We held our normal Saturday meditation session via teleconference. Students either used the Zoom application or dialed into the conference bridge with their phone. (Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for details) Although it is not a good as being present with everyone, hearing the normal sounds of the zendo including coughs, rustles, and phone beeps on the conference line brought a certain comfort that we are still all connected in some way.
After the Zazen session, we were treated to Tesshin chanting the Heart Sutra for us. The Heart Sutra reminds us of the core teaching of Zen – namely that everything we experience is “empty” of an independent nature. It reminds us that no matter what is going on, we are all linked in the shared reality of NOW.
Tesshin asked the group if the situation we currently find ourselves in is really so new. If we reflect for a bit, we realize that this is not so novel after all. The history of humanity has been one seismic shift after another. Humans have always used their ingenuity to survive and grow. This is our history. Our culture is the result of how we have reacted to crises of the past. It is our responsibility to choose wisely now for ourselves and for future generations.
Tesshin next talked about the technologies we have today in order to cope.
•The Zafu or mediation cushion!! This tech has been with us for over 3000 years and its longevity is proof that it works. By increasing our consciousness, we can deeply explore and understand “what is.” No matter what happens in the world, the cushion is always available to you.
•Internet – This is relatively new for humanity. We are finding that during this crisis, we can still be together and continue to practice. Tesshin noted that many Zen centers have opened their “virtual doors” to anyone who wishes to practice. This is a great opportunity to hear from famous teachers and practice with groups too far away to practice with in person. Current list of Virtual Practice Centers can be found here
Tesshin next asked what will be the nature of our adaptation? In a way, this is a great opportunity for Buddhism to live up to its vow of “saving all beings.” Tesshin challenged us with some questions …
•In times of crisis, how do you adapt mindfulness and make it useful to others?
•What does practice look like with empathy, compassion, and endurance.
•What does it look like for a Buddhist to adapt? What things do we keep doing and what things do we change?
•Can we be a role model for others?
•What message do we give the world, and does this message help us to evolve as a species?
•Can we deepen practice globally?
•What does it really mean to save all sentient beings when it becomes real and not just a vow we recite?
Tesshin wrapped up by stating that in this time of need, our mantra should become ….
“World, come sit with us!”