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Coronavirus: Our Greatest Teacher

As we experience the Global Health Crisis due to the spreading of the Coronavirus throughout the world, I would like to wish you Strength, Good Health and Hope for you and your family.

As I concluded my intensive retreat in ‘’Discovering Buddhism’’ at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, our master told us:

‘’Now that you have concluded the program, if you would like to test your tolerance levels and your progress I advise you to go to India’’.

This is to say that, there is great value in practicing to elevate our frustration tolerance, eliminate or at least minimize our poisonous thoughts to a level that they no longer disturb is. Getting exposed to stressful circumstances can be diligently used as an opportunity to test and practice our capacity for tolerance as well as patience.  

For those who have worked with me before, you shall be aware that as a Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapist, we believe that some of the main causes that lead to Emotional Disturbance are Low-Frustration tolerance and Awfulising. In other words, perceiving events as ‘’the end of the world bad’’ and I have always highlighted the importance of increasing our frustration tolerance. I challenge you to use this unique opportunity to test your progress and to work on increasing it.

Let’s play the game! Have you heard the saying: If you cannot beat your enemy, join it?

‘’Some Buddhist practitioners would spend a considerate amount of time making mandala art with sand, focusing on every single detail. Once they finish the beautiful art, they destroy the work with their hands. This exercise is normally done to practice understanding the impermanence of everything. The demand for permanence in every area of our existence is the cause of human misery because there is no such thing as permanence at all.’’ – On the Road to Enlightenment, Sharlene Raston.

Coronavirus has arrived to provide pure evidence of impermanence and give us the opportunity to reflect on how fragile we are and life is. And how strong the universe and nature is – it is random, it does as it pleases, it does not discriminate and I do hope that we have now understood that having ‘’control’’ of things is an illusion.

When it comes to nature, the weather is the perfect example to show that it is very difficult do accurately predict. The most interesting prediction of the weather is when it says 50% chance of rain - it might rain or it might not!

 If one day our ego had made us believe that we are special, stronger, unbeatable or higher, I hope that coronavirus had allow us to see that our ego has been deceiving us.

How many species are extinct today?

How quick is an earthquake to cause mass destruction?

Does it look difficult for nature?

The most difficult events that have happened in my life were absolutely crucial to where I am today. The interesting part about the feelings of despair that we experience when our security is taken away from us is that we begin to believe that we have nothing to lose. The energy that we used during our entire lives to maintain our illusion of ‘’security’’ is no longer applicable, as we realise that it is nothing more than an illusion and we surrender. When we do reach this stage, something Magical happens - we suddenly have access to deposits of energy that shall be used into building the new.

We no longer need catastrophes to happen in our lives to follow the very same principal. Nature is natural, natural is not forceful and from the moment we try to control the process we interrupt the process.

As an example, we cannot open a rose to open faster, we interrupt the process. We have to wait until it naturally opens. In other words, from the moment that we let it be, it shall flourish in due time.  

As we go through difficult periods it is of high importance to understand that the bright times do come. But what we choose to do during the difficult times is what determines the ''success’’ later in life or when the bright times do arrive.

When you water your plants and you care for them daily - the end result is inevitably flowers or fruits - it comes inevitably and naturally. There are even seasons for each ''fruit''.

Lastly, as I reflect about Life and the Universe there is one thing that I have observed and has made a great difference into how I process things. There are no good or bad events, there are only events. We do not know if something is a misfortune or fortune because things unfold with time and we cannot understand them as we look forward, but we definitely will understand when we do look backwards.

Alan Watts explains this concept beautifully through ‘’The Story of a Chinese Farmer’’ available on Youtube.

Love & Light,

Sharlene Raston


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