Waking Up to Our Deep Interconnectedness

Back around the beginning of March, when the early economic effects of the new coronavirus shutdown in Wuhan were becoming apparent in New Zealand, an old Zen/Chan saying came to mind:

When the cows of Huaizhou eat grain,
The stomachs of the horses in Yizhou get fat.

Or, we could say, “When a person in Wuhan sneezes, a forestry worker in Gisborne loses her job”. Six weeks on, millions of people around the world are now caught up in the Covid-19 pandemic. Amid all the suffering and uncertainty there is the possibility that we humans, forced to slow down and stay quietly at home, will wake up to our deep interconnectedness and shared vulnerability, and perhaps question what is of most value in our lives. We may come to appreciate the words of the great lay practitioner Vimalakirti: “I am sick because sentient beings are sick.”

-Amala Wrightson Sensei,  Auckland Zen Centre