I’ve had many feelings about this crisis in the past six months, but two have consistently troubled me. I feel guilty about my relatively privileged and easy situation. And I keep reproaching myself that I should do more to help others who are more severely affected.
I try to use painful emotions as fuel to move me forward: this blog shares where I’ve got to with these issues, in the hope that this helps others. One of my insights is about my liberal, middle-class conditioning, what I might sum up as the Guardian reader position. These feelings are what any decent, aware person should be having: if you’re not, you’re self-indulgent, in denial, or something equally reproachable.
Slowly, amid my discomfort, I’ve come to question those feelings on two counts. Do they take account of the full picture, all aspects of the situation? And do they help anyone? Here, I need to share some of my personal beliefs which may not match yours.
I believe there is a divine universal power which is present in all forms of life, and is available to guide and support them all. I meditate and pray with this power daily: one of my main prayers is for the relief of suffering for all life (plants, animals, humans), and I send out my love to support this.
This belief doesn’t explain or justify my relatively privileged situation, but it helps me let go of guilt. I seek to use my resources to support others, but I reckon it’s better for me and them if I do so in a mood of sharing abundance, giving willingly, not mitigating guilt.
I also believe we each have a soul that exists long before and after this lifetime, and which chooses the problems and blessings of this life to enable its development. From this stance, I don’t see people struggling with Covid as helpless victims who I ought to rescue, but as souls who I can pray for and support (materially and in other ways) to find their strength and own path.
This is where resonance comes in. If you read accounts of disasters or war zones, there’s often widespread panic or bewilderment, and a few calm, centered characters who spread those qualities to people around them: this is what I mean by resonance.
What I’m now aspiring to do in the pandemic is to sustain in myself a sense of divine support for all of us, of resilience and trust that there is a positive side to this when seen from a bigger, soul perspective; and a belief that love can nourish all of us, even in a crisis. My hope is that if I can resonate these beliefs, like a tuning fork, others can pick up on them and use them.
Along with this, I’m seeking situations where I and others can share their feelings and find mutual support, such as online meditation groups. And by following the Sufi proverb, ‘Trust in God but tie up your camel.’ In other words, belief and prayer is only half the story: we need to act constructively too, but from a position of hope and trust, not guilt and despair.