These two Chinese characters represents the word for crisis and is broken down to two separate kanji characters, the first (危 ki) means danger and the second (機 ki) means opportunity. Where there is chaos in our society, there is an opportunity. So in other words then, during this dreaded COVID-19 Crisis, it creates an opportunity for all of us to engage in realizing the Buddhist principle of pratitya samutpada, or Dependent Origination. Nagarjuna, one of the seven masters selected by the founder of the Hongwanji, Shinran, stated that “Life is interdependent, that all mental and physical states arise from and are dependent of conditions, and that we are a product of many influences that creaet who we are and how we feel.”
How can the Dharma help us during this emergency? Although our interconnected life has caused this virus to spread quickly, this same interconnectedness or interdependence can help all of us.
There is this teaching of the so-called Indra’s Net that the Buddha described. It is a mythical net that hangs high above the mythical Mt. Sumeru, the highest point in Buddhist cosmology. Attached to each knot in the net is a shining, precious jewel that exhibits its light of many colors on to one another. Each shining jewel represents each of us. In other words, all are precious in the eyes of the Buddha and we are all interconnected as in the so-called “Golden Chain of Love” recited by children, that we are “in a link in the golden chain of love that stretches around the world……” The entire piece reads like this:
I am a link in Amida Buddha’s Golden Chain of Love that stretches around the world. I must keep my link bright and strong.
I will try to be kind and gentle to every living thing and protect all who are weaker than myself.
I will try to think pure and beautiful thoughts, to say pure and beautiful words, and to do pure and beautiful deeds, knowing that what I do now depends on not only my happiness or unhappiness, but also that of others.
May every link in Amida’s Golden Chain of Love be bright and strong, and may we all attain perfect peace.
Although this pandemic is serious and is affecting our lives in ways unknown to us and has exposed us to the shallow nature of much of our behavior. We must remain mindful of our behavior at all times, caring for each other. We will together get through all of this is due time, and be “brighter and stronger” than ever before.
Rev. Dr. Bert M. Sumikawa
Board member, Sunrise Foundation Hawaii