International Women's Day 2021: ViriyalilaOn Wed, 10 March, 2021 - 17:49
I’m Viriyalila. I was ordained in 2005, and live just north of Boston, Massachusetts (USA). Nine years ago, I embarked on a four-year path of training in traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, an aspiration I had kept close to my heart for nearly twenty years. I now have a thriving acupuncture practice located close to my local Buddhist Center.
When the pandemic emerged we were in the throes of opening our new Buddhist Center. I found it really difficult to accept that we needed to close down before it opened. What better medicine than the Dharma in a time of crisis? Equally so, I resisted closing my acupuncture practice. I felt deeply conflicted as a healer, knowing that I had many resources to help ease people’s suffering. In the end it was the phrase ‘do no harm’ that convinced me to let go and close the doors. So, like millions of others, I stayed home.
After 25 years of practice I was honestly surprised by all the negative mental states that arose. It began with a deep attachment to a sense of identity tied to my work. It was quickly followed by extreme horrified anxiety over the stories of our front line healthcare workers. I also discovered a fierce independence in that I did not want to be told what to do! As I turned towards these difficult emotions with love and compassion, a great joy arose, a deep appreciation for knowing and being able to rely upon the Dharma. It brought an expansive sense of love for all beings, everywhere. The Brahma Vihara (sublime abodes or immeasurable) meditations became my constant companion over the past year, helping meet the complexity of the human heart in myself and others.
In March 2020, Jack Kornfield wrote in response to the coronavirus:
“It is time to be the medicine, the uplifting music, the lamp in the darkness.
Burst out with love. Be a carrier of hope.”
I also remembered a line from Milarepa’s Song of the Yogi’s Joy. He sings, “the greater the fear the greater the joy I feel.” By turning towards the uncertainty, sitting with my fears and anxieties, gradually they turned into immense gratitude and tender-hearted compassion. And in this open heart, joy and equanimity arose.