I had a bit of a rough night last night, which is not unusual, but in these current circumstances contributes more to the weirdness and difficulty of the lockdown than it does to a smooth adaptation. I have been in isolation, due to having some symptoms consistent with Coronavirus for nearly a week. I am asthmatic and have experienced some breathlessness so have taken the precautions laid out in the guidelines. This has been harder than I had imagined it would be. I feel as if I’ve lost control of even more of my life and have become dependent on those closest to me for basic necessities, such as food. This is very frustrating but also quite humbling. Asking for help can be very difficult for me, as it indicates an admission of need, which implies vulnerability. Vulnerability was something that was associated with weakness in the circles that I was involved in for the first 30 odd years of my life, and would be jumped on in many possible ways if one was not careful enough to hide it. So this is another little challenge for me, as I grapple with the very real conditions of this new era.
In a touching display of kindness, one of my housemates agreed to do my shopping for me and even asked if he could pay for the food himself as an offering. Which again was, at first, difficult for me to accept. But after a moment’s thought and consideration of this person’s genuine intention to practice generosity(dana), I realised that this was not just about me, but just as much an opportunity for both of us to grow. This made it much easier for me to accept and it immediately felt like the right thing to do in this situation.
I realise that this has become something of a recurring theme in the past few days and so have spent some time contemplating how my own life events and circumstances affect others’ and the meaning that lies within these transactions.
When I woke up in the night with some panic feelings and tightness in my chest, I felt overwhelmed at first. My faith usually directs me towards action of one sort or another, which in this case meant one thing and one thing only, practicing some Nembutsu. Not that I don’t always say Nembutsu when I’m distressed, it is usually my automatic response. Just that when I'm lying in bed at 3 in the morning, feeling scared and poorly there’s generally not a lot else I can do. As I called out to Amida, some more sensible, less erratic thoughts started to emerge. Like, ‘’maybe there’s a really good reason why I feel like this. Maybe it’s not just about me’’. So I began to think of anybody that might be in a similar or worse situation and imagined the Nembutsu energy flowing into them and between us. This brought a strong sense of purpose to my suffering and transformed my attitude towards it completely.
This is, for me, an important reminder of the significance of suffering and the difference between self-indulgence or self-pity and religious awareness(the latter of which I am probably not capable of on my own, without other power). My sense of Amida as a real force in my life, often comes through my interactions with others. I experience moments of profound unity with Him/Her when I least expect it and quite often with the people that I least expect it from. One thing that this journey has showed me Is that there are no boundaries or barriers to the divine love and so, by that premise, every encounter and experience is an opportunity to express that love. It is no longer just about me. There is always a way that I can help Amida to reach into the hearts and minds of my fellow sentient beings and plant the seeds of awakening.
Namo Amida Bu( :
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