We have the Habit of Constantly Delaying tasks, tasks which we feel are especially difficult to fulfill. But, tasks are tasks. Even before our birth, we have entrusted those tasks upon ourselves. So, there is no escape. We can escape anything else, but we cannot escape ourselves.
Self Introspection or Atma Chintan is one such task. We have kept it pending for a long, long time, both on an individual, as well as a collective level. Now, there seems to be no option, like it or not, we must fulfill this task of looking inward.
Covid-19, Corona, or the virus (which will be remembered by history to have first presented in the city of Wuhan in the Hubei Province of China) – is a reminder, “Hey guys, you have all forgotten to fulfill your tasks.”
We shall not be a Part of Conspiracy and other theories, some of which though, we must agree, may answer the burning questions posed by the Political Scientists and Economists.
We can instead choose to look within, to do some atma chintan or self introspection to understand the message that is being delivered through the current pandemic.
Yes, it is a message being delivered to us by Existence. The conspirators, producers, and disseminators are all just playing their roles based upon their gunas, qualities, or inherent natural traits.
Remember the following verses from the 16th Chapter of Bhagavad Gita (excerpts from the Gita Press Edition):
Verse 12: Held in bondage by hundreds of ties of expectation and wholly giving themselves up to lust and anger, they strive to amass by unfair means hoards of money and other objects for the enjoyment of sensuous pleasures.
Verse 13: This much has been secured by me today and now I shall realize this ambition. So much wealth is already with me and yet again this shall be mine.
Verse 14: That enemy has been slain by me and I shall kill those others too. I am the lord of all, the enjoyer of all power, I am endowed with all occult powers, and am mighty and happy.
Verse 15-16: I am wealthy and own a large family; who else is equal to me?… Thus deluded by ignorance, enveloped in the mesh of delusion and addicted to the enjoyment of sensuous pleasures, their minds bewildered by numerous thoughts, these men of devilish disposition fall into the foulest hell.
Verse 17-18: Intoxicated by wealth and honour, those self-conceited and haughty men…. given over to egotism, brute force, arrogance, lust and anger etc., and calumniating others, they despise Me (the in-dweller), dwelling in their own bodies as well as in those of others.
Verse 19: Those haters, sinful, cruel and vilest among men, I cast again and again into demoniacal wombs in this world.
Verse 20: Failing to reach Me, Arjuna, those stupid souls are born life after life in demoniac wombs and then verily sink down to a still lower plane.
Verse 21: Desire, anger and greed, these triple gates of hell, bring about the downfall of the soul. Therefore, one should shun all these three.
We shall Refrain from Condemning the Already Condemned…. Their Karma, their deeds are their responsibility. Indeed, we should pity them for the role they have chosen for themselves, for the task they have entrusted upon themselves.
They are delivering the messages of suffering, of death… Our task, our duty now is to become the harbingers of peace, love, and harmony. Our responsibility is to heal ourselves so we can heal others.
For this very purpose, Atma Chintan or Self Introspection becomes absolutely necessary. This is the first step towards fulfillment of our task.
Let Us See Where We Stand in the Chart of Trigunas or Three Inherent Natural Qualities or Traits:
The very first chapter of Bhagavad Gita is about Vishadha or Despondency, a sense of helplessness. We are fearful and anxious. If we do not invoke Krishna, the Master, the Voice of Dharma or Righteousness within us, our fall is certain.
We withdraw from the battlefield, we become focused only on projecting all our energies and mind upon what we presume as the most dangerous monster that is invincible.
Now, the invincibility of the so called monster is purely the projection of our mind. In this ever changing world of matter, where nothing is permanent, not even our body – a virus can not even be permanent, it can not be invincible. All things, whether natural or man-made, must undergo transmutation.
If We do not Understand this, then the quality of Tamas, Sloth or Lethargy will take over our sensibility. We will become angry and emotional for no reason. Even advice that is for our own benefit, welfare and upliftment will be misunderstood and rejected as bad and useless.
As a result, we become more and more depressed, anxious or even suicidal and homicidal. Becoming suicidal or homicidal does not necessarily mean killing oneself or killing others. One becomes suicidal by allowing oneself to become so depressed that the flame of the spirit within loses its lustre and glow. Similarly, one becomes homicidal by promoting fear in others through one’s speech and deeds.
It is, therefore, Urgent and Imperative that we do not dwell for too long in the domain of Tamas. We must contemplate upon the nature of this trait and start clearing the clutter in our houses, starting with our own bedroom.
It is only when we are able to live clutter-free on the gross physical level, that we can identify our own mental clutter, our uncontrolled and uncultured emotions, and our own personal deep-rooted lethargy.
Interestingly, a lethargic person can convey themselves as very religious: “All this is God’s will, who are we to defy?” A tamasika person is always finding excuses to justify his sloth. He is bullying himself.
We have to raise ourselves to move beyond “This innate laziness,” as my Master always reminds us, “must go!”
The Good News is: It is Easy. We can, once and for all, say goodbye to this trait of lethargy, to the sloth within us. Say goodbye to it forever, so it may not infect others. For, a tamasika person becomes vulnerable to all kind of dis-eases.
A person infected by the virus of tamas can infect others. He is always doubtful and not certain of his own actions. He will destroy himself, but before doing so he becomes the cause of destruction for many others.
Coming back to the Good News, that it is easy to get rid of our lethargy, our sloth. Consider this:
Nobody, I repeat, nobody actually likes to live in dirty or squalid surroundings. During these times of self-quarantine or lockdown, we now all have the time to clear the clutter that we have been accumulating over many years.
By accomplishing that, we move to the next level, the domain of Rajas or Rajoguna, the quality that makes us dynamic and productive.
In the Domain of Rajoguna, at first we can be self-centered. Our energies and mind are focused upon our own survival and the survival of our family members, our kith and kin, our loved ones.
It is the domain of “me”, “my”, and “mine”. My family and I, my friend and I, my community and I, my party and I, my tribe and I.
Not really commendable, but at least we are no longer lethargic, that is if we actually work, do something, anything within our capacity, using all the means that we have, to alleviate the suffering.
But, let us not remain in this domain for too long, lest we become egoistic and so self-centered that we forget the welfare of all others. It is always me and mine.
Let Us Rise to the 3rd Domain of Sattva, the Domain of Dynamic Calmness and Cool-Headednes; the Domain of Meditators, of Karma Yogis – those who practice the Yoga of Action for the welfare of all, of collectivity. Those who pray for the well-being of one and all.
The way to rise above rajoguna is through meditation, through living yoga as a way of life. For, it is only through such sadhana, through such loving spiritual practices that we can enter the realm of sattva.
The Karma Yogis are selfless workers. You do not have to approach them, they reach out to you. They lovingly dedicate their entire lives to the cause of Loka Samgraha, the welfare of all beings. They are the compassionate beings.
Let Us Understand the Message that is being conveyed by Existence, through Covid-19. In nutshell: Whoever produced and delivered it, it is because of our karmas, our irresponsible past actions that the Corona virus is here, around us.
So, Karma is the Cause. Yes, but it does not mean that we resign to the fate. Karma is a dynamic principle. If our past actions have brought upon us this virus; this dukkha or suffering, as Buddha would call it, (since he never beat around the bush – for him, a spade was a spade, he would not sugar coat it as a challenge) then we can also eliminate it and put an end to it by our actions.
Let us pray to God for a clear vision, for inner strength to transform the fear of Corona into Karuna, into Compassion. Let us change our behavior towards Mother Earth, towards all the existential elements, towards the insects, birds, and animals.
The Message is Clear, very clear, BUT we have to develop our “inner sight to read it”. We have to develop our “inner ear to hear it”. We have to develop karuna or “the compassion within us to feel it”.
The Message has been delivered. It is like an old fashioned letter delivered by a postman, it is only delivered once! We are not going to receive any notifications the way we do with emails. It is already hand delivered.
We have to open this letter…..read it, and transform our lives. Yes, transform and not just reform, to comply with the message.
And, once again, the message is Karuna, Compassion towards all beings. Let us remain in the state of sattva, let us abide in that realm, let us work and live our lives from that level of consciousness.
Let us live responsibly, let us live compassionately.
*Anand Krishna, a Spiritual Humanist born in Indonesia, is the author of more than 180 books in Indonesian and English. He is also the founder of Anand Ashram (www.anandkrishna.org, www.anandashram.asia)