Blessings & mettā to everyone, and prayers that all of our families and communities are as safe as possible.
Like many teachers, I’m happy to offer support whatever I can in service of inner well-being and resilience through what may be a long emergency. While our hyper-connected modern society is startled out of complacency by the pandemic, practitioners in many contemplative traditions may find ourselves with skills and a perspective that can be helpful in this time. If you’ve been practicing with Buddhist or Yogic material for some time, you may be better equipped to deal with this — emotionally, spiritually, or existentially — than you think.
The teachings of the Buddha remind us again and again of the impermanence of conditions, including the seductive conditions of comfort, health, wealth, and power. And they remind us of the death of interconnection we are immersed in, which we may often forget, or take for granted.
Here’s some writing I did recently, suggesting a shift in perspective that I hope may be helpful in this moment:
I take this moment as an invitation for our human cultures to learn something that is hard to admit, and even harder to stabilize and truly begin to act from: our way of life, globally, is not only unsustainable but dangerous, and the root causes of our current moment are obvious to anyone willing to look. Greed is praised as a virtue in the worlds of commerce and neoliberal Capitalism; hatred is praised as a virtue in the forms of nationalism, racism, and the many forms of systemic oppression; and delusion is praised as a virtue in the growing distrust of public norms, information, science, and material truth itself. When greed, hatred, and delusion are not universally acknowledged as defilements, but even praised as appropriate responses to the world, crises like this will be far worse than they might otherwise have been.
Blessings to everyone reading this, for your own safety and peace of heart, and that of your families, communities, culture, and the beloved Earth we all share.
With love & mettā,
Dr. Sean Oakes