My name is Margie Sinner and I have been a member of Rissho Kosei Kai in Orange County California for 8 years. I am co-owner for Anytime Fitness, a fitness facility franchise.
When COVID19 began to spread in California we began taking extra care of our gym. We increased our cleaning and made sure all of our members felt safe in the gym. We are a small gym and not extremely busy so we thought our gym would be able to stay open.
On March 17th we signed up three new members who’s other gyms had closed because of the virus. We were happy to accommodate these new members who were concerned about getting their workouts in regularly. After these three members signed up we heard from our governor that all all gyms had to close down immediately!!
This threw us into an immediate crisis. Those brand new members had to be notified and we had to reassure them that we would refund all of their money. We then had to deal with the logistics involved in letting all of our other members know.
My partner and I initially felt a sense of urgency and panic. We didn’t want people coming to the gym and then having to turn around and go home because the gym was closed. We thought we should manage it in such a way that no one would be negatively impacted by this closure.
I initially bought into the crisis, but because I have been studying the Lotus Sutra I very quickly knew that I did not need to panic, but that I needed to be thoughtful and compassionate in handling this entire situation. My partner, however, seemed more affected by this. She was very worried about all the members and how they would get their workouts in. She was worried about how we would pay our bills, especially our rent and how we would be able to deal with all the members that may want to cancel their memberships. I just wanted to tell her not to worry but I knew that would not be a good way to approach her in this situation.
The lotus sutra has taught me that the first thing is to have compassion and in my case I needed to have compassion for my partner’s sense of urgency. I told her that I understood we had to deal with this situation as best we could but that we didn’t need to panic. We very quickly understood that as owners of a small business out main concern was our customers, not protecting ourselves and our profits. We both participated in developing a plan to deal with each situation. We divided the work load up and put a realistic time frame on when these tasks should be accomplished.
We identified people that we may be able to continue workouts with through ZOOM. We tackled the most immediate and pressing issues first and then agreed to meet the next day to continue on our task list. I could tell that by me joining her in doing the best we could for our members (customers) she was able to calm down and recognize that there were many things we didn’t have control over.
We began discussing what this COVID19 could mean for all of us in more expansive way. I believe she was relieved that I did not discount her sense of crisis but rather joined in taking responsibility to do the best we could do and know that what ever happened we would all be OK.
This is the main point for me. My responsibility as a member of Rissho Kosei Kai is to understand that this phenomenon is here for a reason and that I am to learn and grow from it. There are some very tangible tasks that need to be done and at the same time there is an opportunity for spiritual growth. My main concern needs be of others, not myself. I keep being reminded that these forces are here for me to evolve and understand my oneness with everything. I am supported through my RKK community and my disciplines of reciting and studying help me realize that growth.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my experience with you.