Engaged Buddhism in This Time of Pandemic (1)

Under normal circumstances, most of the essays I post on this blog focus on some current event or situation in contemporary American politics, which I then attempt to examine through the lens of Buddhist teachings, with the hope that whatever light passes through that lens might usefully illuminate the issue at hand.

Of course, we are currently living under anything but normal circumstances, and while I, like many others, have pushed political matters further and further away into the background of my daily concerns, I’ve begun to notice with each passing day that I’m pulling those Buddhist teachings closer and closer into the foreground of my concerns.

In particular, I find myself thinking about what a socially engaged Buddhism has to offer with regard to the social behaviors being asked of us during the pandemic. What insights can it provide through such traditional teachings as the three marks of existence, the four noble truths, the five remembrances, and the eightfold path?  And what particular forms do the essential Buddhist virtues of generosity, compassion, and wisdom take on in the throes of this pandemic?

Over the next few weeks, I plan to write exclusively on this topic.  Each post will explore some aspect of living in these days of the coronavirus pandemic through the lens of one of the above sets of Buddhist teachings.

I’ve long believed that, even in normal times, Buddhism has much to teach us about how we can live together more skillfully.  Now, in these anything-but-normal times, I suspect that what Buddhism has to offer is of more value than ever.

Stay well, everyone …

The next post in this series will focus on the first of the three characteristics of existence – impermanence.