Pandemics and major wars have a couple of things in common.
First of all, none of us want to live through a major war – or any sort of war for that matter – and none of want to live through a pandemic. They kill people, and they interrupt our lives. Our old comfortable certainties can evaporate. Our futures are too often put on hold.
Second… Well major wars often see people remembering them as the best times of their lives. There was purpose in their lives and most important of all there was shared purpose, as so often we are told. Military people were part of a team, part of an all-embracing organisation. Civilians mucked in as best they could and looked out for each other. To some extent we are seeing that today as we come to terms with, get to grips with, and live through this present pandemic. ‘We are all,’ as used to be said during the second World War, ‘in this together.’
Clearly the present pandemic is not another Second World War, but what we experience in both war and pandemic contains within that experience a profound truth. That truth is humanity’s mission upon this Earth. We might not realise it, but emergencies offer glimpses of it if we are awake enough to see. We might think that we are here to work and love and bring up our children etc. etc, and of course we are. But important though those endeavours might be – and they certainly are important – transcending all of them, although at the same time profoundly linked with them, is the overriding endeavour that is our individual and collective endeavour and purpose as spiritual beings.
What we glimpse when caught up in wars and pandemics is the fact that we are at our best when working together, and that we feel most fulfilled when working together. All of us, of course, function as individuals, and all of us of course function within family, social and work groups. What the experience of war and pandemic is showing us, however, is that ultimately we need to be in touch, in some way, with everyone.
ALL is ONE. That is the reality at the core of the universe. Love is an aspect of that reality. Love, when properly understood and properly experienced IS that reality. Our very existence is sacred, our every act and thought is spiritually significant. The spiritual quest is always a search for oneness. The romantic quest is always a search, and indeed a need, for oneness with some other. Inclusivity is an attempt to achieve oneness with others. Healing is almost by definition holistic, and holism is when the one is embraced through the many.
This is our purpose, to manifest that oneness as a living reality throughout creation. Difficult to see that when bills have to be paid, when jobs have to be done, when all the demands of our lives have to be made sense of. But in moments of crisis and danger, as within the experience of war and pandemic, we can at least feel something of that truth as being not so far out there as we might have imagined it to have been. The cosmically profound mission of us all can lift a veil from itself during such times, and through our shared danger let us see something of that mission’s face.
Richard Dell’s poem HILLTOP SECRETS speaks to this vital point that is fundamental to our spiritual experience and path.
There is a new paradigm emerging that is holistic and spiritual. Seeing the world as ‘an integrated whole rather than a disassociated collection of parts’. (Capra) Aspects of this new paradigm (but only aspects) filters through to people such as the New Age travellers.
I stand upon the hilltop, and in my soul I see,
Below me and above me, the secret, secret key.
No matter where I stand, or where I deem to roam,
Out to Earth’s far end, or safely in my home.
The truth that always was, and forever now will be,
That I and you and we, can never now be free.
I stand upon the hilltop, and in my soul I know,
That in this newfound wisdom I will forever grow.
I stand upon the hilltop, and all my fears have flown.
That even on this hilltop, I’ll never be alone
For I and you and we, and this and that and then,
Are One with Us and One with God, no matter ever when.
And so upon this hilltop I make this mighty call:
That this and then, and I and you, and even us and me;
That only when together can truly know we’re free.