By now, you would agree that the coronavirus doesn’t discriminate on the basis of wealth, social status, nationality, religion or other man-made distinctions. You might have also noticed how we are much more connected to each other than we have hitherto acknowledged. Anything any of us does affects everyone on the planet, directly or indirectly.
For humans, apart from the obvious health concern, there are multiple other dimensions to the coronavirus “story” such as financial repercussions, social dynamics, religious and spiritual values and so on. The meaning we give to each of these will decide where we will go as a species.
Will we expand or shrink?
There have been many memes circulating about how a tiny, seemingly insignificant coronavirus has made the greatest of species feel vulnerable and totally powerless. There is a fundamental delusion in viewing any disease-causing virus in this manner. But then humans have been storytellers from time immemorial…and one of stories we have told ourselves is that of being distinct creatures separate from other beings and the planet itself. The reality is that life flows seamlessly through all of existence. Creation/destruction of forms are personal from the limited perspective of the individual perceiving consciousness. But from the perspective of life itself, which you may call “the greater intelligence”, it’s just life as usual.
Does that mean we shouldn’t care about the outbreak? Of course not! Indeed, it means we care enough to understand and acknowledge that, since all life on the planet is inextricably linked, we are all responsible for this difficult challenge facing us.
If the story we weave around this crisis is self-centred, we will:
- Project panic and fear
- Blame and condemn or feel guilt and regret
- Act selfishly, concerned only about personal safety and the safety of our family and loved ones
Reacting this way, we may contract and shut down; we will isolate ourselves emotionally and quarantine our love and compassion—a sure-shot prescription for individual and collective suffering.
If, however, we choose to project an expansive meaning to this crisis, the outcome would be quite different:
- We will look at this as an opportunity to reflect and re-evaluate our priorities
- We will realise how each of us has contributed directly or indirectly—not only to the present crisis but to all the excesses in the world that are the cause of much of what is wrong in our world today.
- We will notice how our ruthless ambitions and our lust for “more” is causing much suffering in the world—and we cannot isolate ourselves from that suffering because, as we have already established, we are inextricably linked; indeed, we ARE the world.
Let us mend our ways to bend this reality
Coming back to storytelling, since we are free to give any meaning to the present situation, how about looking at this crisis as a wake-up call to mend our ways? Each of us needs to do our best to successfully meet not only the coronavirus pandemic but also other challenges that humanity faces.
Climate change, for instance. Like the coronavirus, climate change too will not discriminate on the basis of wealth, social status, nationality or religion. The only way for us to respond to these challenges is to act from the knowing that each of us affects the reality that is experienced by all of us.
A commitment to conscious living
How about making a commitment to living with this awareness?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Start cutting down on consumption—we now know we can easily live with a lot less, so let us stop equating more with better
- Let your motto be “Live and let live”. The planet has enough to satisfy everyone’s need but not enough to satisfy even a single person’s greed.
- Focus on feeling alive now instead of imagining a happier tomorrow
- At every opportunity, look for the obvious and not-so-obvious ways in which you are connected to beings near and far; for instance, notice how every morsel of food you ingest has reached you thanks to thousands of people, both past and present; both near and far
- See how much in common we have with every single human being on the planet
- Slow down and start appreciating life in its natural form, devoid of all that is man-made
- See how joyous family time can be; also enjoy solitude every once in a while
- Look for everyday miracles around you like a flower blooming, a bird flying, a cloud floating, wind blowing, the stars in the infinite sky…
- Make it a point to connect with life in its purest form—spend more time in Nature. Be among trees, lakes, mountains, seas—just be with them without any agenda or purpose such as adventure or picnic or experiences etc.
- Strive to awaken the true potential lying dormant in you—not the potential for material success or power etc. but the potential for love, peace and joy
- Adopt mindfulness as your default setting; see how gratitude arises from within spontaneously when you are mindful. You will realise that there’s much to be thankful for and that our feelings of neediness and inadequacy are nothing more than a collective delusion.
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