When we look backwards on our lives, if we are honest, the most profound learning experiences occur when everything is a bit shit!. This Pandemic is horrific. Too many families have seen loved ones die before their time, and too many people are experiencing financial and emotional stress. Anxiety is up and so it should be!… but what are we to do, how are we to think?

Taking a spiritual path

Yes exercise and routine are both massively important. Goals are always handy as they give us the gift of focus… but if we are ‘lucky’ enough (i.e don’t have kids, not a key worker, have some sort financial security and are healthy) filling our extra time with working our abs, writing poetry, baking, learning the guitar and many self-development practices are fun and nice.. but .. maybe we need to stop rushing, slow down and perhaps use this ‘opportunity’ to dig a little deeper and develop ourselves in a more ‘spiritual’ way.

There is sometimes a danger when ‘working on yourself’ that we become even more about ourselves, more egotistical, more self-absorbed even quasi-solopolistic in our outlook. I’ve seen it happen… and it’s always such a shame. A more ‘spiritual’ approach to life must always involve learning to transcend ones’ ego.

What the f••k is Bodhichitta?

As far as I know, all major religions and spiritual practices agree that this a good thing to try to aspire to, but it is Buddhism that places the ego and the false sense of ‘I’ with such disdain. A fundamental doctrine of Buddhism is that learning to let go of the concept of self is central to gaining a true understanding of life and the universe. We can only let get of self when we think about others. Compassion is therefore central to Buddhist philosophy and practice. Being kind and having compassion, without expecting anything in return is, as most of us would agree, a more spiritual, honest and rewarding approach to life regardless of our religous beliefs.

As for me, well… I’m far from living an ego-less life… so I know this isn’t easy! but during lockdown I’m trying to be improve myself in this way, and would love you to join me. Now is an ideal time to initially reflect on decisions we have made and on the person we want to be today (and on the person who we want to be when the lock down is over) and start living in accordance this. I’m often drawn to Buddhism as it has a lot to say about the dangers of being driven by ego and about the importance of compassion. In fact one of the aims of Buddhist practice is to develop an enlightened mindset…. a.k.a Bodhichitta.

The following is an extract from from a talk by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.


The supreme good heart is bodhichitta. ‘Bodhi’ is the Sanskrit word for ‘enlightenment’, and ‘chitta’ the word for ‘mind’; therefore ‘bodhichitta’ literally means ‘mind of enlightenment’. It is defined as a mind, motivated by compassion for all living beings, that spontaneously seeks enlightenment.

Bodhichitta is born from great compassion, which itself depends upon cherishing love. Cherishing love can be likened to a field, compassion to the seeds, taking and giving to the supreme methods for making the seeds grow, and bodhichitta to the harvest.

The cherishing love that is developed through the practice of exchanging self with others is more profound than that developed through other methods, and so the resultant compassion and bodhichitta are also more profound.

Without great compassion, the spontaneous wish to protect all living beings from suffering, bodhichitta cannot arise in our mind; but if we have great compassion, especially the great compassion generated through exchanging self with others, bodhichitta will arise naturally. The strength of our bodhichitta depends entirely upon the strength of our great compassion.


If you want to develop your compassion and kindness and Bodhichitta, just open your eyes, turn on the news, take it all in. You can also watch fly on the wall the TV shows such as Hospital, Volunteer with the NHS or the Samaritans or at least reach out to those in your social circle and community in need and listen to their stories of grief, pain, unfairness and frustration. It is not “negative’ to put yourself in other else’s shoes, no matter how badly it fits. it makes you kind, useful and also gives you perspective on your own situation.

Hold that meme

On social media there are a lot of posts stating ‘we will get through this pandemic’.  Under closer inspection, I’m not convinced that it’s as reassuring to others as it is to the person posting it. It is easy to tell everyone we’ll get through it when you are not directly effected. Those of us that have been in hospital by ourselves fighting off Covid-19, or losing our loved ones, are a front line worker, are now unemployed or have pre-existing medical conditions (that self-isolation is a harsh reality until a vaccine comes around) are all feeling extremely stressed right now and some of us sadly will NOT get through unscathed and unaffected at all. If i was to rant, I would mock the entitled TikTok generation, but that is too easy, not entirely accurate nor indeed unhelpful. Either way, if you love social media, It is always a good idea to think what it must be like for others less fortunate than yourself before posting about your own discomfort and offering ill-thought-out, meme friendly advice.

Seeing is believing

The only way I know of to develop compassion is through a mix of exposing the mind to darker realities and through contemplation/meditation. For example, How about spending 20 minutes today just thinking about what others less fortunate than you are going through in this pandemic will almost automatically make you more compassionate, empathetic.. and grateful for your own life and your own problems. Like a muscle; compassion, empathy and gratitude all become better and more toned up / refined with use. What else can you do?

Consider the millions of care workers, Nurses and Doctors all over the world directly putting their own lives at risk to help strangers, all of whom (as the UK PM stated so beautifully put last week) are ‘powered by love’. Think of the clear coming together of a communities as we clap for our NHS and pick up groceries for those neighbours we barely know. Think of the £26+ million Captain Tom has raised so far!.  Does this not give us a hope that us humans are kind and compassionate by their very nature?

In the UK, we talk of social distancing, but reality is we are actually more social than ever. (all be it in different way). The human condition is fragile, we need each other to survive and there is something very beautiful about that. More than anything though, I hope you see what i see right now, as when you look closely enough to the world outside of us, forget our pain, discomfort, boredom or stress, we can always see the bigger picture… the truth.. that there is an abundance of kindness everywhere. I don’t know about you.. but I find that reassuring and it inspires me to be better human, to be more grateful and to consciously be kinder and more compassionate to others.


It is only with the heart that one can see
rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

-Antoine de Saint Exupéry


Blog post written by Dan.