Tag Archives: pandemic

Got Time – Sit Quietly Awhile

“We can only have insight and wisdom when our vision is clear. 2020 is the year for that vision. For generations into the future, people will remember you as heroes and sheroes for your sacrifice and your vision.”
               –”Commencement talk” from Sister Boi Nghiem to class of 2020

“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
       
–Arundati Roy

A thread of wisdom is weaving its way through all the pandemic confusion and fear: this time, this Covid-19 time, is giving each of us (and humanity as a whole) the chance to reinvent ourselves. From the social and political systems that we have taken for granted, to the patterns of inter-personal relating, to the understandings of who and what we are and what we are here for; everything is up for review. What better time than now.

Spiritual teachings have always offered us the pathways and methods for seeing more deeply into ourselves, beyond, above or behind our ego personality, to a truer, more awakened way of Being. We live in a time that allows us to hear the voices, and sometimes see and be with, people who have devoted their lives to these teachings from the different lineages of the world . They are able to share with us what can truly be called medicine for our minds and hearts. What better time than now.

Responding to the needs of the many people seeking solace in their grief, fear, anger and confusion, there are now many daily offerings of guided meditations by experienced teachers. I’ve gathered together some that have come my way and want to share them with you. Please save this as a resource and share widely. What better time than now to deepen your practice of meditation and attunement with the true nature of the one you are, and to find the peace and strength to face all that is arising around and within you.

May you and all beings be healthy, safe, happy and free.

Sister Boi Nghiem lives at Magnolia Grove Monastery in Batesville, Mississippi, (one of several monasteries in the world founded by Thich Nhat Hanh. In this video “dharma talk” we have a beautiful expression of the consciousness of wisdom, happiness and compassion that comes from devoted meditative practice. Addressed to graduating seniors, but relevant to us all:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhipUITeVWM

Sharon Salzberg is a widely known and beloved teacher of meditation. She has been offering free teachings online during the pandemic and has generously created a site with many other free or low cost teachings available on a daily basis. This is an amazing resource:
https://www.sharonsalzberg.com/covid-19-resources/?fbclid=IwAR1xRjD4Pkdl9iuk_aEiulIO4rHKwXZYgsSLVijiIc0fZXh-Jfg9zdi5dLo

Krishna Das is a world traveling chant master and teacher of meditation. He is offering what he calls “Chai and Chat” sessions online. Some are for a nominal fee. (Everyone still has to pay rent). This link is for one on June 6th, and you can find others dates from there. 
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/group-chainchat-with-krishna-das-india-tickets-106136920386?aff=enews

Dr. Tom Pinkson (Tomás), offers a weekly online talk and exchange, “Live Love Now – Soul Support in the Time of Covid-19”.  Tomás apprenticed for many years with Huichol shaman and presents prayerful, inspiring messages of  “wisdom guidance from Great Spirit to enrich your life.” This is a Facebook gathering:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/874420176244116/about/

Jonathan Gustin, is the founder of Purpose Guides Institute and its new projects: Climate Change & Purpose, and Pandemic as Practice.  At the following link is an interview with Joanna Macy on these subjects and you can get more information about his online meetings by sending a message toinfo@purposeguides.org
https://www.purposeguides.org/free-webinar-pandemic-as-practice-1#unique-id

By the way, Sharon Salzberg, Tomás Pinkson and Krishna Das each are featured with extensive interview in  Crossing the Boundary – Stories of Jewish Leaders of Other Spiritual Paths, available at CrossingTheBoundary.org.

Catastrophe & Opportunity

Earth, isn’t this what you want? To arise in us, invisible?
Is it not your dream, to enter us so wholly
there’s nothing left outside us to see?
What, if not transformation,
is your deepest purpose? Earth, my love,
I want it too. Believe me,
no more of your springtimes are needed
to win me over—even one flower
is more than enough. Before I was named
I belonged to you. I see no other law
but yours, and know I can trust
the death you will bring.

See, I live. On what?
Childhood and future are equally present.
Sheer abundance of being
floods my heart.

     – Rainer Maria Rilke (from the Ninth Duino Elegy,
 translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)

There is a very difficult notion to express clearly and wisely.

When an individual is in pain, (or as with the pandemic, for a whole population), to even hint that it’s “really anopportunity” can be infuriating and painful. Those who are suffering right now from the illness itself, those on the front lines of “essential services,” or those deeply impacted by the social and economic responses to the pandemic deserve our empathy, our support, our prayers…period. They don’t need to be told, “Hey, this is really an opportunity for us all to grow into a better world.”

But a great many of us are sitting or working in relatively safe and comfortable conditions and have the time to take a deep look and assess where we are and where we are headed. We may direct attention to the broader meaning of what is happening and possibly find ways to effect the course of human life going forward. The catastrophe, the immense suffering of the Covid-19 pandemic, may be an opportunity for a wake-up to create a better world.

No one knows the future. But it does seem clear that there are forces that will attempt to use this moment to advance totalitarian controls of the population and increase the wealth and power of a small number of people at the expense of everyone else. At the same time, there are signs of increasingly empowered voices that seek to advance a transformative vision and bring about a society based in compassion and living in greater harmony with Mother Earth.

The spectrum of possible futures lie at or between these poles. The question for each of us is where are we putting our attention and energy.

I’ve included here three essays that were sent by way of Kosmos Journal, an online journal dedicated to global transformation integrating psychology and spirituality with social and political change.

Below that, I’ve copied a story from the New York Times that offers an example of our global inter-relatedness and an expression of empathy and reciprocity between a Native American tribe and the people of Ireland.

Three Essays from Kosmos on COVID-19

Searching for the Anti-Virus | Covid-19 as Quantum Phenomenon by Martin Winiecki – The author brings focus to the ideas that physical disease is not separate from our mental and emotional nature and that subjective experience is not separate from objective reality. He states, that, ” If we exclusively fight the symptoms without exploring the deeper root, we might survive the disease but other symptoms are still likely to materialize.”
 

True Health | What if the Virus is the Medicine? by Julia Hartsell and Jonathan Hadas Edwards – This essay urges us to look at the potential for this being an initiatory process, “There is the hope that what is dying is the caterpillar of immature humanity in order that the metamorphosis yields a stunning emergence. That whatever survives this collective initiation process will be truer, more heart-connected, resilient and generative.”

Coronavirus Spells the End of the Neoliberal Era | What’s Next? by Jeremy Lent – Taking both a spiritual and political look into ‘what’s next,’ Lent shares historical accounts of radical shifts in ‘what is possible’ and offers us a look at where we may or may not go now. On the positive side, he offers these elements of the opportunity: a fairer society, ecological stabilization, the rise of “glocalization,” and compassionate community.

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A story of reciprocity and empathy:

By Ed O’Loughlin and Mihir Zaveri in the New York Times

Published May 5, 2020 Updated May 6, 2020, 6:55 a.m. ET

DUBLIN — More than 170 years ago, the Choctaw Nation sent $170 to starving Irish families during the potato famine. A sculpture in County Cork commemorates the generosity of the tribe, itself poor. In recent decades, ties between Ireland and the Choctaws have grown.

Now hundreds of Irish people are repaying that old kindness, giving to a charity drive for two Native American tribes suffering in the Covid-19 pandemic. As of Tuesday, the fund-raiser has raised more than $1.8 million to help supply clean water, food and health supplies to people in the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Reservation, with hundreds of thousands of dollars coming from Irish donors, according to the organizers.

Many donors cited the generosity of the Choctaws, noting that the gift came not long after the United States government forcibly relocated the tribe and several other American Indian groups from the Southeastern United States, a march across thousands of miles known as the Trail of Tears that left thousands of people dead along the way.

“I’d already known what the Choctaw did in the famine, so short a time after they’d been through the Trail of Tears,” Sean Callahan, 43, an Apple administrator in Cork City who made a donation, said on Tuesday. “It always struck me for its kindness and generosity and I see that too in the Irish people. It seemed the right time to try and pay it back in kind.”

“Thank you, IRELAND, for showing solidarity and being here for us,” one said on the GoFundMe page.

Gary Batton, chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, said in a statement on Tuesday that the tribe was “gratified — and perhaps not at all surprised — to learn of the assistance our special friends, the Irish, are giving to the Navajo and Hopi Nations.”

“We have become kindred spirits with the Irish in the years since the Irish potato famine,” he said. “We hope the Irish, Navajo and Hopi peoples develop lasting friendships, as we have.”

Cassandra Begay, communications director for the fund-raiser, said in an interview on Tuesday that Irish people appeared to have found the charity effort through posts on Twitter, including one on May 2 from a reporter at The Irish Times, Naomi O’Leary. Ms. Begay, a member of the Navajo Nation, said over the past 48 hours, more than $500,000 had been donated, with most of the money coming from Ireland.

“The Choctaw ancestors planted that seed a long time ago, based off the same fundamental belief of helping someone else,” Ms. Begay said. “It is a dark time for us. The support from Ireland, another country, is phenomenal.”

A high prevalence of diseases like diabetes, scarcity of running water and homes with several generations living under the same roof have enabled the virus to spread with exceptional speed in places like the Navajo Nation, according to epidemiologists. The Hopi reservation is surrounded by the Navajo Nation.

It is not surprising that the ordeals of Native American tribes resonate in Ireland. It is estimated that one million Irish people, mainly poor tenant subsistence farmers, died of hunger or disease from 1845 to 1849, and another million emigrated in that period or shortly afterward.

The famine was among the first humanitarian crises to be reported in the early days of global media, which helped spur donations to Ireland from around the world. In addition to the donation from the Choctaw, money was raised from prisoners in Sing Sing, former slaves in the Caribbean and convicts on a prison ship in London.

The Choctaws were the first tribe to be relocated during the Trail of Tears, starting in 1831, with thousands dying and many starving.

Years later, the Choctaws learned of the Irish potato famine and “a great empathy was felt when they heard such a similar tale coming from across the ocean,” according to the Choctaw Nation’s description of its bond with the Irish.

Choctaw people then gathered together $170 to send to Irish people in 1847, the equivalent of more than $5,000 today.

“When our ancestors heard of the famine and the hardship of the Irish people, they knew it was time to help,” Mr. Batton wrote in 2017.

The sculpture commemorating the Choctaws’ generosity was dedicated in 2017 in Midleton, Ireland.

Prof. Diarmaid Ferriter, a historian at University College Dublin and co-author, with the writer Colm Toibin, of the book “The Irish Famine,” said that awareness of the Choctaw donation to Irish famine relief had increased sharply since the commemoration of the 150th anniversary in 1995.

The president of Ireland at the time, Mary Robinson, had visited the Choctaws in Oklahoma to thank them. Two years ago, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar also paid them a visit.

“It showed how far the famine resonated that it reached people 4,000 miles away who had themselves recently suffered terrible deprivation and clearance from their land,” Professor Ferriter said. “There is a belief that the famine has never been forgotten here, and it has made Irish people more likely to make common cause with other marginalized people.”

The money donated by the Choctaws was distributed in Ireland by members of the Quaker community, who are still remembered for their leading role in famine relief. More recently, Choctaw representatives have taken part in the annual Famine Walk in County Mayo, which commemorates a forced march in terrible weather by hundreds of starving people hoping for government

Introducing #CovidInspirations

“May All Beings Be Happy
May All Beings Be Safe
May All Beings Everywhere Be Free”
                     –Buddhist Prayer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzPTHstpJ2I
                –(link to Jennifer Berezan and friends beautifulrendition)

         Since my last  post “We Are Not Alone,” I’ve received many appreciative responses along with poetry and messages that also point towards the possibility of this being a much needed transformative moment for humanity. I’ve put together a site at medium.comhttps://medium.com/@covid.inspirations, that brings some of these together and hope you will find them inspiring and helpful.

I understand fully the fear, anxiety, and actual physical suffering that this pandemic engenders. I also understand that it is quite possible for humanity to take this time to spiral further into a destructive course, one already underway, that many of us have been calling attention to for years. My intention, and I believe the intention of the writings at the site I’ve created, is not to gloss over the reality, but to foster the strength to face this reality with open eyes and the willingness to make the changes required.

I do believe that we as a species must meet the reality we have created with a new way of seeing. We need to let go of the modern era’s sense of certainty and the post-modern era’s tendency to nihilism and cynicism.  This is no easy task. Just as we have been basted in sexism and racism, we have been raised in a world that only believes in what can be weighed and measured and the certainty that we are separate from each other.

As we take the precautions necessary to stop the spread of the pandemic, let us also be mindful of this important work on ourselves. This is only the beginning.

Help spread inspiration https://medium.com/@covid.inspirations

These are the times that try our ability to stay aligned with our Souls. As the Covid-19 virus pandemic has spread and unprecedented actions are taken to control or minimize the spread, some people have responded with unprecedented beauty, wisdom and compassion……” See: https://medium.com/@covid.inspirations/these-are-the-times-98ef4b07718b

–Alan Levin

We Are Not Alone

It seems clear that the pandemic of the Covid-19 virus is amplifying a pre-existing condition; the pandemic of fear and anxiety that has already spread across the world. In times of crisis, we tend to look to the established powers to help guide and support us. These powers – local, regional, national and international –are formed through political processes and informed by the various methods of scientific inquiry. A difficulty we now face is that both our political and scientific thinking is dominated by an old paradigm of reality that may have reached the point where it can no longer be effective.

Something that the modern political and Western scientific mind fails to take into consideration is that we humans are not alone. I’m not simply saying that we have community among and with other humans; but that as humans, we are part of a much larger family of beings that also have a say in the future that is unfolding. I’m speaking of the jaguars and lions, elephants, geckos, condors and eagles, whales and dolphins, to name just a very few of the multitude of animal creatures. There are the rainforests, boreal forests, tulips, banisteriopsis cappi, and mushrooms of the plant world. There are the great mountains and oceans. There is Mother Earth. And there is a multitude of tiny bacteria and viruses all over and inside everything. Who is to say that they don’t have a say concerning the future?

Indigenous people worldwide, including the ancestors of Europeans, saw not only life, but consciousness, intelligence, in all that is listed above. Only in the last several centuries have humans, especially in the West and North, considered humans to be the only intelligent life form on Earth. During this period, using that very special human intelligence, we have brought ourselves to the brink of self destruction while also destroying myriads of other life-forms. Now, just as it seems the our situation couldn’t get any scarier, some tiny agent from the natural world comes along and is shaking the very foundations of our civilization. Broadway is shut down. Baseball, basketball, football and hockey – down. Concerts, schools, community gatherings – down. Gatherings to protest what is going on – down.

Nature works in mysterious ways Her wonders to perform, (to paraphrase from the Christian hymn). Are we going to start paying attention to Her more respectfully, more intelligently, more empathically? Or are we going to continue down our fear-based and arrogant pathway, trying to control what is infinitely more wise and powerful than us? She could dispense with us with a giant hiccup. She wants us here, or we’d have been gone long ago.

Beliefs, (which form the cognitive basis of our paradigm of reality) die hard. But pressure and pain from forces outside ourselves are sometimes a catalyst for reconsidering what we think is true. Quite a few years ago, I led a group of folks on a wilderness quest in the high desert of Southern California. On the first night, after we had all settled some distance apart, each under his or her tarp, a fierce lightning storm struck. There were Joshua trees and pinion pine scattered like lightning rods all around us and we were surrounded by ridges of stone. The lightning struck every few seconds and the roaring thunder was constant, seemingly interminable. In the morning it was quiet and we shared our experiences of the night. Even the professed atheists confessed to praying during the night to something or someone that in that brief moment seemed to really be there protecting us. There is an old saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”

I’m not predicting what will happen. I don’t know and I’m ok with that. Maybe this one moment of worldwide fear will turn out to be a bump in the road. Maybe it will be a catalyst for positive social, economic and political change. But I do sense an awareness growing in us as people that goes beyond the political ideologies that justify and perpetuate so much human conflict. I feel it in myself. As I let go of my sense of certainty and open to the counsel of the life all around me with a humble and open heart, two things shift: I feel the possibility that this will all turn out ok; I recognize that in this moment, I am OK.
There is and will be pain, and it behooves us all to pay attention, be wise and help those in need. At the same time, for our own sake and for all life, there is a need to step back and open to a new frame for seeing what is happening on Earth. We need to stop treating nature like a tinker toy or as a simple child that knows not what s/he needs. She is more than what we are in our little body/mind selves; she is wiser and more powerful. Perhaps there is a blessing in disguise of “social distancing.” We will take time with nature in the quiet and solitude that allows us to listen to Her, ask for guidance, and align our lives with the family of life.