Changing poison into medicine

We are going through the world crisis at the moment. In New Zealand, where I live, one week has passed in lockdown.

How are you adjusting to your new reality? 

I am noticing a growing sense of anxiety in society. Covid-19 has been affecting so many people’s lives world-widely.

I’d like to express my appreciation for those health professionals who have been tirelessly and selflessly working.

People who have lost their loved ones to covid-19. Those who have lost their jobs and being going through financial difficulty in relation to covid-19. People who are in grief are on my mind, too. I send my prayers to them every day.


In this time of collective difficulty, a Buddhist concept of “changing poison into medicine” has came into my mind. It reminds me that we have the power to transform life challenges into a turning point for our life.

There is always positive potential inherent in negative experiences. 

I’ve talked about it in YouTube if you are interested to know more.


If we can regard everything as a source of creating something positive and meaningful, I believe that we can then somehow find a way of turning things around.

On the other hand, if we see everything only in a negative, pessimistic light, our life will gradually but inevitably be plunged into darkness.

Buddhism teaches the subtlety of our deepest heart. 

In which direction is our heart is looking at on the deepest level shapes our life.

In the direction of hope? Or in the direction of fear?


Reflecting on my life, for me, there are two positive things arising from the covid-19 difficulty.

1. Covid-19 has given us an opportunity to evaluate priorities in life. 

In New Zealand, we’re experiencing lockdown. It is a must to stay home. We’ve got all this time now. 

What do we do with time?

We’re so driven and used to being busy, achieving things, managing life. Productivity and efficiency seem to be valued most in our society.

I value those, but I’d definitely like to value process over end result, connections over achievement more than ever.

Do you feel bombarded by tasks that you have to handle at times? Do you feel overwhelmed by the speed, how quickly you need to get the job done, to reply emails, etc?

I think now is a great time to think about what really matters most in our life.

  • How do you want to live your life? What life style would you like to have?
  • Who is important in your life?
  • What are your values? What do you stand for?
  • What do you really want to do in your life? 

 2. Time for us to practice “manaakitanga,” the greatest good

New Zealand is known for its manaakitanga. This is one of the virtues of Maori culture.

Manaakitanga has a wide meaning and it’s hard to translate with one word. It contains a meaning of hospitality, caring for others, respecting oneself and others, etc. 

During my psychotherapy training, our Maori teacher interpreted its meaning as follows. It really inspired me:

Mana – power or all I can be

aki – in the service of another

tanga – process

So manaakitanga means that we are strengthening who we are through supporting others and receiving support from others.


In this time of collective difficulty, we are learning to turn to each other for strength. We can’t be strong by ourselves.

We need to practice manaakitanga and spread it together more than ever. 

In any time of history, what people do collectively shapes our culture and a current of time.

As we practice compassion and care for both ourselves and others, we create a circle of compassion around us.

As more of us unite together and stand up for what matters most, we collectively create a culture of compassion in our wider environment. 


To conclude, I’d like to share a passage from the Buddhist sutra.

If you want to understand the causes made in the past, look at the results as they are manifest in the present. And if you want to know what results will be manifest in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present.

Let’s rise up together and change this poison of covid-19 into medicine!