We lead very busy lives. Most of our days are spent going here and there, working, shopping, meeting friends and associates, participating in recreational activities, picking up children, going to appointments, finding a shelter for the night, scrambling to make ends meet, etc. In other words, doing, doing, doing.
At the moment, our so-called freedom has been severely restricted. We have had to retreat into our houses, many of us under voluntary lockdown, only going out for necessities.
To retreat is to ‘draw back’. We are drawing back from our active exterior lives and spending more time at home, with others or alone. Our life of doing has been curtailed, leaving us more time to be with ourselves.
Many of us will spend this precious time . . . doing. We humans are masters of distraction. Even in our isolation, we spend time on our devices, talking on the phone, doing long ignored chores, planting gardens, listening to or playing music, dancing, playing games, reading, watching the news on TV, watching movies, binge watching series, eating, taking stock of our pantry and toilet paper, wondering what and how our neighbors and loved ones are doing. Some of these activities are necessary for survival. Some are not. Or should we say, many of the distractions are necessary for the survival of our separate self, our ‘doing’ self.
We have drawn back from the world, but we are still mostly doing. This could be a unique opportunity for many of us to stop being a human ‘doing’ and open up to our essential nature, that of being a human ‘being’.
For just a moment, observe your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions – your worried thoughts about the pandemic, the strong emotions regarding the health and safety of friends and loved ones, perhaps a queasiness in the belly over an uncertain future, and, looking out on the crippled world, wondering what terrible thing is going to happen next.
Now ask yourself, who or what is observing all these passing occurrences of the body, mind, and world? A thought is observed coming and going, but that which observes it doesn’t come and go with it. There is an element within you, within all of us, that we can call the ever-present observer, but where is it?
The observer cannot be found because it is not a thing, not an object, yet it is undeniably present. And it is your, our, essential being. Notice this timeless, unchanging, knowing presence in you, in us, that has no beginning or end, no time when it is not present – it is infinite and eternal. Then realize that there cannot be two of the infinite and eternal. This is who we are.
After years of abuse, the Earth is finally getting a chance to breathe. Because of the restricted human activity, pollution is down. The skies are clearing, the air more pure to breathe. Perhaps Earth will even cool down a degree as we stay at home, away from our vehicles and industries.
We are being offered the opportunity to slow down, to stop doing for a moment, to breathe deeply with the Earth and simply be. And in this stopping, maybe even recognize our essential self as the borderless, timeless, observing awareness that it is and find the peace and happiness at the core of our shared being.
All things come to an end, and the pandemic, with its great cost to humanity, will be no exception. And perhaps, just perhaps, having been able to spend some time just being rather than doing, we will recognize the one in the many, and love, respect, help, and serve our fellow beings in this unwavering light of unconditional awareness.