Learn the art of staying calm and content amid pandemic with Zazen

The Japanese monk

There was a Temple of Knowledge in Japan several years ago during the Meiji period. It was headed by a sagacious Old Monk. He acquired enormous knowledge and patience through the quotidian practice of Zazen meditation. Now Zazen, is a form of seated meditation, which is at the core of Zen practice. In fact, Zen is also known as the “meditation school” of Buddhism.

Zazen is the road to study the self. Zen Master Dogen was to say that, “To study the Buddha way is to study the self; to study the self is to forget the self, and to forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things.”

To be enlightened by the enormous knowledge is to recognize the unity of the self and all things. Buddha the enlightened one sat in meditation to attainment illumination and for 2,500 years this technique of meditation has flourished and has been passed on from generations.

One of the singular aspects of Zazen has been remarkably easy to communicate and is important for both the novitiate and advanced practitioners.

It is also noteworthy to mention that, a person’s experience of meditation can change profoundly and radically transfigure the personality if they practice it with vigor. Through consistent practice, Zazen metamorphoses the mind, heart, soul and the very life of the seeker.

Once an Old Monk who headed the estimable Temple of Knowledge was seated on the banks of a river when a strapping youngster posed a question to the learned one as to what he was ruminating about.

The knowledgeable one peered intently at the ripped youngster who was inquisitive about as to what he was regurgitating about. The sagacious one thought wistfully for a while and replied, “I am waiting for the entire water flow, the mass of water body to pass by,” and after that I shall cross the river. The stripling youngster laughed aloud and hollered, “Old Monk such a situation would never arise and in your lifetime and you would never be able to navigate the river and cross it.”

The Old Monk replied, this is precisely what I wanted to teach you, “People who would normally opine that once the responsibilities of life are fulfilled then they would carouse life.”

The perspicacious one was to further add, “It would be prescient and prudent to live in the present and enjoy life to the fullest as the flow of river water would never cease to end.”

Aeons ago as per Yoga Vasishtha

Once there lived a demoness with a gargantuan appetite which was never satisfied or satiated. In order to fulfill her gluttony and palate she propitiated the creator Lord Brahma and was granted a boon to metamorphose into a Suchika or a mere needle. This fiendish force could after receive the benison pierce the pulmonary tract of humans, attack the spleen and liver to feast and thus was slaked.

Meanwhile the year 2020 was cataclysmic and catastrophic as the novel corona virus afflicted millions of people too has once again acquired a vice like grip and is spreading its tentacles like an octopus and causing untold misery with its several mutations and variants.

In modern times the two world wars and the Spanish flu had caused widespread misery and ruination. During the two wars around 115 million people which included military and civilians lost their lives. And the lives of fifty million were snuffed out by the noxious Spanish Flu. The novel coronavirus has afflicted 152 million people across the globe and has accounted for 3.19 million lives. Today while vaccinations are available, India is desperately gasping for breath as oxygen or O2 is deficient and it will take an enormous effort to vaccinate the entire population.

Dark and deathly scenes which are immensely devastating are played out by television channels and on the social media. It is both lachrymose and funereal to be cannonaded by this information every day.

How do we overcome the woebegone situation posed by pandemic?

Human life like that of the beefy and brawny youngster who learned at the feet of the percipient Zen teacher needs to start life once again. It has twin arsenal of science and spirituality.

Science would entail superior health care systems, vaccinating vast multitudes of population and most importantly availability of oxygen (O2), ventilators and life saving drugs. Simultaneously it is important to practice yoga, pranayama, meditation and relaxation techniques. Singularly the lungs and pulmonary tracts have to be bolstered.

“Beating the virus requires collective action. It’s imperative that everyone follows the rules like staying clean, washing hands frequently, maintaining social distance etc. Initially, they might appear challenging, but they aren’t hard to practice,” says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

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