Surendra Conti (author of Let Me Remember This) is offering a new series of posts: Inspiration for Challenging Times (COVID-19) related to the current global crisis.

Inspiration for Challenging Times (COVID-19) – March 2020

As a writer, I see it as a calling to bear witness to the pivotal events of our time. Few, if any, will ever match the one we are going through now. Across all facets of our lives, the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in our experience.

The following is the first in a monthly series that I will post for as long as this novel coronavirus continues to shape the todays and tomorrows of the shaken world we suddenly find ourselves in.

I have written more than appears here, but these pieces seem the most poignant. I have added a date to only a few, but the order is chronological. 

* * * * *

The world is desperately shutting down to seek refuge from a viral disease that is clearly out to cleanse it of our excesses. With no vaccine to stop it, the safest response is forced isolation, which is hardly a hardship for me. Alone and away are adjectives I find appealing. My inner life loves the quiet, and I am not behind bars if I wish to go out for a walk, a hike, or a zip through one of those ravaged “essential stores” for something edible or useful.

People are dying in growing numbers from this coronavirus, and that growth will be exponential for quite some time. But whatever the toll before this crisis completes its tour of duty, I believe this event is the terrible medicine we have needed for decades.

May this breaking down of systems of glut and greed give impetus to a re-initiation, long denied, of simpler living and higher thinking.

* * * * *

Storm clouds, gathering faster, are looming lower above us. Driven by turbulent winds, swirling with worries, the whole scene is being whipped into a frenzy of fear.

Why do you stare at this growing gloom, letting it grow in you too? The dark is only a play. Another play is waiting to begin. It is the one to see and to be, set in a sunnier time.

Until we are no longer here, our lives may be difficult for days on end. For many, it already is. But they will be fine in time, and you can be fine without the wait. Know that what is coming is meant to be. If you are here for the new beginning it brings, you will glory in its quiet grandeur. Why not glory in it now? Are you up for it?

* * * * *

Why is this crisis happening?

You don’t need to know that, only that it is.

Where is it going? When will it end?

You don’t need to know that either.

What are we supposed to do?

Embrace the possibilities with courage and faith. Strange as it may seem, this whole situation is for the good of the planet and how life will be when it’s over.

How can that be true? What if we don’t survive?

Then it will be good for those who do, and those who don’t survive will be better off too. Think about it.

* * * * *

It is all going to go. All that you thought would stay is going to go. What you have, you will have no more, no matter how much it may be. That’s what happens. That is how nature works.

Your soul has known this all along. It has tried to get you to understand that it is the only permanence you possess, that letting go of everything else, in mind and emotion, is the only way to be happy for as long as you are here.

What we are witnessing now, in reaction to this rampant pandemic, is people desperate to hang onto what used to be. As they realize they cannot, their desperation increases, which increases the danger of greater devastation.

We have become like a managed forest, overgrown with undergrowth, awaiting the lit match to set it ablaze. This virus appears to be the match that has now been struck. The undergrowth, once lush and perceived as a symbol of wealth, is poised to be swept away in a massive fire of purification, and we are likely out of retardant to stop it.

This is a sacred moment in our lives, more so perhaps than any other has been. We are losing a lot of what has been, but most of that is merely the stuff of convenience or needless desire. Even as we are sequestered, look to the ways that separation is bringing us together. This disease is the disinfectant that is washing away the mindset that has kept us at odds and apart. See it as the blessing it is meant to be. When you do, no fear of loss will find its way in.

* * * * *

Dear Me…

You signed up for this crisis when you agreed to be born in this time and place. You came here to learn and to help. That was the deal, remember?

If it had been your karma to be born in a higher age, or on a more refined planet, that’s where you would have been sent. But this is where you have landed, entirely for your own good, and now your opportunity to make the most of it has never been greater. Get to it, man, and stay with it. Feel the love, and share it. Make it the time of your life.

* * * * *

Look to the good. It is all around.

We have stopped polluting the planet at the usual pace. Maybe we’re even helping it recover.

We’re beginning to experience quiet. It’s heavenly. Can you hear it?

Our illusions are notably fewer than even a few weeks ago.

COVID-19 is an equal opportunity aggressor. It is leveling the field. No gender, race, religion or class has an advantage against it. Everyone is in this together.

Our greed-supported foundations are falling apart, and selfishness is losing its appeal. Looks like a win-win to me.

Fewer of us will be here when it’s over, and that’s good too, even for those who are whisked away to their next astral intermission. Sometimes sooner than later can be a blessing.

We have never seen anything like this before. Much of it may prove horrific, but all of it bears the mark of divine genius. Let’s make the most of it.

* * * * *

Now is the gift of all we take for granted. Someday, in the hustle again of too many things to do, in the midst of rush-hour traffic and pressing deadlines, we will look back on this time with a longing for the empty streets and quiet blessings they bestow. Do not wait for later to wish this time would return. Live it and love it now.

* * * * *

America’s Federal Reserve is doing whatever it can to shore up the nation’s economy, and Congress is preparing to vote on a $2 trillion stimulus package that would give a chunk of money to every citizen. These are gallant rescue efforts to raise our morale and spending power during this deepening crisis. But where will the money come from? Unless I am terribly mistaken, we will be printing more of it as fast as the Treasury’s presses can turn it out. What is the dollar going to be worth when we finally recover? Hyper-inflation is waiting in the on-deck circle to be the crisis that replaces this one.

* * * * *

The question now, March 24, is whether to impose measures to suppress the spread of this disease, and maybe render it controllable; or implement a plan of mitigation that would favor the economy and people’s mobility, ensuring that today’s pandemic would persist and progressively worsen exponentially, proving to be the worst in recorded history.

In our country, you can count on mitigation to be the official decision. Why? Because those who will make the call are politicians and corporate CEOs, not people of the disciplines that deal with deadly contagions. The former are short-term thinkers with a fixed bias for consumption and self-interest. It’s a horrible combination, especially in a crisis.

To a great extent, the culprit here is democracy itself. When critical choices are left to the sway of the masses, and especially to those who practice manipulation by means of false promises and half-baked information, everyone goes down together.

* * * * *

Let us be clear, this is a war. We have been attacked, and we must fight or die. Those are the only two choices. This is not a time to equivocate or seek accommodation. The enemy is powerful and committed.

As we debate over what to do, let us also be clear that this war is a veiled gift: a chance to care more about others, to free ourselves of our material dependencies, and to alter the direction we have imposed on our planet from fracture and abuse to unity and accord. What a shame it would be to miss the opportunity at hand merely for a lack of self-discipline.

* * * * *

We hear the word “apocalypse,” and we shudder at its meaning. It speaks to the end of ourselves and our ways. We picture scenes of desolation in which we are no longer present; or if we are present, nothing in sight supports our desire to survive in such a place.

But the definition of apocalypse, a word of Greek origin, is deeper than we have understood. It means “to lift the veil,” to expose our false perceptions, to bare the errors of our imprudent practices.

Is this not what is happening now? If we are willing to see through the lifted veil of our misguided ambitions, and be willing to adjust to a new world without them, might “apocalypse” be the precursor of a healthier, happier life?

* * * * *

We, as nations, have known the shock of unforeseen events that have changed us profoundly. Natural disasters, wars, and crimes of madness leave scars as reminders that nothing is secure.

Never in our lives, however, has there been a global event like this current coronavirus. It respects no demarcation. No country or culture will be spared its intrusion. It is what we have spurned: the force of our unification.

What will be our response in the months and years ahead? Will we break through our border-biases and learn to band together? It is gratifying to see movement in that direction, but who will keep it going when this is over? Perhaps a period of global cooperation will lessen the colossal suffering that lies before us, but in its wake, what then? Will we have the courage to stay the course, or return to our self-indulgent, border-bound ways?

History offers little of the former. Yet, there will be changes born of this experience that will have an expansive effect. Small “cities of light” will greatly increase in number, appealing to those in search of a higher-awareness way of life, where nature sets the pace and spirit guides the flow. I am blessed to know the appeal of that already.

* * * * *

In an awful situation, if you react with fear, anger, denial or depression, you become part of the awful situation. It serves no useful purpose for you or anyone else. Why add to the problem?

Know in this present crisis that you could lose people you love. You could also face losing you. These are extremely painful possibilities. It is natural to grieve as life is taken, and this is not to be suppressed or dismissed. Yet, even in the gasp and crush of grief’s descent, we must strive to bear it gracefully. Death is not an if, it is a when. Whatever your age, get to know it calmly now as what is certain to come.

Although of lowest consciousness, this virus is a life-form like every other. Only a higher consciousness will defeat it. Be that higher one, and even in death you will have been the victor.

* * * * *

In the New York Times today, March 30, travel writer Paul Theroux recounts his forced confinement in Uganda in 1966 when Idi Amin, by way of military coup, took over as the country’s leader, becoming its sadistic president for decades. A line he recalls as popular then is poignantly applicable in our country these many years later: “Don’t believe anything you hear until the government officially denies it.”

What we are experiencing, compliments of this coronavirus, is a system-wide convulsion. Commerce has largely collapsed, fear of the nearness of death is spreading across the land, and in our convulsive dizziness the once-normal routines of the day are blurring into triviality.

Yet, greed and misuse of power are under attack no less than the health and welfare of the citizenry as a whole. Courage, compassion, and generosity are spreading also.

This pandemic will end, and truth will out. A measure of purification will have purged us of many shames, and for a time, until the next time, we will be kinder and more cooperative. If I am not here when this transformation takes place, I will gladly work for its continuation when I am back again.

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