Our Blind Spot
This unprecedented virus outbreak has the attention of the whole world. You may be curious about what will happen next, or perhaps you’re feeling anxious and insecure because so much is unknown and out of our control. Probably you are feeling some of both. And beyond the obvious need for precautions, you’re likely trying to make sense of all this.
When something this big and unprecedented confounds our rational mind, we tend to grasp at explanations. We make up a story to give the appearance of understanding and help us feel more secure. You might think that God is angry, or the earth is trying to rid itself of us because we have been such poor stewards. No doubt there are a plethora of conspiracy theories that peg the blame on some villain who wants us all to cower and submit to their will.
I think it is worthwhile to be curious and allow ourselves not to know. I find solace in believing that things happen here for a reason, even if I cannot see it. This is a healthy use of faith. And sometimes it can also help to consider a different perspective - to imagine things from a new angle that we hadn’t considered before. Sometimes a crisis can awaken a new realization or experience of truth that we would never have seen if our lives had not been disrupted.
We humans are not easily persuaded to change our minds or step out of our familiar point of view. We tend to move through life in a kind of trance generated by our obsession with our own personal story. We each feed a running commentary in our mind that occupies most of our attention. If you watch your thoughts, you will notice that they continuously weave the story of you as a separate person with your own individual destiny.
Our prevailing paradigm has made us unable to see how we are all connected to a greater whole. Our way of perceiving ourselves and the world around us highlights the ways we are different and separate from others. We focus on all the separate pieces of our world, but rarely experience the whole that they make up.
Saving Our Precious Planet
The science of global climate change and the irreversible damage predicted to the earth’s eco-systems has not been able to move us enough to reduce our consumption of resources and creation of waste. We seem set on a path to destroy the one thing we all depend on for our survival - the delicately balanced environment of our one precious earth. And no amount of education, science, or government action has been able to stop us from going over this cliff together.
We are learning that we cannot solve the life-threatening crisis of climate change through will power, legislation, or morality. We can’t force ourselves or others to care about the whole of humanity, or recognize the sacredness of life. We need to address the climate crisis by changing our basic human nature, and so far this deep transformational change has eluded us.
We need a radical shift in perspective to show us who we are as a whole species before we can fully recognize our responsibility for this unique planet. This revelation, which could save our species and our planet, simply has not occurred to enough of us to make a difference. We have not been able to interrupt our individual survival instinct long enough for us to see that we are all connected – until now.
The monumental shift in awareness that we need to save ourselves and the planet is occurring through the agency of this global pandemic. Because of this virus rapidly spreading throughout our world, we are able to witness our connection with each other. As we recognize that each one of us is similarly vulnerable to this virus, it is making our world one. From Individual to Community
I know this virus is killing people and making life difficult and painful for many of us, and I don’t wish this on anyone. I have long believed we could make this shift in perception by raising our consciousness through spiritual practices such as meditation. However, the reality is that most of us are not willing to change ourselves in this way. We stubbornly resist personal growth, even at our own peril. And so we need something to show us a bigger picture.
The corona pandemic that is disrupting the lives of every person on earth is clearly illustrating our inherent connection to each other. This virus has the capacity to infect all of us equally, and it is only in cooperating with each other that we can survive it. A crisis like this appears to be the only way we humans are able to work together toward a common goal.
I am not trying to gloss over the tragedy of this pandemic or minimize the pain it’s causing. I am not offering platitudes like, “this will all pass”, or “ it will all work out in the end”. The shift in perspective I am encouraging you to consider is simply to see that we were not getting the essential message of our unity. And now we have an opportunity to experience it.
Our focus on our individual selves has had the devastating effect of disregard for the health and well-being of our planet, and of life itself - which in the end includes our own. We have not been able to see our interconnectedness enough to stop competing for survival. And, our habit of competition is causing us to destroy the natural environment upon which all of us depend.
This virus is here to wake us up. It is demonstrating how vulnerable and connected we all are, and showing us that cooperation is required for our survival on earth. This lesson is coming just in the nick of time, before we plunge ourselves into a dark age of a rapidly deteriorating environment. Let us humble ourselves before this tiny organism that we can’t control, and allow it to teach us what we have not been able to learn on our own.
by Miles Sherts www.PracticalPresence.org