Even as the world is struggling in innumerable ways to cope with the present situation, the Universe seems to have given us a challenge: to keep the mind pristine and peaceful through it all. If enough of us succeed in this undoubtedly arduous task, it may well be that our collective consciousness will get an upgrade. That would mean more peace and harmony, more sharing and caring, greater equity and justice, and higher sensitivity to environmental issues. So let’s pull together, dear friends. If we change, the world changes.
There’s no doubt at all that both individually and collectively, the Coronavirus is a karmic visitation. Both individually and collectively, each of us is responsible for the state of the world, and we have therefore created the present situation.
So here’s what we need to do when caught in the iron vise of karma:
The first thing is to ask ourselves what lessons we need to learn both individually and collectively. All karmic events are stern teachers, and until we learn our lessons, they will not go away. So ask yourself all that you need to learn as a parent, a homemaker, an employee or an employer, and above all, as a human. Individually, these times are designed to help us to go past our limitations in many ways. For instance, I don’t like to do housework. Presto, the virus took away my helper and left me coping with the dishes, the sweeping and swabbing and, since I neglected to buy a washing machine, the clothes as well. I am taking it in the right spirit and actually enjoying looking after my house. Someone else I know does not know how to cook. Well, with the cook gone, she is cooking for the first time for herself and her family, and bless her, enjoying it. A third friend loves the high life, so now she has to stay cooped up at home, all her gorgeous clothes hanging limply in her wardrobe, and all those delicious restaurant meals going untasted.
Collectively, I am convinced these times are about helping us to shift from a nonviable worldview of ever-increasing consumption and production. That philosophy is trashing the planet, causing wars, inequity, violence, competition and conflict and all diseases including the Corona Virus. This won’t be easy. We have become used to a luxurious way of life, and we have to learn to do without. Tired of waiting for us to change, the Universe has taken charge and forced us to contain ourselves within tenements and mansions, flats and farmhouses. Finally, the factories are silent, traffic has stopped, and toxins are not spewing into rivers and gutters. Thanks to the absence of maids, people are washing fewer dishes and fewer clothes, which means lesser detergents in drains and the sea. Thanks to the lockdown, we are using our resources carefully, for what if were to run out of them and find there’s nothing left in the shops?
Finally, finally, finally, we are learning moderation, containment, and thrift, which only will help restore harmony in the Planet. The point is, can we continue like this even after the virus leaves us, or will we forget all too soon and return to business as usual? On that outcome will depend our future, because if we do not learn this lesson, then the karmic whip will come down on us harder and harder.
Another lesson that we will have to learn is that the economy is not meant to be at the center of human activities. It is meant to be on the sidelines. We are here on Planet Earth to do better things than to buy and sell. We are here to become better human beings. To discover our purpose for being. To find occupations that make us happy, and enable us to contribute the best part of ourselves. Above all, to attain enlightenment – the sole purpose of our existence. We only need to look at the teachings of our own 5000-year-old scriptures to recognize how misplaced our centralization of economics is. Take the four purusharthas, which can be roughly considered to be the purposes of human existence. These are Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha. Dharma can be defined as doing what is appropriate in every situation. Artha means the pursuit of wealth. Kama means the pursuit of pleasure, and finally, Moksha means the pursuit of enlightenment. Do you see how Artha and Kama are sandwiched between Dharma and Moksha? I find that very significant. The sages knew that money and pleasure are potentially inflammable pursuits that could end up destroying us (and the world). That is why Artha and Kama can only be pursued through dharmic means and keeping the end of Moksha in sight. Thus if you earn money or pursue pleasure through principled means and always keep in mind that your purpose on Planet Earth is to attain enlightenment, it stands to reason that you will not go overboard in either activity, but will eventually outgrow these goals, and contentedly apply yourself to Moksha.
The world needs to get clarity on means and ends. The profit motive is not only unworthy of humanity, but it also is destroying the world.
Having identified these lessons, let us do our very best to learn them. You may be sure that unless we have learned them, karma will not let up. The Coronavirus may leave us, but one more, even more, lethal visitation will be waiting in the wings. Everything, even Corona, has been determined by the Universe and is a party to the laws of life, of which karma is one. So apply yourself.
Accept the unpleasantness and suffering of the situation. The more you resist it, the harder the situation becomes and the longer resolution takes. Accept that you yourself have created the present situation through your actions, and willingly do the tapasya required of you.
Make restitution as far as you can. Apologize to the people you have exploited or abused. If as an industrialist you have been responsible for despoiling the environment, then spend the rest of your life doing what you can to heal it. Forgive yourself too, because it will never be over for you unless you do that.
If you do all this, there will come a time when you will see the Corona as your biggest ally in evolution and feel your heart expand in gratitude. In this situation, even though you might still be under lockdown, you will be at peace, and the problems will lift in order to reveal the opportunities within them. You will then grow exponentially. For you, the karma has lifted. If enough of us do this, it may lift collectively too.
So let’s pull together, dear friends. If we change, the world changes.
Suma Varughese has had a long and illustrious career as a writer/editor/journalist for 40 years. She was the editor-in-chief of Life Positive, India’s premier body-mind-spirit magazine, for over 12 years, prior to which she was the editor of Society magazine for five years and has also been a senior editor with Gentleman magazine. Suma is a popular guest speaker at many conferences and seminars and has been intimately connected with the rise of the spiritual movement in India.