Acharya Prashant is dedicated to building a brighter future for you
Articles
You thought your cruel orgy would continue unchecked? || Acharya Prashant, on COVID-19 (2020)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
33 min
52 reads

Questioner (Q): Sir, everything was going alright back in November 2019; the world was operating as it does. And within three months, everything has just turned upside-down. We’re talking about the Corona outbreak.

It has always been enlightening sitting with you and talking about life. Most of us today are stunned, are not able to make a sense of what has hit us like a bolt from the blue; epecially the well-to-do western nations. For them, the Corona outbreak is like a pretty good-to-go picnic party unjustly interrupted. Where did it all come from? Where is it going to?

Acharya Prashant (AP): So, the picnic, as you say, has been unjustly interrupted. Somebody broke the party. It’s in the partying itself that the genesis of this situation lies. It’s just that the manifest results of our actions take time to show up and they show up only episodically. It’s not a continuum; it’s not as if you act right now and in the same moment you will receive the tangible result of your action.

So, between the intention, the action, and the gross, manifest result; there is the space of time. That time interval comforts us into feeling that all is well with the kind of life we are living, the kind of centre we are operating from, the way we look at ourselves, the way we look at others, the way we look at the planet, the way we look at the entire chain of ecosystems.

We just keep telling ourselves we must be doing well, because there are no hugely negative repercussions. So, the absence of those repercussions comforts us into a false sense of security and alrightness.

When outbreaks like these happen, then we are shocked. As you said, it’s a bolt from the blue. So, I mean that’s what. It’s not as if it’s altogether sudden; it was brewing. And unless we really understand where this thing comes from, we would be condemned to not only be able to not present a right response to the current situation, but also remain vulnerable to more such situations in the future.

Q: Between the action and its fruit showing forth, there’s a gap. And that gap ensures that we are asleep, not being proactive. In fact, the reason the specialists are calling this disease very lethal is because it has a very large incubation period. So, you have in a way talked of the spiritual incubation period of man. And that is making things worse.

AP: That’s a nice way to put it. Between the moment of infection and the moment when the symptoms first show up, there is time. And this time is what deludes us into false comfort. Yeah.

Q: But COVID-19, it is 4 days, 15 days, 29 days. How much time does it usually take for a man?

AP: It depends on the man himself. It depends on his perceptiveness and sensitivity. If you are quite sensitive, you will probably see the results of your actions in the moment of the action itself. That’s an extreme. Right when you are acting, you will be able to sense that you are not acting from the right centre, and hence you don’t need to wait for time to deliver results to you. The very motivation, the very centre, the very intention behind the action would tell you that the action is not quite proper. On the other hand, if you are dull or extremely resistant to Truth, as most people are, you know, just as viruses can be resistant to medicines, then you require very gross jolts like these to even partially accept that your actions have not been right. And it is quite possible that even the strongest jolt might not be able to displace you from your false position. It is possible even, that you may say that you’re prepared to give up your life, physically die, but you will not surrender to the Truth. You just don’t want to concede.

Q: Sir, you have been very vehemently making the point that there is a direct linkage between the Corona outbreak and the animal farming industry, and the lust around eating meat. I want you to speak more about it.

AP: You see, even that is not the complete explanation. Yes, obviously, when we look at the way man relates to physical nature, which I’ll refer simply to as 'nature' in this conversation, then one cannot miss the fact that we are super-violent and ultra-exploitative. And we somehow assume that we’ll be able to continue with our personal, man-centric parties, no general thing there; mankind-centric parties, remaining as exploitative and as cruel as we are. It’s a surprise how we are able to maintain that inner assumption. But we do. So, that’s an obvious thing.

But that kind of violence, that kind of inner hatred towards existence itself, that kind of discontentment with very life is not limited to the way man treats biological systems, or rivers, or mountains, or animals, or birds, or fish. It shows up in every aspect of our life. We are not what we must be. It shows up in our education, it shows up in our politics, it shows up in our relationships, it shows up in our economy. It is there, everywhere.

Whatsoever man touches, whatsoever man creates, whatsoever bears any kind of imprint of man, is obviously coming from man’s centre. When I say 'centre', I mean man’s identity; what does man think of himself, what does man take himself to be, what are you acting as. So, because we act from the wrong centre, therefore everything that we do is actually messed up. Among all those things that are messed up, is this one thing called man’s relationship with flora and fauna, and animals, and such things. The Coronavirus is coming from there.

What’s worse, there might be much more lethal and incurable viruses to come in the future.

We talk of the virus as the problem. In fact, if you go to the social media to get a hang of how we are looking at the whole thing in a cultural way, you often find the virus being depicted as a demon, or a horned monster, or something, Right? That’s how we are trying to portray the virus. But is the virus to be blamed? Did the virus conspire to come and affect and kill humanity? Or did we go and force the virus to come to us? In a lighter vein, even the virus must be in a state of shock right now. The virus was gladly living where it was.

Q: Where it must be.

AP: Where it must be, in the lap of the jungles. But when we go to the jungle, we destroy the jungle. We want to just eat and consume anything that we can lay our hands on. And so, we have forced the virus to come to us. And now, it is the nature of the virus to mutate and travel and propagate itself, and infect as many as possible.

The virus is doing what the virus must, we are not doing what we must. The virus is almost a chemical, you see. It is just a little heap of genetic information. That’s all that the virus is; it hardly has any consciousness. In fact, we do not even know whether to call the virus as a living or a non-living thing. So, the virus is almost a chemical. Now, what we are saying is, "The chemical is to be blamed!" Is the chemical to be blamed? Seriously? It’s almost like saying, "Carbon is evil." But then, who is emitting all the carbon into the atmosphere? We are saying CO2(carbon di-oxide) is the problem. Has CO2 decided on its own to invade you and maim you? You getting it?

So, because our entire worldview is flawed, because the very philosophy that forms the foundation of our civilization and our existence is flawed, therefore we keep getting such episodic shocks from time-to-time. It would be a thing of mercy if such things happen only episodically. What I’m afraid of is that, this thing may strike humanity in a way from which humanity may never be able to recover. One small, little, almost innocuous virus, and you see how the entire world appears paralyzed. Everything is in a limbo. What if a stronger strain comes through? We will not take long to meet the fate of the dinosaurs. You getting it?

And then we’ll wonder—why did this happen to us? When it was coming, we just didn’t see it. We think of ourselves as bigger than nature. Our heroes are people who very fancifully talk of colonizing other planets and this and that; we’ll go here, we’ll go there… Right now, you cannot even go to the grocery, and they are saying that we’ll go to Mars and we’ll settle there, and the moon is our next colony… Right now, you cannot even walk to the next residential colony in your own city, and you’re thinking of having the moon as the next colony.

But then, the ego does not understand. It cannot. It does not have the power to understand. It can have knowledge. It’s like a virus —it can multiply, but it can never be conscious. In a sense, this external virus is very-very symbolic of something within man —the tendency to proliferate, the tendency to destroy anyone it touches. Are we talking of the virus or the ego? Both.

The tendency to reach anyone you come in contact with and reach in a debilitating way, is that not how we relate to each other? There are very few who would uplift someone who comes in contact with them. Mostly, if you come in contact with somebody, you just infect him, not uplift him. That’s the way our usual relationships operate; that’s also the way the virus operates.

We don’t know, is the ego the virus? Is the virus the ego? Who knows? The ego is such a subtle thing. We talk of it as a concept, now is the time to see it in action. Because, you see, we want proofs. After all, we are logical, rational people, or so we believe. We like to pride ourselves on that. So, here is the proof.

Q: I began by telling you and probing you to respond to this narrative where I said that November was one situation, March is another, but you in a way are suggesting that it’s been the same all the while?

AP: I’m saying, it was just the same in November, it’s just that it was not visible, now it has become visible. To a subtle mind, to a mind that is sensitive and can perceive even subtleties, even things that are not visible to the mortal eye, nothing has really changed.

You see, when somebody gets diseased in an external way, then you raise a big hue-and-cry, don’t you? When somebody dies physically, then we declare it a calamity. And only when such things happen in a physical and external way, do we feel alarmed and sad. But someone who is sensitive, has remained alarmed and sad throughout, because he is seeing inner death happening every day on a mass scale, because he is seeing the interiors of the entire mankind diseased in a big way all through, he is already seeing that we are diseased, we are neurotic, we are psychotic.

But then, the mind is a fine thing. Plus, the internal disease may not always be detectable. What’s worse, even if it is detectable, it might not be admissible. You may not want to admit to the other that you are actually neurotic. Which most people are, I’m not talking of the fringe 5%. I’m talking of the bulk of the world’s population. We all are neurotic.

So, the disease has been there all throughout. It’s just that the disease was there inwardly, now the disease has become external.

If you’re somebody who values only the body, then you will be alarmed only when the body collapses. But if you’re somebody who values the richness of inner life as well, then you would be in mourning when the inner self collapses and dies. And inwardly we all have been dying very sad deaths continuously. Just because a man appears to be walking on his two legs and breathing and eating, don’t assume him to be alive. Being alive is something totally different. There is a lot of morbidity in the way we all live. This external catastrophe is nothing but a reflection of the internal morbidity.

Q: In one of the informal interactions I heard you averring that this pandemic, you wish that it does not last much, but you also hinted that it may teach a lesson to mankind. It may awaken it.

AP: May that not happen, may we get away with a small punishment, but I’ll be greatly surprised and very glad if anything less than a million are infected.

Q: In India?

AP: No, globally. India, we should be alright if we are let off with something like two lakh infections. Even two lakh infections are probably too much to ask for.

Q: Were you personally shocked and saddened? Did you see it as an event or were you all the while aware of this coming?

AP: It didn’t come as a shock. It’s just that the exact details of the event open up only when the event unfolds. So, obviously that comes as a news. But the news is not a shock.

Q: Because you spoke of the internal pandemic, the mind of mankind has already been affected.

AP: Obviously, internally there has been a pandemic, and I have been continuously using the word 'pandemic'. We all are very-very unhealthy internally. And when you are unhealthy internally, you are bound to do stuff that will affect you badly in the external sense also, in the bodily sense also. I just pray that even right now, for example the period of forced quarantines and self-isolation and lockdowns, force us or enable us to have free space and time to reflect. Let us please figure out why we have been brought to such a situation. It is not incidental. It is not as if a random event has happened. Let’s all just keep this illusion aside; it’s not a random event. There is a clear cause-effect chain involved here. And unless we understand where this effect is coming from, unless we are able to pinpoint the cause, we’ll be condemned, as I have said, to bear even stronger effects.

Q: There have been multifarious reactions within the society, and I would like to pick up all of these one-by-one. And it will be really helpful if you could throw some light on how these reactions are coming from a centre where the ego is trying to hide away.

First of all, for example, US and most of the nations that have been harmed are trying to put all the blame upon a particular culture, for example China, a nation that is eating raw meat of animals like rabbit, bat, snakes. So, they are making it a cultural issue rather than realizing that, all of them, the centre itself, is corrupted.

AP: What they’re saying is not factually wrong. It’s just factually incomplete. Per capita flesh consumption is probably the highest in this country, the United States. So, it’s quite rich when they point fingers at others. Obviously, it is in-human to kill an animal to consume its flesh, and that’s one of the biggest indicators of our inner depravity. But then, who really are the Americans to point fingers at China, right? You kill pigs, you kill lambs, you kill cows. What to say of chicken and fish? And then you want to castigate others, because they kill dogs and bats and snakes, as if the life of a pig is any less important than that of a dog. Instead of understanding that it’s about man’s relationship with life itself, with all forms of consciousness itself, you are trying to make it a thing that involves only certain species. What you’re saying is, "No no, no, dogs should not be eaten. Pigs can be slaughtered. No, no, no, how can you consume insects or bats? But killing cows is alright."

This kind of stupidity is making me nervous that this epidemic might not be the last one that we are seeing in our lifetimes.

Q: And probably, the benchmark for saying that this animal is good to eat, that is not good eat is coming from their culture, their conditioning.

AP: Conditioned. Conditioned benchmarks, very-very conditioned benchmarks. I do not know how anybody in his right sense can approve the killing of one animal over the other. How is it possible to declare one animal as 'halal' and the other as 'haram'? How is it possible to declare one kind of meat as 'kosher'? It is beyond all comprehension.

Q: And probably, those animals that are less possible, that have least possibility of creating an epidemic are eaten the most.

AP: No, it is not that way! It is not that way! There are enough number of reports available— if you would care to research a little—that tell of the insides of the animal agriculture industry. The kind of antibiotics that are being used there and the very quantum of antibiotics that are being used there. Any day, any kind of virus can simply jump to humans. And I’m not even yet beginning to talk of the impact of animal agriculture on the global climate catastrophe.

Q: So, are you saying that the opinion that —these epidemics/pandemics and so on, they spread from eating outrageous animals like bats and snakes, is this opinion flawed?

AP: You see, the question is —why does one eat animals at all in the first place? What is it that makes you sink your teeth into the flesh of a living being? That’s the question. Originally all animals are wildlife. So, when you say, "The Chinese and only the Chinese are consuming wildlife," you are kidding yourself. How is a pig not wildlife? Please? How is a rooster not wildlife? How is a shark or a dolphin or a tuna not wildlife? How is a bird not wildlife? How is the humble turkey not wildlife?

So, the way we are it becomes imperative for us to keep appropriating more and more space for our consumption. Hacking down forests is a compulsion with us. You cannot have the kind of civilization we have, you cannot have the values we have, you cannot have the spiritual values that we have, and not hack down forests. Given the way we shop in the markets, we will necessarily hack down forests. Given the way we choose brands, given the way we choose companies to work for, given the way we choose people to be with, given the way we choose somebody to mate with, we will necessarily hack down forests.

And that’s what people find a bit of a stretch. They say, "No no, no, no, that is not true!" They’ll say, "No no," when you say that we should not be doing all the evil things, that is alright. But kindly don’t say that such intimate and personal things as relationships, are related to and in the same plane as the outbreak of a pandemic. These two things are in the same plane, and we’ll have to humbly accept that. We do not know what to do, and therefore we do not know what to eat, and therefore we do not know how to marry, therefore we do not know how to work. We do not know how to live.

And I’m not being an opportunist who is using a global calamity to sermonize. I talked to you of a particular sadness. Anybody who can see a few things, anybody who bothers and cares to see a few things, anybody who has love for life, would actually not be glad looking at things as they are. Not only right now, but even as they were before November 2019. Even when the world is busy partying, what we were actually having is a massacre. That massacre may not be an external and tangible event, but internally we are all slaughtering ourselves continuously.

Q: Right. Moving on, this hashtag on Twitter if I’m naming it right, “Beat the virus” …

AP: Oh!

Q: You just talked of demonizing Corona and putting, you know, how is a…?

AP: Tell them to forget the virus, beat the man. The hashtag should say, “Forget the virus, beat the man.” And physically beat the one up who says, “Beat the virus.” Because, he IS the virus. You know what is the virus? Somebody with no ability or no willingness to look at himself, somebody with no intention at all to reflect back on himself. The virus does not do that. There is no virus that will ever ask the question “Who am I? What am I here for? Why do I exist at all? Do I exist at all?” No virus will ever ask this question, right?

And unfortunately, 98% of the world population does not ask these questions. The virus does not, neither does the human being. The human being is the virus. So, forget about beating the virus. Look at yourself. That’s far more important. The virus is not the culprit.

In both —the genesis of the outbreak, and in the kind of responses that we have been giving to the outbreak, it is very obvious that we are internally diseased. Don’t you see the kind of superstitions being peddled in the name of combatting the virus? People are talking of “global resonance” when they beat up their utensils. They are saying that at a particular time if we all raise a big noise, then all the noises will get together to create a particular creative interference that will purge the atmosphere of all kinds of harmful pathogens. I mean, please.

I understand that one is not inclined towards spirituality. But then, what’s your problem with science as well? Neither spiritual nor scientific? What kind of people are we? And you have politicians who are furthering their own agenda. The country of origin kept hiding the numbers, probably it is still doing that, for long.

Q: But why a country does that?

AP: Because it has a brand to uphold, because the values of nationalism are far more important than the value of consciousness and the values of love and compassion. Because, if there is a place that forbids religion, then that place cannot have compassion for the entire world.

Q: Good you touched upon the superstition aspect, Sir. This was something that I was anyway about to come to. Man, at this moment in this pandemic, is just taking recourse in God. It is bringing God down trying to relate, and broadly there have been two ways in this relation being established. One way is that, the most common way, that — God helps me, because science cannot; there’s no other way. And the other way is, where it is being established that—no God can help you; if God could help you, he would’ve already helped you. I mean, see what has happened in Italy.

So, what is this obsession with God and bringing God into something where he has no role to play?

AP: It’s not about God. It’s about the ego. An ego has no Truth. Ego only has concepts and ideologies. Now, somebody has the ideology, “There is no God.” It is an ideology. It does not demand any justification other than that— ‘I have this ideology’. Why do I have this ideology? Where does this come from? What does this do to me? —these are questions that no one bothers to ask. So, the ideology is— there is no God.

Then there is another ideology—there is a God. Both the sides are peddling their ideologies. The side that says, "There is no God," ask them: "There is no what?" They’ll say, "God." What is God? What is it that you’re denying? And they’ll not know. They’ll not know. There is no God. There is no.....‘what’? God. "What is God?", "Uh… That I do not know." But I am a compulsive denier of God. Fine.

Then there is this side—"There is God, and God almighty will descend and he’ll help us all, and only God can cure man of this affliction. And probably God, to punish man and chastise man, has sent down the virus." Fine, alright… So, there is God. "There is what?", "Oh, there is God!" "But what is God?", "Uh, that we do not know. That we do not know." Maybe they’ll not admit it so quickly, but probe a little, scratch the surface a bit, and you come to see that all the believers do not know what they believe in. Ultimately, it’s just a belief, a blind belief.

Similarly, the disbelievers. Ask them, "What is it that you don’t believe in?" No idea.

Q: So, the virus named ego is in this case, also trying to spread itself, propagate itself?

AP: Just propagate itself. Just propagate itself.

So, there are atheists who are trying to propagate their atheist virus. And then, there are the believers who are trying to proliferate the virus of belief.

Q: This question is rather personal for me. Which virus is more lethal? Which virus do you consider more lethal? I mean, one side we have…

AP: There are no two viruses. It’s the same virus that acts differently upon different people. Just as the Coronavirus we know does not affect everybody equally, right? And that brings me to a very important point before I forget it.

Remember that this disease affects the elderly the most. You might be a very strong, young person. And looking at the stats, you might realize that the survival rate for young infected people is almost hundred percent. Maybe one in a thousand succumbs to the disease, if you’re talking of the young population, let’s say under the age of 40. And that may tell you that you do not need to take precautions, you do not need to maintain social distancing, and these things. But then, please, that’s exactly what the virus is all about—self-centered behaviour. You may not really be affected much by the virus, but you will act as a carrier that will take it to several elderly people, and they will suffer a lot.

So please, for their sake, the first short-term measure should be to do whatever you can to prevent yourself from getting infected. And that does not involve doing much. That actually involves not doing your regular stuff. Just avoid your regular stuff. Have some concern for the other. The disease will probably not take you, but it will take away the old man. Please, for his sake.

Q: Sir, we spoke of various reactions of this virus, this outbreak, coming from the society and in all of them we found that the substratum more or less is the ego and ignorance is being spread and propagated. Lastly, I would want you to throw some light on how you think one today can just be, one can just quarantine oneself from misinformation. For example, the Prime Minister said that this is something that you have to do for five minutes, and probably the leaders of a particular society would’ve said that this is something that will eliminate the virus. And then, yesterday we saw that the entire nation was on the streets despite the lockdown, believing that creating a lot of noise would eliminate the virus.

AP: No, that noise is just the noise inside man. Didn’t you see maniac behaviour on the streets, knowing fully well that this kind of a thing is not going to have any impact upon the virus? If anything, the assembly or the congregation can lead to further spread of the virus.

So, yes, the leaders have an important role to play. But then, when the entire population is conditioned to live and believe foolishly, first of all the leaders are helpless. Secondly, you must remember that the leaders just reflect the quality of the people.

Q: Sir, I had seen some videos last night and they were really disturbing. They were videos of leaders, because we’re speaking of them, they are religious leaders who have audience of thousands, and they are saying things like, "I saw Corona in my dream. It was a man, and it told me ......." this, that. How does a common man safeguard oneself from such misinformation and nonsense? Is there a way?

AP: Simply listen to the doctors and the scientists. And that’s only the short-term solution. The real solution is to go to Real Spirituality, only that is the real solution. But for you to live long enough, or to just survive, to implement the real solution first of all you need to implement the short-term solution. And the short-term solution is, do not listen to anybody except the doctors, scientists, researchers; the ones who have scientific and technical knowledge. They are the only ones worth listening to. Full stop.

Q: And, scientists all across the globe have more or less a singular say on it. But people from different religions, leaders from different communities, are creating their own stories.

AP: They are afraid. They are afraid because they have been upholding false religion. And I am not talking of any one particular religion with a particular name. I am talking of the multitude of religions themselves. Be it any religion carrying any name, real religiosity is missing. That real religiosity is what I call as spirituality. That is totally missing.

So, when the moment of test arrives, then the false one obviously shivers and shakes in insecurity. And then they come up with all kinds of non-sensical, even malicious propaganda. Somebody would say that if you slaughter a pigeon and eat its flesh, then you can be cured of coronavirus. Somebody will say that you can go and perform a pilgrimage here or there. And such voices are coming from all kinds of places.

Q: This true religiosity, the last point of this interaction, this true religiosity is nowhere to be seen. Perhaps it is that which is silent. There is no reaction coming from it. This true religiosity is being really attacked by the liberals today, using the reaction that is coming from the false religiosity, the leaders who are representing the false…

AP: It’s a very strange situation you see. On one side are the ones who are upholding false religion in the name of religion. And then on the other side are the ones who are attacking religiosity itself in the name of attacking false religion. So, what we right now have is the worst of both worlds. On one hand we have the priests and the dharmic gurus and the mullahs who are all talking nonsense in the name of religion, in fact who are talking stuff that even their own scriptures would never approve of. And the gullible masses, they are being conditioned and influenced in a very bad way, and very-very foolish thing is being peddled as religion.

Stuff that has nothing to do with religion at all, stuff that religion would actually abhor and laugh at is being branded as religion. That is one side. Then there is the other side that is equally poisonous; the liberal side. And they are saying that religiosity itself is the problem. They do not see any distinction between true religion and false religion. They’re saying all religion is false, there’s nothing called true religion. So, they are attacking spirituality itself. They are saying there is just the material, there is nothing called the spirit. And by the spirit I mean—the transcendental. By spirit I mean the subtle aspects of life. They are denying all those things. They are saying, man is just flesh and bones; there’s nothing really called consciousness. And even if there is something called 'consciousness'; the consciousness too is purely material, or social, or conditioned. They are just not prepared to see and accept that there is stuff beyond the limitations and the mechanisations of the physical universe, that the human body is not merely material. And that had the human body been merely material, then we would have not longed for things like contentment, like peace, like joy, like love. These are not material things, and it’s such an obvious thing to see.

But then, if the liberals want to act blind even in full sight of the facts, then what does one do? They too have their own egoistic compulsions.

Q: Krishna had to show his real self to Arjuna, his mighty self, for him to understand who he really is. Should true religiosity not come forth and show itself to both the parties?

AP: No, it is showing forth. It is showing itself forth. It’s not as if it is hiding somewhere in a cave, right? Everything that happens is nothing but an opportunity for true religiosity to shine forth. And remember that true religiosity is not man-centric. And therefore, true religiosity really has no great interest in conserving or protecting man as a specie. You live. Fine. And if due to your own follies you perish, fine. Right?

True religiosity lies in understanding that you have the capacity to know, to realize, to understand, to act beyond your chemical tendencies, to not to be a slave to your hormones, your glands, your primitive conditioning. That’s what true religiosity is.

Q: Thank you, Sir. In this short interaction we really discussed those aspects of this outbreak that really need to be uncovered. They need to reach the masses. You explained how it’s not an event; it has always been in cue and this ego itself is the virus that we need to get rid of. You touched upon all the reactions that are coming from the society in general and you established that how all these reactions are just ego trying to propagate itself. And we hope that we really come out of this very soon.

AP: Thank you.

Have you benefited from Acharya Prashant's teachings?
Only through your contribution will this mission move forward.
Donate to spread the light
View All Articles