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What is the Meaning of COVID? Peace is the Human Way

COVID-19 has been with us for 8 months or more. Many students and clients have asked me questions about the deeper spiritual purpose and meaning of the virus and of events in the United States. I do not claim to be an expert--spiritual or otherwise--about the virus. I can only respond from my own perceptions and understandings from the mooring of my spiritual worldview which demands of me that I seek a compassionate and discerning view of all things. I do have some expertise in the history of violence in the world, so in Question #4 below, I address that issue.

The first 3 questions are about COVID. May my answers give you comfort, inspiration and support.

Question #1: Is it true that the people who are contracting and dying of COVID are doing so because we are in an ascension process to the 5th Dimension and/or they are not doing their inner work and are thus unable to upshift their vibration?

First, just let me sigh and shake my head. This statement makes me very sad and worried because it presupposes a hierarchy of experience and spiritual attainment. It also comes from an (sometimes insidious, unconscious) assumption that one's own spiritual worldview or philosophy and way of life is somehow "better" than others'. It does not matter if you are Christian and believe Jesus/God will prevent you from getting sick, or you are New Age and and believe that "keeping your vibration up" or doing your inner work will do so.

I have a healthy skepticism about beliefs that people get sick--whether from COVID or any other disease--because they are not spiritually evolved or "doing their inner work" or "not dealing with anger (or grief....etc.)" or are "being punished for bad karma in other lives," or any other universal, blanket reasoning. Every individual's--every soul's journey is mysterious and complex. Doing healings for 1000+ clients over 13 years has taught me this: we humans are very messy and multidimensional. Life is complex. Viruses are out there. Disease is complex. The natural world is complex. The world is complicated.

I can as easily get the flu or a cold as the next person, whether I am stressed or not. The first axiom of the Buddha's 4 Noble Truths is this: Pain is inevitable in human life (roughly translated). The way I interpret it is this: It is highly likely I will stub my toe at some point in my life and hop around crying in pain! I will experience and grieve the death of a loved one. I will get sick. Other challenges will come. While there are some things I can be in control of--such as doing a practice to bring me greater peace and minimize stress, or doing healing work to transmute my wounds--there are many things that are beyond my control. Because they just are. I live in a web of interconnection with other beings that creates many mysterious and some scientifically known causes and conditions resulting in certain effects.

Truthfully, I can never truly know the deep, private, and often very veiled reasons for what happens in another person's life. Maybe if I know them more intimately, I can say more--but even then, I have to be careful. There is a fine line between discerning insight and arrogance (or a desire to somehow get someone to meet my needs). I have been guilty of playing that game in previous relationships from out of my own pain.

The spirituality of compassion and complexity I practice demands that I not promulgate a universal "rule" or declaration about why some people have died and are dying from COVID and why others aren't. There is no great purge before "ascension." If we are truly walking our talk in a spiritual--even just deeply human--way, then humility and compassion are the only real answers. In life, there is pain. There is illness and death. There is also joy and beauty.

So I say: Ultimately, everything is in mystery. Each person's journey--and suffering--is unique and special. Do not presume to know what you cannot know.

Question #2: Is it true that COVID was manmade?

This is a question I leave to be answered by those who have expertise in field of epidemiology, the biomedical sciences and the international intelligence community. I am not a specialist in such matters. I am a shamanic healer and spiritual teacher with a PhD in a field of the humanities and social sciences. Perhaps if I was in a profession with the directive to find the answer to this question, then I would be obligated to take action to find out. But I am not.

I do understand that there are bad actors out there who wish to do harm. Of course. I know that viruses are being manufactured for both good and ill. But for someone like me, wondering about such a question is simply the play of the mind. If I over-focus on it, what I recognize is that it fosters a feeling of separation and fear. Perhaps someday, a human source of the coronavirus with ill intentions will be exposed. And perhaps the virus is just a virus. Viruses are born everyday under natural conditions.

I will give this opinion: COVID is not a hoax and is not being overblown. The proof is in the numbers around the world. We must trust the words of the heroes and heroines who are working on the frontlines of the virus and of the ethical scientists who always seek undistorted truth.

As I see it, my job is to be compassionate for all of us as we live through this pandemic. For the loneliness of our social isolation, the loss of income, businesses, and homes. For the people who contract the virus, and for those who will have long-term side effects, and for those who might die or have died. For the family members and friends of those infected and dead. For the many communities struggling with too many sick and dying, too many dead, and not enough support to survive the viruses spread. For the underprivileged and discriminated-against communities who have been hit far harder than others. For those with no access to healthcare and no money to pay for it. And who thus are sick and die alone.

All I can do is what I do out of a sense of caring and responsibility for both my health and well-being and that of others: I wear a mask, keep a good social distance, and weather the storm with as much peace as I can muster. Life does go on. I do good work in service of others. Mother Earth is beautiful. The flowers bloom, the birds sing, and, right now, the trees right now in Virginia are deep in fall color--a golden glow. I have friends and family whom I love and who love me. And I have hope that a vaccine and a cure will be found.

So I say: Be alert and aware. Do not be naive. But continue to move towards goodness with every breath you breathe. Continue to grow light within you and thus spread light for this and future generations.

Question #3: Is there a deeper spiritual reason for why COVID is out there?

My spirituality and way of life are all about connection. Any event or condition that has a larger, collective impact reminds us of our interdependence acrosss nation, culture, religion, race, and difference of any kind, real or fabricated. We are profoundly dependent on Mother Earth and All Our Relations--the Rock & Stone People, Tree & Plant People, and All Those Who Walk, Swim, Crawl, Fly, and Creep.

We are all sharing this beautiful planet. As such, we humans (and animals, the waters, the soil, and the air) all have the same innate vulnerabilities. Disease is one of them.

I hope that over time as we humans collectively seek prevention and a cure for COVID, we will recognize our shared humanity and, thus be motivated to seek more creative and collaborative solutions to all of our problems. I hope we will figure out how to end disparities in access to food and shelter, healthcare, and good, satisying, life-sustaining work. I hope we will learn to have deep respect for the planet and the beings we share it with. I hope it will spur us to turn away from mind of separation and the subtle and overt violence it entails.

So I say: Care for the wellbeing of others no matter who they are--not matter what religion, culture, race, political opinion, nation, sexual orientation, rich, poor, homeless, or homeful. Animal, plant, or mountain. Find more creative solutions to our problems that do not involve the misuse of power and greed. This is COVID's message. It is as simple as that.

Finally, I turn to the question of violence and our collective consciousness.

Question #4: Are we in a great, collective shift in consciousness?

I am an historian of the violence that humans have perpetrated against their own. Yes, this means that, as both an academic scholar and a spiritual seeker, I have spent the better part of my life studying the causes and effects on individuals and groups of war, genocide, authoritarianism, narcissism, domestic and sexual abuse--all the multiple manifestations of violence from subtle to overt.

When I look back at the history of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, I see a gradual awakening of people all over the world to the truth that violence is wrong. I am grateful to the Jews who were survivors of the Nazi Holocaust for coming forward and raising our collective awareness of the horrors and immorality of that time. I am grateful to those who protested the Vietnam War and thus called humans to their better nature. I am grateful to the Native Americans who have stepped up to speak to the past and ongoing genocide of their people. I am grateful to the women who have fought for equal rights in the U.S. and who inspired other women around the world to do so (thank you, Justice Ginzberg). I am grateful to Gandhi for his calling forth an end to the violence of colonialism. I am grateful to Martin Luther King, Jr. for calling out racism and enjoining all of us to stand up against oppression. I am grateful to Nelson Mandela for his efforts to end Apartheid. I am grateful to the Dalai Lama for his message that we must end the violence within to end violence in the world. I know there are many other great peacekeepers from around the world. There is not enough space to name them here.

These movements and individuals emerged in the 20th century--a worldwide, collective and sustained effort to end oppression and violence unparalleled in human history that we in the western world know of. Because of them, we can no longer with impunity ignore the harm that is still being done to the planet, to other species, and to human beings out of greed, fear and a will to power over. More and more people are waking up.

As a healer, I also know that untransmuted wounds will resurface again and again until their ultimate transformation and release. Here in the U.S., I see the festering wounds of slavery, the brutality of constructionism, the harm of Jim Crow, and the ongoing racism arising again as those who still hold hardened views of violence and separation are empowered. Discrimination against immigrants has risen to a peak. There are many others who have been left behind--including those in poverty and the working poor--due to greed and the will to power over. Humanity is in trouble.

As we see this in the violent and oppressive words and actions of many in power today and those who are rising up to speak against these great injustices, there is a powerful opportunity to find our way to healing this aggregeious legacy.

I am also a university professor and spiritual teacher. Over the 35 years of my career, I have seen so many hundreds and thousands of students and clients of all ages and all walks of life awakening to the spiritual calling to be kind, compassionate and caring. They recognize that they are far greater than just this human body and the material world. They are dismantling within themselves the paradigm of separation and fear. They want to be part of healing the wounds of violence and abuse within themselves that have been passed down for generations. They want to align their spirituality in some way to be in service of others and the planet as we collectively seek to dream a New Earth of greater peace and compassion into being.

So, yes, I feel we are in a collective shift of massive proportions. However, I choose not to categorize it as an "ascension" process or as "moving into a higher dimension." I choose to keep things simpler: we are learning and growing, much as a child must.

For me (because I can only speak for myself), I try my best to walk my spiritual talk: to uproot mind of separation and power over within me; to heal the wounds of my ancestors as they arise within me; and to bring my spiritually- and human-informed vision in my service to others and the world. I know that Peace is the Human Way. I feel it in my bones. This is the potential within all of us.

And when I feel discouraged and anxious, I recognize my natural human frailty and then I do my spiritual practice to keep this brighter truth alive in my heart and mind.

So I say: I humbly offer these words. If they resonate with you, that is OK. If not, that is OK, too. We each must find the truth in our own heart.

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