By Bishop Noriaki Ito
As of now, the number of infections and those who have died from the COVID-19 pandemic in our country and across the world continues to rise. I’m wishing you the best during this extremely challenging time.
With the shelter-at-home order throughout the state of California, we are forced to change our everyday lifestyles in ways we’ve never imagined. Although this brings new challenges, this is best for slowing the spread of this dangerous disease and to keep ourselves and others healthy and safe.
Our temples had to change how they operate and I’m happy to see new ways the Dharma is being shared, for example, through virtual services and video that our members and friends may access online. At the present time, our ministers primarily work from home, but they may be contacted by email or phone.
What we are now experiencing exemplifies the kind of unexpected impermanence the Buddha said is an ever-present part of daily life. It’s extremely sad so many people are suffering and dying from this pandemic. However, this also is a time to deepen our understanding of the true nature of life and also to accept the challenges we face. Impermanence also means our normal life will eventually return.
I am reminded of the words of Buddhist teacher Rev. Rijin Yasuda who said:
Nenbutsu is not the way to take the burden off one’s shoulders, and be comfortable, but to give us strength and courage to shoulder any burden, even the ones we think are more than we can bear.
I hope you stay healthy and take care of yourselves and your loved ones. May we all find the patience and resolve to get through this difficult time.
-Bishop Ito is rinban (head minister) of the Los Angeles Higashi Honganji Betsuin Temple and director of the Higashi Honganji North America District.