Sensei’s nursing home has seen 108 of the 300 residents with active COVID-19 infections at the end of December, a very scary number given their vulnerability and how it rose from 41 residents in two weeks. The facility responded really well by treating everyone as if they were in the isolation ward, and completed voluntary Moderna vaccinations on Jan 6th (350 residents and staff including Sensei). Yesterday they also provided it to 25 staff at Sakura who’s delivery of vaccines is expected later this month. The second dose is needed 28 days later to provide good protection from the virus.

As Sensei continues practicing relinquishment, he participates in the physical therapy and other health care activities requested of him. But he is declining as is natural, and spends most of the day in bed. The “major symptom” from the Parkinson’s that he has said over recent years is “no energy, no interest”. For example, when I called him on Christmas he greeted me with a weak voice and said he didn’t have the energy to talk. After I spoke for some time he thanked me.

Decades ago, Sensei would laugh joyfully when we showed trepidation with things like swimming in cold water, meditating all night without standing up, or of needles for blood tests or injections. On that last one he said once, “Children are afraid of needles. It just feels like a little pinch. We shouldn’t be disturbed by it.” He put this sentiment nicely in his book, Wakeful:

“From common sense or a medical point of view, however, the persistence of pain like a headache or rheumatism is an ongoing problem; there is little or nothing we can do about it. The conquest of pain therefore requires medical care. Although this opinion sounds rational to an ordinary person’s ears, it seldom covers the entirety of the situation. It keeps people reacting like over-protected children who never develop their innate strength to overcome pain.” (p62)

And now, there is such strength radiating from his fearless passivity at this stage of his life. May we each discover, maintain and embody such confidence.

with metta,

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