Resilience is our superpower and our greatest poison
If we can see humanity as a person who was standing upright at the start of this year, the corona virus pandemic has been a punch in the guts delivered by nature. This has made humanity bend over in pain, and react from the fight part of our “fight or flight” instinct.
Stubbornness and resilience keep us trapped in the prison of our deeply uncomfortable comfort zone
The pandemic has been declared as a war that humanity has to fight in order to survive. We are attempting to stand upright once again to win the war — as always. But maybe that’s not the point. War is just one way of looking at it. We must ask, why are we going through such an event? There may not be an objective higher or lower purpose, but we can always consider the lessons to be learned from any event.
“Versus” versus “Acceptance”
It may be difficult to judge a situation from a long-term perspective when we are reacting from a survival standpoint — when our entire focus is on mitigating the “crisis” in front of us, we may not consider things beyond our focus — even if we had been thinking about them obsessively prior to the crisis.
As usual we have become deeply polarized in this crisis state. And while there are many polarizing topics, I will take one example to make my point.
There is a debate in which one side is talking about sacrificing older generations and saving the economy. The other side is talking about being human and saving as many lives as we can.
Can we not realize that the situation is not as simple as “this versus that”?
The following sections may be provocative, feel it and see what you don’t like about it by going beyond your initial reaction.
The drastic increase in the average human life span is a product of artificial life prolongation from our healthcare systems that are able to “cure” a wide range of symptoms, fatal illnesses, and accidents. The ability to keep so many people alive may feel like a victory over nature, but is this a war that we should / need to win? Over population is a direct result of advances in healthcare with a lack of measures to maintain balance, which has led to a drastic depletion of resources globally.
If we had been letting more (not all) people die naturally, the virus outbreak would result in a completely different scenario today.
Consider the older generations for a moment, as well as the poor and the homeless. We continue to fight in highly unnatural ways to keep alive a generation defined by sickness, depression, memory loss, and pain in a majority of cases. We have seen enough cases of elder abuse and depravity to show that supporting senior citizens is unsustainable beyond a point. In many cases, old people are suffering in loneliness under the influence of countless drugs that keep them completely disconnected from reality. And yet we are too afraid to let them go.
We consider charity by the super rich individuals and mega corporations an act of their nobility, but is it really helping the situation? Doling out money may seem helpful, but perhaps this is what leads to dependence that disables people.
As individuals we are unable to face the fear of our own death and our inability to love without attachment and dependency. And we project this into keeping people alive, even if it means making them miserable.
How many of us help the elderly, poor, and disabled, because we are too afraid to see ourselves in such a helpless situation?
Drastic actions put the world out of balance… drastic measures may be required to restore balance…
This is not a call to wipe out old and poor people (although nature seems to consider this required in some way?). I myself am on neither end of the spectrum, I am middle class, brown skinned, born and brought up in Bombay, India, a city where you can witness diversity like very few other places on the planet. I have nothing to win here.
These are simply opinions and words, they are free to express and discard. And I always use “maybe” and “perhaps”, because I don’t consider myself an authority on anything, neither am I certain that I am “right”, this is just what I feel right now. But if you have feel stung by what has been said, perhaps there is something you need to explore.
If we cannot see our own sickness in this, it only shows how disconnected we are from ourselves. Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate our values and start accepting reality.
The Flip Side
This does not mean diverting resources to save corporations that are also unsustainable. Many of these mega-structures that have been reaping resources in mindless and unsustainable ways, have collapsed overnight over and over again. Sometimes they collapse from self-inflicted consequences of greed and irresponsible behavior, and other times when they focus on creating a profit-driven model instead of an organization that can withstand crises. And somehow the governments feel justified in supporting them instead of the people.
Triggers arise when we stick to absolutes
When we are polarized by ridiculous proposals such as choosing between the global economy and old people, we feel forced to choose one or the other. We miss the secret choices that are only visible when we use our minds and hearts, rather than depending on authorities to provide us with (sometimes bizarre) options and solutions. This is the state of the world today. As a majority we are hopelessly dependent on an unbalanced minority for direction about most decisions, thoughts, and beliefs in our lives.
And here’s something to consider: The onus is not only on the authorities. It is not only the system that has failed us. Each individual has failed in upholding their responsibility as being part of a collective. And what we are experiencing today is a result of this irresponsible complacent behavior.
We are the good, the bad, and the ugly — there is no one to blame!
It is too easy to point the finger at an abstract collective such as the government or another culture or religious group or country, and say that “they are the problem”. At an individual level, our support for this system is present in actions and decisions we make on a daily basis.
Even the “good, idealistic, and noble” people are responsible for this state — those who use rebellion, shame, fear, and guilt as tools to pressure other people into “acting right” and forcing others to change in ways they think are best. As an example, we had the environmental activists who considered the bush burning in Australia to be harming the planet and got most of the country to stop, only to lead to one of the greatest global catastrophes which lead to the death of millions of plants and animals.
Techniques such as provocative videos that shock others with shame and guilt for causes such as climate change, veganism, spiritual transcendence… are unsustainable. Because exploiting guilt and shame can only go so far. A revolution built upon shame and guilt will collapse far before making any real effective change.
Inspiring others by showing how good you are and shaming others for not doing enough may look like it works. The constructive consequences are never seen as industries continue doing what they have always been doing. And the detrimental consequences of these approaches are greatly underestimated. The undercurrent of such tactics are felt throughout the world, and they reverberate in greater chaos than we can imagine.
The beauty and the beast participate equally in every action we make, even if we don’t realize or accept it
While inspirational speakers have a noble appeal, and appear to have a positive impact on the world — we need to look deeper and realize that these are also the people that amplify the shame in others. How? By only presenting the ideal picture of themselves. By being righteous and saying “we know better”, “look at us and behave like us and all will be good”.
Too often we have seen the corrupt side of our idols being revealed. Whether it is the depravity in religious institutions, or corruption in governments and corporations, or even our famous saints and celebrities who have inspired millions of people and were later discovered to be performing atrocious acts all along.
The question is, would they have the same impact if they spoke openly about the totality of themselves? Certainly not. But the picture may not be as bad as we think.
We expect our idols to be perfect. But if we change our expectations of what is ideal, our idols will change automatically. While these different idols may not provide the elevated sensations of euphoria and bliss we have become so addicted to, they may actually deliver something far more valuable — reality.
There are countless people suffering from shame for just being who they are, because that is less than perfect; and for guilt experienced from not being able to do the “right thing”. And this gets exaggerated further when presented with a barrage of artificial idols who seem to be “right” and “perfect” all the time. Selling perfection may seem like the obvious thing to do, but selling realism is far more valuable in the long run if we want to build a sustainable society.
As more idolized individuals become open about their societally unacceptable qualities, whether intentionally or unintentionally, the general population is starting to normalize their own condition. The larger acceptance for therapy has been driven by famous people acknowledging that they are going through depression, mid-life crises, and a range of other diagnoses. And this is leading to people realizing that we don’t have to be perfect. Perfect is an illusion that is marketable, but it is unrealistic and unsustainable.
We have to get comfortable with ourselves, and others, for being much less than perfect. And we don’t need celebrities to make that happen if we can start listening to our own voices. The biggest threat to our species is our disconnection from our individual authentic nature which allows us to be far more forgiving and compassionate than we realize, if only we can accept how imperfect we are ourselves. We have become so molded by societal expectations that we are unable to think clearly without considering the millions of contradictory rules imposed by ourselves on each other.
If we can let this situation become a teacher, showing us how disconnected we have become from our natural selves, perhaps the corona virus is the best gift humanity could have ever asked for or received.
The Corona virus is a gut punch that has revealed our frailty, vulnerability, imperfections, idealism, and unsustainable models of living. It is up to each one of us to learn from it everything we can in order to become more realistic on how we must proceed.
The strength of this “gut punch” may be far stronger than we realize. And if that is the case, we can either panic, fight, rebel, and go into further chaos, or allow the flow of life to take us naturally into the next phase.
The only ones who will come out of this situation in a mentally, physically, and emotionally stable state, are those who can accept that whatever takes place is precisely what is needed — however ugly it looks. If we try to fight it and keep clinging to ideals of how things “should be”, we are going to end up miserably disappointed.
There is a limit to how much we can try to control a ride that is completely out of our control. Eventually, no matter how smart and intelligent we believe we are — the unknown will pave the way in the most bizarre and unexpected ways. And the only way through the unknown is to let go and flow.
Diving into the Unknown
Most people are thoroughly unequipped to navigate the unknown. They have only known the comfort of order and direction, and even the thought of being thrown into a directionless abyss with no clue about the future may lead to nightmares and severe anxiety.
But as our species enters the age of pandemics and other overwhelming natural and unnatural phenomenon being witnessed globally such as climate change, species extinction, and more — we are left with no option but to face the unknown. Our best bet is to prepare ourselves by getting comfortable beyond our comfort zone.
There are many people who have trained for such situations while facing extreme uncertainty and chaos in what used to be a seemingly orderly world. Now that the world is in a state of apparent chaos, these misunderstood misfits will become guides who go alongside as we all dive into the unknown.
Note that there can only be guides in the exploration of the unknown, otherwise we will have the blind leading the blind. But some blind people are more capable at “feeling their way through the darkness”, and these are the guides we can ask for help as we deal with the overwhelming emotions that will inevitably come to the surface.
Whatever you believe about the current world state, the unknown has always surrounded us. We were able to ignore it by occupying ourselves with the comfort of the known through mundane actions. Over the last few decades we have seen several jolts that have taken us a step closer to the unknown each time.
Our encounter with this mystical space is inevitable. Rather than being something overwhelming and scary, it can become the arena where we experience maximum joy and creativity as we explore our innumerable resources and facets. If we learn how to be with it and in it.
The Infinite Zero Experience Center is dedicated to working with people interested in learning to navigate the unknown within themselves and beyond themselves.
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