There are many people suggesting that we interpret Covid-19 as a call for a transition. This article argues that the pandemic calls for us to integrate a more interconnected scientific paradigm. This in turn calls for a more interconnected quality of consciousness. We cannot rely on our intellect to achieve this type of transition; the rational mind is not suited to solving the problems that the rational mind creates. However we can use the power of ceremony to help us mark and navigate this transition in a way that is not overly dependent on the intellect. Ceremony becomes even more powerful when used in conjunction with forefront psychotherapeutic practice. The insights gained from this practice can resource each of us in identifying the unique contribution we can make to creating the world we need, not just for us, but for our children. We can do this virtually. If you are interested in learning more about this please read on.
For the first time in human history, we are all going through a collective transition as a result of Covid-19 and the dramatic lifestyle changes that it is enforcing upon us globally. Covid-19 has shown us that when we are all faced with a common threat we can adapt incredibly quickly. Three months ago, who would have thought that air travel could stop, that we could connect with our friends and family virtually, or that we could dramatically decrease our dependence on cars. All of this is possible because we are in agreement about the need to minimise the loss of life due to the virus. What we are learning, at such huge expense, about our potential to adapt has important implications for humanity.
“None of the world’s problems are technically difficult to solve; they originate in human disagreement” Charles Eisenstein – The Coronation
In our normal way of thinking and behaving, we tend to look for what serves us individually. When your needs and my needs are different, we disagree and progress is almost impossible. I can see this when my wife and I try to decide what colour to paint the kitchen and when the presidents of the world try to reach an agreement about the climate crisis. One of my friends in China described the situation created by the virus as an intervention from the larger system to show us some of the truths of our world. So we can see the pandemic as having a message for us if we can listen to it:
“The coronavirus outbreak is, ultimately, a lesson in not just the inherent systemic fragilities in industrial civilization, but also the limits of its underlying paradigm. This is a paradigm premised on human beings competing with each other to maximise consumption and production.” Nafeez Ahmed – Coronavirus, Synchronous Failure and the Global Phase Shift
We can choose to interpret the virus as an unfortunate accident; a temporary storm that we just have to weather. Or we can choose to view it as a catalyst for a vitally necessary transition from one stage in the evolution of humanity to another. We can choose to see it as a global transition from separateness to community, from competition to collaboration, from nation state to global village, and from nature serving humanity to humanity as part of nature.
Of course, this is hardly new news. The great teachers of all traditions have been telling us, for millennia, of the vital necessity of peering past our collective illusion of separateness.
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us the universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation.”
Albert Einstein (Quoted in H.Eves 1977)
The growing ecological crisis has created an increasingly powerful pressure for us all to break out of the prison of this “optical delusion of consciousness”. But like the proverbial frog gradually coming to the boil in the saucepan of water, our collective consciousness and the social systems that manifest it, can’t quite get out of the saucepan although they know they are going to get boiled alive. Then along comes the Covid pandemic teaching us very directly about the nature of our global interconnectedness! And like the other frog that is thrown into the saucepan of already boiling water, we all react immediately and adopt a series of social distancing protocols which are actually far more ecological and hence sustainable as well.
So are we going to hunker down and wait for everything to get back to normal metaphorically going back to slowly boiling to death as humanity? Like the financial crisis of 2008, we will be able to pretend that nothing has really changed and that the system itself can limp along for a few years longer (by which time it might not be our problem but our children’s!).
The virus can be seen as another, more immediate pressure on us all to redouble our efforts to break out of the prison of our delusion of separateness. Of course, this is already happening to a large extent. The exponential growth in all forms of personal development from yoga at the village hall to the neuroscience of extreme sports has received another boost from social isolation. So much developmental work has now gone online and people have more time to do it. In my own work, for example, I often use family constellations to help people see beyond the stories that a separate perception creates. Since the lockdown I have been doing this online and it has proved to be surprisingly effective. Unfortunately our ego generated sense of separation even extends its tricksy little fingers into personal development in the form of the ‘loyalties’ we have for our own particular practice. So yogis are busy at home bending their way through the lockdown. Coaches and therapists are spending hours a day on zoom sharing how they are feeling and so on. I’m not knocking this. As someone who practices both I really appreciate how yoga and therapy help me integrate the day to day challenges of being a human inhabiting a primarily separate sense of self.
Yet neither yoga nor psychotherapy have evolved primarily to help us navigate transitions. If a tribe of cowherds in Kenya want to usher their boys into manhood so that they can look after the cattle on which the tribe depends, they don’t get them doing asanas nor do they constellate the cattle. Over time they have evolved ceremonies of transition that are specifically designed to equip the young men to fulfil the roles that their people need of them.
The extent to which we heed the message of this crisis as a call for a personal, organisational and collective transition will depend on how we choose to navigate it. It’s a bit like marriage. Despite the radically changing culture around sexuality, many of us still choose to have a formal marriage ceremony. It’s the ceremony itself that makes us feel married! It even names us; we are a married couple. So if we feel that we want to be part of the creation of a new post Covid world perhaps we need a ceremony of transition that allows us to let go of who we thought we were and resources us to contribute to the next phase of human evolution. This next phase must be one that takes less toll on the earth’s resources. It must be one that recognises that we are all connected, and treats people accordingly. Perhaps we could even give ourselves a name to signify that we had been through this transition ceremony. We could call ourselves post-Covidians for example.
Different societies and cultures from all over the world have always had ceremonies and rituals to support people in moving from one stage of their lives to another. Anthropologists such as Victor Turner and Arnold van Gennep established not only the existence of ceremonies of transition across many different cultures but also the similarity of such ceremonies across time and geography.
It is only recently that such ceremonies of transition have been lost. This loss is symptomatic of our emphasis on ourselves individually, the very form of perception that we are being called to move away from. It is an unconscious collective statement that we do not need the other people in our community or the invisible powers of the natural world to successfully navigate the important transitions in our lives. We can make it ourselves using the power of our intellect.
The loss of these ceremonies is both a symptom of and a contributor to the systemic breakdown we are now facing. It is founded upon a materialistic world view that maintains that everything is made of unconscious matter including human brains. Yet the science which underlies this world view is increasingly questionable.
“Non local connectivity is often demonstrated through the creation of pairs of twin particles that share quantum states and behave as a single entity – an effect known as entanglement. If they are separated and the state of one of the entangled pairs is altered, the other will immediately switch its own state to mirror that of its twin, regardless of how far apart in space and time they are” The Cosmic Hologram (p.52) – Jude Currivan.
The virus is just the latest example of how interconnected we and everything else is. How long can we continue to ignore the melting ice caps, the floods and firestorms and now a virus that brings the floods to our lungs and the firestorms of fever to our bodies?
Each of us can do something about this. We can choose to take the time to focus on what is happening and discern what it means to us individually and to our families and work life. We can draw upon the basic structures of transition ceremonies that have evolved over millennia. We can increase the power of these ceremonies by weaving in forefront psychotherapeutic practice that helps us release the patterns that keep us stuck in the past. This design enables us to gain insights which are not overly dominated by our delusion of separateness. We can use these insights to resource us to make our own unique contribution to the world we all want to see. We can choose to see this crisis as a threshold and we can summon the courage we need to step through this threshold, not just for ourselves but for our children and our children’s children. And we can do all this virtually using the miracle of the world wide web.
The type of personal and social development that I am advocating here is one which is founded in an underlying scientific paradigm of interconnectedness. It is also specifically designed to help us individually and collectively navigate transition. Whilst the process is founded in the classic transition ceremony, it integrates psychotherapeutic practices which profoundly increases its creative potential. I will write more about this in a subsequent article. But for now, I wanted to explain about the potential value of this process at this time.
The essence of this value is timeless. It is an adventure to return to your mythic self, to reconnect with the journey of your soul and then to return to the world equipped to step forward in a new way, in a way that serves the whole and simultaneously nourishes your soul’s evolution.
If you feel drawn to this adventure, or curious to know more, we are running online Transition Ceremonies in Europe, China and South America. Click here to see the brochure for our next European Transition Ceremony which we are doing in partnership with our friends in Austria at dwarfs & Giants.
If any of this resonates with you, please send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We have now completed a number of ceremonies worldwide and the learnings and insights have been plentiful. Click here to read my next article, ‘Virtual Miracles’, where I share the journey and some of the magic we witnessed.