COVID-19: Talk show between ICRC and Keluarga Buddhayana
The COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia prompted Keluarga Buddhayana Indonesia (KBI, The Family of Buddhayana in Indonesia) to invite the ICRC to address queries and anxieties within the Buddhist community in Indonesia.
The Wednesday Talk Show on 3 June 2020 focused on the theme "Religion, Mindfulness and Management of the Dead". It was very well received, with more than 300 viewers enthusiastically following it live on Zoom and Buddhayana TV. In less than 24 hours, more than 1,000 viewers watched a recording of the show on YouTube.
The show featured three experts. Ven. Nyanasila Thera discussed the topic from the Buddhist perspective. Dr. Adi W. Gunawan, the leading expert in mind technology in Indonesia, focused on mindfulness and Eva Bruenisholz, the ICRC forensic specialist for Indonesia and Timor Leste, talked about the dignified and proper management of the dead.
Thera, who is also the secretary-general of the Sangha Agung Indonesia, outlined five Buddhist steps in dealing with the pandemic. "First, it is important to acknowledge that the virus exists. From here, we can take the second step, that is the meditation to train our psyche to be more focused so that it will increase our awareness. Third, we need to develop loving-kindness so that we will be more capable to comply with health protocols and protect our neighbourhood. Fourth, we need to understand the interconnectedness of one another. We can transmit the virus to others but we can also protect others from being infected. Finally, during our stay-at-home period, we have the opportunity to reflect on ourselves to avoid any gap between our hope and reality on the ground, so we won't get stressed."
Bruenisholz explained the paramount importance of having knowledge of the management of the dead for societies that confront extraordinary events such as natural disasters. "In the context of COVID-19, the management of the dead aims at protection and respect for the dignity of the dead and their families," stressed Bruenisholz. "That is why the dead must be identified, whenever possible, before their remains are disposed of. All family members have the right to know the fate of missing relatives, including their whereabouts or, if dead, the circumstances and cause of their deaths," she explained.
Dr. Adi W Gunawan, the founder of Adi W. Gunawan Institute of Mind Technology in Surabaya, underscored the importance of mindfulness in dealing with the pandemic. "Our mind is like a glass of water. It's clean and clear. What makes it chaotic is the emotion that affects our mind. This is what people don't really know. What dominates our mind? If it is negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, such as what we experience these days and if these overwhelmed our mind, these will influence our mind. It's like to put so much dirt to a glass of clean water and stir it. As a result, our mind is screwed up."
For more than two hours, the viewers stayed tuned in and actively engaged with these experts, before the moderator, Dr. Heru Suherman Lim, brought the session to a close.
This collaboration between the Buddhist community and the ICRC in Indonesia was not the first. Over the past six years, the ICRC delegation to Indonesia and Timor Leste has established ongoing collaborations with a number of key Buddhist organisations in Indonesia, such as Buddha Tzu Chi, Niciren Syoshu, Sangha Theravada Indonesia, and KBI.