The Wuhan Virus And the Tragedy of Suffering
March 25, 2020
Little Saigon is pleased by the thoughts of poet Khế Iêm on the Corona virus pandemic, and we would like to thank him for delivering this essay to us.
The sun rises in the East and sets in the West. Going back in Western History, Egyptian civilization dates from around 3200 B.C. The mantle was then passed on to Greece, Rome and then Europe. As for Eastern civilization, we typically date it to the period of the Three Emperors, meaning it also began around 2850 B.C. By the time of Renaissance, the West began to make scientific advances and technical discoveries while also developing democratic institutions. The 20th century marked a period of outstanding progress in the West, especially in the United States, where creativity was notable in all subject areas. China, instead of embracing the humanist values of Western Civilization, absorbed the doctrines of Karl Marx, with the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels, establishing a form of authoritarianism. The difference between the two forms of institutions resulted in an uncompromising confrontation. Is it that to beat the U.S. is to ruin only the fundamentals of American civilization? Are the conspiracy theories of the Wuhan virus as a biological weapon to be treated as truth? Of course, there is no evidence for these conspiracy theories. But everyone knows that there is no freedom of speech in China, that information is controlled very tightly, and this created part of the preconditions for the virus to spread unexpectedly. The pandemic virus is invisible But bewilderment and fear are visible in the eyes and faces of all people. The Wuhan virus, according to the people of the PRC, who want to avoid disasters, must have a democratic society. The people only authorize those who serve the interests of the people through fair and honest elections.
To avoid the Wuhan virus, we must live in isolation and limit our encounters. Humans are terrifying creatures, more so than any other creatures. Are wars may be similar to diseases, inherent in the consciences and human character? Humans are good and bad, but more often bad. There are those people who are full of kindness, and also those who specialize in plundering and persecuting one another. This is normal and we have to accept that as human beings, there is a distinction between thoughts, feelings and understanding. Living together causes us to collide with each other. The more there is a difference in knowledge and nature, the more this is likely to cause a breakdown. Western culture deals with separation with avoid meeting one another, and Eastern culture deals with the acceptance of suffering.
The Wuhan virus is an omen, as civilization can always be destroyed, forcing people to return to a primitive state of existence, where class structure is less vivid, and life hangs on a fragile thread. Predictable death is natural, unfrightening. But a Wuhan virus death is unpredictable, causing infectious crowds. Each person must protect their health not only for themselves but also for others. The above events are quite topical on a societal level depending on the individual’s understanding. If you do think this is correct, please simply ignore it. If you do not think this is right, we may try to drill down into the details to find the source of the information.
In normal life, most of us have a relatively happy and stable family, although there may be disagreements sometimes. But for some celebrities, their true happiness is hidden behind the door of suffering; for example, the Greek philosopher Socrates. His philosophical work contributed to humanity, formed Western civilization, and developed all aspects of philosophy, science and culture. From a religious perspective, Buddhism says that “life itself is not unstable; the form of our minds produces happiness or suffering.” Thus, is the study of suffering not a subjective concept? That subjective nature is simply wrong. The error is written and then becomes right, which helps us to see joy or suffering. Happiness happens only for a while, while suffering is constant.
Poetry, meditation, love, money – perhaps these are all-encompassing concepts in life. If love and money cause suffering, then poetry and meditation are the means to relieve suffering. But, if meditation is a refuge for ordinary people, then poetry is for extraordinary people. The more people suffer, the more quickly they find peace in meditation, and an author of poetry becomes a poet. If you want to avoid suffering, don’t think about suffering. The self makes the thought; the thought makes us suffer. Material wealth can make the self grow, but knowledge and understanding make the self smaller. Everyone has thoughts which are not really the truth, but confusion will also cause collisions, reactions, adversity and scenarios of suffering. Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates had a fierce wife, so he became a philosopher.
Man is born to live, the purpose is alive, but to live is to pay the price. Birth, age, sickness, death; there must be birth to death, and there must be the desire for happiness to have suffering. Happiness makes life happy, and suffering helps people grow, mature, learn and have a career. A story somewhere, somebody, one day, suddenly saw a pile of manure pouring in his yard, and he did not know what to do. He had scooped it into the back of a garden, and soon saw luxuriant trees and sweet – scented flowers. The pile of manure represents suffering, and the fruit represents the happiness of life. To have happiness, there must be suffering.
To avoid thinking, there is only the way of meditation and chanting, living the spiritual life, overcoming the self and the thoughts which are the self. Poetry belongs to life, but life is the source of the challenge of suffering. For those who do not know poetry and meditation, there is only war as a solution. In human history, we have had so many wars, such as the First and Second World Wars. If you have passed the experience of suffering, there will be no more suffering. Poetry and meditation help people recognize suffering. Avoiding suffering leads to loneliness. Loneliness is a boundless joy. Zen masters are solitary people. So too is the poet.
But tragedy is the ultimate misery. It happens only in extreme circumstances. If we help others’ material wealth, we lose material wealth. If we help others’ mental health, we receive suffering. Have not the fighters for national independence sacrificed their lives? Happiness or suffering is not due to what we do from a previous life, samsara, but from our own choices right from this life. Do not blame anyone. Get this, lose that. Everything has its price. The bigger the value, the more suffering you have to pay.
In retrospect, humans are born lucky, as happiness or suffering is also impermanent, perishing, coming and going. But, if it were not for impermanence, how can we let go of the self to realize that “Life is soil, creativity is a seed, and suffering is fertilizer for the art of being born.” The experience of suffering helps us to be aware of ourselves and everything around us, inseparable, even tragedy, just as if it is not. That is all.
(Friday, March 13 – 2020)
Translated by Dr. William B. Noseworthy