I received some unexpected and unwanted endorsement for my post from April 2020 on the Covid-19 situation. So I believe I should write an update on the subject. Almost two years back in time, with less then one million confirmed cases worldwide and expected 10+ years for the development of a vaccine I strongly advocated for continuing our every day life.
Today, we count more than 320 million cases and mourn 5,5 million casualties. We have learnt a lesson on hygiene (which includes wearing masks and social distancing), and we have the (in my understanding back then totally unexpected) fantastic achievement of modern science: a vaccine proved to be efficient and with very limited side effects, with 9.550 million doses administered worldwide.
Death is sure, sooner or later. Old age not guaranteed, but sickness can be cured and even better prevented in a highly efficient way by modern medicine, ideally combined with a healthy lifestyle. Preventing the spread of infectious disease was also a concern in Buddha’s original community. He strictly did not allow people with leprosy, consumption or other infectious diseases to join his Sangha.
So many people are unable or unwilling to cope with the complexity of life. We wish to have it simple, predictable. And if it is good, we want it to last. But life is different. It just is so, no matter how much we want to have it different.
Education might help to grasp some basics of the world as it is. For example, understanding non-linearity, or at least, exponential growth. But there is a certain amount of work required to digest these concepts. And the outcome might not be, what we wish for. The easy way out is believing in magic and occultism.
“Occultism in the metaphysics of the dunces (Okkultismus ist die Metaphysik der dummen Kerle)” is a famous quote by T.W. Adorno. These days we can see them walking the streets with posters in their hands. We can hear them talking nonsense in microphones. And we see them behaving in a manner which is supporting the spread of Covid-19.
In a democracy it is the right of everyone, regardless of his or her education and background, to go out on the street and tell the world whatever you wish or believe is true. You can protest against the government, the rain, shout for the sun, or, publicly deny old age sickness and death. I think it is a great achievement of our time we are allowed (and obviously able) to do so. I am by no means against this freedom, and in my younger days, I did make use of it a lot (the world outside did take little notice).
As soon as it comes to joining a community, be it a Buddhist Sangha, a sports training or the random assembly of guests in a restaurant, needless to say, we share responsibility for each other. Human social life just works like this: in a group I join I cannot make the rules all by myself. No matter weather or not I have the mental or emotional capacity to understand what is going on and why.
From Buddha’s point of view, not joining a group when I might be infectious is the minimum requirement. Doing all we can to be less likely infectious, and to suffer less and thus become a lesser burden for others when catching an infectious disease should be a natural extension of this rule for any compassionate human being.
Our Dojo and Sangha is strictly closed to everyone who prefers to not agree on sharing responsibility for each other.