Article by: Julian Ochoa

May you live in interesting times says a chinese proverb, indeed we are alive in interesting times. Everyday on tv, the radio, the internet  we see all sorts of bizarre news especially about the idiozcincracies of our leaders, who today are less leaders and more entertainers. We live in the age of reality tv, and in some twisted way the tables have turned on us and now we are the characters in a strange reality tv show where we are all suffering from  a massive global  lock down, because of the widely spread corona virus. 

Regardless of where people may say this virus came from, the virus is endemic, which means it is here to stay. Even if we get a vaccine this virus will never go away. What i ask to my self is what do these massive lock downs have to teach us. Working from home in this lock-down period has made me observe carefully all my behaviors and flaws which somehow are coming out now more than ever. 

There is a mass fear, hysteria, anxiety, incredulity and cynicism about what is going on, but the truth is that there are people dying, there are workers in the health system putting their lives in the line to save countless patients. Some may say these workers are getting paid, but these workers are not really getting paid, so much so as to sacrifice their lives for a person they do not know. There is something more that meets the eye in this situation, the doctors, nurses, wardens, paramedics are fighting to keep alive not just strangers but humanity as a whole. Some think this is a joke but we have to remember that the last pandemic killed millions. Nature and death are nothing to humor about, life is fragile a simple step in the wrong direction and it is all gone. 

Having said all of the above i still ask, what can we as contemporary humans learn from this? One best way to learn from a crisis is looking back at what theosophy and the ancient wisdom says about life in times of crisis. How should man behave in times of crisis, what is there for him to learn?

We are in the first quarter of 2020 and we are in the middle of a pandemic. All countries are in lock down, governments and private companies are scrabbling around for personal protection equipment, and to get a vaccine as soon as possible to ensure the global economy doesn’t collapse completely.  Humanity as a whole is either in total fear, in many cases acting hysterical or being apathetic about the whole situation.  Out of the last three, apathy is the one that is causing the most troubles. As people think that they are immune or that this is not real. But for those that are infected this virus is very real, for the doctors and nurses it is very real, for the people that have lost their jobs due to mass lock downs it is real. 

How can we face a global pandemic with the imminent possibility of being infected and maybe even dying? Fear and anxiety is the natural feeling that we all feel at the moment. Can we face this invisible threat in a better way? The Bhagavad Gita talks about fear, in chapter two Krishna tells Arjuna that if he does not assume his role in the coming battle he is abandoning his Dharma and will be seen as a deserter, if he dies in battle he will win heaven and if he wins he will enjoy Earth. We are not in a war but we are in a global crisis and we should all assume our roles and responsibilities with dignity. If we are just to stay home, then that is all that has to be done. If you have to work take all the necessary precautions. If you were to die from this pestilence it is better to have lived your last days trying to play your role in the world with grace than to die in fear and hysteria as if this was the end to your soul. If you lived you would have remembered this time as a period of reflection and participating with your community in ensuring that the virus did not spread. 

There is an incredible feeling of anxiousness in the world at the moment, there is worry of dying, the global economy is collapsing, there are many changes taking place very rapidly and we have been unable to catch up with it. At the more personal level we are worried about our jobs, where we will get the money to pay our bills, our family, our friends, our daily routines have been flipped upside down. We no longer have that and we are unsure how long this will last. All our plans, our ambitions, our trips overseas, our tickets to concerts, whatever plans we had are all now on hold indefinitely. We are anxious because of the uncertainty that we are facing. What we forget is that just as all good things don’t last, it is the same for bad things, this situation won’t last forever. This situation can end tomorrow or in six months. 

What this situation is teaching us, is that we are not in control of external events and forces, and as a result we have come to realise that our march forward in this world of illusions has been shaken by a virus. Is it time to panic at the fact that all human activity has been halted? The truth is that life goes on, if you look at nature the animals are still going about their business,  the sun is still emitting light and warmth to the whole solar system, all the elements on earth are still in movement, nothing has stopped, life goes on. Should we drown in our anxieties, or take this opportunity to grow in a different way? This is a time for humanity to reflect on how it wants to march towards the future, towards more wars, starvation and greed or should we take the path of solidarity  and empathy for others and for the planet with live in. 

To walk away from anxiety perhaps it would be good to watch less TV and talk more to your loved ones, have real conversations, listen to them, read books, meditate, or just sit back and watch the ebbs and flows of life. There is no need to be extra busy, no need to be preoccupied with online activities that take you back to the previous life before the virus. Do speak to your loved ones overseas, but detach your self from being “busy”. We did not come to this earth to ignore the world and die, we came to wonder at the universe and to discover its mysteries. 

Many are apathetic to this current situation, some young people think that they won’t get sick because they are young and strong, therefore they should continue partying and go about their lives without care for what is happening. Others live in situations where they have never experienced such dramas and don’t believe its serious or it just doesn’t touch them because they are part of a collective that has never suffered like other people in less fortunate countries. There is a mood in this day and age about living in the moment, but the truth is that the “moment” is an illusion, the moment is bound by time therefore living in the moment is ignoring the consequences of those actions. It is not useful to judge people for being apathetic, we live in a world of illusions, of Maya, or Samsara as the Indus and Buddhist call it. To be apathetic about the suffering of others is an eternal behavior among humans, therefore the only thing that can be done is to feel sympathy for the apathetic and stretch a hand towards them in their time of need as it is then when they will understand the meaning of sympathy and solidarity towards others. 

In this times one must do as a Theosophist, a Christian, a Muslim, Buddhist or any other follower of the supreme being would do and that is to be human in every aspect of the word. It is never late to change the course of our lives, to become more self aware and more empathetic towards all sentient beings.  For those seeking a way Theosophy advises that one should do the simple steps prescribed by the adepts, which are, to study the ancient wisdom, to meditate in order to have an introspection and discover who we really are and lastly to serve, to serve either by spreading the teachings of the ancients or by simply living an ethical and moral life, a life of love towards all sentient beings with out missing anyone, there is nothing more constructive for a society than to have a man or a woman that serves their community in what ever trade or calling he or she may have with enthusiasm and focus with the sole purpose of building a better world for the generations to come. 

This virus may isolate and distance us physically but it has not ruptured our collective connection, our connection to the earth and the universe and the invisible forces that guide creation. It is impossible for humanity to be obliterated completely, it is only the cynics that would see humanity enslaved by materialism and egotism. This current drama is part of a cycle and that cycle will also end and a new cycle will come where humanity will no longer suffer from its desires but will be in complete contentment with its fundamental unity with all living beings in the universe. Even if death knocks at our door, it is not over, the march continues towards that ever glorious light. 

Thank You for reading.