Two Levels of Consciousness
It's been interesting to see the ways in which the Coronavirus has brought out the best and the worst in people. I would imagine you've noticed that, too. Some people respond with courage and generosity; others with selfishness and fear. Why is that? Why would an event so huge and compelling as the one we're facing divide humanity up in that way?
The reason is that there are two different experiences to have in life, in relationship to this and to every circumstance. We may have the experience of a human who has been conditioned to believe her/himself to be outside of Life as it unfolds, and therefore is isolated, unhappy, and swimming against the current; or we may have the experience of a human at center, participating in life and cooperating with Life without resistance. This is the choice we each have every moment between a miserable and a happy life.
Let's take a moment to look at the difference between these two different levels of consciousness.
A conditioned human....
is cut off in his/her imagination from the source of everything good
lives in fear, whether he/she is aware of that or not
is fixated on her/his wants and needs
is selfish and self-absorbed
has his/her attention exclusively on the content of life (the what), and ignores the process (the how)
is subject to addictions of all kinds
is dominated by her/his emotional experience and the self-defeating behaviors that arise in response
lives continually in a fiction created and maintained within his/her own mind
is attached to outcomes
is subject to worry, anxiety, loneliness, regret, jealousy, stress, anger, resentment, despair, and every other unhappy thing
A human at center...
is connected with and identified with her/his authentic nature
has her/his attention on process
moves in response to Life and lives in the flow of Life as it unfolds
is open, loving, and generous
has authentic human needs such as food and water, shelter, connection, fun, and meaningful work, but does not have artificial needs such as being “good” or “right”, being better than or worse than others, or the compulsion to endlessly feed our inexhaustible appetites
feels satisfied, secure, and at peace—no matter what the circumstances are
is subject to pain, including emotional pain, but is not subject to the suffering that for a conditioned human arises in response to pain
is able to care for and heal her/his emotional experience
does not experience attachment
lives in the reality of the present moment
A conditioned human hordes toilet paper; a human at center smiles and lets go. A conditioned human complains, resents, and blames; a human at center gives what s/he has to those who need it more. It's easy to see people choosing between these two possibilities in response to the virus, isn't it? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all could act from center? You've probably heard that it's become a custom in Spain over these past weeks to appear on one's porch or balcony at 8:00 each evening and give a vigorous round of applause to all the health care workers who are exposing themselves to danger each day to help others. Isn't that wonderful? This is the sort of thing we are capable of.
How may we choose to act from center, rather than from conditioned mind? We have to get out of our heads and into our bodies. We must drop the stories happening in our minds and bring our attention back to our pure experience in the moment, without thought. We have to be present with fear, anxiety, and other unhappy emotional states, holding our experience with acceptance and loving attention, no matter what it is. We must practice to the best of our ability in every moment the simple but profound act of letting go of our attachments and a humble acceptance of what is. As always, everything comes down to our attention. If our attention is in a conversation with conditioned mind then we will lose ourselves in a fiction; if our attention is here, in the moment, then we will access the joy, love, acceptance, courage, and clarity that we all need.
As I said in yesterday's blog, the crisis we face now contains within it an opportunity to go deeper within ourselves, to love ourselves and care for ourselves more skillfully, and to train ourselves more thoroughly to be here. Let us practice with these events, then, so that we may profit by them.