Tashi delek to everyone. Today is the second day of our prayers for the pandemic to subside. The prayers we will recite today are the Noble Aspiration for Excellent Conduct and the Sutra in Three Sections. These teach the two main points of the bodhisattva path: gathering the accumulation of merit and purifying obscurations. So these two are crucial for bodhisattvas.
This current pandemic has brought great changes we never imagined before. Already, in only a few months, there have been over two million confirmed cases, and more than a hundred and sixty thousand people have died.
There have also been major changes in our way of life. We can no longer move freely. We are not able to meet the people we love. Losses to the economy and jobs are huge. We hardly dare to think about all the details. When we face such challenges, they can be a wake-up call that makes us examine ourselves much more deeply.
This pandemic didn’t just fall out of the sky. The way it started and the way it spread are strongly connected to human actions. According to many sources, the origin of the virus was connected to wet markets. In any case, we humans have not cared about the freedom or life of animals, and the negative consequences of that now envelop us.
The current bans on travel have actually been good for the natural environment. We are creating less impact on the environment, and the atmosphere is less polluted. Many animals have been seen coming into cities without fear.
These are facts that we can’t ignore. We now have the experience of seeing how much violence and destruction we have caused the environment and wildlife.
The point of gathering the accumulations and purifying the obscurations is to see what good qualities we have and what our weaknesses are, in order to increase our good qualities and decrease our weaknesses. But if our prostrations and confessions are just a ritual or for show, then we have missed the point.
Now we will recite the Noble Aspiration for Excellent Conduct and the Sutra in Three Sections together.