A Few Thoughts on the Coronavirus

Over the past few years, there has been a great deal of anger, anxiety, and division running through our world, and these negative expressions are manifesting through  coronavirus, as it is a reactionary symptom of our worldly behavior.

Sometimes we forget or are left unaware about the powerful effects our views and actions can have on the world. Just as wars are an expression of greed and hate, diseases can be an expression of ignorance and anger.

Chinese medicine makes clear that anger adversely affects the liver. The liver is correlated in nature with wind, and so the virus adversely affects us through the air. In the end, the coronavirus is really an effect of too much anger in the world and therefore moves through the air (wind), just as too much anger moves through our liver.

Many years ago I heard a student ask a question of Buddhist Master Hsuan Hua. The student found out his father had cancer and asked why such a horrible disease even existed? Adding that in ages past cancer was not so prevalent nor never a major concern to people’s health, so why in our day and age is it so prevalent? 

Hsuan Hua answered him by relating how back in the turn of the century we started mass killing animals for meat, the creation of slaughterhouses to be precise. These slaughterhouses create fear and anger in the animals that were about to be killed and slaughtered, this then causes the animals to produce toxins in their bodies, and thus we end up eating the poisoned meat. So cancer is often the effect of an animal’s anger eating its way out of the consumer’s body. 

In more ancient times animals killed for food were killed with respect and veneration, but not so today. If we want to greatly reduce cancer in our society we should get rid of slaughterhouses and the mass production of meat for profit. 

In a similar way, the coronavirus developed from the mistreatment of animals. Humans have been taking over wild areas and coming into contact with animals that society hasn’t come into contact with before, so we have never been exposed to the diseases they carry. The way that the animals have been hunted en masse and the way they were treated totally inhumanely in these wildlife markets led to them sharing diseases and those diseases being passed along to humans. These animals were powerless and had no way to speak for themselves, but nature is powerful and has a way of giving feedback in a strong way. 

Humans have put out into the world dominating and cruel energy toward animals, leaving them feeling powerless, confused, scared, and forced to hide in fear for their lives, and now that energy and experience are coming back to humans, because whatever we put out into the world, we get back. 

What can we do about it?

The answer to all human crises is in the adaptation of turning greed into charity, anger into compassion, and ignorance into wisdom. The coronavirus is a response to our human society’s past behavior and ignorance, both in the way we treat animals and nature, and in the anger, hatred, and division between humans.

Just like our bodies, if we put crappy things into it, have crappy views and conducts, then, of course, we will experience some very crappy effects. This is feedback from life: THIS. WAY. DOESN’T. WORK. And just like our bodies, the feedback is meant not to punish us, but to guide us away from the behavior that’s hurting us, and into a living in a way that works. 

One of the biggest lessons from this is our interdependence with nature and with each other. If humanity can learn from this the need to respect nature and behave in a way that works in greater harmony with nature and with each other, then this crisis can become our wake-up call that may prevent worse suffering and crises later on down the road. There is an opportunity for many positive things to come out of this type of breakdown. 

However, in the midst of the crisis, whether personal or collective, it can be hard to see why it’s happening, and how certain things we need can come out of this. It’s normal for things to feel very dark and murky when you’re in the upheaval. 

This is when we can turn towards the Tao, and/or towards spiritual beings like the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Guan Yin, and trust that even though we can’t see it, and even though it doesn’t look like it, these energies are helping us to get through this, and get to a better place through this experience, both collectively and individually.  

This crisis is forcing us to learn lessons like interdependence, letting go of trying to control, and surrendering with faith in the Tao. If we deepen our practice, we can use this heightened experience to awaken into living in a way that can bring us greater peace and contentment.

This isn’t going to last forever, there will be an end to this, and we will be okay. In these difficult times, we will have to come together to help each other and our world get through this. In the end, we will learn from this, we will change, and we will walk out of this chapter of human history with greater knowledge and better methods of prevention of epidemics. 

All will be well, as the I Ching (Book of Changes) states, “Light always comes forth from the darkness.” This pandemic will pass, as all things do. Our real job is to transform the root causes of this type of virus in our world. 

Peace in the Way,
Stuart Alve Olson

Sanctuary of Tao