Transform through Grace

“Once you have grace, you are free. Without it, you cannot help doing the things you know you should not do, and that you know you don't really want to do. But once you have grace, you are free.”

~ Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

In this new era of COVID-19 we have all been learning the language of immunology and infectious disease. We have all seen the microscopic images of the COVID-19 virus cells with their characteristic spikes that bind to healthy cells in the body, multiplying and accelerating and eventually infecting the lungs and other tissues and organs of the body with disease. As I was thinking about the way the virus is being transmitted invisibly by human beings across the world, I began thinking about the way the lower triangle of our spiritual operating system becomes vulnerable to the infected thinking of the collective small self thoughts that are permeating the world right now—thoughts of peril, polarization, separation, winners and losers. Perhaps the metaphor of this virus is ripe with spiritual lessons for this time.

The lower triangle is comprised of the three lower chakra centers of our spiritual operating system. These chakras are connected to our physical body and its five physical senses (first chakra), to our human emotional system (second chakra), and to our conscious and unconscious thoughts and beliefs (third chakra). As we have discussed, the small self rules the lower triangle like an isolated and oppressive despot and it sees its job as protecting this human body from all the perils and threats of the world. The small self uses its energy to actively scan the world for dangers and it develops self-protective and self-limiting behaviors, emotions and thoughts to insulate itself from the inevitable uncertainties and risks of human life. Most people operate inside the constricted world of the lower triangle, ruled by small self thinking, until they remember the spiritual power built into the design of their higher operating system. Thus, we have many small selves, bumping into other small selves, invisibly creating and passing infected thoughts, emotions and behaviors without a vaccine or antidote.

In its efforts to protect the human self system, the small self is particularly vulnerable to three viral thoughts:

1. I am all alone (leading to the belief that I am not safe).

2. No one really loves or cares about me (leading to the belief that I can’t trust others and can’t count on other people to show up for me).

3. I’m not enough (leading to the belief th