By REV. NORIAKI ITO, Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple
Best wishes to all of you during this extremely difficult period of living with COVID-19. It’s only been a few days since the “stay at home” order was given by Gov. Gavin Newsom. We’ve closed the temple since then and are working at home. Our Lumbini Preschool/Kindergarten is also temporarily closed.
On the first day that all restaurants were to stop serving people inside and asking all customers to do take-out or use delivery services, there were about five staff here and we decided to do take-out from Kouraku, one of our favorite Little Tokyo restaurants. The owner was so happy that we would consider ordering food from his restaurant that he specifically told the person who went to pick up our food to thank Rev. Ito for patronizing his restaurant.
That made me realize that there are many many more people impacted in much more difficult ways in comparison to any challenges I may be experiencing. I participated in a recent LTCC online meeting. One of the important concerns was to talk about what we can do to support our residents, our restaurants and other vendors in our community.
Our governor recently said that it’s possible that half of the population in California will be infected by the virus within the next couple of months. That seems to be an overly high estimate. But since so few people have been tested, and so many infected but not showing symptoms, it may be possible that his prediction could come true. Those of us over 65 must be overly careful to stay at home and to maintain social distancing so that we can remain virus-free.
This is an example of unexpected impermanence, but something that the Buddha said is an ever-present part of everyday life. It is extremely sad that so many people are suffering and dying from this pandemic. But it is also an opportunity to understand the true nature of life and to accept the challenges that we face as well. Impermanence also means that a return to our normal lives will eventually come.
Let us all do what we can to stay healthy by abiding by the mandates to stay at home and to maintain social distancing. Let us do our part to prevent the spread of the illness. Although we are asked not to go out as we normally would, this can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. But in this age, we do have phones and such things as Facetime to communicate with, and even to see each other through our devices. This is the way we can lessen the feelings of isolation.