A Koan for Covid-Times

To all our birth story listeners and friends,

Together we are slowly coming to terms with the enormous collective uncertainty of our lifetime. Even though just last year a study predicted how unprepared our medical system was to face a pandemic of this magnitude most of us never imagined the personal and global impact of what is unfolding. What lies ahead in the post-pandemic world? We can only wonder, and even dream a little: My dear friend Meria imagines an hour-long hug! 

Each of us is, and all of us together are, being engaged by something unknown to us. At first, when scientists predicted what was coming, it still seemed far in the distant future, untouchable. We cannot wrap our heads around what we have never experienced, so our innocence allowed us to be hopeful, in varying degrees of denial. In the heroic journey this inevitable phase is called the “Refusal of the Call.” Eventually, perhaps now, the hero heeds the Call, and the heroic journey begins. We as humanity our now being called on this journey. Throughout this journey we begin to see what we have not yet seen, to listen more deeply, to authentically feel, and to come to know our innate wisdom and spirituality. 

Before the Ordeal, the hero prepares for the impending Ordeal. But you may lament that you are not prepared to cope with the magnitude of uncertainty and unknowns; the social isolation and genuine financial concerns. But wait, consider another possibility. Suppose that everything you have lived and learned in your life up to now has prepared you to not only cope in your unique way and to do what needs doing—and nothing extra. This profound teaching and practice from the Toltecs may support you, Pandemic Love Warrior, during your Quest. Try it out: 

Inquire from time to time throughout the day (especially when you are feeling apathy or overwhelm), “What does this moment need?” Hear the answer, then do it, and nothing extra. Do it because it needs doing, and not to achieve permanent peace of mind or to avoid getting sick or any other outcome. Sentient beings have to “do” something, so do what this immediate moment calls for, and nothing extra. If the answer is “nothing,” then “do” nothing and consciously “just be.”  

Also, in this new, unfamiliar world, allow your fears, worries, sadness, anger, restlessness, and loneliness to come and go without being swallowed by them or trying to transcend them; just let them be. Kellie, a birth story listener in Winter Semester, shared her image of this practice yesterday: Imagine holding a colander and watching thoughts and feelings flow in—and out.

Each day find beauty; today I sat with the sweet scented hyacinths I planted last fall in the Medicine Garden. The virus cannot distance us from our values, visions, spiritual practices and relationships. In this time of uncertainty, may our vision and the importance of our work for our communities in a world in self reevaluation only deepen.

Be Well, 

Pam, and Danit and Nicole

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