Today, we are beginning the third phase of the ‘Movement Control Order’ in Malaysia which will last until 28 April. Since 18 March, the whole country has effectively come to a halt with very few economic activities, and no physical social and religious gatherings allowed at all. Despite our best efforts, the number of infections is still trickling upwards every day. Perhaps a more determined testing regime and earlier isolation of potential patients are measures which the authorities should take seriously.
Globally, we have arrived at the horrific new milestone of 2 million people infected by the Coronavirus, causing more than 127,000 deaths. Behind every one of those numbers are tales of personal struggles, tragic losses and heartbreaks. In this pandemic, there is none in the world who is not affected in one way or another by this huge burden of agony. Ironically, Covid-19 has united humankind in the way of common experience, which was unimaginable even months ago.
During this period, when the global bywords are ‘social distancing’ and ‘self-quarantine’, we may not be able to do many of the things we like; but we can certainly do the things we need. And one of those essential things to do is to cultivate our minds. And that is precisely what the Buddha-Dhamma is meant for. By immersing ourselves in the learning of Dhamma, and in diligently practising it, we shall be able to gain mastery over our minds, which will then enable us to overcome a lot of mental suffering.
The Buddha says in Dhammapada verse 35: “The mind is difficult to control; swiftly and lightly, it goes where it pleases. It is good to tame the mind; a well-tamed mind is conducive to happiness.”
Hence, we hope every practitioner will make good use of this reflective time to indulge in mental cultivation, and emerge from this episode with greater clarity on the value and purpose of life. Stay home, stay apart, and stay safe everyone. And to be really safe, cultivate the mind and free it from defilements.