Good morning. This is August 6 2021. And here we go again. I think it's been a good three months since I did one of these so called Corona casts. You know, when I look back on it, I suppose it's because I thought we were out of the woods. It wasn't a conscious decision and wasn't thought through. I just found myself less motivated to do these. Because it seemed like all the numbers were on our side and that things would just keep going that way.
But no, here we are. Deja vu. Not deja vu all over again, which seems to be the only way people can say it these days. Just deja vu. And when I'm going to do here with these kind of random musings about our situation now in this country is just to kind of talk through how this relates to practice Zen practice. What what springs to mind first of all, is a phrase from the Diamond Sutra. arouse the mind without its abiding anywhere. So this is this is sort of the core of practice it regardless of whether your practice is a breath practice, or koan or shikantaza. arouse of the mind doesn't mean get excited, get impassioned. It means wake up. Be alert. Be aware. And that's, that's hard to do. If we're clinging to thoughts of any kind, in this case with this kind of resurgence of the Coronavirus. It means not clinging to expectations, assumptions that were out of the woods.
Not clinging to notions of how things should be not clinging to the ideas of what's fair ideas of Well, after all this time, how can this be happening? It's happening you know, animals, it seems they naturally have this, this awareness, even hyper awareness. It enables them to adapt to changing circumstances to move along with rather than sulking or blaming. They just accommodate clouds and water. They have to they don't have humans, problem solving ability, not the same. They can't think through what's going on. And because they don't they're not saddled with unnecessary thoughts. They have this awareness, which is their survival. This non attachment to the story. And we can move more in that direction. We can through practice untether ourselves from our ideas. And it really, it really rewards us at times like this. Now, I'm not I'm not preaching here. You know, I It's more looking at my own reaction to the news that at the Zen center, we have to go back to wearing masks. We have to suspend chanting again. When this first emerged this news, I'm not on the committee, there's a committee of people who really examine this. But when, when they first told me that they recommend this, it was like a kick in the stomach. And that's when I realized I had been in this idea that the worst is behind us. And I mean, it helped. That that idea was sort of stitched together. Also, by our good luck at this recent session. Last week, we had our first seven days machine in a year and a half 46 people in person at shape and mill, and no one. It seems we haven't heard of any infections as a result of that. And we were not masked everyone. Of course, everyone had to be vaccinated to attend the sesshin and Chapin Mill, but no one more mask. And yet, we were clear afterward, I haven't heard anything anyway. So it seemed like everything was going according to plan. So much for plans. Again, just a little bit more about animals in there, there. Magnificent survival resources because of their awareness, and this kind of a lantern awareness, you know, one can speak of two kinds of awareness or attention. One is directed.
That's where we can choose to focus on something. One thing to the exclusion of other things, it's kind of flashlight aware attention. And the other is this lantern is all around global awareness behind one to the sides and front. And that seems to be what most creatures below the human level have, as their survival mechanism. And it's something that we can develop as a balance to our thinking mind, which is enormously adaptive itself, this thinking mind, but that alone is is not a balanced kind of use of the mind. So we develop this through practice. We probably we've all heard of this term pandemic fatigue, or weariness, not wearing us pandemic awareness would again, be a survival mechanism. I remember in Mexico a long, long time ago, when I was there with Roshi Kapleau. And once we were talking about the the threat of diarrhea amoebas they call it and how careful you have to be with what you eat, where you eat. And he said, once kind of half jokingly said fear is our best ally. There's something to that pandemic wariness. There's too much at stake. Now with this, these new variants, I guess there's now a besides the delta plus variant, there's a lambda variant and not for a minute going to get into the weeds with these things. It's all completely above my paygrade. And they're also talking about additional variants we don't know about yet. So we we We have to take this seriously. Tomorrow we have a our first in person workshop at Arnold Park. First one again, like sushi, the first one in a year and a half. We had 21 people who registered who were registered a week ago, we had to send them a letter saying that we need to wear masks for this workshop. We could have cancelled it and gone back to same old online workshop. But we things were changing very fast this week. And well, as of this moment, there are some 13 people went from 21 to 13, who are coming. I don't know that we've had a went ahead with a workshop with so few people and my time at the Zen center, but we committed so we're going to do it and it's going to be wonderful to be have it in person after so long. What is this thing about masks? Probably like many of you, I've just been confounded by this resistance to masks.
It's not the greatest hardship in the world, wearing a mask indoors. What is so terrible about that? What is so brutal about that? We can do it again, we did it for a year or more, we can do it again. And I don't know if this is true. But someone said that if if we would do that, all of us that's mentioned getting vaccinated, then this, these, these further variants like delta plus could be short lived. If we if we mess up again, now, it may be for a shorter time, this time. Just a random Association here. Maybe because I'm fresh out of sesshin from last week, I thought of a sort of an analogous situation where on the sixth or seventh day of sesshin the danger is thinking I've done this, I've exerted myself, I've disciplined myself long enough I need a break now in this last day. That's not a winning strategy. But But if we can in sesshin now if we could reframe it as as something like this Yes, this has been a struggle and I'm tired. I'm worn down to the bone. But there's just a little more I had this short time left and and and if I can just keep at it, keep it up for this last day, then then have the possibility of up ending this struggle. The set leads the same kind of struggle really getting the better of it getting it behind me for good. Or for 100 years or so. We got a taste of the reward this this spring when we had this wonderful interlude. We got a taste of the of the reward of sticking with this getting vaccinated and and wearing masks and Okay, so we have a setback now it's not the end of the world. We can bounce back. We can get back to restrictions for a while. We have to.
Again this refusal to get vaccinated. Alright, it are masked, I guess, but a refusal to get vaccinated. Yeah, someone described it as it's like driving drunk. I think an even better one is is driving at night without your lights. Who would do that? Actually, I heard I never saw this. But in Mexico, I heard that there are drivers who, who reason that if they have their lights off at night when they're driving in the mountains or elsewhere, that other drivers can see them more easily.
I can imagine people who would say, Well, look, I'm not I'm not wearing a mask because I I'm not afraid I'm I'm fine without, without wearing a mask or VAT getting vaccinated either one. But that's it's just based on that reasoning is based on self interest. It's doesn't consider, oh, you all know this? Why why revisit this? I'm not going to
just read an article. I forget the title, saying that. It's not it's not. Not getting vaccinated isn't just being stubborn and being contrary, in all cases. Yeah, we know, it is in way too many cases. But, but also, there are other reasons that related to the difficulty of getting it together getting organized, especially with a family with kids and jobs, that you're working two jobs or other things. In this article, today, they were saying that, that, that they found ways to bring back vaccination sites, to places that would attract people, fun places, state fairs and other that a lot of these, that they had good luck. They had a lot of people come who were happy to get vaccinated. So there's another another notion we have to be careful not to jump to the conclusion that everyone who is not vaccinated just doesn't want to be we don't know. We don't know. And then you hear about people who refused to get vaccinated. Refuse to wear mass, who end up in in the hospital, maybe in critical care on a respirator.
One might be forgiven for having thoughts about well what did you think when you refused
shodhan Freida is not attractive in any one shot in Florida mean that the pleasure and others of the joy or pleasure and other suffering. But there is such a thing as consequences. consequences to our choices that maybe can ease feelings of of
heartache, if heard more than one commentator on liberal pro vaccination commentators who say, what is it they say something like it's heartbreaking? Well, I wonder if they're really heartbroken. It sounds good to be heartbroken at others who land in the hospital because of their ordinariness or attachment to political cultural ideas. I think of someone I don't know who some One of the said, what people usually ask of God when they pray Is that too and to not make for?
I always feel with these little podcasts that I do regarding the Coronavirus. I'm just preaching to the choir. Same with TV shows. But I guess it's a it's a privilege to be able to, to sort of work through these things aloud. I hope this hasn't been a waste of time. Thank you.