Tshering Palden

Thousands of Bhutanese dropped everything and remained glued to their screens for hours yesterday attending the first-ever initiation of Sangay Menlha (Medicine Buddha) over the TV and social media platforms.

More than 9,000 Bhutanese including those from the Middle East, the USA, Australia, and beyond received the oral transmission (Lung) and blessings (Wang) online.

It was conducted to help pacify the spread of Covid-19 pandemic in the world.

While the country was blessed with peace and happiness through wise and benevolent leadership, the country is not spared by the pandemic. 

His Holiness said, “So it is important to offer our spiritual support to all those around the world who have been and are being affected by this virus.”

His Holiness said that ever since the detection of the first Covid-19 case in the country, His Majesty The King who has been deeply concerned and worried about the further spread of the virus, has put His full effort into personally monitoring the situation in order to help minimise further risks.

His Holiness also acknowledged the Prime Minister, health minister, and all those individuals who are engaged in the efforts to combat the disease and on behalf of the monastic bodies and dharma practitioners offered deepest gratitude and appreciation. 

Before beginning the initiation, His Holiness reminded the devotees of how each individual could help respond to the pandemic.

Whilst the devotees do not have the potential to help every individual with this virus, in terms of their own safety it was crucial that they protect themselves by taking the correct precautions.

“If we are reckless, we will not only harm our fellow beings but the entire nation will be affected.  Putting into practice the instructions given by the Ministry of Health is absolutely essential,” His Holiness said.

During his time, even Buddha Shakyamuni consulted and followed the instructions of his physicians despite the fact that he had already attained omniscience and mastered the tantras of the science of medicine. He did this as a demonstration to guide and teach beings like us.

“I cannot stress enough on how important it is for us to listen to the advice of the health experts. It is critical for us to follow the instructions of the DOs and DON’Ts. Even in my own case, I too, am following instructions given by the health experts.”

For those who have travelled to high-risk areas or come into contact with other confirmed or suspected Covid-19 cases, it was essential that they declare their travel history or contacts with absolute honesty, His Holiness said.

“This act of honesty is a great service not only to others or our nation but also to yourself. By being honest, you will benefit from timely treatment, should you develop any symptoms; and should no symptoms occur, you will be relieved from the worry of carrying the virus.” 

“The most important factor – by quarantining, you protect the entire nation by decreasing the risk of further spread to your own family and beyond.”

From a Buddhist perspective, the main cause of such a global pandemic like Covid-19 is due to Lenchak or “karmic retribution”.  One example of Lenchak, is that for centuries, mankind has been endlessly exploiting other animals and their habitat for either food or material consumption.

Another example cited was the creation of nuclear weapons that has brought immense destruction to the world.  As a result of which humans face the karmic consequence through the form of this virus-pandemic, a manifestation of mankind’s negative deeds.

“Many patients have regrettably died whilst some are in the process of recovery. As inter-connected sentient beings, during such vulnerable times, we must be mindful and take preventive measures for further karmic retribution,” His Holiness said.

During the period of quarantine, the government would be providing food and other facilities to those affected. His Holiness urged people to use this time effectively to reflect and recite the Chenrezi and Vajra Guru mantras with single-minded devotion.

In the Buddhist practice, mantra recitation is considered a powerful remedy for all outer and inner illnesses, His Holiness said citing the life story of an Indian Princess called Gelongma Palmo and she recovered from leprosy through chanting mantra alone.

“In such trying times, let us be mindful and not waste our time in useless slander, gossip or spreading wrong and unhelpful news.”

The negative consequence of indulging in such slander and gossip during such vulnerable times not only disrupts one’s peace of mind but also threatens the very foundation of our society.

“Let us all pray that all people do not get infected by this virus. For those who have already been infected, we pray that they may be cured as swiftly as possible.”

His Holiness said that this way the devotees could generate benefit to all sentient beings by creating aspirational prayers that become more powerful when imbued with loving-kindness and compassion towards all.

Receiving an initiation through a television broadcast can equally bring benefits to those wishing to receive it.

The initiation ended with a prayer: “May all diseases that disturb the minds of sentient beings, and which result from the negative karma and temporary conditions, such as the harms of spirits, illness, and the elements, never occur throughout the realms of this world”.

“May all who are sick and ill, quickly be freed from their illnesses. And may every disease in this world never occur again.”

“May all sentient beings throughout the 10 directions, always live in good health and have happiness. May all their dharma aspirations and their hopes be fulfilled accordingly.”

“By the compassion of the Gurus, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, The power of the Dakinis and Dharma protectors, And by the power of the infallible truth of cause and effect, May all kinds of diseases be pacified.”