In the age of the coronavirus we see the fear of scarcity emerging and with it panic. We also see solidarity growing and pollution fading. The time of containment is slowing down the world and already transforming it. What if this event marked the long-awaited shift to a different way of living?
This is it, we hoped that something would move, that politicians would act, that we would feel how everything is so interconnected that we could do something. We've sat on bridges, we've shouted our anger at politicians, but still nothing. It's not the melting ice, nor the angry yellow crowd, nor the thousands of refugees stranded at our borders that have been able to stop the machine, but a micro-organism, a virus.
The corona has beaten us to it, it has caught us unawares and we, who have been operating for years on the basis of "so far so good", in a denial that is dearly paid for by others but invisible to us, find ourselves in an extremely vulnerable situation. For the first time in humanity, we all feel the same thing at the same time, the fear of dying. Busyness as usual" is on pause, so are we.
"...The clear moon, the milky way, the snow-covered pines and the cloud peaks
Are even brighter in the darkness, even more sparkling in the dark.
Fear is powerful, it stops the world and offers us the space of the unknown. The space of anxiety, hysteria and panic, but also the space of insight, solidarity and silence. To find oneself at the heart of impermanence is a forgotten reality which, if it is felt in one's heart, in one's flesh, can transform everything.
Exactly nine years ago I was in Japan during the earthquake and nuclear explosion in Fukushima. The first hours after the earthquake put us all in a state of unknown physical and psychic stress and as aftershocks kept shaking the earth every 4 hours a possible tsunami was announced in Tokyo Bay. I took my passport, a sleeping bag, some money and water and went up the highest hill in Kamakura. I found a handful of people gathered together with whom we started to wait. After several hours the deep feeling of not belonging assailed me and I realised that I could not spend my life being afraid of losing it because it would prevent me from living it. So I came down from my mountain and went where my heart was calling me, to the people I loved at a café on the beach. I have never felt so alive as I did on that potentially dangerous beach. In the midst of uncertainty, facing the sea.
"...The complete and the incomplete fit together, light and darkness combine.
A few weeks ago when the virus was announced I felt the same panic, the fear of lack, the urgency to protect myself, and then I sat down.
"...Where else can you find a wonderful existence but when vigilance dispels confusion.
This is the path of silence and clarity, the root of outer detachment and inner subtlety.
Zazen. Sitting absorption, meditation without object. A framework, that of the axis open to the unknown, of a stretched out back without tension, of a liberated breathing, of a mind that no longer seeks to reach anything, that no longer seeks to solve anything, that does not even seek to calm itself or to be appeased.
Yes, this virus can be our chance because it makes us feel in our flesh and our heart how much we are all connected, whether it is by a spit or a stock exchange price, what moves there touches us here.
To explore the contemplation of uncertainty is to return to the heart of our existence and to enter into the great relaxation that allows us to live with everything that is, as it is. It is to live differently in the transformation already achieved.
Excerpts from the poem "the inscription on silence and clarity" by Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157)
the poem and information about the author on Eric Rommeluère's website: http://www.zen-occidental.net/pdf/mokushomei.pdf