Some people may have experienced the past year of a restricted homebound life as an opportunity to grow spiritually - more time to meditate, focus on the little details of their lives. For others, this may have been a time of soul-crushing isolation with little to inspire or energize their inner life. In this article, David Perrin offers his thoughts on what the pandemic could mean for our spiritual lives despite the many deprivations we've had to endure. The article's abstract is below. Prof. Perrin will be giving a public lecture based on the article; to attend it online, register on this page.
As human beings we strive naturally to be the best person we can be. We hunger for deep meaning and happiness in our lives and search for ways to attain both; this is called “self-transcendence.” Given the centrality of self-transcendence in human life, whether one is a believer or not, opens the question of how the COVID-19 pandemic has potentially diminished or even cut off access to self-transcending experiences that are knit into our everyday lives. For example, our participation in social activities, visits to galleries to enjoy art, participation in rowdy sports activities, and community volunteering opportunities are all potentially self-transcending experiences. But we have been cut off from them to a large degree which, for many people, has led to a loss of hope and a rise in despair. There is an unrelenting feeling of uncertainty: we don’t know quite what to do with it or where to go to resolve it. This conference seeks to understand the role of “self-transcendence” in our lives, how COVID-19 has impacted it and ways to cope such that we become more aware of what we can do to feel centered and hopeful during these challenging times.
Perrin, David B. "The Collapse of Self-Transcendence: COVID-19 and the Reshaping of Meaning-Making in Everyday Life.” Vinayasādhana: Dharmaram Journal of Psycho-Spiritual Formation 12, no. 1 (2021: 7-28.
A PDF of this article is freely available.