On April 19. 2020 Dan Patrick, the Lt. Governor of Texas said, “Some things are more important than living.” Many of us including our first responders, have people, passions and principles we would give up our life for. Patrick said this powerful statement as he announced Texas open for business, so I suspect he is worried about the economic impact of shut downs and social distancing due to covid-19.
Philosophers, poets and sages have also weighed in on what truly is important in life. They frequently say the secret of happiness lies in truly loving yourself and embracing your divine connection. The most common mistake people make is thinking happiness lies somewhere outside themselves…like their relationships, temporal power and material possessions. On this topic Buddha said, “Good people keep on walking whatever happens. They do not speak vain words and are the same in good fortune and bad. If one desires neither children nor wealth nor power nor success by unfair means, know such a one to be good, wise, and virtuous.”
As the covid-19 pandemic marches through America at alarming rates throughout each state, tempers and patience are growing thin. Amidst personal protection, ventilator and testing shortages, videos of overwhelmed health workers, protestors and death counts fill our airwaves. As the locks picture suggests, whose heart doesn’t go out to family members with loved ones dying in hospitals, prisons and nursing homes? Now friends and family are forced to Skype their goodbyes then bury bodies without wakes or funerals. Traditional tools to celebrate a beloved’s life and mourn losses are being ripped away. As layoffs near Depression Era proportions and businesses struggle to survive, America is spiraling down into economic and emotional turmoil. Trying times do test our souls.
Virginia Satir, a famous author and psychotherapist, talked about five stress styles that bear mentioning at his moment. They include: the blamer, computer, placater, distractor and leveler. Blamers focus on context, their personal agenda and ignore other people’s emotions. Computers focus on context and mentally distance themselves from everyone’s feelings including their own. Placaters focus on context, other’s needs and minimize their own. Distractors dissociate from everything…context, self and other. Levelers never lose sight of all three important areas. Most people fall into the blamer and placater groups. The goal is to become a good leveler from Buddha’s perspective. It may be interesting to access, which stress style you, others and our leaders practice, when you explore the questions below.
Since discussing covid-19 solutions has now become our national pastime, it may be interesting to determine stress styles and how people employ them. What we do will provide a clue as to what things are more important than living. For extra credit, make a guess about their underlying values, which lead them to their path to happiness philosophies. Then do this exercise for yourself.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- Health and welfare or economic stability, which do you prefer?
- Does a healthy population lead to a thriving economy?
- What is the role of government in legislating social welfare?
- If we restart the economy immediately, what die-off rate is acceptable?
- Does social distancing violate my first amendment rights?
- Or the counter argument, do your rights violate my health and welfare?
- Is social distancing and business shutdown necessary for the common good or a form of socialism?
It’s tempting to join in on the debate, but for discussion purposes, here is a shortened list of five freedoms within the First Amendment of Constitution and five relevant United Nations Human Rights people use to bolster public opinion.
Five basic freedoms given by the First Amendment
- Freedom to live or travel anywhere in our nation
- Freedom to work at any job for which we can qualify
- Freedom to marry and raise a family
- Freedom to receive a free education in good public schools
- Freedom to join a political party, a union, and other legal groups
United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (There are thirty in all)
- Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
- Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
- All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
- The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
- Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
No matter which side we take on any topic, the truth is every one of us is making things up all the time. Our reality is always based upon multiple events going on simultaneously that affect our take on things that matter to us twenty-four seven. It’s surprising when humanity has the same take on our shared reality. From our soul’s perspective we are all interpreting illusion with our rose colored glasses while living on a planet full of mirages. Our personal world is built upon the sands of fickle perceptions.
Since we are making things up all the time, I suggest we make up stories of love, peace and harmony rather than resorting to negativity and judgment as we are accustomed. What if we were to compete for the most positive story as to people’s motivations and what they are trying to accomplish? This is an exercise of love that could soften the world of hard edges, negative spin doctors and slanted views of the world we all disdain. We can start by refusing to do the same thing to ourselves, then externally with those we judge. Try to see the world with rose-colored glasses. View pain as love gone awry, for example. Wonder if covid-19 is happening, because people and the planet need new solutions. Most of us know the path we were on wasn’t working. Consider suffering as a plea for a new paradigm rather than resorting to a dysfunctional stress style.
Most of us get angry, take sides or dissociate which are equally troublesome stress styles. Being present to a world of suffering lays the fertile groundwork for new solutions. When we send our consciousness to troublesome hot spots of distress, we can envision new ideas, presence and divine energy to support healthy outcomes. Refuse to take sides in conflicts and see the illusions people have as loving intentions gone awry. Imagine loving solutions to real life problems.
This does not mean we all become wimpy airy fairies walking around without any clue and dissociating into a Hallmark happy meal mentality towards real suffering. This is an invitation to become a dedicated spiritual practitioner, who approaches pain and suffering with loving thoughts, healing images in an honest attempt to offer empowered visions and healthy solutions unrealized. When positive loving energy is made available for everyone involved in a problem, good things happen.
Love has many matrixes. Some people love the cold and others suffer in it. Others love heat while others complain. When one individual finds peace, another may experience torment. The ability to transform an illusion into love is crucial to effect real change.
Mindfulness and equanimity are frequently offered as desirable states to aspire towards, but the core method used by sages is achieve those states is called transformation.
Transformation is an interesting word. Trans-form literally means to change one form into another. This is the essence of every meditative and spiritual practice. It also includes the art of finding, expressing and experiencing love on the planet. There are many dark, un-evolved life forms rustling around earth. We can see them as evil, bad or something else. The challenge is to find ways to see love everywhere.
Consciousness allows us to see through the shadows and create love in the midst of darkness. The challenge is how we rearrange illusion, our perception of people’s stress styles and the various interpretations of personal freedom. Organizing reality in any way we want allows us to adjust the negative effect anything has on us. This is the secret of love and for some the thing more important than living. Transforming the illusions of our lower personality is why we come to earth to master.
Love just is. Love is the most creative force in life. We just need to put it to good use. Nurturing our self, other people and everything on earth creates life while death, division and draconian leaders seem to have the upper hand. On the other hand, the more love we put out, the more the universe mirrors our reflection. Do not fret or worry needlessly. Love will return when we open our heart, play our cards consciously and wonder what to do next because we are having so much fun.
Fun and play needs to be an important part of life…the fewer constraints, the better. Love speaks to our soul and is a universal elixir. It is easily translated into many languages and is the heartbeat of the universe. Heartfelt love, which Rumi describes eloquently in the poem above, is the only way to understand strangers, lovers and aliens who seem very different.
We are all positive energy and love wrapped up in different packages. It is important to develop a practice where we can’t wait to open each package and discover the wonderful gift inside. Positive expectations set up a series of events, which draw out the most attractive aspects of others towards us. Approach strangers with fear and that will activate the universe to create the fear we attracted from expectation. Make no mistake. We are creating it all. We might as well create love, because indeed…some things are more important than living.