The Grand Master’s Dharma Talk on SARS (in 2003)

Origin: Some of you may remember the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak back in 2003, another coronavirus with global impact. Even though it wasn’t widespread in the United States, it still caused anxiety and fear around the world. Grand Master Wei Chueh’s Dharma talk on SARS is as pertinent to our situation today as it was almost 20 years ago. By purifying our minds, we can also purify the world.



The whole world is now in fear of the SARS epidemic. Patients with SARS may gradually recover after undergoing some distress and quarantine; but in the more serious cases, they may succumb to the disease. Facing this epidemic, what should we do to safely get through it? This is a topic we all need to explore urgently.

Buddhism teaches that “illness arises from karma, and karma is produced from our mind.”

To prevent SARS, beside avoiding crowded public places, keeping our home and office clean, tidy, dry, and the air well circulated, we should also always abide in right mindfulness, freeing our mind from the poisons of greed, anger, ignorance and other negative thoughts—this is how we keep ourselves away from disease.

SARS is a calamity we all face together. To prevent and protect ourselves from this calamity, we need to start from our minds. When we relate and treat each other with friendliness and compassion, an effective defensive system is developed within our mind. This is the best strategy to protect ourselves and to keep disease out.

“Contemplate the suffering of sentient beings; bring forth the bodhi mind.”

When we see everyone in the world is in fear, it kindles in us a sense of unconditioned compassion and oneness toward all beings. We can dedicate the merits of our morning and evening service and our good deeds toward world peace, wishing all sentient beings be free from illness. When we all hold this same hope and wish, our minds will abide in right mindfulness, calmness, and compassion, free from distraction or distortion. And when our minds are free of disease, the external world will also be free of disease. When our minds are pure, the external world is also a pure land. As we all recognize this, our minds will no longer be in tune with a world of epidemic. Simply transform our thoughts, we will bring brightness and purity to this world.