Spiritual changes for the pandemic and beyond
by Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri
COVID-19 has been an eyeopener, helping us to reflect on our attitudes and actions. Many are making resolves to stop making the same mistakes - resolutions to be more loving, more compassionate and caring to both their fellow human beings as well as to Nature. But in the past century, hasn’t humanity experienced many such eye openers?
The Spanish Flu of 1918, the Great Depression, two World Wars, devastating acts of violence and natural disasters.… Each time, we make vows to become more loving and compassionate, yet before long we slip back into our old habits.
If this time is to be different - if the lessons we learn from the coronavirus pandemic are to be lasting - then there are nine things we must remember:
1) Remember to find happiness in what you do
Love what you do. The pure energy of love will transform your work into joy. While going for a trip, the journey itself should be enjoyable, not just the destination. Obsession with goals destroys the present moment - the only place joy exists. Our expectations are like a noose, dragging us into the future. Be in the moment and perform your actions with love and care, keeping their objectives in your back pocket. The result is joy and contentment, not in the future but here and now.
2) Remember, life is about managing emotions
Practise some meditation, chant a mantra or do some simple breathing exercises. These will help you relax, think more clearly and not get emotionally swept up when difficulties arise. Wisdom is not mere knowledge; it is our capacity to knowledgeably execute our responsibilities without being overpowered by fear and anxiety.
3) Remember to not lose sight of your goals by imitating others
A soldier may see the farmer’s life as peaceful and happy, and a farmer may see the soldier’s life as exciting and dynamic. However, both roles are equally important. It is better to fulfill your own responsibilities imperfectly than to imitate someone else’s life with perfection.
4) Remember to be fair
Try to treat everyone with compassion. When you start treating your foes as considerately as your friends, life becomes more peaceful. You won’t be haunted by guilt and other emotional ghosts. He alone sees truly who sees God in every creature and never harms himself or others.
5) Remember to create a balance between knowledge and action
Humanity is more interested in gaining knowledge than in acting on that knowledge. As such, our world is overpopulated with talkers, and doers are becoming an endangered species. The immature think knowledge and action are different; the wise see them as the same.
6) Remember not to run away from your duties
Once you understand something to be your duty, do it. Don’t over analyze it and become paralyzed from following through. There are pros and cons to everything in life. If we get consumed in second guessing ourselves, there will be no end to our suffering.
7) Remember to have faith in the Divine Laws of the Universe
Neither time nor life fall in straight lines; they are cyclic. Everything that goes comes back again. It is easy to become dejected, thinking that everything is hopeless, that evil will win and that there is nothing we can do about. Rather than feeling sad about misfortune, continue to fulfill your responsibilities and have faith that a greater power is ultimately protecting the truth.
It doesn’t matter who we are - a teacher, an artist, a prime minister, a president, a CEO, someone working retail or a day-laborer - a Divine Power is keeping track of everyone’s actions. The things we do today will eventually return to us. So too for others.
8) Remember to be meditative
Meditation is the art of tapping into our silent center and transmitting that stillness into action. This will bring us deeper clarity in thinking, in listening and in guiding others. We will then have more patience, more love and be more emotionally stable in times of difficulty.
9) Remember to be intuitive
Once we realize the silence within, our lives will no longer be guided by conflicting thoughts. Rather, we will develop an intuitive mind that will enable us to take the right decisions at the right time with the right understanding.
Amma says, “To be intuitive means to be spontaneous. The first step towards being spontaneous is sincere and dedicated effort and hard work. The second step is letting go, forgetting all you have done, and being in the present in a restful state of mind. From that restfulness, the intuitive mind begins to function.”
The Big Picture
During the pandemic, for the most part, humanity has been exercising a tremendous amount of self-control. We are learning that we can live with just the necessities. Perhaps the universe is trying to guide us towards a better understanding of what matters in life. If we can make these nine resolves and keep them alive, we will attain not only external wealth but also internal wealth. This is the path that Amma is guiding us along.
Amma’s is a vision in which the world and God are not two, but one. Whatever the future has in store for us, let us try to embrace this vision and do what we can to compassionately help the poor and suffering.
As Amma says, “Just as the sun doesn’t need the light of a candle, God doesn’t need anything from us. God is the giver of light. Around us, so many people are suffering. Let us console them. Let us give them the help they need. This is true love for God. This is real spirituality.”
Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri is the Vice Chair of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math and Amma’s most senior disciple.
This article was taken from Swamiji’s talk delivered on July 26, 2020 as part of the 2020 Europe Youth Summit (ACT Today for a Better Tomorrow), which was held virtually due to COVID-19. Swamiji has participated in the Europe Youth Summits regularly since 2014.