Bi-polar No-lock Pandemic Sutra…

Once upon a time there were only two continents in the World, East and West. They were similar in many ways, but the way in which they were most different were their ways of thinking, especially abstract thinking. For instance, the West saw the world and life as something that should be full to overflowing, with everything, of course, apparently related to their belief in limitlessness, infinity, eternity, depending on the context, and most eloquently: Abundance, as the norm. The East, on the other hand, saw Emptiness as the norm, with profound acceptance of limitations, that were at one and the same time as beautiful as they were comforting, as reassuring as they were defining.

In reality the West was never as full as they would like, much less limitless, and the East was certainly never Empty, in fact quite similar were the two styles of life, which always fell somewhere in the middle in their details. But these were the paradigms, Abundance and Emptiness, if not the strict norms, and could manifest in the lives of individuals in many different ways. The most common analogy to illustrate the difference was the old comparison of whether a partially filled cup was half-empty or half-full. The answer to this question would supposedly tell you whether you were an optimist or a pessimist, so that the person who saw the cup half-full was an optimist, and the person who saw the cup half-empty was a pessimist. By analogy this could also identify you as West or East, respectively.

By further analogy you could even be seen as intrinsically happy or sad. But is that correct? The person who sees a half-full cup sees lack, so why would he be happy? The person who sees a half-empty cup sees relative abundance, so why should he be sad? Our paradigms are not necessarily our dispositions. The only certainty about our Abundance paradigm is that the person will be full of it—emotion, whether happy or sad. And the person whose paradigm is Emptiness will likely be more dispassionate. But is that bad, or even sad? I see many people who are supposedly ‘full of life’ as simply noisy and obnoxious, while people more reserved can literally be seen as ‘cool,’ maybe even ‘too cool for school,’ and that ain’t so bad, now, is it? Or maybe a better measure would be our waistlines. Is it my imagination or are those Western people a bit too full in that regard and in the belly? People from the East seem soothingly and smoothly slim.

Then came the pandemic: pick one, any one, 1346 or 1665 or 2019. Without any magic pill, the best remedy was simply solitude, the more the better. And don’t forget to wear protection. It was a good time to meditate. Or start a new religion, especially if it’s based on renunciation, not rapture, speaking in silence, not tongues. But the West with their paradigm of Abundance could not do that. They tried to embrace Emptiness, but never embraced it fully. They would rather die than do that. And die they did. But for the East it was no problem since Emptiness was normal. They all wanted the Magic Pill which would kill the virus causing the pandemic, but the East could live with it almost indefinitely with little ill effect, while the West went crazy, many refusing the Pill even when it became available, almost seeming as if they loved flirting with Death. But Death doesn’t play fair. The house never loses in a gambling match. The West was devastated, and families were destroyed. But why were the two continents so different in the first place?

The pandemics only got worse when the populations increased, and the two continents finally merged populations. But nothing really changed in the attitudes of its inhabitants. It seems that the continents were not the cause of the Paradigms, but these were simply Paradigms of consciousness. This then was presumably an emanation of the thought process itself, and reflected in language, but still something of a choice to be made, by anyone and everyone who has a stake in the game. This was a huge discovery! Could someone really be pandemic-proof simply by adopting an Eastern attitude? Apparently so. What’s the downside? Probably less excitement, less noise, and not much else. Could an Eastern attitude possibly be used to counter Global Warming in the same way that it counters a pandemic? It might be worth a try. (Yes, our imaginary continents had a bad case of Global Warming due to the burning of fossil fuels by the West). Bottom line: Emptiness is a powerful paradigm. Enjoy it—softly. The dharma is the best medicine…