Love more vital than vaccine : The Tribune India

Love more vital than vaccine

We are passing through intense fear as the virus unsettles everything

Love more vital than vaccine


Avijit Pathak

Sociologist

Love, whether it is of this world or the other, leads us to the Lord who is the Lord of all. — Jalaluddin Rumi

Vaccines alone can’t give us back what we seem to have lost—the quest for a meaningful living amid the psychic storm and existential uncertainty.

At a time when the process of vaccination has just begun to arouse some hope in the possibility of combating the Covid-19, the aggressive return of the virus is once again taking us to a psychic domain filled with fear, anxiety and a sense of meaninglessness. We rise up every morning, and we begin to consume the new statistics of death. We are repeatedly reminded of the chaotic and overcrowded crematoriums and the shortage of ICU beds and ventilators in our hospitals. We find ourselves wounded and crippled. For us, it seems, there is no sunrise anymore; no flower blooms; and no bird sings. Is it the end of prayers, gratitude and life-affirming vibrations? Or, is it like being surrounded by the all-pervading darkness, and remain obsessively preoccupied with only one question: Can the vaccines save us?

Well, modern biomedicine can possibly give us the most efficient means to minimise the impact of the virus; and hence, the process of vaccination has its significance. Yet, we should not forget that the vaccines alone cannot give us back what we seem to have lost—the quest for a meaningful living (not merely a survival strategy with masks and sanitiser) amid the psychic storm and existential uncertainty. It is high time we began to realise that love—our ultimate quest— is no less important than the vaccines. And what is this love—the fountain of life energy in a dark world?

Well, the gospel of modernity—with its ceaseless urge to conquer the world and establish human supremacy over the earth, and the vital energy it generates through the logic of unlimited techno-economic development and consumerism—is not comfortable with death. However, the fact is that death is implicit in birth, and to live with awareness is to die with grace, or to die meaningfully is to live and love intensely. But then, as modernity abhors death, it makes life superficial. In fact, modernity has not actually conquered fear; instead, despite the glitz of techno-capitalism, we live with chronic fear: the fear of old age, the fear of losing our material possessions and the fear of death. The virus has once again shown that we are terribly fearful. Hence, despite our instrumental reasoning and the proliferation of ‘life coaches’ with a mix of psychology and spirituality, we are broken. As moderns, we are not as powerful as we think ourselves to be.

To acknowledge and internalise the reality of death in the very rhythm of life is not to fall into the trap of a nihilistic suicidal tendency. Nor does it mean that you and I would not congratulate our scientists, researchers and doctors who have come forward with the vaccines. Essentially, it means the ability to accept that the future—even after the vaccine—would remain unknown; and to live is not to be obsessed with the fear of ‘tomorrow’, and what actually matters is the reality of this very moment when you and I are alive. Let this moment be lived with gratitude, and with absolute mindfulness. If we miss the aliveness of this very moment, even the right dose of the vaccines will not be able to fundamentally alter our fear-centric living with all sorts of psychic nervousness.

Only with this mindfulness can we cultivate the spirit of connectedness. Because to live deeply and intensely here and now is to hear the chirping of birds, feel the warmth of the sunray and experience the boundless laughter of a child. Indeed, at this intense moment of living, one breaks the egotistic wall of separation; one becomes the butterfly, the sun, the tide in the ocean; in other words, one becomes the universe. And this confluence removes all sorts of fear. Instead, what grows is the abundance of love. Imagine the intensity of fear we are passing through as the virus unsettles everything. This is the fear of loneliness which is further intensified because of social distancing; this is the fear of losing the warmth of human touch; and this is the fear of being stigmatised and left alone in the ICU of a hospital. In a very paradoxical way, the virus is teaching us that our egotistic pride is an illusion; and nothing matters more in life than love—the touch of a friend, a healer, or an illuminating sunset one likes to see with one’s beloved. This love is the ultimate medicine; it is more powerful than the vaccine.

What an ugly world we have created! With inflated egos, reckless consumerism and arrogance of techno-science, we have erected huge walls of separation—life from death, finite from infinite, body from soul, reason from poetry, and science from the aesthetics of living and dying. The result is the all-pervading fear, or a sense of meaninglessness. Under ‘normal’ circumstances, we seek to hide from this spiritual impoverishment through our ‘productivity’, or our indulgence with the entertainment industry. And now as the irresistible Covid-19 has disturbed this normalcy, we are at a loss. Be it the anxiety over the efficacy of the vaccine, or the dependence on psychiatric drugs to combat depression and panic attack—life seems to have lost its creative abundance. This is the major existential crisis the pandemic has made us exposed to.

Are we ready to redeem ourselves through a process of spiritual transformation?

Tribune Shorts


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