In Buddhism, our challenge is to respond to whatever arises to us, whether we regard it as felicity or adversity, good times or bad, and transmute everything that comes our way into our spiritual practice to make it meaningful. So this is indeed a challenging time, but when we look back on human history, when was there not a challenging time, at least for some very significant portion of the human population? These are difficult times medically, but only a small fraction of the human population has been directly influenced by this virus; millions and millions more are influenced by it financially, in terms of their livelihoods. Their sense of security is lost and they wonder whether they can find their next meal, or take care of their families. How do we transform this? If we look at this from a really deep perspective, this pandemic didn’t come out of nowhere.
I’ve read account after account saying that we human beings have created the circumstances that brought this upon us. We are violating our environment; we are violating other species; we have wiped out half of the wildlife on the planet over the last 40 years. We have brought more destruction on the ecosphere than at any time since the great meteor hit some 65 million years ago. We are experiencing now the results of our own actions, even without alluding to the Buddhist view of karma, which I do indeed accept. Karmically speaking, from lifetime to lifetime we’ve actually brought this upon ourselves. So how can we transmute it? Number one, we have to wake up, all of us 7.8 billion people. We have to be aware of how we, collectively, are violating the environment that is not only our home but the home of 20 billion, billion animals with whom we share this planet. We must treat this environment gently, lovingly. We must look forward 10 generations ahead to see that we leave this Earth in better condition than it was when we first arrived. But right now we are, of course, doing the exact opposite.
So we are experiencing the harvest of the seeds we have sown—we, collectively. Especially the rich nations; the nations that pride themselves on an ever-increasing gross domestic product, as if the more you can consume, the more you produce, the more successful your society is: this is an insane notion.
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