With the threat of the coronavirus and the isolation of social distancing, it's all too easy for us to dwell on the seemingly concrete world, and specifically, the problems we can't solve right now.
After all, in many ways this is a predictably Newtonian process. Animal transmission has always been a primary source for human diseases, and travelling humans have always been the delivery system. With more humans trading in wildlife than ever before and more humans travelling faster than ever before, the result is depressingly inevitable.
Changing Mental Realities
Even so, it is important to remember that the quality of a situation resides always within the power of mind.
Ringu Tulku recorded this reminder of the power of the mind in difficult times back in 2016, and it is just as relevant now.
Unlike the people he was counselling, we cannot travel just now, but we can certainly look to the example of people and societies with experience of maintaining inner peace in difficult situations.
In some ways, that is a lost lesson for our society. It is one reason why World War II looms so large in popular imagination, as the last time the developed world collectively had to deal with such a level of danger.
When we remain positive, we can continue to be there for each other, which is the best human outcome regardless of the external outcome. When we retreat into fear, we end up with situations like the 1919 epidemic, where society collapsed and the sick were left without anyone to help them.
The power of the mind to influence our reality is nowhere more apparent than in light of the fact that from a neuroscience perspective, our brains hallucinate our conscious reality:
Power of the Mind in Physics - Information Realism
The ancient Greek atomists came up with the idea that the universe at its bottom was basically 'stuff', that just as you can split rocks into smaller and smaller particles of sand, eventually you would find an irreducibly small particle that could not be split, and which makes up everything.
This is related to one of the most interesting untold stories in Greek philosophy (and Christian theology) - the concept of hypostasis, that which lies under, the basic essence of a person or thing. The Greeks assumed that one's nature was one's hypostasis - we are basically our 'stuff', and consciousness is an emergent property of matter, to put it in modern terms.
But what happens when you get down to the most basic levels of matter and find no substance at all? As this Scientific American article suggests, physicists are still tying themselves in knots over this. What do you do when the universe you thought you were describing turns out to be qualia of mental experience of a decidedly non-material plane of existence?