout the day creates containment, Old patterns of mental chatter are broken up. Events in the world are experienced in a more balanced way – and with full clarity of mind. One’s sense of time expands. Minutes and hours become like epochs and kalpas. Peace of mind coexists with a full awareness of the suffering going on right now in our world. The meditational deities present themselves more intimately.
So, it’s a great time to turn inward and practice stillness. You will see things in a new way. Consciously choose to sit with and explore the experience of desire. I want to go here. I want to go there. I want to have this or that. Then relinquish, and settle. Where did that experience of desire come from? Where did it go? Who is asking this question? Rest, in present moment wakefulness.
All sangha gatherings are suspended for now, to support and protect the most vulnerable, and to learn to practice in greater solitude.
May all of you be blessed and protected.