Since school closing on March 12 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, our routines have greatly shifted. Many readers like myself may feel too idle while simultaneously overwhelmed. We are young and have only experienced the world to a certain degree. We have not experienced pandemic or global crisis before. We- as in all of us, of all ages and from all backgrounds- are wondering who to turn to, and what to do next. I am asking these same questions along with you.
While we are asked to stay inside, there are still ways to help.
Any readers I have the opportunity to speak to through this writing are already on the path to combat their ignorance and fears: you have sought this article with the intention of bettering yourself, and for that intention alone I hope to provide some peace of mind and solidarity.
I wish you happiness and health at all times.
Intentions and wishes like these are some of our greatest tools to work with during this pandemic. By listening to medical professionals, we are staying at home and keeping a distance from others to decrease the opportunity for the virus to spread. While it may seem insignificant compared to the sacrifices of nurses and doctors, this is our job.
Take a moment to really understand that! By being responsible in how often you go out, you are helping at a global scale: this situation is a true look into how interdependent we really are.
We often get lost in our own attachments to this idea that the individual is unique, or the idea that “I am distinct from everything else.” This thought can be a harmful one. While we isolate ourselves physically, we’ve also begun to rely on this separation to treat ourselves differently than others. Once my reader combats this by beginning to understand their role in the greater picture, they will see how interconnected their actions are to those around them.
When we think the world is disconnected from ourselves, we begin to become aggressive and hostile as a result. We’ve seen this through anti-asian sentiments on the news and the hoarding of toilet paper. These acts of self protection, while grounded in reasonable fears, only serve to harm us. If my readers can really sit with this, the futility of our aggression is painfully obvious.
We are making a difference by staying home, but there is more we can do. Even if just to combat our idle-overwhelmed-ness, thinking with the intention to help those around us provides a meaning behind our actions and peace of mind.
Whenever you can be mindful just take a moment to shift that thought of “I am alone and independent” to a more compassionate one: we are, all throughout the world, working to find a solution, and we should hope that everyone finds health and happiness as soon as they can (yes, even those people hoarding toilet paper deserve our well wishes. You wouldn’t hoard if you weren’t afraid, so why not wish this person peace of mind, too?)
While these thoughts may not result in immediate action, we are practicing our capacity for generous actions, so that when an opportunity surfaces for us to actively help we will seize it.
I am with you all in our confusion regarding the new schedule, and I know many others are worried for their job security, finances, and family members. When asking myself what I can do, I recognized the best course of action was to open my heart to those around me, and listen to the professionals.
That being said, if there is anything I can do please reach out. If you are privileged as well to have the ability to help others, please offer your help to those around you. Even just offering a conversation is a great act of generosity.
I wish you happiness and health at all times.
Usually once spring comes, idleness settles-
once the birds begin their morning conversations
and the bugs talk over drinks in the evening,
and I listen-
Usually the winter leaves us abruptly
as does, too, that cold mental clarity
once we abandon stillness in favor of
an idle spring routine.
Spring this year offered no such relief of self ;
she mocked that title of rebirth from the Greeks
and showed us all the ways life resembles death.
I am so afraid.
I had formerly thought that gray mourning bird
was the sweetest voice to hear in the morning :
I misunderstood the meaning of her name
and was happier for it.
Outside the windowpane I fix my eyes upon
that poor gray dove fated to cry on
accord of nature, whose soul I peer though,
as gray as that vessel.
Everybody is sick once they step outside,
and by my fearful nature I wish to blame
the season which has left me a stranded mind
familiar with the cold.
Usually in my warm April idleness
I do not think this much about death. Alas
the birds and the bugs have gone on conversing,
so I, too, speak kindly.
For more, read Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche’s commentary, which inspired the content of this piece. https://www.mangalashribhuti.org/dharma-blog/advice-transforming-fear-and-cultivating-kindness-face-pandemic