Shakyamuni Buddha has often been considered a great physician or healer. He observed, diagnosed, prescribed treatment, and offered a cure for our spiritual suffering. His Four Noble Truths offer a cure for our inherent illness which is caused by attachments and desires. The Buddha’s four-part remedy 1) Diagnosed there is suffering in life; 2) Observed the cause of suffering; 3) Discovered suffering can be cured, and 4) Offered a plan of treatment. Following the Path he shared leads to wholeness and healing. This is why we gratefully take refuge in the Three Treasures of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha for the lasting relief they bring.
A basic principle of Buddhism is that we should always be mindful of the health of the community. We are guided to see ourselves as part of a larger whole because what we do affects others. This is a recognition of the interdependent nature of our existence and how we are mutually dependent on each other for survival.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a lesson in this fundamental truth. Taking personal action by wearing a mask in public, keeping at least six feet away from others, washing or sanitizing our hands frequently has proven to be effective in reducing the spread of the virus. Being vigilant about these precautions is not only about our self-benefit but more importantly about benefiting others. This is why we have done everything we can to care for each other as a Sangha because we will only get through this crisis together. “We” is greater than “I”.
It is in this spirit of mutual care and responsibility that I was personally glad to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. For over a year, I have had limited contact with family and loved ones out of concern for their safety. We have all made sacrifices for the welfare of those we love. For me, taking the vaccine is about love, care, and concern for others. The vaccine has given me hope that I can be together with my family safely again.
The pandemic has tested the power and effectiveness of the Dharma working in our lives. Relying on the Buddha’s teachings we have been able to face the challenges of the past year with kindness, compassion, and grace. Just like the Buddha, scientists and healthcare professionals have offered us a proven remedy. The COVID-19 vaccine is a scientific advancement that promotes health and wellbeing and is good for both the individual and the community.
Just a few days ago, exactly two weeks and one day after my second dose, I was finally able to hug my mom and dad for the first time in over a year. That is powerful medicine indeed.
I am profoundly grateful for the Buddha’s teaching that is the medicine for my spiritual illness. I’m also thankful for the vaccine that is the key to saving lives and controlling this pandemic. Let’s all continue to do our part to stop the spread of COVID. Our actions truly make a difference.
Namo Amida Butsu.