Back in the 1980’s Rev. Master Jiyu was the celebrant at the funeral for her beloved dog. Called Dog interestingly! He got quite the send-off with his body in a box on the main altar and the whole community turned out in full ceremonial robes for the event. Many of us had sat with Dog the previous week as he slowly died in our community common room at Shasta Abbey, He was a bit of an old reprobate, a hound with many a story to tell. One couldn’t help but love him even when he would escape and do bad things locally, involving chicken!
During the ceremony, Rev. Master became choked up with emotion and paused while she composed herself. We were just still with her even though it was an awkward moment. Afterwards, we all met in the common room for tea, and cake probably. By way of acknowledging she had become a bit tearful earlier, she said with force, “I didn’t bring you all up to be tin Buddhas you know”. And so it was that we learned something rather important that day.
Our humanity, our emotions and attachments are an acceptable part of our whole selves which we do well to acknowledge, show our acceptance of and be able to be light-handed with. And so it is now with our facing, dealing with, accepting the facts of and the ramifications of the virus that has taken our world by storm.
And so it was for me a couple of days ago as I lived through multiple emotions on returning to the monastery. Emotions that others no doubt have, or will have while negotiating tricky decisions around possible contamination, spreading the virus unwittingly and oh so many other complex issues. I’m no tin Buddha and I can live with that!