Blog entry by Alan Chapman
Stephen Jenkinson on the Pandemic
Please note that what follows is my interpretation of Stephen Jenkinson's work and notably the interview in the link at the end of this article.
I offer this from my own deep experience of suicide and death, as enabling my own growth to embrace (actually to cherish and love) my own mortality, and thereby the sort of peace and wonderment referred to in Jenkinson's work, and others too, from similar experiences.
I appreciate that we all see life and death in different ways, and that my age (62 at time of writing), combined with my experiences, enable me to take a certain view of mortality.
I have seen many other approaches, gentle and traumatic, among people of all ages.
Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration, which is very significant for my own life. growth, fearlessness, love and acceptance, is consistent with Stephen Jenkinson's approach.
There are many paths to peace. Seek and choose what works for you, and note that life changes as we age, and expect to discover that while our knowledge and resilience tends to increase with experience, so does our acceptance of not knowing.
I can best describe this as peace: the peace at accepting and loving whatever life brings, including ultimately death, if only because to do otherwise is a denial that cannot be sustained.
Stephen Jenkinson on the coronavirus pandemic, life, death and wonderment
Stephen Jenkinson is among the most deeply wise, loving, and 'grown' of all the brilliant teachers who've guided my personal growth.
His main perspective is death and dying, especially humanity's denialism about our own mortality, so that we collectively demand continually 'improving' lifestyles, and a safety and immortality that is simply not possible.
This in turn means that collectively we accept and tolerate, and vote for, global political and economic systems that now threaten to destroy the ecosystem that would otherwise sustain us, and which has sustained humanity for hundreds of thousands of years.
Jenkinson seems to some people to be gloomy or macabre - probably because of the taboo and fear surrounding death - whereas actually his appreciation of the natural beauty of our world and universe gives him a joy of life that is transcendent. And this transcendent fearless joy is free to us all.
Jenkinson is known as the 'Angel of Death' because of his extraordinarily loving and compassionate work, extending to poetic/musical creation and performance, and education/teachings, in the subject of dying; specifically the concept of living a good and beautiful life, by embracing our mortality: essentially coming (lovingly) to terms with the fact that we will die one day, and obviously that other people, especially loved ones, die too.
He combines his vast experience in palliative care (helping hundreds of people through their dying) with similarly powerful study and living in and with theology (religious/spiritual belief), nature, and ancient wisdom.
This interview is simple and extremely accessible (let it come to you), and offers a radically different, liberating way to understand what life is - what it means to live - in harmony with the natural world and all other life on Earth.
It is a beautifully refreshing way to consider what life means to us in the midst, and aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, completely regardless of what the coronavirus pandemic actually is.
Jenkinson significantly suggests that trauma and the memory of the trauma (of the coronavirus pandemic) is our opportunity to engage with our growth and how we might be part of a better world, rather than longing for 'normality'. This is a reset or pause. It is our choice as to what happens next.
Here is the interview, with Mattias Olson, for his podcast 'Campfire Stories'.
N.B. It is extremely important to note that Stephen Jenkinson is not seeking to question or explore the many controversial aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is not the point. The point is that whatever the science and truth of the pandemic, the reality is that human systems have reacted to the pandemic so that 'normality' has been disrupted globally, and we can now choose what sort of world we want afterwards.
Thanks and love,