Conference held by Jaya Yogācārya on April 24th, 2020 during meditation class (videoconference during lockdown)
We are in the 7th week of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Following the news in the media, I realized nobody knows where we are going, and our leaders even less so.
Without spiritual pursuit, I would be lost.
We have been on lockdown in order to fight against a virulent contagion and authorities estimate that about 6% of the French population were contaminated.
Where are they?
The coronavirus mortality rate varies a lot from one country to another. At the moment when I write this text (the 20th of April), the mortality rate for France is 13.6% of the 158 000 confirmed cases, hence the 20 000 deaths.
On the 1st of May 2020, the total number of confirmed cases is 167 178, the number of recoveries is 49 476, the number of deaths is 24 376.
The mortality rate is 14.58% and has thus increased.
The recovery rate is 29.59% and the rate of people still sick is 55.82%.
As of the 20th of April, we have been said that 70% of the population should be contaminated to develop enough antibodies to eradicate this virus.
What does that mean?
We are 67 000 000 people. 70% represent 46 900 000 people.
If the mortality rate as of today is 14,58% of the 167 178 confirmed cases, how many deaths would be necessary to attain these 70% and how much time would it take?
I do not dare to calculate this.
We can clearly see that journalists and politicians make spectacular announcements which only confirm that the future is going to be uncertain due to a lack of certainties and short-term solutions.
Without a vaccine or miraculous treatment as soon as possible, logic suggests that lockdown exit will lead to new waves of contamination.
Some recent studies mention that we may have to go through alternating lockdowns until 2022.
The World Health Organization does not conceal the fact that we will have to deal with this virus for a long time.
Deciding who is allowed to exit lockdown and who is not, when there are neither tests nor treatment available for everybody, is like sending us all to an invisible and risky front line.
Even though we really feel like pawns, considered useful or not to society depending on our activities–but this remains relative–, I have the feeling that to date, nobody knows where he is going, or at least, where he can go!
Should we be obedient at the cost of our paycheck security and go to the front because this is what we are talking about. When a war breaks out, it is always a sudden shock to the civilians, and nobody can know when it will stop and who will survive.
Having no control over the decisions made at the government level, the soldiers that we are have to obey.
It is as if we were saying to ourselves: "Your money or your life?".
Countries have been engaged in financial and technological wars for decades. Ordinary people will remain ignorant of their geopolitical strategies for a long time. We know very little about what is really happening on a global scale, but we do suffer the consequences individually.
The same applies in life in general! In the end, we do not really know where we are going, except maybe those who have a higher–spiritual, artistic, inventive, ideological, altruistic–goal.
Our own death is the only thing we can be certain of, but we always think we will die in the distant future from old age, disease, or accident. For most of us who have not known war, it is new to think it may happen sooner by contagion.
This is an unprecedented situation for us.
In ordinary life, we postpone death to a distant deadline, and we get busy living, providing for our needs. In our rich societies, we are fortunate to be able to enjoy certain pleasures in life.
We even have fun!
We have fun traveling, visiting, dancing, going to the movies, to the restaurant, to the museum, meeting, buying, experimenting.
In this way of living life, if there is no spiritual pursuit, most people reach death unprepared. They ignore this deadline and fully enjoy life and the moment.
Today, we do not really know where we are going in terms of social workings. Moreover, the usual means of entertainment are not provided.
If this lasts, this will bring about a major change.
There have always been rich and pleasure-seeking societies alongside poorer ones. Four-wheel-drive treks in Himalayan plains where Sherpas have a hard time carrying the backpacks of rich people are a good example thereof.
Our consumerist world society has become a society of pleasure.
So, it is the notion of pleasure that may need to be reconsidered.
Remember, in my conference "The Point of Tangency", I was referring to the metaphor of the "frog and the pot" described in the book of Olivier Clerc.
Remember, the author talks about a frog in a pot which does not know it is cooking. As the water gets warmer and warmer, the frog adapts, accepting the unacceptable without knowing, to the point where it does not have enough energy to jump out.
Are we already this frog unable to jump out of water?
How many times did I remind you in my teachings that you need to remove the idea once and for all that life’s hardships will stop one day.
Hardships, painful events, situations difficult to be in will never disappear from your life. Being happy in the world as it is and not by pursuing unattainable dreams is the true spiritual challenge.
Today even more so!
Avidyā अविद्या, the fundamental ignorance, consists in believing that unhappiness is painful, and happiness cannot be totally happy.
This is why in times when everything seems to go well, your happy moments are always lived with a state of alertness and fear in the background. You constantly feed your fears, your bad memories. By projecting them on to your emotions, your experiences, your future, these fear mechanisms may well rot your life even more in this new situation.
The spiritual seeker should not forget his quest for unification even in the chaos of this new here and now.
Have I not already told you that all these hours of meditation, concentration, knowledge, mastery, aim at teaching you, among others, how to be peaceful, serene, or at least calmer, in a terrible situation.
It is this attitude of awareness which will enable you to be free and serene in terrible situations. You have to make a shift inside of you, stop being fearful and never forget that suffering will never disappear from your life.
You have to look straight into life.
Looking straight into life is also facing death.
Beyond the metaphysical consideration, death is already a physical reality. Socially, it is a natural phenomenon handled without emotion, just like marriage, birth, aging, youth, etc.
At the moment, the media talk about our deceased ones with statistics, mathematical models, and probabilities.
I feel I am becoming a number myself!
On 24hour information channels, we see a doctor turned into an improvised journalist coldly declare, after seeing a report on a 97-year-old woman in a wheeling chair, on lockdown and crying because of her isolation, that she is probably going to die.
We also see a young doctor in her thirties coldly say to a 75-year-old man infected with Covid-19 that his lungs are out of order and that he will not recover!
This is how we learn we are going to die from someone wearing a mask, in a room lit by neon lights.
This is how we become a number.
The media are fond of this kind of testimonies.
If you carefully look at these images, beyond the ritual of "congratulations in the evening news" which could make us believe in human goodness, there is also the endless game of individualities who position themselves with analyses or contradictory declarations just to be an ego proud to be in the spotlight and to have something to say.
It is a question of scenario!
For the doctor, death is a predictable, biological phenomenon. This removes the tragic character of the event. By reducing the metaphysical importance of death, society makes it a relative phenomenon far away from us. But as the number of deaths increases, this phenomenon gets closer to us.
But for the one who loses someone close, ipseity, the individual identity of the deceased, remains irreplaceable, and there will be no compensation for it.
Death is unthinkable.
We can think about death, but we cannot comprehend death.
Not being able to embrace one’s parents, close ones, nor being able to accompany them on their last journey, this is psychological violence equal to the cruelty brought by a state of war.
So, there will be a before and an after.
All revolutions, wars, pandemics have upset the established social structures. But quickly, men stood back up. They buried their deceased, healed their wounds.
The human brain has always adapted, and created new societies, new structures, new ways of functioning.
Its biological necessity consists in sensing in the chaos, in the disturbance, a creative novelty and it starts converting the old into the new.
Don’t you feel the necessity in you to understand what this new social situation is bringing about and to draw some lessons to change your future?
The human brain needs security and order to function and survive, but chaos is creative for it. If the present becomes chaotic, the brain has to find security in the knowledge of the past and the ingenuity of the future.
Knowledge, whether it is biological, technological, philosophical, comes from experience. So, in knowledge there is security and knowledge is the past.
However, man cannot stay a prisoner of the past and has always longed for freedom.
What does a prisoner talk about?
About freedom, Mokṣa मोक्ष, Nirvāṇa निर्वाण.
Our current prisons of life are not the freedom we are longing for in the depths of our souls.
In the freedom we long for, we want joy, beauty, action, change, discovery, love. If your present life becomes a repetitive and mechanical continuity, you have to invent an ideal, a liberation, a heaven.
You go on a quest.
When men seek safety in the future, they can invent a god, a truth, discover altruism, realize something great, a construction, a reconstruction.
But they cannot pursue this liberation without being anchored to the past, to knowledge. This anchorage is biologically necessary.
Of course, knowledge also brings about division on another level.
The known and the unknown, the knowledge of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, knowledge is the factor that divides.
When we see the whole structure of knowledge (in knowledge there is safety, but it is also divisive), we understand its biological necessity and its double nature of unification and division.
This is where we perceive the bondage of time and our need for freedom.
Does man sense another security in a superior freedom?
From a metaphysical point of view, yes of course. This is proper to the spiritual quest.
Living one’s temporal carnation by finding the freedom of Ātman आत्मन्, the soul.
But this freedom, even if it seems to be located on a higher plane, “beyond" as religions say, is not outside.
For the yogi, freedom is here, inside yourself.
Complete freedom is right here.
It is here, even in this situation of pandemic.
But to live it this way, to realize it, you have to understand the passage from relative to absolute, from imperfect to wise man.
As far as the free yogi is concerned, the realized yogi, the Jīvan-mukta जीवन्मुक्त , he knows that he is Brahman ब्रह्मन्, the unique immense ocean which produces countless and ephemeral waves, the cycles of manifestation, and not a little wave separate from the others.
As Brahman, he is all the phenomena.
Nothing is that is not it.
As long as the consciousness of separation persists (considering oneself as an individuality separate from the other human beings and the rest of the universe), all life is lived in the perception of the self and nonself through pleasant and unpleasant emotions.
This is the bondage wise men talk about. They invite us to free ourselves from it.
By remaining subject to this mechanism, man gives to outside circumstances the power over him. He is bound and slave.
Nobody likes it when something or someone stands in front of him and says: No!
The virus says "No" to you.
And you, what do you say to yourself inside?
As long as you will reject what happens, you will reinforce the power of the outside situation over you, as an effect of balancing forces.
When man, one day, feels the new feeling and says to himself "This is below my dignity", on that day, the path of the Being opens up in front of him and in him.
On that day, he can say "Yes" to what happens while remaining free.
Hari om tat sat
"Monde moderne et sagesse ancienne" by Arnaud Desjardins, La Table ronde Editions.
"Tradition and Revolution" by Krishnamurti, Stock Editions.
Adaptation and comment by Jaya Yogācārya.
Translated by stéphanie Bosco
©Centre jaya de Yoga Vendata La Réunion