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Talking Point: We are all connected, turn to the light not the darkness

The below article was first published in The Mercury on 22 April 2020.

BHAGAVAN ZHI-JI VIMALAKIRTI WANG XIN DE reflects on his search for hope and optimism

Supplied image (source: The Mercury)

THE 16th of April of this year marked my 31st anniversary of disseminating Dharma abroad.

On April 11, I was fortunate enough to become associated with someone I have never met: a journalist from Scotland, Charles Wooley. His article has prompted some contemplation (Mercury, April 18).

First, to clarify, neither I nor my organisation shipped any personal protective equipment — including face masks — from Tasmania to China. Having clarified those claims, I would like to also take this opportunity to reflect on how the world has changed in a mere few months, and how I’ve searched for optimism and hope amid darkness.

At this moment in time, all of mankind is facing the test of unprecedented natural disasters, and has encountered the most difficult thus far: novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

The virus is causing many thousands of people in many countries to fall ill, and has even resulted in rapid death for some. We must take it seriously. These incidences make us realise that people and people are a non-connected whole; people and nature are a non-connected whole; and countries and countries are a non-connected whole. We are all connected as one entity, albeit not physically.

To overcome this crisis, as a Buddhist, all of us need selfless compassion, mercy, wisdom, sympathy, great love, spiritual thoughts which transcend boundaries, and to cherish the deep Dharma nature embedded within each of us. I would be very relieved if someone can see and sympathise with this perspective.

However, this form of COVID-19 is bringing a new way of life to our world, and it makes this a challenging era for us humans. The virus affects us all on multiple levels.

The operation of the entire country has had to change, and this affects the way of life of our families and, more broadly, the activities of our communities. The Tasmanian Chinese Buddhist Academy of Australia is grateful to all medical professionals and frontline medical staff for confronting this problem, and for their selfless sacrifice and tireless efforts in ensuring the safety of the Australian and Tasmanian communities.

We are also thankful for all workers in other essential services, for continuing to ensure communities operate as close to normal as possible.

As I wrote earlier, these challenging times highlight how, as citizens of this world, we are connected to each other in some way or form.

We watch out for each other; we are ultimately one. We are, and should be, deeply grateful for the solidarity shown by many selfless people; for their support and contribution to research and general assistance during this COVID-19 challenge.

In trying times such as the present, it is important that we remember the spiritual universe is always in balance. When there is positive energy, there must be negative energy; when there is light, there will be darkness. Uncertain times call for us to be active, to be patient, and together we will persevere and fight to the end.

We should embody the compassion and wisdom of the ultimate kindness of the Dharma, and show sympathy and compassion to those who, unfortunately, have been suffering.

We use the wisdom of Buddhist Dharma to recognise that while all the changes are happening around us, we must remind ourselves not to let the negativity and darkness of the few cloak the enthusiasm and light of the many.

Let the Buddha’s light guide you and help you find your way. Pray that Buddha will bless us all!

Thank you, my friend Charles Wooley — whom I have never met — for triggering my thoughts.

I welcome and thank all friends who share this article.

Om Mani Padme Hung!

Bhagavan Zhi-Ji Vimalakirti Wang Xin De is president of the Tasmanian Chinese Buddhist Academy of Australia.

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