What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other? George Elliot.
Nicola Sturgeon was nervous. I was anxious. We are beginning the slow ascent from lockdown. This week I was mid flight pointing a finger at a friends imperfect practice of lockdown regulations when I suddenly came alive to my own. And oh the exquisite tenderness that arose in that moment for me, for my friend and for all of us.
Walking through the botanics I can feel judgement of others arising in me ( can you really be that clueless as to walk in a group of 4?) and breathing in and out, I feel the weight of all of us enduring the most extreme restrictions on our personal relationships and social interactions for over 9 weeks. That has been hard. I have not touched another human being for over 9 weeks. There is a marked emotional poverty in that. And I see how a light lifting of some restrictions and good weather can bring a little crazy with it.
We have been exploring, in the spiritual leadership kula, our practice of the regulations and why we chose to do what we do. I notice I am quick to react to anyone whose choices are not the ones I made. In the national news we have seen a very painful example of someone making choices that are very different to what has been regulated for and then compounding the offence by rationalising it as good parenthood.
How do we work with that? Is it all the same? Is my premature distant walk with a friend not in my household a breach exactly the same as driving the length of the country with your Covid infected family?
What has become clear to me in this reflection, is that we are all responsible for our actions under the law. Me and Mr Cummings equally. Irrespective of your intentions. Ethically though, I am also accountable to my friends, family and the community for any of my actions that place them in harms way. So if I am to make a choice about how I work with the lockdown regulations then I need to do that in consultation with those who are affected by my choices as well as my spiritual friends. Having committed to the spiritual life, I aspire to leave no action, thought, word or feeling outside of the sphere of its influence.
There are more choices to be made in the coming phases; how each of us behaves inevitably influences how others behave. Only now the stakes are higher. None of us wants to return to full lockdown.
We know the integrity of the spiritual practitioner lies not in their avowal of beliefs but in their practice of them in a tight corner. So whatever I choose over the next phases, I pray in my heart that it will be the best I can do, and that I will be mindful of my actions and stay openly accountable to the law, to my friends , my family and my community for them.
“The more faithfully the study of Buddhism is pursued, the more difficult will it be to allow even activities of minor importance to remain outside of its circle of influence.” Sangharakshita, The Survey of Buddhism, Chapter 1.