The coronavirus pandemic has caused a global lockdown. People are forced to stay in their houses. They are anxious, scared, and full of questions like: “How to utilise the excess time during the self-isolation period and use it for spiritual growth?”Let us closely look at the dos and don’ts now for a seeker of Truth. The virus was residing happily, peacefully in some jungle. The virus was coexisting with the bats, and there are thousands of such viruses that belong only to the wild. They are not malicious; they have no intention to harm human beings.
Human beings, in their great smartness, progressiveness, industriousness, and driven by their intellect, are doing all kinds of things to the wild. All that you do in your confident intellectual dimension, does that not turn out to be self-destructive? Watch out against yourself. There is nothing else to keep a check upon. The virus has simply no intentions to destroy you. You have to check your own tendency to go and touch the virus.
The virus is a product of the man’s unguided ego. It is a product of man’s inner violence. If you are quite sensitive, you will probably see the results of your actions in the moment of the action itself. But rarely do we see this! The very motivation, the very centre, the very intention behind the action would tell you that the action is not quite proper.
On the other hand, if you are dull or extremely resistant to Truth as most people are, just as viruses can be resistant to medicines, then you require very gross jolts like these to even partially accept that your actions have not been right. And it is quite possible that even the strongest jolt might not be able to displace you from your false position. It is even possible; that you may say that you’re prepared to give up your life, physically die, but you will not surrender to the Truth.You just don’t want to concede.
These weeks, months are going to contain obvious suffering and there are going to be a large number of deaths as well and all that is very sad and very unfortunate. But do try to see that we are the ones who had been asking for it. We brought it upon ourselves, there is nobody else to blame. And it was in the making since decades and centuries. Godlessness, irreligiosity, unbridled industrialisation, utter and absolute cruelty towards animals, chilling rise in animal flesh consumption; you thought all this would go unpunished?
The tendency to proliferate, the tendency to destroy anyone it touches, the tendency to reach anyone we come in contact with and reach in a debilitating way, is that not how we relate to each other? There are very few who would uplift someone who comes in contact with them. Mostly, if we come in contact with somebody, we just infect him, not uplift him. That’s the way our usual relationships operate. That’s also the way the virus operates. We don’t know, is the ego the virus? Is the virus the ego? Who knows? The ego is such a subtle thing. We talk of it as a concept. Now is the time to see it in action. You might find that this catastrophe was probably one of the few possible ways in which mankind could have been reminded of its viciousness and its frailty.
On the other hand, do not just be caught up in the propaganda and in your nervousness. Try to look at the bigger picture and you might find beauty in the bigger picture. For instance, the air quality index has miraculously improved all over the world. The air is far cleaner; the songs of the birds are now livelier and louder. Our friends from the wild, like deers and gazelles, are found roaming on the streets. So it’s not as if the existence is sending us all the vile things and signals. That which we are taking as a catastrophe has another face as well and that face might not be very ugly.
So there are lessons to be learnt and time has been made available to you. Make the best use of that time. One: engage in self-observation, let the isolation not be merely physical, let the mind move into solitude. And secondly, because now you have been distanced from the society, it is time to be intimate with the really deserving ones.
Read as much spiritual literature as you can. These weeks or months will not come again. This is surely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There have not been many generations who have had this opportunity where they have been forcibly given periods of isolation. This isolation is something that the fools will resent and reject, but this isolation is something that the wise men will all celebrate. They will take it as a blessing.
It’s now time to beg for the company of the greats. Unfortunately, they might not be physically available to you. Go to their words, read their books, watch their videos, the internet is there, the books are there. It’s time to make up for a lot of lost opportunity. Maybe you’re 40 right now; it’s time to read stuff what should ideally have been read when you were 16. Never mind, it’s never too late. Go to the Upanishads, go to a Rumi, go to a Hafiz, go to Acharya Shankar, go to the Dhammapada, and go to Kabir Sahib. It’s been a crime to have ignored them for so long. Now is the time to compensate.
Lessons to be Learnt
- Engage in self-observation, let the isolation not be merely physical, let the mind move into solitude
- Because now you have been distanced from the society, it is time to be intimate with the really deserving ones.
- Read as much spiritual literature as you can. This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There have not been many generations who have had this opportunity where they have been forcibly given periods of isolation.
- It’s now time to beg for the company of the greats. Read the Upanishads, Rumi, Hafiz, Acharya Shankar, the Dhammapada, and Kabir Sahib.
The writer is a spiritual speaker and author, IIT-IIM alumnus and a former civil servant.