UU SpiritLife Conversations
Judy Robbins, Jan 29, 2022 facilitator
Nineteen UUs were present via zoom on January 29, 2022 for a lively conversation inspired by Sufi mystic Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee’s (LV-L) article Finding Balance in an Unstable World. As might be expected with any group of UUs, there were a number of different opinions about the article ranging from “I loved it” to “I hated it.” I am reminded of the UU bumper sticker that says “We need not think alike to love alike.”
I opened by pointing out a couple of themes that I saw in the article: 1) L V-L believes that the pandemic is caused by an imbalance in the world, self-inflicted by humanity’s disregard for the environment and 2) that we are trying to conquer Covid using the violent terminology of war. L V-L wonders if this is helpful to our response or understanding of Covid. The meeting was then turned over to participants.
Since UUs are especially nice people, eager to find common ground, it was not surprising that those sympathetic to the article led off the discussion. Their main points, argued by at least half the group, were:
- We have to accept “what is” and adapt to the circumstances it creates
- There is value to be had in retreat, even isolation; we can look for the “silver lining”
- This time of enforced quietude has been good for many, helping them to connect with their spiritual/heart/quiet center
- The virus is a natural part of life on earth and maybe we can find a way to make room for it; ie, adapt to it versus trying to dominate it/kill it.
Then the equally nice people who disliked the article spoke up, offering these points:
- Viruses are parasitic; they do not have an independent life of their own and they prey on people and animals. Consequently they do not deserve the same privilege as living beings.
- The polio virus was brought up several times as a parallel, with participants sharing many personal and very moving stories.
- In the 1950s, we had no compunction about eradicating/killing polio. People readily accepted the polio vaccine and felt they were doing something both personal and patriotic by being vaccinated. The contrast to today’s attitudes toward the Covid vaccine was duly noted.
- Humility and fear in the face of this virulent virus is a proper response (as contrasted with the meditative stance above).
People pointed out that L V-L’s stance is the response of a Sufi mystic. Science is at least as good (perhaps better) a response.
There was commentary on how the pandemic impacts our understanding of our relationships and values. It was noted that the virus can be considered both in literal and metaphorical terms. Can our experience and expression of beingness grow in inclusiveness and connection?
The meeting was concluded by noting that:
- It is UU SpiritLife’s mission to bring up the Big Questions that have no easy answers and it is not our purpose to try to get to consensus.
- There is a “Both/And” here that is not hard to imagine. In any situation, we always have a choice to respond out of fear or love. We can both follow the science and remain in a place of inner calm and love.