(Photo above by David Fagundes / Pexels)
The last year has been some cocktail of feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, anxious and stressed. Caused by non-stop Zoom meetings, taking care of loved ones, worrying about money, all under the cloud of the coronavirus. It’s clear—pandemic burnout is real. And the worst part is we’re still not quite sure when it all will end.
Of course, we’ve all felt this way at some point in the last year, and that’s totally okay. But Buddhism teaches that there is a force more powerful than our stress and exhaustion—hope. Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda writes:
Our hopes, desires and ambitions are powerful forces existing within us for the shaping of the future. They are the generating forces that create the future. To lose hope or give up one’s goals because of the setbacks of the moment is to diminish one’s own life potential. Hopes, dreams, faith and a sense of mission enable us to open up our lives.
Here are a few tips on how to revive hope in our lives and keep moving forward amid the pandemic.
1. Keep chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
The reality is our life is full of possibilities. The question is whether we can open our eyes to them. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo means to shake ourselves free of the delusion that the way things currently are is the way they will always be. It is to awaken to the power inherent in our lives to create our brilliant future. Hope is not merely wishful thinking. It’s looking at the reality of our situation and finding a way forward.
2. Connect with a supportive Buddhist community.
The Lotus Sutra tells the story of a large group of people traveling across the desert to find a treasured land. They are about to abandon their quest, until one leader in the group points to a nearby city off in the distance. Seeing this smaller, attainable goal—the group’s hope is revived. At the city they recuperate and this leader then shares, “Together, we will be able to reach the treasure land.”
Ikeda writes on this episode:
This parable speaks to us of the resilience and untapped strength of the human spirit. Even more significantly, it teaches us the importance of moving forward together with others in our pursuit of the goal of happiness, no matter how impossible the journey may sometimes seem.
A supportive community, where we encourage each other to move forward, even if just a single step, is priceless to maintaining hope. (Note: One way to start is by experiencing a virtual Buddhist meeting in your area, just email us!)
3. Reconnect with the world.
The times we find ourselves in do have some bright spots. We might have more time now to do things that truly refresh us. That’s why it’s important to not spend every waking moment on our phone, but to do activities that help us reconnect with the world around us. In “A Buddhability Guide to Doing Nothing,” we share:
When you allow yourself to be absorbed by a beautiful piece of music, it can remind you that you are not alone, that there is another soul in this world whose heart resonates with yours. Enjoy a walk in nature and feel how you are connected to all other living things. Look up at the stars and feel humbled by the vast universe that is beyond our comprehension. Such activities aren’t just about putting your phone down. They’re about reconnecting with the larger world and feeling whole.
We are now entering year two of our global pandemic, and it’s tough. But let’s not forget, there’s hope. We just need to create it.