Buddhists in Europe and COVID-19On Thu, 26 March, 2020 - 12:50
Across Europe (and much of the rest of the world) Buddhists of all traditions are deeply affected by the arrival of the new Coronavirus, COVID-19, just like everyone else.
In the UK and much of the rest of Europe Buddhist temples, centres and retreat centres area closed. Many countries are in ‘lockdown’, people required by law to stay at home most of the time.
Here in Sweden where I live, things are much less serious (so far at least): primary schools are still open and those who can are entitled and encouraged to work from home if at all possible. Gatherings of more than 500 are forbidden and most Buddhist venues were still open when last I heard. Stockholm Buddhist Centre is open but most activities are being offered online and most people are choosing to engage with activities that way.
I hear from a number of people in other Buddhist traditions that practising together under these extreme conditions - Going for Refuge to the Three Jewels, together and apart, with sadness, loss, loneliness and fear of death and uncertainty - is proving intense, creative and inspiring. Huge energy and creativity has gone into replacing normal Buddhist gatherings with online events, and into community projects providing help those who are elderly or disabled or otherwise isolated and in need.
May all beings enjoy happiness
And the causes of happiness.
May all beings be free of suffering
And the causes of suffering.
May their minds constantly dwell
In joy transcending sorrow.
May they dwell in equal love
For both near and far.
The Four Brahma Viharas/ Immeasurables