I keep hearing the word unprecedented when referring to the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak, and more globally, the state of our world. It is an accurate descriptor that certainly justifies the anxiety-provoking response that many of us have experienced over the last few weeks. People of all ages, genders, backgrounds, religion, economic status, race, ethnicity, ability, and sexual orientation are being impacted by COVID-19. There is not one person anywhere in the world who will be wholly immune to this experience. While not everyone will contract the virus, we will likely know someone, somewhere, who has been impacted by the outbreak. This statement is not meant to instill fear. Instead, this statement is to highlight the universal connection that we all share.It’s normal and okay to feel frightened by this very real threat. One way of coping with this fear and uncertainty is by finding comfort in the fact that it is a universal, shared experience that connects us. Think about that for a moment. All of the issues that have typically caused us to feel separate from one another can no longer hinder our collective experience. Now, people from all walks of life have no choice but to come together all over the world to universally “flatten the curve.”
I do not know about you, but this is the first time in my life that the world has been called to unite as one. We are charged with leaving our differences behind and working together for the common good. Globally, we have the opportunity to harness our strengths to support one another in support of wellness. But, this requires maintaining physical distance from the majority, if not the entirety of our social network, at a time where social connection is needed the most. And, perhaps even more daunting for some of us, this means we are stuck with ourselves.
Now we do not have to suffer individually. We are all bearing this burden together. The Buddhists refer to this as dukkha. Dukkha translates to the experience of human suffering. World-renowned meditation teacher, Jack Kornfield, asserts that “there’s a whole, huge category of dukkha, that is the suffering that we make as human beings because we can’t bear our humanity, we can’t bear the way things are. So we get frightened about it, we build fortresses and put guards around them, and we get greedy because we think we’re going to lose everything, which we are.
We are genuinely all in this together. With all of our fears, our differences, our vulnerabilities, our losses, and our uncertainties. No one is immune to this, and no one has to go it alone. We may feel moments of greed, fear, and even anger, but we no longer have to carry that feeling of isolation along with it because we are not alone in this. We are all doing this TOGETHER! Living in quarantine is not easy, especially if you are living alone. But even for those of us who may live alone, I wonder if there is a bit of solace in knowing that others are having the same collective experience? In every challenge, there is an opportunity to grow. Maybe this experience can give all of us a chance to connect with ourselves and our neighbors in a new and perhaps even more profound way?
Heart Wisdom. Ep. 97. The First Noble Truth https://jackkornfield.com/ep-97-the-first-noble-truth/