Teachings by Dharma Master Cheng Yen
Translated by Dharma as Water Development Department, Tzu Chi USA
Whenever the topic of the pandemic comes up, we can immediately sense people’s concern. Nowadays, in Taiwan, everyone is talking about “How many new confirmed COVID cases are there today?” “In which countries are the cases also increasing?” As we worry about the turbulent news, we are affected by different emotions and thoughts, but what good does worrying do? This is the suffering of human existence!
The Buddha understood the illnesses and suffering in the world. When it comes to the suffering of illnesses, it is expected that people will become sick and may die. Furthermore, aging, illness, and death have always brought suffering. COVID-19 is very infectious, and the pandemic has caused much panic. We can only increase our vigilance, stop, listen, and look closer, practicing careful prevention.
This pandemic is a huge challenge that has already lasted a long time. As we face this pandemic, we truly feel that the time is very long. When will the pandemic be over? This is very difficult to endure. So, we must earnestly take a pause and reflect on how such a pandemic came to occur.
If we can change our mindset, it will help mitigate the effects of the pandemic. With a sense of humility, we can let go of our self importance; we should curb our desires for things that are not necessities in our daily living. We must change our mindset of “eating as much as we want, consuming as much as we want, playing as much as we want, and just doing whatever we want.” At this time, we need to make adjustments and take a pause in our social life, activities, and entertainment.
We hear Tzu Chi volunteers say, “I have become freer recently. There are less activities outside, so we can earnestly settle down to read books, read sutra texts, and join online book discussions.” Through discussion, we can grow our wisdom and live happily. A life of wisdom is about putting time to good use and transforming consciousness into wisdom. We spend our time helping people, awakening love.
The next thing we must change is our diet. I have felt that people only talk about their fear of the pandemic but do not pay attention to where the disease came from. Everybody knows that sickness often enters from our mouth, so we must pay more attention to the effects of our food. What should not be eaten? What can we eat? What can we eat to improve our health and nutrition? The pandemic is severe, and it is alerting us to quickly change our way of life. We need to transform our restless mindset and habits of excess consumption, and turning a meat-based diet into a plant-based one is the most wondrous medicine.
With wisdom, let us earnestly and quietly contemplate, “Is what I desire a want or a need?” When we become more vigilant, we are giving a vaccine to the mind, transforming consciousness into wisdom. We must think about how we should live to have a life of quality and harmony in body and mind. We should call upon each other to be patient for a period of time. By simplifying our lives, naturally, the land and air will be purified.
Peace and safety are blessings. When we can bring peace and harmony to the environment, people can be joyful and blessed. In life, blessings are not just about having money or pleasures. We should mutually love each other and care for both ourselves and others. Then, we will realize that our health is dependent on other people’s health, and that, by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, we can inspire others to do the same. When we are happy and others are at peace, such a society of peace and joy can truly benefit the world.
Compiled from Master Cheng Yen’s teachings in the Morning Volunteer Assembly on May 17 and 18, 2021