Daily I check the news on the corona virus situation. There are some countries that continue being challenged and continue the lockdown. Some countries start to revolt and speak up again the lockdown policy. Certain factories and companies closed, so the financial deficit is hard to carry for some of the employees. Deep resentment is starting to emerge. In this way some get angry while others get depressed. Yet we need to make efforts on how to revive our own life.
When we are in a situation which we cannot escape, we need wisdom yet if it is based on mental ideas, then it does not bring forth a wide and expansive state of mind. Rather our breath gets shorter and we feel even more uncertain. How can we maintain our inner balance, this is what we need to reflect over and over again.
How can we reflect upon ourselves? Zen is not interested in anything mental, only in that actual experience of the moment, of this instant when you make a decision. That moment when we do accept or negate, how can we make sure that these decisions come from a deep state of perception? This is what we need to look at carefully.
Vimalakirti was sick and visited by Monjusri Bodhisattva. Vimalakirti said. “You do not seem to have come, neither to meet, no special ideas added to your actions. You are of a true high state of mind.” If our state of mind gets stopped by a situation, we get small and attached to it. We do not ignore reality, but when we take a wider view, we stop getting small and tight about this very situation.
We need to quietly see our own mind. Monjusri said: “Why did you get sick?” – Vimalakirti says: “I am not sick. But society is sick and when I see this, I can not ignore it. It hurts me and finally I needed to be sick, since I am at one with society. I cannot turn my back on them. To ignore them cannot be true humanity. When people are sick, I am also sick, but I do not get stuck there. I do not get anxious about it.”
Monjusri said: “Why is there nothing in your room? It is empty. Usually there would be nurses, helpers, medicine around yet here there is nothing. Why is that so?” – Vimalakirti responded: “To be empty is the world of the Buddha. This is our original mind.” Emptiness means that there is nothing on the level of form, yet on the level of mind, emptiness means while there is form existing we are not stuck on this form. If we have nothing of form, our daily life may be difficult. And if we have too much, we may feel suffocated by these many things. But even if it exists, we feel as if it is not ours, that is true essence of mind, that is the state of mind of enlightenment.
We may get sick, our breathing may be difficult. We cannot think clearly, this can actually happen. But we cannot stay stuck there or else we will feel even more stuck. Taking each and every breath to again aligning our mind, we need this daily effort, while we concentrate on the breathing, we lose track of our real situation and can again refresh our state of mind.
This is not done easily, we have so many days now that we need to bear restrictions, so each and every day we need to again make efforts, we cannot stop these efforts to settling within. From there we can refresh our energy. It all depends on our efforts.
Vimalakirti is teaching us that reality is the situation we find ourselves in. But if we add anxiety and worry, if we add confusion, we lose our essence even faster. That is not how it works. The situation does not change, yet we need to deepen our essence, by breathing into our tanden, making efforts to concentrate, while it is challenging, this essence responds and appears. We cannot let ourselves get shrunk down.
Vimalakirti said that emptiness is what we are from the origin. And we will have a reaction to the situation we find ourselves in, yet if our concentration is strong and deep, then the experience of this same situation changes completely.
In the zendo, a person of essence can use each mind moment to deepen even further. But without clear essence, the mind will travel to the past and future, to many happenings. A busy mind sitting in the same zendo next to someone who is serious and deep in essence.
We cannot let our essence get eaten up by information from the outside. We need to use each mind moment, grasp it clearly, not thinking about tomorrow, but taking the breath of the moment while we are in an uncertain situation, we have no free time to think about what might happen. But we can grasp our life energy of this moment. It is up to our efforts, we can give proof of this. Please in these times check yourself carefully whether your efforts are of true essence or not. Each person needs to reflect upon this.