With this pandemic, my mind is full of complex feelings all jumbled together. Every day, I wish for good news, to hear that the confirmed cases are decreasing so that people feel more at ease. However, it is not the time to be lax in our preventative measures. In particular, since the new variant is highly transmissible, we must be vigilant to prevent another resurgence. We all fear that another more severe wave rises up before this current wave subsides.
I would like to express my gratitude to the profes-sionals in our medical system. During this time, they all took up great responsibility. Every ounce of love they give is meant to safeguard life. They work tirelessly, day and night; yet when they shared their experiences, none mentioned the hardship. Instead, they said that they were very willing to work. They did not complain about the long hours, and they persisted even though they were very tired. When they hear a word of thanks from the patients they treated and looked after, I believe that our medical professionals feel that they have tapped into their altruis-tic potential. This is where the true value of life lies.
Tzu Chi’s charity mission took on even more respon-sibility than before as volunteers stepped up to provide comprehensive support. When school changed from in person classes to online classes, volunteers fixed up sec-ond-hand computers to provide children in low-income families the tools they need to participate in distance learning and continue with their studies at home. The pan-demic affected many people, causing them to lose their jobs or have their hours cut, thus reducing their income. Tzu Chi provided both manpower and materials, packing boxes with daily necessities and fresh produce and deliv-ering them so that parents could feel at ease. We tried our best to be meticulous and considerate.
In this global pandemic, our charity mission is gaining experiences everyday. We have gained more strength through taking on more responsibilities. While we are so grateful that we have created such value in our lives through putting our skills and abilities to use, and we also hope that more people can come and give us a helping hand so that Tzu Chi can gather every drop of strength there is to give to this world.
Humankind has paid a very high price in this pandem-ic. We must also learn through this experience. Let us turn our fear into willingness to learn, and let us contemplate how we can educate others in this world. Let us help people understand moral principles, turn evil to good, and change their diet to be plant-based. Let us combine all vir-tuous energy to benefit this world and turn this pandemic into a chance to benefit others.
Perhaps we have always thought that we have noth-ing to do with what is happening in nature. Perhaps we have been racing against time every day in our quest to make more money, obtain greater profits, and enjoy more lavish food, clothing, housing, and transportation. These raging desires of ours lead us to create negative karma.
Currently, the pandemic is raging throughout the world. The more we hear and see of the situation in dif-ferent countries, the more we can feel and understand what the Buddha said, that life and the world is full of suffering. Let us take a pause with our desires and truly look at why the pandemic happened. When we no longer pursue materialistic desires, then we will not create as much pollution. We must control our desires and cravings. To be content is to know our blessings, and to know our blessings is to not be wasteful. We must be able to stop our actions when we know they are not right and take virtuous ones instead. In this way, with time, we can accu-mulate virtuous karma.
Right now, we see that in order to satisfy human-kind’s insatiable desires, animals lose their freedom and are gathered and pent up in small spaces. When they are finally captured and killed, they are displayed for consum-ers to select and purchase. Once consumers arrive home, the animals are chopped up and thrown in hot, boiling pots, then plated and delivered to the tableside for all to consume. How cruel is this!
There is a saying, “An eye for an eye.” Karmic debts have to be repaid eventually. When our cruelty creates negative karma, humankind will collectively experience suffering. We must not consume something that will lead us to create karma of killing. We must not be narrow-mind-ed due to our desire for good food, becoming unable to see or empathize with the suffering of other beings. Let us broaden our hearts by releasing, safeguarding, and cher-ishing lives. When we can live in harmony with all things in the world, our world becomes infinitely wider.
We ought to never again use our mouths to swallow lives, but instead, use them to reverently share teachings and persuade others to see the importance of our food sources, and that adopting a plant-based diet is para-mount. When we first develop our confidence and aspi-ration, then we will naturally have strength in persuading others. We must first believe that we can do it, then persuade others that they can, too. In this moment, the universe has given us a great mission. It requires us to stand up tall and shoulder the responsibility, and bravely and steadily go forward. If we were to remain still and unmoving, then time will slip away.
The pandemic is ongoing, and the future is unknown. It is not helpful to worry and be anxious. Instead, what is more important is to remember that this pandemic is also a great lesson. It is an important lesson which chal-lenges humankind. It is a teachable moment that provides humankind the chance to try again. When we tame our desires and cherish lives, the pandemic will naturally sub-side. Everyone, please be more mindful!