Radical Compassion in Challenging Times

Radical Compassion in Challenging Times

From Virtual Symposium 2020

By Tara Brach

May/June 2020

A few days ago, a friend emailed me a cartoon, a picture of Sisyphus working at home on a laptop with a huge boulder by his side. The reality is, it’s not life as usual for any of us. This unfolding global crisis is toppling every routine and plan in the books, small and large, so it’s been interesting in the last few days to ask, What matters? What really matters? How can we face the fears that naturally circle around this pandemic in a way that opens our hearts? Whether your fear is for yourself or for others close to you, or even for our world in a larger sense, our nervous systems are clearly getting the immediacy of the crisis. No one’s exempt. We’re part of this living web in crisis, and a huge number of us will feel real loss, hardship, and heartbreak.

We all know that pandemics are toughest on those who are most vulnerable, those with the least money, least access to resources. If they survive the virus, they’re likely to be financially devastated. But while we can feel the vulnerability around us with raw fear and agitation, we can also feel the possibility that in some deep way, what’s unfolding can wake up more loving, more compassion in the world. This is the potential that we have in front of us right now. As my friend Valerie Carr says, this is truly a time to know that no one is a stranger.


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