Note: One can watch/listen to this talk here.
These days, the problem with people is that we have ears that are good, the nerves in our ears work well, then we hear sounds. We have good eyes, and then we see. But if we don’t know how to be careful, then when we go look at things, it leads us to trouble and agitation. We just listen to the things that make the mind unsettled, and more of this is all agitation and distress. Because there’s just so much media these days. There’s a lot of exciting news, or even a lot of fake news. So who will we believe? This person says this, and that person says that. Just on the one topic of the vaccine, is taking the vaccine good? Is it dangerous? What brand is good? So all sorts of problems come up. So we need to establish good mindfulness first. With good mindfulness, then we learn and try to understand clearly.
We may study from a developed country that has good outlook and ideas. There are many countries in the world that are recognized for their good economy. The people there are well-educated. They will have good thoughts to read about, and they have a leader who gives good information. If we do this, then we may gain more clarity. So this is one form of information. But when we live in our own country, then we should look properly. If we are too afraid, and it can be chaotic or stressful for us. If it’s not afraid of dying from medicine, it’s afraid of dying from sickness. If not dying from medicine, or dying from disease, it’s afraid from dying from an accident, or dying from different diseases like cancer. There are so many things. But if we have had a long life coming to the present, we aren’t dead yet, so it means that we should have merit looking after us. But if there is a matter of kamma coming up, then we could die from some disease which may be inescapable. We may be strong and doing well in all areas, but we could still die. Some people get infected with the virus, but because their bodies are in a good health, they can go home. Yet that night, they slip in the bathroom and die. This is up to kamma as well. If we accept that, ‘all right, whatever happens is up to my kamma’, we acknowledge the causes and conditions in our society, and we’ve seen that the information that we receive is correct according to the majority of people.
For example, there are many people who have gotten the vaccine, and probably only a few people who have had complications, but there are many people dying each day from the virus. So we prepare ourselves. If there is a matter of kamma coming up, then we accept it. So if it’s not anything with our kamma, then there shouldn’t be any problem. We will most likely be safe and protected. If we are very worried, then we should do a lot of chanting. Chant a lot first, so we have a refuge. We make the mind calm and peaceful, because if our minds are unwell and are not in a good state, then nothing will go well.
As for the current economic situation, we have to accept that it’s like this all around the world. Like in times of war, we may have heard of the times in WWI and WWII, even the monks who put out their upper and lower robes to dry, will have them disappear. This can be compared to back in the time of India, when if the monks were to bathe, they would have to look and be aware of where their robes were, where did they put their robes. They would have to walk backwards down to the river, so that they could keep a watch over their robes. At first, I used to think, ‘was it really that bad?’ But I understood when I came to know about the stories of WWII, when even the monks’ robes would go missing as well. But this era is not like WWII, when our mothers’ generation was way more serious than this.
Later, we will have stories to share for the later generation to hear about. In that era, we passed many various obstacles. We passed through a pandemic already, and how we had to endure and how we had to practise. So at this time, we shouldn’t complain too much, whether the economy is good or bad. Do you really see it? If the economy is good, the pigs die, the chickens die, the ducks die, the cows all die. They are all food for humans. The more well they sell, the more animals die. And even all the animals aren’t crying, they aren’t complaining. But we also come to eat them and do other harmful things to them. We may have some loss, but at least we still have the breath. So we still have a lot of things, which is just this breath. We are born with this breath, so we are people who have something valuable. If we have no more breath anymore, then all the things we have now, will they still have meaning or not? So now, what do we possess? We still have the breath, we have time. So we should find the time to chant a lot. Exchange it for merit instead. Is this a good idea?
But with regards to the economy, it doesn’t mean that we stop doing anything. It’s not that we see the world as beautiful and do nothing at all; ‘I will only meditate and practise’. If we have a wife and children, we have other things, then we have to be responsible too. We have to think about additional careers we can do. We have to endure. Why can other people do it? Sometimes we see them driving Grab, or driving a taxi. They try to do all sorts of work. They may try to sell something. So you can try to have an online business. You can try something online. And it’s uncertain. The people nowadays have kindness and concern for each other. They are able to help each other out. So, one may be in real need, but it’s not that one does something bad so that they can go to jail, so that they can eat. This is such a terrible idea. May we patiently endure. The important thing is to endure patiently, to not be discouraged. We must have hope and determination, every person must gain success. If we are discouraged in the beginning, then we won’t get anything at all. We must strive to not be discouraged at all. Before the Buddha became enlightened, it was not easy at all. The very wealthy people in the world had to struggle a lot. They had to make a lot of mistakes. So may you have good determination.