Outbreak in late December 2019, originating in Hunan, Wuhan, Central China, the new strain of Corona virus (Covid-19) was initially confirmed as a type of “strange pneumonia” or “pneumonia” undefined reason”.
This vicious pandemic appeared after only 100 days, Covid-19 quickly impacted economic and social fields, financial markets struggled, the global economy fell into recession with high unemployment rate. industry and poverty unprecedented in history, causing so much pain and suffering for humanity all over the world.
Human suffering is the primary concern, and the first noble truth in Buddhism. From the Buddhist point of view there are three basic types of suffering: physical, socio-political, and psychological. The success or failure of each country in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic depends on 3 factors:
1. A consistent health care system;
2. Prompt and responsible decisions by Governments;
3. Love implies a sense of sharing and cooperation among people. During the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, Buddhist meditation has played an important role in healing and overcoming psychological suffering.
The island nation of Taiwan is a prime example of the Buddhist response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Taiwanese Buddhism is the most powerful in Asia. There are medical schools and the best Buddhist hospitals all over Taiwan. Taiwan’s democratic government quickly sealed off the territory, while carefully managing the local economy. In Taiwan, the Bodhisattva ideal through Mahayana Buddhism (sacrificing one’s self for the benefit of the community of others) inspired a Buddhist social network, aiming to bring social welfare to the world. with everyone.
The Kingdom of Thailand is the state religion of Buddhism, and has also developed an excellent health care system, along with the Buddhist culture of “Compassionate Heart” (慈悲心, understanding and loving, sharing suffering and pain). ) among the people, but unfortunately Thailand’s dictatorial military government has closed the country, without any clear plan, to manage unemployment, leaving many people facing difficult situations. difficulties of an impending economic crisis.
The distribution of religious communities in Korea as of 2005 is as follows:
1 – Buddhism ranks first, accounting for 43% of the total number of followers in Korea with 10.7 million Buddhists.
2 – Protestantism accounts for 34.5% with 8.6 million followers.
3 – Christianity accounts for 20.6% with 5.1 million followers.
4 – Other religions account for 1.9% with 483,000 adherents.
Korea is a country whose population is half Buddhist and half Christian. They have done a great job in dealing with the crisis caused by the Corona virus pandemic, despite the setbacks from the start. They have a good health care system, in the government network, effective policy and management, cooperation among people. In the recent election, the victory of the Liberal Korea Party (자유한국당), reflects the government’s success in dealing with the problems caused by Covid-19.
In Korea, the spirit of love, harmonious sharing and cooperation, rooted in people from Christianity and Buddhism, has contributed to the success in the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic. People in different countries can learn from the experiences of South Korea and Taiwan, along with advice from the World Health Organization (WHO): get tested for the virus, keep a safe distance, wear a mask. public places.
In a way, the Covid-19 pandemic is a globalizing crisis. All mankind in the world has stopped all pilgrimage tours, from aviation and a variety of other transportation services businesses are experiencing financial difficulties. Most countries have closed their cities, towns and neighborhoods. The entertainment business is closed. Education and learning have been paused and students are now learning online. All those who have fled abroad have returned home. Urban workers have returned to their agricultural or rural villages. People from all over the world are advised to stay where they are (at home). However, the busiest areas of most countries are hospitals and healthcare systems. The world’s population is facing public health problems, a very significant number of people dying from the Covid-19 epidemic.
Nearly 500 histories of capitalism and transnational capitalism, at an increasing rate over the past half-century (50 years), have contributed to world crises: problems economic, political, military, ideological, social, cultural, public health, environment and ecology. Most countries exploit, overuse natural resources to “high-speed development” of their countries, especially the world powers, creating a large income gap between the rich and the rich. and the impoverished, leaving behind global non-biodegradable waste, and an excess of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Through agribusiness, people create a paradise for themselves, but save a hell for farm animals and other living animals. Excessive consumption leads to the serious problem of global warming, thereby challenging human existence. The world is in a state of crisis and imbalance.
Whatever its true cause, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic is planetary earth’s response to human-caused damage. According to the natural mechanism of the planet, it creates the Corona virus as an immune system to protect itself from invasion by the overpopulation of the strange “virus” called humans. During this outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic with people sheltering in place, the sky becomes bluer, the oceans cleaner, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the lowest in decades, animals Wild animals in the forests, and in the oceans are less threatened, are better able to live: the planet is healing. Isn’t this what the most radical environmentalists have called for?
Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, some 2,600 years ago called it “reverse of the movement of (natural) Tao”. When we go to one extreme, it eventually naturally turns back to the other extreme. People should learn and find the “Middle Way” taught by Shakyamuni Buddha, in order to live peacefully with all other sentient beings, and the environment on this planet.
As economic orthodoxy dominates the world, most nations increasingly compete to “develop” by using up limited natural resources, to satisfy their lust (bottomless greed). ) infinite human. This disproportionate development by emphasizing the “supply side” has created tension between people, witnessed in the two world wars, and the tension between man and nature, witnessed in the past. ecological crisis.
Buddhist economics has emphasized the “needs” aspect by knowing how to live with the two principles of “Content with few desires” so that natural resources will adequate supply for humans. The concept of “minimizing spending and maximizing profits” should be changed to “minimizing consumption and maximizing human welfare”. Development goals need to be moved from Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to Gross National Happiness (GNH). To draw lessons from the new strain of Corona virus crisis, people should find a middle way of “right life” (right livelihood), to maintain sustainable development, a balance between people. and nature, thereby creating a harmonious coexistence for both.
Author: Professor Tavivat Puntarigvivat
Translated by: Thich Van Phong, (Source: Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs at Georgetown University)
Note: Author Dr. Tavivat Puntarigvivat, visiting professor of Thai studies at Pridi Banomyong International College, Thammasat University in Bangkok. Professor Tavivat Puntarigvivat has researched and published extensively on religious and socio-ethical issues, especially from cross-cultural and socio-political perspectives. Thai Buddhism, was published by World Buddhist University in 2013, and Social Theory of Religion by Mahidol University in 2019.