“Love and compassion are necessities not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
~His Holiness, The Dalai Lama XIV
If there is anything I’ve learned this year, it is that life is full of uncertainty. Yet there are some certainties that we can all agree upon:
a) If we are born we will die;
b) Struggle cannot be escaped (no matter how hard we try);
c) Living from meaning is essential at any stage of life;
d) We belong to one another no matter how separated we feel.
e) Life is always propelling us towards healing and love.
f) The Unknown is always present, whether we acknowledge it or not.
g) We all want to matter to one another no matter what our differences.
We have learned hard lessons this year. Lessons in how painful it can be to stay in conflict with one another (because of our differences), how fleeting life is, how if we don’t focus on our health, we can become ill at a moment’s notice, or die sooner than expected, and how destructive public opinion can be when followed over evidence-based and critical thinking.
We have also learned that most of the systems that comprise our infrastructure — Medicine, Education, Politics and Law are due for an overhaul. At this time in history, they are not serving their core missions. In fact, they haven’t for a while. This year has uncovered their shadow more than any other time in memory. We can no longer adapt to how dysfunctional our systems have become, or turn a blind eye to their neglected essence. It is up to us to acknowledge the imperative for their transformation, so they can once again be aligned with their essential mission and who they serve.
In my more optimistic moments I feel that maybe we are at the threshold of a rebirth, a renewal, a rewriting, and a reawakening of our individual and collective consciousness. Maybe this has been long overdue. A Pandemic more than any other catalyst can bring this to light. Maybe as a world, we are in a phase of deconstruction, a death that precedes a new birth, as part of a powerful and collective initiation. We must honestly review what has worked and what has not, not only in our collective systems, but also in our own lives. We must lay inauthenticity to rest so we can emerge as more authentic versions of ourselves. Our patterns of what we value and live from that we have erroneously adapted to are not working. What society has normalized is not working. What public opinion has upheld as truth is also not working. A review before renewal and rebirth must engage our honest and conscious insight. This requires much courage. Our egos have a frightful time adjusting to the keen eye of discernment that heralds change, yet honest self-reflection and surrender to a Higher purpose, are sorely needed. Although the ego often meets insight with resistance, being honest with ourselves the only way for us to experience growth and meaning. It is a sign of maturity and adulthood. We have been stuck in a stunted state of maturation for too long. It is time for us to grow up and transform.
This part of our process requires patience, endurance and tenacity. I have learned that endurance and struggle always evoke creativity. Transformation itself can be deeply creative, and befriending the unknown seems to be a necessary prerequisite.
Given this context, we can surmise that we are also in a deeply creative time. Even though it has been necessary for us to be separated from one another physically (to prevent infection), we can still practice belonging. In a time like this, I would call this a ‘spiritual practice’ . Like any spiritual practice, the practice of belonging requires conscious intention till it becomes a part of who we are. Belonging requires us to access our heart in a time of chaos and confusion, and share it with others despite the distance between us. This may sound paradoxical, yet is as necessary and vital as oxygen is for survival. Belonging is what makes us feel like we matter. It can offset depression, anxiety and loneliness. It even boosts our immune response and inspires us to show up for our life. It also inspires creativity.
Kindness is a way in which we can show our love, and create a sense of community. It is an antidote for separation and conflict. It costs nothing, and yet can be profoundly healing. One kind word can make a huge difference in another’s life, and can even inspire them to get through the day when they feel hopeless. Kindness is an expression of love. It can begin to heal our deepest wounds.
So let us remember to engage belonging and kindness, even a little bit each day. Living with this intention opens a quantum field of love in our world, which is more contagious than fear. In our hearts, we know this to be true. These acts may be small, yet have a quantum power for healing.
Despite the necessity for physical separation from one another during the COVID19 Pandemic, we must remember to offer ourselves in these ways to one another. To feel like we matter can be life saving. In the final analysis, it is not what but who we are, which can only be felt through our intention and behavior. Being loving and kind (despite our differences) may be the greatest gifts of all.
“The love I feel is not a mask
but a deep cauldron
though carrying pain,
offers beauty to life.
It is an opening to the sublime,
a portal to what is Holy,
It bears everything transforming
and never breaks or dies.”
~Rose Kumar, M.D., Becoming Real: Reclaiming Our Health in Midlife