Excerpted from Awakened Heart, March 18, 2020 (not yet published)
Aaron: Coronavirus—what is a corona? It has two meanings, as far as I can find when I look it up in the dictionary. One is the light around the sun. You are that sun, that essence, with a big corona around you. Could we begin to think of coronavirus as the virus that has come to teach you about your corona, about your radiance?
The other meaning of corona is “crown”. For a long time you have lived in a more male energy oriented world. Everybody has both male and female energy, but the male energy of power and control has been dominant for many, many centuries. So, we could also see coronavirus as a virus to that crown, a virus that has come intended to help break down that more masculine orientation of power and control, and bring you back into your heart—bringing the whole world back into its heart.
As the words in the poem, “Kindness” illustrate, holding it (this virus) in the palm of your hand and knowing it will go. There’s nothing you can hold onto forever except the essence of your being, and you do not hold onto that, you simply are that. This is your truth; this is what you are.
I find it interesting that this has been labelled ‘coronavirus’. I know it’s because of the appearance of the virus, but it still could have been called ‘floret’ virus or something else.
What can this virus bring you? What gifts does it bring? Perhaps if you reflect deeply on those gifts, there would not be so much fear. Fear is a conditioned object arising when the conditions are present, impermanent, and not self. That which is aware of fear is not afraid. Coming back to this awakened essence of yourself and still watching the human be afraid. It’s okay if the human is afraid. Cherish the human. It’s natural that the human will know fear. It’s natural to know fear. You don’t have to get caught in the stories of fear. And this is where your dharma practice comes in.
When Barbara was meditating this morning, she became deeply centered in her body and could feel how her body was reacting as if it was being attacked—physical, emotional—all the bodies. She could feel the shaking of that attack through her whole body, everything contracting.
She worked with, practiced with it for 5 or 10 minutes. Each time she centered a little bit, took a breath, and then suddenly the shakiness of fear was back. She did some chanting; that helped to quiet her. She meditated with some imagery in her mind of a river flowing. That quieted the contracted energy. She realized, “I do not have control over what will come to me but over how I relate to it.”
Again, that which is aware of fear is not afraid.
Coming deeper into the awareness—but the whole body was moving through so many contractions—small contractions, not terror. Barbara is not afraid of death, but she was contracting. This reaction is really the human organism (the mammal) reacting as a mammal does—the cells contracting when threatened. Barbara began to speak lovingly to the mammal. “Hello, mammal. You know that eventually you will go, and everything you know and love will go.”
You can live your life being caught up in the stories of fear, or you can know them as stories and choose not to be thusly caught. You can speak to the mammal that you are with love. Comfort the mammal. Go and get a cup of hot tea and a fresh cookie, if that helps. Or call a friend and maybe just chant together for a few minutes. Whatever helps to open your heart, to bring you home to the one who is awake. Come back into the awakened heart. This is the only way to address the conditioning that’s there—on a cellular level when the body (the cells themselves) has contracted with fear.
In the Dharma Path class, we’ve been talking so much about living from the bridge. Not off in the relative world and lost there, and not trying to hide out in the ultimate plane. But being on the bridge where you can attend to the relative world and still be grounded in the ultimate, grounded in love.
Barbara finally realized that she was trying to stop the body and the cells of the body from being a body. She was trying to stop the energy that was coming up because there is an anxiety and threat. She got herself back onto the bridge, and was able to spend maybe half an hour resting in a place of spaciousness and ease and joy. Then she realized she needed to get up.
Barbara has her husband, Hal, home now. While there is a caretaker for Hal, she also needs to attend to him. She went into the living room where Hal is sleeping. Her heart was filled with love for him, and then—right away in that moment—“But we could all die tomorrow!” Fear!
The fear is not really about death, it is anxiety of the reality of, “I have no control.”
Remember, Hal has just been home for one day after 2 years of living in a nursing home. So, he was feeling disoriented. Hal was very, “Aaaah!” He was fearful. And for a moment—well, more than a moment, for a minute or two she caught his fear.
And then Barbara stopped, and she just sat down next to Hal. He was in bed. She took his hand. She laid her head on his chest, and he wrapped his arm around her, putting his hand over her head. And she thought to herself, how many lifetimes have we been together like this, with love? How many more lifetimes will we be together?
Everything in the conditioned realm is conditioned. She suddenly realized she did not need to try to fix the body and the subtle contractions in the energy field of the body, but to hold them with love.
(Aaron is quoting from the poem “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye.)
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
Aaron then quotes from near the end of the poem:
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
Aaron quotes one more line from the poem:
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore…
Kindness to yourselves to allow yourselves to experience the energetic pulsations of fear without getting caught in the stories of fear. Fear is just fear. It’s arisen from conditions, and you must acknowledge: in this moment there is fear. Fear mostly because you feel you have so little control over what may happen next. There is anger; there is sadness. They have arisen from conditions, they are impermanent. Your practice is not to get caught in their stories.
Then you can rest in the spaciousness of the loving heart and still allow the human to be a human. Not to expect yourself to be superhuman. That expectation more than anything else that gets you lost in the stories of fear, because you’re not able to just hold yourself and embrace yourself, and your fear and your sorrow.