Monday Morning Greetings 2020 #15 – The Yoga of Corona

April 13th, 2020

I hesitated to keep this title. It seems a little ghastly or even insensitive, but there is a precedent that inspired me to leave it as it is. The first chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā is entitled “Viṣāda-yoga” (The Yoga of Despair). In other words, anything becomes yoga, even despair, when it brings us closer to understanding our self and God. In light of that, some reflections on the “Yoga of Corona” will follow, but first one more point is needed to highlight the relevance of today’s subject. Yoga is not just meant for an easy day-to-day life. It is specifically meant to give us the strength and spiritual buoyancy to deal with the world and the incredibly stressful circumstances that repeatedly arise, which is exactly the reason why the Bhagavad-gītā, one of the main yoga texts, was spoken in the midst of a ghastly war.


Śrīla Prabhupāda on Corona


“Constant remembering the lotus feet of the Lord means preparing for liberation from birth and death. Therefore, even though there are so-called calamities, they are welcome because they give us an opportunity to remember the Lord, which means liberation.” (Bhag. 1.8.25, Purport)


Removing the false ego


We don’t experience our connection with God because the soul is covered by the false ego, which is our sense of superiority based on the desire to control and enjoy. If anyone in the world had any sense that they were the controller because of their opulence and power, they should certainly think twice. Even the richest and most famous people with all of their accoutrements of power are helplessly quarantined. Is Krishna arranging all this, and for that matter all life’s challenges, simply to help deconstruct and remove that false sense of control so we can experience our true identity and call to Him with feeling?  Is this not the import of Queen Kunti’s prayers?


“My Lord, Your Lordship can be easily approached, but only those who are materially exhausted. One who is on the path of [material] progress, trying to improve himself with respectable parentage, great opulence, high education and bodily beauty, cannot approach you with sincere feeling.” (Bhag. 1.8.26)


What the hell are we missing?


A lawyer friend, whose office is in Manhattan, lamented staying home because of the crisis. I said, “But you hate your job!” He nodded, “It’s miserable. I really do hate work!” I commented, “Just see, you are missing that which gives you anxiety.” We laughed. A reflection: We get acclimated and attached to a life that moves at breakneck speed and robs us of the things that we value most and which simply cause us anxiety. Perhaps Krishna wants us to try to live more wholesome lives, rather than go back to the one we had, or to at least try to start making some adjustments to move in that direction?


Śrīla Prabhupāda was right.


He pushed for economically based self-sufficient rural communities, but for the most part his disciples failed in that endeavor. They were born in the mid-twentieth century and had already been conditioned by a false sense of opulence based on gadgets and convenience, and thus looked at rural life as too austere. Real opulence, however, is fresh air, home grown food with family, community, and worship in walking distance. When your whole modern economic system can seemingly collapse at any time like a stack of dominos, does not the stability of self-sufficiency that Śrīla Prabhupāda promoted suddenly look more enticing?


Final thoughts


“The duty of a sane person, therefore, is to be undisturbed by worldly calamities, which are sure to happen in all circumstances. Suffering all sorts of unavoidable misfortunes, one should make progress in spiritual realizations because that is the mission of human life. The spirit soul is transcendental to all material calamities; therefore the so-called calamities are false.” (Bhag. 1.8.25, Purport)


“This material world is full of suffering. Take shelter of the holy name of Krishna as your only business.” — Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura Aruṇodaya Kīrtana song 1, verse 6



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