Having been through what you are going through now, fast spresding of COVID-19, and our movements, our income, our most things we called “our life”, been put on hold, may I once again send you a loving message.
During my stay at Newbury Buddhist Monastery, I helped a lot of Monks and Nuns go into silent retreats. This was also recommend for me, but the idea of it was so boring, that I managed to slip away from it.
The COVID-19 journey of us who live in Victoria, Australia reminded me of these retreats. The only difference was that I didn’t have to practice 8 precepts. And I could move a bit more.
When someone goes into a silence retreat, they attempt to maintain noble silence. Which means, they attempt to not only not talk, but quieten the mind. This is so that they can observe the mind chatter, like watching a story, and hear first hand what our minds tells us. Sometimes, when Dana is taken for these monks and nuns, the food is left outside their door. No one is meant to disturb them. If the food is not taken, Sangha members assume they are in deep meditation. Of course if no signs of life, for a couple of days, they enter the premises.
Do you see how much priority the monastics give to Meditation and understanding our mind and self? They don’t mind potentially not assisting someone being sick or dying. That is how much priority. Nirvana over sickness and death.
It must be difficult for you, knowing Sri Lanka is a lot poor than Australia. But, if you somehow manage your finances, look after your basic needs like food and shelter,you can make this the opportunity to go in a strict meditation retreat. Don’t force yourself into any precepts. I personally don’t believe the precepts are a must, but try not to engage in killing, and speaking empty words.
What if I catch COViD and die.
This is meditation on your own death. Feel the sadness, pay attention to everything you have to leave behind. If possible, imagine your body slowly dying, starting from your toes, all the way up, and finally the lungs and heart slowing down.
If and when your mind project your own funeral, and somehow you imagine you can see what happens even after you die, kindly remind yourself, that this is not possible, or even if it was, it is unhealthy, as this means, you are dreaming to be continuing to live even as a mind only being with no body. We call these “Bootha”, and I’m sure you don’t want to be that, as your target is Nirvana.
Please note down all the things that were difficult to leave behind. All the things that made you sad. These are your strongest attachments. These will be in the same things that will challenge you when you face actual death. So…
Die before you die, during this period.
Then you will surface some of your strongest attachments. These are your meditation objects. Dive into the “Why” for each of these strong attachments. If you can’t get to the “Why”, stay present with the “hurt” or “sadness”, as this makes you practice letting be. Remember, letting go only can happen, when you learn and practice letting be.
If you can, repeat this process each time going deeper.
I will also advise you to do something my Life coach during 2011-2013, Adam Sowden asked me to do. Write a Eulogy.
Write a thank you speech for people who comes to your funeral. Make it like winning an award for being the best actor or singer. Thank from your parents, to everyone who gifted you experiences during your life.
- Practice Gratitude
- Practice Presence
- Practice Death
None of it is easy. But that is why, we need to Practice, as the only permant thing is we are one day going to die. So, be prepared for that exam, so that you can take it anytime God decides it’s your turn.
I scold you a lot, but I do love you.
– Nim –