Hitting another pandemic wall? Here’s how to breakthrough.

(Photo above by Loc Dang / Pexels)

At the beginning of the summer we had high hopes. Concerts were coming back. Restaurants were opening up. Dating seemed possible. Now the uptick in the delta variant cases is giving us pandemic whiplash. Facing an uncertain fall, we are getting reacquainted with familiar feelings of anxiety and fatigue.

However, we do not have to wait until the pandemic is over to live our best lives.  Buddhism teaches we should be neither paralyzed by fear nor reckless and ignore important safety precautions. Here are some helpful Buddhist ideas on how to break through another pandemic wall.

Don’t be intimidated.

While it’s only natural to feel afraid, we can’t let fear take away our hope and passion for life. Emotions such as fear are proven to block rational skills. According to psychologist Shahram Heshmat, our brains are constantly negotiating between cognitive skills (such as weighing evidence) and emotional appraisals (such as intuition). When we are overwhelmed with an emotional response to something concerning, like a video or photo, and are filled with fear, it blocks our ability to think rationally  and prevents us from addressing real problems.

Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda describes this internal tug-of-war happening at any given moment when he writes:

The key to battling obstacles or negative forces exists within our own hearts. No matter how formidable an obstacle … may be, there is no reason to fear it. Rather, what we should fear is giving in to the weakness in our own hearts to be swayed or intimidated by them.

Daisaku Ikeda

We chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to win this battle within each day. Chanting helps regulate emotions, such as fear, that distort how we look at our present situation. Chanting is a way to acknowledge the reality that fear clouds: that we have Buddhability and there are limitless possibilities in any given moment. We start believing there is a way forward.

Though our goal is to overcome our fear, Buddhism in no way encourages us to be careless when it comes to keeping ourselves safe. Buddhism is all about acknowledging reality; it’s not about leaving things to chance or magic. The more we chant, the better we feel about ourselves and our future. We find the motivation to take the best precautions and follow safety protocols when it comes to COVID-19 and the delta variant.

Though our goal is to overcome our fear, Buddhism in no way encourages us to be careless when it comes to keeping ourselves safe.

We create the future today.

Buddhism is not about waiting for the right circumstances; it is about creating them. Whatever action we take today will shape the future. It’s just that simple. That’s why we can’t let our fear trip us up and instead take just one more step forward.

What does Macbeth and the theory of gravity have in common? Both were developed during a pandemic while their creators were in lockdown.

In other words, those who win the intense battle within each day and take action toward their goals will definitely not look back at this pandemic as a “waste of time.”  We can give deep meaning to all the challenges and pain we are facing today. We can use them to write a story that will inspire people for years to come.

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