Message on the coronavirus-cituation – April 2020
Read the English translation
Message from our Gen Rinpoche, Rev. Geshe TenDhar, April 2, 2020,
translated by Matthias Staber, edited and spoken by Monika Eisenbeutel
Tashi delek! I am addressing all my Dharma brothers and sisters in Austria and Europe, especially all members and friends of the Tibet Center and our Buddhist center TDC-Tibet Dharma Center. I pray and hope that you all are healthy and stay healthy!
The whole world is facing big problems at the moment, especially Austria, all of Europe and the USA.
If we want to orient ourselves based on the old writings of great Buddhist masters, then the first step we should take is that we must learn to see things as they are, that we must learn to recognize and accept reality. Acceptance here means that we perceive the situation as clearly as possible. The situation is problematic enough, it makes no sense to create more inner suffering by answering our circumstances with rejection, aversion and fear.
After we have accepted the situation, we can try in the next step to pacify the situation or the suffering, as far as it is in our power. In general, we can distinguish two kinds of suffering: physical and mental suffering. We should each and every one for herself or himself pacify as much suffering as possible.
In the Corona pandemic there are many people who are ill, some of them are in a critical condition. All these people are currently experiencing mainly physical suffering. In Austria, we already have more than ten thousand people who have been confirmed to be infected with the corona virus, and over 200 of them are in a critical condition.
Above all, our doctors, nurses and caretakers look after the sick in the intensive care units and at home. We should rejoice in their great merits and be grateful that they put themselves in danger for others in order to help them. There are also many research scientists who are working hard on medicines, tests and vaccines. We may not be so aware of the hard work they are putting into this. We can try to have a positive impact on the development of medicines, vaccines, etc. through aspiration prayers and spiritual practice.
When we look at our own situation, we have to admit that we do not know which of us will be infected. We cannot say “I’ll be fine!” Therefore, we should try to prevent infection by our behavior. This is where government regulations help us, and we should follow them on our own initiative, just as we freely choose to practice and observe ethical discipline. If we practice awareness / mindfulness and vigilant introspection on this basis, we can reduce the risk of infection. In this way we protect ourselves and others.
We can also use general tips from Traditional Tibetan Medicine to prevent colds and strengthen our immune system. I could imagine that these can also be helpful in this situation, for example, we should try to keep our body warm and drink boiled warm water regularly. These are of course only my personal ideas and not the advice of a doctor. In any case we should try not to get sick and we should support those who are sick as much as we can. On this physical level we cannot do more.
How can we deal with mental tension and mental suffering? I can imagine that many of you are worried or feel emotionally uncomfortable because of the current situation. If we have someone in our family or circle of friends who is ill, we are certainly worried. From a Buddhist perspective, these are characteristics of our conditioned existence.
If you study and practice Lamrim, you should be able to handle this situation well. There are actually no spiritual instructions that I could share with you that are not already contained within the Lamrim teachings. In it the nature of samsaric existence is described in great detail. Simply to acknowledge our fundamental condition as human beings, the fundamental nature of our existence, helps immensely to reduce unnecessary suffering. I hope that my students will continue to read, study and practice the Lamrim teachings. The teachings contained within it are priceless, especially in difficult times.
Listen to my Lamrim teachings again, read the texts again. Much that was unclear will become clear in these troubling times, and we can go deeper and deeper into the teachings.
When we understand what makes up conditioned existence in samsara, our understanding deepens. Based on this understanding, much fear and worry will be calmed and pacified. A helpful and constructive cautiousness, which supports us in doing the right thing will develop. It is important to do good, wholesome actions, on the basis of the law of causality, on the basis of the teachings of karma, and to give up or avoid negative things as much as possible.
If we are not Buddhists, it is important to accept the situation as it is and see it as it is. It makes no sense to take a negative attitude or to worry excessively. If we are afraid, we should use methods that help to overcome this fear.
Last time I already said in this context how helpful meditation can be. Through concentrative meditation our capacity to stay focused and aware in the present is strengthened. Through analytical meditation our wisdom deepens. If we can spend time to practice concentrative meditation every day, then we should do so. When our mindfulness and concentration have become stronger, then these abilities will support us in all our actions. We have more control over our behavior of body and mind. On a physical level, for example, we are more aware of physical distance, of what we are touching and that we wash our hands before we touch our face, etc.
We should also try to prevent worry and fear. Those of you who know how to meditate on emptiness can engage in this practice now. Why is it helpful to meditate on emptiness when you have many worries? The source of worry is strong attachment to the self of the person. The more we are attached to this self of the person, the more we will worry. Through emptiness meditation we can reduce the basic ignorance in our mind and loosen the attachment to the Self of the person. This automatically reduces fear and anxiety.
Those of us who are still healthy should try to prevent infection through our behavior, much more cannot be done. Whatever we can do, we should do. Being afraid does not help in this situation at all.
The more mindfulness and vigilant introspection we have, the better we can prevent infection, that should be clear. Meditation is helpful in this sense because it enables us to protect ourselves and others. If we stay focused and conscious in the here and now and learn to control body and mind, there is no reason for fear and worry.
Please remember these recommendations. If you have any questions, you can send them to the Tibet Center and I will try to answer them the next time.
Thank you for your attention, all my love and best wishes! My prayers are with you!
See you soon, your Geshe TenDhar
Knappenberg, April 2020