Coronavirus and the great rebalancing
Not long after the 2016 presidential election, I had a vivid dream about one Donald J. Trump. It was a formal setting, maybe a room in the White House, where I found myself awaiting his arrival for a private meeting. I have never been a fan of his persona or practices, and so I was fully prepared to loathe him on sight.
But good yogis have to check themselves when we feel like judging others, so I reminded myself to be polite. Strangely, "The Donald" who showed up was nothing like the proudly ignorant human wrecking ball who has laid waste to our government institutions for the past 3 years. To my total surprise, he was kind, engaging and intelligent. Likeable, even. After we exchanged pleasantries, he let me in on a little secret.
"I have a mission," he said. "I'm like a spiritual 'secret agent.' I came here to unearth and expose all the rot in our system, to drive all the bad actors out into the light, so that they can be purged."
When I woke, a little disgruntled at having dreamed of him at all, I nonetheless entertained the intriguing possibility that my "dream self" had interacted with Trump's own Higher Self. That idea has provided at least some comfort since then, as I've watched norm after comforting norm in the United States fall -- many of them intentionally destroyed by Trump and his enablers. Furthermore, Trump's brand of loud, narcissistic nihilism has given some people tacit "permission" to indulge their own dark impulses, namely avarice, cruelty and hate. (In this sense, the "body" of the American people started showing signs of illness long before the coronavirus actually showed up.)
But, hear me out: Perhaps this was the Divine plan all along. One could even go so far as to consider the idea that Trump is indeed the "chosen one" that some of his supporters believe him to be -- just not in the way they'd like to believe it. Sent not as some kind of blessed "savior," he may instead have emerged quite naturally as the fumbling provocateur who would bring our national simmer -- over things like race, gender and wealth inequality -- to a furious boil.
Perhaps his entire function, existentially speaking, has been to make life in America so relentlessly intolerable that the brightest and most committed among us could no longer wait patiently for the political pendulum to swing back, but are being forced to take decisive action now. Maybe America needed someone as awful as Trump to speed our collective Awakening, on behalf of our ailing planet, as well as our democracy.
We never know how Divine Source may be "employing" us as part of a much larger dynamic; Trump's human expression is troubling to a great many people, but it is nonetheless also possible that his Soul is doing some heavy lifting in this lifetime, and that his presidency represents a purgative that is long overdue.
Which brings me to the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump is above all a chaos agent, and as such his response to every crisis thus far has been to create even more chaos, overwhelming the public's ability to understand and to cope. If the nation is a person, he is our mental illness. Three years in, the national mood was largely depressive, and our will to endure nearly exhausted. It would take something yuge to throw a wrench in Trump's juggernaut of contempt and abuse of the national trust -- something shocking in its novelty and scope. A true deus ex machina.
As if on cue, the new coronavirus emerged. It feels almost as though our beleaguered planet finally realized that humanity could neither rouse nor right itself quickly enough to survive, and intervened.
Lately, I've seen some lot of commentary along the lines of "this is the Universe telling us to slow down, to stop doing and just be for a while." That may be true (and in fact it's always good advice) but there's something even more profound going on: We are seeing nothing less than a worldwide rebalancing of the ideas of separation and union. Individualism vs. collectivity. Nations vs. world community. Dualism vs. non-dualism.
The reality of COVID-19 pits the blithely self-absorbed "Me" against the mature, sober, grateful "Us."
Trump, cunningly, has always styled himself as taking direction from no one, which is partly how we got here. He pretends to be the superhero that some of us fantasize about. As a self-worshipping idol, he has inspired imitators to reject what we might otherwise experience as Oneness and unity with each other by encouraging conflict and separation, both from our fellow citizens and the rest of the world.
Trump's presidency co-opted the "rugged individualism" that many Americans define themselves by -- both the Lone Ranger and The Dude are iconic for the same reasons. We get huge ego boosts from the idea that a person controls the circumstances of his, her or their own life. This fantasy of self-reliance means we get to feel powerful and validated when we succeed; then when we fail, we kick our own asses because surely it was our own fault, and the more toxic media will happy assist. (This is even a socially encouraged behavior that enables everyone to blame others for their own failures, as well.)*
The America I know has always been keen to preserve its sense of separation from, and superiority to, the rest of the world. We went to the moon. We won all the wars. Nothing could touch us. We even occupied half a continent, with great oceans on either side to keep the marauders out. Such was the narrative. Such was the American ego writ large.
In Yogic terms, we might say that America has reveled in the delusions of maya more than most countries -- proudly identifying with the cultural myth of "American exceptionalism" (which, ironically, was coined by Joseph Stalin).
And then this virus arrived to show us we aren't so exceptional after all. In fact, our hubris over being insulated by oceans, not to mention our general smug defiance, led us to being woefully underprepared as of this writing, because the President this country elected believed, per usual, that his gut knew better than the experts.
If the Earth is a body, airline routes are like the bloodstream, and COVID-19 had no problem hitching a ride in its cells. By the time Trump was on TV calling it the "Chinese" virus, issuing travel bans by fiat and claiming authorities had "tremendous control over it," it had long since crossed our borders and started killing people -- we may never know how many due to the lack of testing. What we do know is that our diagnostic trajectory is tracking those of the hardest-hit countries, such as Italy, and that the worst is yet to come.
But we never know how Divine Source may be "employing" us as part of a much larger dynamic; Trump's presidency and his fumbling of the U.S. response to the pandemic may turn out to have been not just troubling but catastrophic, but it is also possible that his Soul is doing some very heavy lifting in this lifetime, and that his reckless presidency represents a purgative that is very long overdue.
And less anyone misunderstand, I am in no way suggesting it is the dying who needed to be purged, but the egoistic conceit that we are not all connected, or that any of us ultimately has any individual control over our health or our circumstances. The conceit that one's disconnection from the whole serves as any sort of protection. This is one crisis that the privileged cannot hide from any more than the common person; if anything, jet setters face even more exposure due to their mobility and exposure to multiple vectors of transmission.
The good news is that humans do tend to rise and shine in a crisis, and now is no exception. To wit:
In the absence of quick thinking and leadership from the administration, governors, mayors and others quickly abandoned any idea that they must remain beholden to federal authorities and sought inventive means to protect the public. They have not abrogated responsibility but instead have begun to stand up and step up, allowing Divine creativity to unfold in their crisis management response.
A feeling of determined camaraderie has begun to take hold as citizens from all over the world connect to each other's stories via social media. We are cheering each other's successes as our own, and grieving others' losses as our own, too. A current of solidarity connects and uplifts us across borders. Jack Ma's donation of masks and testing kits to the U.S. may well have been intended to shame the president, but it is also a welcome and helpful humanitarian gesture.
The conversation over health care as a universal human right is suddenly front-and-center and being conducted with good faith intentions.
The same with universal basic income. On a deeper level, the idea that it is in our collective interest to make sure everyone has enough to cover basic expenses reflects the reality that the entire "body" must be nourished, and not just individual "cells." All are necessary, and when all are healthy and functioning in concert, then you can go on to do more specific things (like building muscular infrastructure).
Trump's rhetoric of division and isolationism is collapsing in the face of the pandemic, and polls show that voters are taking notice. Because his administration has already seen much of its sickness exposed and even excised, there's a very good chance that he will be removed from office in November and take the rest of that festering rot with him.
I can only look on in awe as I consider the Divine Intelligence at work right now. We can't rejoice in the loss of those who die or are seriously injured due to this new virus, and I hope that no one reading this post is among them. But in the same way that we honor our fallen warriors, we might offer a gesture of gratitude for their sacrifice. Perhaps their souls, and those of their loved ones, have taken on some heavy lifting in this lifetime as well. And to the extent that the Trump I met in my dream was telling the truth, I offer my thanks to his soul for its work.
But man, one can only imagine how karma will shape that soul's next incarnation ...
*Except Trump, who simply reframes his failures as successes to avoid self-scrutiny.