Love in the serious pandemic

Update: 02/07/2021

Love in the serious pandemic


Leaving Saigon at the peak of the pandemic, I was worried and complex, and regretted not continuing to retreat with monks - brothers and the masses in Varsana. After a few days, I heard that the temple was blocked. My fear came true. The pandemic spread to the suburb of HCMC. The temple’s door had to be closed)

Catching up with the daily news about the COVID pandemic and from the temples about the activities of the monks there, my heart was warm though the weather was cold here. The monk – brothers sent me some pictures which were about the charity trips they had given beloved gifts to people around there. Those were wrapped with love of the monks and Buddhists at the peak of the pandemic. Indeed, we deeply felt the love people offered as much as they could.

This morning, on the top of the mountain, we were both sitting down and watching the ethereal heavy fog. After meditating and praying, we prayed for the pandemic disappearing soon. 

We remembered the story our Buddhist master had told us about what was going on the day before.

He told us the news there and his worries about the pandemic season. And 30 kilos of rice and 40 kilos of sweet potatoes were sent to people in the blockade. He felt sorry for the farmers who had planted the sweet potatoes that could not be sold. And he felt sorry for the victims in the blockade as they could not go to work. He could help as much as he can. Buddhists here had a chance to gain the merits. Recently, some articles were written badly about charity activities, so people were confused about what they would like to do. The charity activity appreciated by the temple was reliable, so we could help to cooperatively eliminate the pandemic and give them a chance to do something good.

 Thanks to the charity activities in the pandemic period, we were grateful to the monks and the masses. Their hearts were very generous, from the faraway place, we could not help each other, but our hearts were glad towards the temple.

 It was once said that:

 . “Buddhism goes along with the nation”. Heard like that, but when the country is in need, people are in difficulty, we just realise this.

. "Yes, brother. I remember many times central Vietnam got struck by floods. The images of the monks and nuns’ brown ropes helping people in the flood were so beautiful. The monks and nuns did the charity without thinking or discriminating, just helping people in need. The past is the same as the present.”

 . My monk brother told me an ancient story. One day, the King Nguyen Anh was in danger and hid in a temple. An abbot saved his life. In the war, temples were the shelter for soldiers. “Do you remember?”, he said. “Our master told us that the great Guru opened orphanages which were from the north to the south of Vietnam for the families affected by the wars”.

 . I heard about the senior venerables around the nations in the past, they secretly brought the dead by bombs to bury carefully. 

. He said there was something weird, from the past to the present, the monks did many good things for people but not many were recognized and esteemed, but some people worsened Buddhism’s images and affected the monks and nuns, which were spread out and criticized conversely. 

. It doesn't matter. People noticed some dirty spots on a white shirt but not the white color that was life. Sad things should be by-passed.

 . Recently, it is said that the monks in Hoang Phap temple gave presents to the people in the neighborhood, he felt so happy! Normally, a kilo of sweet potato or rice is not expensive. Now, the economy is not struggling like in the past, we do not need to eat sweet potatoes mixed with rice. So, they eat sweet potatoes like snacks. But when we saw the images the master and the monks put them into the bags and gave them directly to each family in rent houses and in the poor working villages. He saw the sweet potatoes full of love.

At the peak of the pandemic, I saw the love of people thinking for others. “Do you remember the story we just talked about?”, I asked. The story of Buddhism went along with the nation. It was familiar, not strange. Buddhism went along with the ups and downs of the nation and the difficulties of the people. In daily life, there is no difficulty, when people are stressed, they usually go to the temple and contemplate the Buddha’s statue, they feel tranquil. When I was in the temple, I saw many people sitting in the main hall for hours. They just sat down below the Buddha and listened to the bell, chanted a sutra, and watched a falling leaf in the wind, the stress seemed to be eliminated. Buddhism went along with people every time, everywhere.

Therefore, he said, there were well-known verses but he forgot the poet: “The temples protect the nation’s soul, it goes along with the ancient’s lives forever”.

. Today, I remember some: 

“Glad for the people’s love at the peak of pandemic

When in need, we think about each other

Hold hands tightly despite of the ups and downs

Feeling warm as the love is there”.

. “It’s a nice poem” he said. “Let’s go down the mountain, brother”. 

Tam Bien

Translated into English by Nguyen Hoang Thoai

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