Coronavirus meditation

Before Coronavirus (or COVID-19), our interconnected world was already characterized by what many thought leaders have termed “VUCA”: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. This virus has placed VUCA on steroids, and each of us is being forced to radically reorient ourselves toward even the most mundane activities and expectations at an unprecedented scale and speed.

Given these circumstances, how do we keep from losing ourselves to mindsets of stress, fear, mistrust, and scarcity?

I believe there are four qualities most needed right now, for a positive and sustainable “radical reorientation” to ourselves, others, and the natural world. They happen to be the Buddha’s four “limitless qualities” (also called “divine abodes” and “immeasurable minds”), and they can defined as both “being” and “doing” qualities:

  1. Loving-kindness: the intent and capacity to offer joy and happiness–first to yourself, and then to others.
  2. Compassion: the intent and capacity to relieve suffering–your own and that of others.
  3. Sympathetic Joy: the intent and capacity to celebrate well-being–your own and that of others.
  4. Equanimity: the culmination of the above three qualities; a disciplined state of choosing the “middle way” between extremes, of not getting too high or too low, of accepting (not condoning) reality as it truly is, and not being attached to specific outcomes, possessions, or status.

These four qualities are applicable to any relationship, community, business, government, or nonprofit. They are simple to describe but difficult to practice, because little in modern society encourages and equips their development. The four don’t easily dovetail with capitalism in its current incarnation that elevates shareholder value above all else, and are certainly worlds apart from apathy, cheating, contempt, division, fear, greed, hate, ignorance, manipulation, mistrust, prejudice, and stealing, which society tends to directly or inadvertently reward. (At least, society before it was brought to its knees by COVID-19.)

To nurture and grow these qualities is to swim against the tide–to be willing to be unpopular, mocked, or ignored. But the deeper one secures their roots, the deeper one’s personal sense of grounding, purpose, and peace. And in this unprecedented (for many of us alive today) season of VUCA+++, grounding, purpose, and peace might matter more than ever.

My overarching goal, in all of my relationships and professional work, is to help people grow in loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity, so that they might be more effective and happier spouses, parents, grandparents, siblings, leaders, managers, coworkers, teachers, doctors, nurses, attorneys, salespersons, CPAs, entrepreneurs, volunteers, and more. To learn about engaging my professional services, please contact me here. To simply learn, keep reading the content on this site.

May all beings be happy, safe, free of suffering, grateful, and unattached to temporary things or situations.

John M. DeMarco is a writer, executive coach, and activist based in Nashville, Tennessee.