COVID-19 type pandemics happen when our immunity is compromised. Immunity is reduced by unsustainable and stressful lifestyle. This article is an attempt to show how both sustainable lifestyle and less stress can be achieved through spirituality. And in future if the mankind needs to avoid repetition of such pandemics then we need to practice spirituality regularly and sincerely.
Practice of spirituality has always been preached by enlightened souls and gurus but COVID pandemic has made us evaluate our life priorities and possibly look for solutions. Focus on spirituality is a part of it.
When COVID-19 lockdown took place in March 2020 it somehow did not impact me and my family since our lives have been mostly based upon thinking, writing, contemplating and working on our research endeavors. I and my wife live in a fairly sustainable way in rural Maharashtra.
However for most people who are very much extroverts, gregarious and fun-loving the lockdown was harsh. They could not socialize, shop, travel or meet friends. Most of these activities take up large amount of resources, energy, and time and sometimes are unsustainable.
In a way forced lockdown has taught us some lessons and have shown a way to travel less, do less binge shopping and use more technology effectively for communication and commerce.
Thus all the Zoom and other platforms for meetings and working from home have reduced travel time, energy and stress. This is a first and a right step towards sustainability.
Forced lockdown has also helped some of us give more time to ourselves and to our family, which in the hustle bustle of daily life was missing from our routine. It helps in reducing stress and brings in happiness. These positive things should become a regular feature in our daily life.
The lockdown has also helped the environment tremendously. Clean air in cities, less noise, clean water in rivers and lakes have been unintended benefits of lockdown. These benefits teach us a great lesson that if we reduce our wasteful energy usage in unnecessary travel, binge shopping, etc. then we can have a less stressful and sustainable lifestyle. Basically pandemic has forced us to reduce our greed and possibly altered our lifestyle. Practice of such a lifestyle can be further helped by practicing spirituality.
Spirituality is concerned with the matters of spirit. When we think deeply and for a long time about anything whether it is an idea or an object then the brain has a tendency of focusing on it like a laser and in that process the object vanishes from the vision field and only its germ or the spirit remains. Then complete knowledge of that idea or object results and is called Sanyam by Patanjali. This is the mechanism by which all great discoveries are made. It is this deep thinking on anything which makes us spiritual and gives us a sense of peace and happiness.
Happiness is a state of mind. We feel happy and enjoy life through our senses and the mind. Brain processes the information received from the senses and our level of happiness is dictated by its processing power. A powerful brain (the processor) which produces deep thought can therefore extract more information from the sensory signals and can give us more happiness since the mind gets satisfied easily. Besides it can look at a greater number of eventualities and hence can resolve the issues amicably. Resolving of issues helps in reduction of psychological knots and hence produces contentment and happiness.
A smaller processor obviously needs many more inputs to reach the same enjoyment or satisfaction level. Thus weaker brains need more resources to occupy them and this leads to greed and unsustainable lifestyle. Therefore one of the prerequisites to having a sustainable lifestyle is development of a powerful and smart brain. Such a brain allows us to think deeply or concentrate during which we can get “lost” in processing that information and it also takes our mind away from our insecurities, helps us resolve conflicts and hence gives us a feeling of calmness and well-being.
A powerful brain or a processor also changes the priorities in life and helps in focusing on getting personal happiness through mental peace rather than on material needs. Also the desire to show off gets reduced. This leads to being satisfied with whatever one has and is a major step towards sustainability.
Spirituality also helps us to have a compassionate view of nature and as we evolve spiritually we become more tuned to it which helps us in preserving it. Besides it helps us live in harmony with each other and enables everybody to work together for the common good. This is the genesis of non-violence and sustainability.
One of the easier mechanisms for practicing spirituality is by believing that things will be alright or have tremendous faith in ourselves. This feeling helps take a huge burden off from our head. In Indian philosophical system it is called Bhakti Yoga which means having faith in a higher entity which will take care of you. I am not sure if there is an angel or higher entity that looks after you but this feeling allows the brain to be free of fear and to focus on issues at hand. This helps the brain get sharpened and we can think clearly and cooly. All great people are basically fearless since they either have faith in themselves or in some higher entity.
This feeling of faith however can only result when we are secure and that security comes by developing a powerful processor ! If we have doubts then this feeling will not come because we will always keep on thinking about failure and fear of losing out. Faith provides a great pillar of psychological support to ego sense.
Faith also releases us from the planning syndrome since it gives us a feeling that whatever we do will be for the good of ourselves and the society.
When we plan then the implicit bottom line in the process is to maximize our gains and harness resources. This leads to greed because the basic impulse is accumulation – whether of wealth or resources. Nature never does any planning. It evolves by coming in equilibrium with its surroundings and as the environment changes it adopts and evolves accordingly. In our scheme of things we should adopt this strategy. Faith helps us follow this strategy.
If all of us work for our basic needs and not for our greed then we can also reduce the stress. Accumulation of resources because of greed also leads to accumulation of stress. Reduction in greed and stress will lead to sustainable living and happiness.