In recent weeks, we have seen the number of infections of the COVID-19 virus spike significantly, as a result of the foolishness of some people. Very simple guidelines have been strongly encouraged – wear a mask, maintain physical distance, avoid crowds, wash your hands. Yet despite the risk of debilitating illness and possibly death, a surprisingly large number of individuals ignore the guidelines due to their desire for excitement, pleasure, and retaining a sense of personal freedom that they feel is threatened. This short-sighted view inevitably results in sickness and suffering.
We human beings have both good and bad sides, light and dark; it is our human nature. When we realize that we have this characteristic and become concerned that the dark can interfere with the light in our life, our way-seeking mind arises, and we begin to pay attention to expressing our unselfish nature, instead of striving for things to obtain from the material world.
Buddhism provides guidelines for how to encourage the light and avoid foolishness. We call these guidelines the Precepts. They include: encourage life, do not steal, and do not lie. They are oriented to the benefit of others, not our personal self. When our way-seeking mind is firm and our zazen practice unshakeable, the attitude of the precepts becomes well-planted in our being. So when we stumble and our so-called dark side appears, we will know how to avoid allowing it to expand into foolishness.
Abbot of Kannon Do