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Catharsis – In the time of Corona virus
“Know thyself”, “Atma-Gyan”, are some of the phrases in different languages to emphasize the relevance and importance of self-realization, considered essential to attain spiritual/temporal enlightenment. Ordinarily, these practices are associated with people who have consciously chosen a spiritual path, have renounced worldly possessions and dedicate their entire life in pursuit of their avowed goal. They follow normal rituals to keep their body and soul together, but large part of their life and time, is spent in religious and spiritual affairs.
The number of people in this category, however is small and constitutes a fraction of the total population of the world. Large majority of mankind is not part of this conundrum and leads life on its own terms, fully immersed in normal worldly pursuits. They do not have the time and inclination to surrender their lives completely to “meaningless ” religious or spiritual occupations. Many set apart some time for going to temples, churches, mosques, but largely it is done in a ritualistic format. There is also a category of atheists and agnostics who obdurately deny the existence of anything that is God or Godly.
Physiologically speaking, all these categories of people are identical, but the similarities ends here and each one follows a different path in pursuing their life’s goal and manner of its pursuit. Everyone creates his or her own style, lives differently, does things differently and develops a distinct neural pathway, quintessential to his nature. There is adequate space in the universe that allows these differences to grow and co-exist. It creates some conflicts but its resolution also happens in the fullness of time.
But at some stage in our collective evolutionary movement, an event takes place that impacts everyone with equal and identical force and throws us all out of our comfort zones. This event is powerful, ubiquitous, invisible and has the potential of assuming pandemic dimensions. It usually arrives in an unexpected manner and has a pronounced surprise element.
In the current phase of mankind’s existence, the entire world is experiencing this phenomenon which apparently does not seem to have a parallel in the living memory of the current generation.
Spread of Corona virus or Covid-19, as it is referred to by many is indeed, that phenomenon. The big question is whether it would lead to universal catharsis?
Before we are in a position to adequately answer this question, it is necessary to assess and quantify the impact and resultant take-away.
Corona virus tells us that it does not make any distinction between rich and poor, high and low, strong and weak.
It does not recognizes national boundaries. For it the entire world is one with complete porosity.
It also strongly underscores the fact that all human beings may be interconnected, but each one is a distinct entity.
That every individual is expected to devise his or her own methods of survival.
There is a clear message that you may be very powerful, physically or metaphysically, but you are not invincible. Everyone is eminently vulnerable.
All entities that are organic in nature including human beings, are fragile and perishable.
There is also a message that is loud and clear and that is, while Nature has enormous tolerance, it would not sit idle if its beauty and balance is being continuously, and wilfully damaged.
Nature is perpetually engaged in the task of destruction and rejuvenation, and in this regard it is ruthless.
There are incidents described as natural disasters like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, floods, famines that impact a specific geographical region and cause huge destruction of life and property, but they are generally confined to a limited area.
Nature has in its arsenal, a range of weapons of mass destruction from the categories mentioned above, to a tiny virus that is small, subtle and invisible to the naked human eye. Corona virus, indeed falls in that category. It may not be incorrect to state that smaller the weapon, larger is its capacity and potential for destruction.
It is perfectly legitimate to ask a few questions that the entire mankind would possibly pose at this stage-Why does nature have to resort to this mechanism of mass destruction with little or no warning?. Everyone is leading his or her life in a usual manner, people are coming to this world by a prescribed biological process and going away when their time comes. Where is the need for such drastic measures that can wipe off a large segment of population in a short span of time?. Does nature not follow any system, pattern or order? Has humanity by its collective acts of omission and commission, played a contributory role in this mayhem? Why has the world been enveloped in a feverish grip of panic for no ostensible reason?
It is essential to address these questions with an open and logical mind, both for seeking a satisfactory answer, and taking corrective measures to ensure that the mankind does not face the scourge of nature’s wrath in future, and is reduced to a helpless and mute spectator. It will also prepare us for future occurrences and minimize the surprise element and its impact.
A keen, unbiased observer and an analyst of Nature, and all natural phenomena would testify to its fairness and just behaviour. It treats everyone as equal, it is ever flowing, provides equal opportunities and access to all its resources. It does not wilfully damage anything, nor would it allow anybody to damage its wealth beyond a point. The threshold of its tolerance is very large, but it does not willingly accord permission to anybody to continue to indulge in unbridled destruction. Indeed, it seeks to maintain its pristine beauty and does everything to restore any damage done in a short term. Nature’s time span is not narrow or short lived. It has to continue for billions of years and remain a good host for millions of future generations.
At this stage we need to sit back and ask many more questions and seek satisfactory answers. This time the respondent would be the entire humanity, all of us, our collective acts of wilful destruction of natural resources, plundering of mineral wealth, encroachment of natural habitats of other living beings-namely animals, birds on land, air and water.
It is axiomatic to state that nothing in this universe happens without a reason, and that all effects must necessarily have a cause or several causes. The entire science and indeed, all philosophical thoughts are verily based on this foundation.
Every civilization, nation or society drafts its own laws, rules and regulations for creating order so that everyone is in a position to lead a meaningful life. It is usually done by an institution created with a common consent and enjoys the mandate to make those laws. Every citizen is expected to follow them, and any infraction is punished by that organized system. It can be safely assumed that these laws are generally based upon the premise of truth, justice and ethical values to establish order and good behaviour. They also resonate with contemporary needs and cultural ethos of a particular generation and are frequently modified to adequately meet the needs of the ever changing situation.
This legal protocol is conceived, written and enforced by all of us-the mankind.
There is another set of rules, unwritten, and un-codified by an entity known as “Nature” which are universally acknowledged but are universally violated with absolute impunity in the ordinary course. However these laws and tenets are far more stringent, much more consistent with truth, justice and ethical values than any man-made laws. These laws are immutable and have never changed since the beginning of the universal order. The punishment for their violation, as and when it is delivered, is much more severe and is not limited to one section of society or a group of people.
Is the spread of corona virus which has assumed pandemic proportions, nature’s way of meting out punishment for gross and ceaseless violation of its laws?
This virus which continues to defy any logic or remedy has already shaken up the entire world, infected several hundred thousands, killed many thousands and has not stopped counting. Citizens of all the nations of the world (196 out of 197) have reported a small, a large number, or a very large number that have been infected. All other matters relating to economy, defence, law and order which every State is normally seized of, has been put on the backburner and covid-19 has assumed centre stage. Normal life of all individual across the world has been thrown out of gear and does not seem to be getting back to the standard routine, any time early.
The most fascinating part of this phenomenon, however relates to a visible and a perceptible shift in the general behaviour and conduct of all individuals. It will be interesting to analyze how the entire mankind changes its lifestyle when faced with an imminent threat to life.
- Suddenly our level of awareness has gone up several notches above the normal.
- We have become extremely particular about personal hygiene. Now every visit to the washroom is longer with a special emphasis on cleaning our hands not casually, but very purposefully.
- Ordinarily, our sub-conscious drives most of our action which happen in an automation mode. Not any longer. We are extremely conscious in whatever we do, or a large part of what we do during the day.
- We are deliberately reducing our dependence on others and spending more time on doing standard things ourselves.
- All living beings are cellular in biological context and are driven by two sets of cells-growth cells and the protection cells. The latter is playing a dominant role now.
- At a social level, this phenomenon has effectively removed all class or caste distinctions. Everyone is equal. There is no category of touchable or untouchable.
- There distinctly is a spike in the number of people spending more time in the worship of God. Evidently, this is more out of fear than love of God.
- This forced alertness has perhaps impacted the health of many in a positive way.
- We are more aware of our vulnerability and fragility, but perhaps even now, are not fully willing to accept it.
- We have become relatively more self-sufficient.
- There is a pronounced improvement in our sense and sensibilities towards others, which is more out of our own protection rather than for others.
- We have learnt to maintain a respectable distance from others.
At the larger environmental level, world looks cleaner, air more breathable and sky more blue than usual. Animals, birds and other living beings seem less threatened by a species of homo sapiens. Some wild animals have been reported to be moving around in the human habitats that originally belonged to them. Dolphins are in the news for swimming in the water bodies fearlessly.
Is this some kind of catharsis? All that has been described above is a indication of a very positive behaviour. Something which is essential in the normal course of our existence, and as ordained by Nature.
The big question is-is this phenomenon sustainable? Will it last beyond the current phase of difficult times, which according to an eminently intelligent estimation will pass away. Mankind will find an answer or it might wither away and die a natural death much to the relief of the entire humanity. It is perhaps not possible to answer this question in a completely affirmative manner.
There is ample historical and physiological evidence that would suggest that any change that takes place under fear or duress does not last very long. But if we go back to our old ways after this holocaust is over (which seems a more likely scenario), humanity would have suffered a double jeopardy. We would have sacrificed a large chunk of humanity and yet not learn any lessons. Nature does not hold any assurance of not revisiting this phenomenon with equal or renewed vigour anytime in future.
It is a profound wake-up call and let us all heed it and respect it for all its message.
Written By – Vinod Malhotra
Director – Corporate Relations, Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group