Slow train coming


The space is pervaded with green, with the chirping of birds and the sweet smell of pollen. We are in the countryside of Dordogne, and it would be difficult for anyone to find a more idyllic setting. In general, I try not to read the news, especially here, but whenever I do, that idyllic image is replaced by another one: the slow train, picking up speed downhill. The machine engineers are incompetent and instead of stopping it and repairing the faults with care, they keep on loading it with coal. Its lights are on in the darkness; they illuminate only the small patch in front, so the passengers could see the end, but only in a fashion. 

Why are we in a such a hurry to destroy our civilisation? Do we have so much that we are bored with it? There was this boredom in the air before the epidemic in 2020. I had the feeling that people, especially the young ones, were waiting eagerly for something to happen. Anything. Just not that day after day boredom. They were trying to shake it off – drugs, sex, recycling, hot yoga and politics, but it wouldn’t go away. The boredom was somehow fused with the fear of death. Our mother planet was dying, they were told, and it is we, the human beings, responsible for it. It must be us! And if we managed to put all the rubbish that we produce in the correct boxes, it will go away, and we will live forever. It doesn’t matter how bad and unruly our minds are; it didn’t even matter what we did. We could even kill; as long as we remembered to put the rubbish in the correct boxes, the mother Earth would be saved, and we will live happily ever after. Then the epidemic came. The boredom was replaced with a hysterical fear. If only we could stay at home and avoid getting infected, and if they find a vaccine, we will be fine. We will live forever.

The politicians were excited. It was their time to lead the people. It was their time for glory. The churches were confused. Was it the time for prayers to God, or should we take the more cautious approach and go with the Government policies? If you have watched the TV programme Father Ted, there was a wonderful episode in which Catholic priests were on a plane. They were about to crash and there was not a single parachute or a pilot on board. So, the priests are trying to find a solution. Many crazy ideas are flung around. A priest suggests, ‘Perhaps we should pray to God?’. A second of an uneasy silence; everybody turns away from him as if he were a lunatic, and the crazy ideas keep on coming.

Isn’t it better for the religions to be true to their beliefs and say to people, ‘You are impermanent. Nobody lives forever, but what maters is what you do with your mind. You should behave with grace, you should have faith that there is something greater than you. You shouldn’t sin because there will be a punishment for your sins.’ Of course, as a Buddhist, I don’t believe that there is a big guy in the sky who is going to punish us, but I believe in karma and that is not a cuddly toy to play with. According to its law, all the actions and thoughts of ours, even the small ones, have consequences, good or bad. Be God or Karma, one thing is certain – no matter how much medicine or vaccinations we take, no matter how well we recycle, we cannot be saved by it. What can save us is the power of our virtuous mind. If our actions are done with the power of virtue, it will somehow work out and those around us, even the planet itself, will be pacified. In other words, the time for a spiritual revolution has come, and we mustn’t let it slip away.

If this doesn’t happen, however, we can always end up on a positive note! I have another crashing story to tell. A ship was about to sink, and the Captain had to deliver the news to the passengers. So, he says, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, our ship is sinking. Having said that, I can assure you, that there is enough water for everyone!’


  1. That is true, the state of our mind is very important to help us stay sane at this time. Thank you for this article! 🙏


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