Staying Positive in Challenging Times...I had to chuckle earlier - i had been writing an email and I signed iff with hope you have a great xmas break and that next year brings more joy...surely it cant be worse than this one!?
What made me chuckle was suddenly remembering I had written almost exactly the same words to the same person this time last year. It also seemed to be extended in every xmas card we received last year. I guess that the initial shock of a very changed world in 2020 has abated in 2021 and been replaced by an acceptance that humankind isn't about to vanish forever in a plague like apocalypse...yet! Cue sigh of relief ..... although maybe not from every other species on the planet! :)
What the panic and disorientation of 2020 has been replaced by though is something that makes me feel more uneasy - that is a tangible division in society.
It only takes a small amount of contemplation to see that all of this division is based in both fear and ignorance - regardless of what side of the equation you sit.
Fear drives most of our choices - it is irrational because it carries too much emotion and therefore opinions that arise from it are almost always saturated by hostility and anger towards those that disagree.
For example, regardless of whether you are into vaccines, masks, passports or not, both sides are oblivious to the fact that they have so much in common - they are equally united by their fear.
Many see vaccination as a way to abate the fear that they might lose their life or the own lives of those they love to the virus. For them it is the pathway to freedom from fear of death, illness and manipulation of fate by an invisible foe. Others will see vaccines and covid passports as a threat to their own health and liberty. Once again this is an opinion derived equally from fear of death, illness and manipulation of their fate, only this time by other forces than a virus.
Each side will argue passionately, referencing their argument with facts, first hand experience and hearsay. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having an opinion, I have lots of opinions on lots of things, but it is the anger I see that is the most concerning element of all this. People that I thought I knew well, suddenly behaving in ways that I never imagined they would towards others, trying to impose their views of right and wrong.
At times like this, when each side is so righteous it pays us well to return to the second element that i mentioned at the start- that being ignorance or avidya - the root cause of our suffering according to Buddhism and yoga.
There is so much ignorance tied up in confrontational opinion
To be human is to suffer, it is our nature to die, it is our nature to grow old; it is our nature to grow sick. It is unavoidable. You might push it away, but it is an inevitable conclusion to this game we play.
We don't know when our time will come and therefore there is little point trying to predict it or foolishly imagine that we can prolong it.
So we have to remind ourselves that to embark upon this path is to trust to it, is to have bhakti or devotion for it - there is no need to worry about the story unfolding, the great 'Lila' or game of life. As the Taoists would say, just enjoy the mystery; as the Advaaitins would say - you get on the train and trust it to take you to your destination, so put down your luggage and let the train carry its weight, don't keep it balanced on your head!
Let us stop worrying about what we think is right. Maybe it is our destiny to be wiped out at this moment? The true altruist, the only true altruist it could be said, would probably say that this was the best solution for the myriad of other species on the planet right now!
Or maybe it isn't our time? Either way we don't know and it isn't important anyway. What is important is to remember that we don't know, that we are ignorant to most of this and that we act blindly from fear for so much of the time. That is normal, that is to be human.
So we see it , we work to dispel it because we don't want to perpetuate that negativity in the world and we endeavour to be as positive and accepting to all people as we can, regardless of their opinions, because we see the underlying fear and ignorance that links all humans so strongly. In other words, we wake up from our daydream.
Recently I advocated that everyone checked out the positive news websites online, just google 'positive news'. It is so good for your mental health and for nurturing positive empathetic states of mind. Take time out to sit with your feelings and emotions every day, even if just a few minutes. See them clearly, see the origin of your thoughts and actions and you will not act out blindly so often. An remind yourself that we are all suffering, to be human is to suffer, there are causes of suffering and there is an end to suffering - but that end for you or anyone else will never be found by extending hostility, fear and anger :)
We hope you all enjoy a more fantastic 2022! Haha