A medical expert’s opinion
a mathematical model predicting the shape of the curve of infections and death; or a specialised research on the power of the vaccines to minimise the severity of the disease, ofcourse, science makes us alert, and possibly gives us the means to win the war against the virus. Yet, our inner restlessness refuses to wither away. There are moments when we become terribly angry, and blame the morally bankrupt and irresponsible political class for spreading the Covid virus — the way they declared India’s ‘success story’ to combat the virus so early, allowed the Kumbh mela to happen, or encouraged large gatherings and rallies at the time of the recent elections. Yet, despite this anguish, we realise our helplessness.
Science will equip us with better medicines and vaccines to win this ‘war’; or the political class will come forward with more advanced ‘economic’ solutions to take this technocratic, consumerist world to ‘normalcy’. However, the moot question is whether humankind will learn something deep from this crisis, redefine the rhythm of life and death, and live with tenderness, humility and boundless love and gratitude
During this intense moment of pain and suffering, we also long for some sort of spiritual answer. Possibly, it is a quest for a meaning, an urge to understand the truth of existence, or a journey to the interiority of our consciousness. To begin with, let us reflect on impermanence. It is true that intellectually and theoretically we all know that the world we see, touch and perceive is impermanent; everything is changing. Yet, because of our blind attachment, we refuse to accept this impermanence. We are so attached to our egos that with the continual presentation of narcissistic selves, we tend to give the impression that we are immortal — beyond suffering, sickness and death. It is sad that even though we have mastered techno-science and cultivated instrumental rationality, seldom do we try to learn the art of living with this sense of impermanence.
The body one is so attached to might not even get a dignified space at the chaotic crematorium; or despite having all sorts of medical insurances, one might not get a bed in the hospital, and just die without the presence of loved ones during the pandemic?
It is not easy to accept this harsh fundamental truth of impermanence. Yet, we might experience something deep and profound with the acceptance of impermanence.
Things are impermanent; yet, for some time we have got an opportunity to find ourselves in this world amid this blue sky, these mountains, forests and rivers, or amid the presence of the loved ones. And to live is to live with this sense of gratitude. This is like seeing ourselves as humble wanderers or seekers, not egotistic conquerors.
Again, ironically, it is the covid pandemic that is forcing us to realise the meaning of this forgotten virtue. These days after a traumatic night filled with the ever-flowing news of death and loss, when you see the rising sun in the morning what else can you do? With folded hands, you articulate your prayerful gratitude: ‘I am still alive; I can hear the whisper of trees, the chirping of birds.
No Hypothetical Tomorrow
Last but not the least with gratitude begins the abundance of love.
Who knows tomorrow we shall be merged with the statistics of Covid-related death?
Isn’t it the time to give our best to each other and love deeply and intensely?
Who knows today might be our last day?
Why do we destroy this moment when we are alive with such bitterness, negativity, envy and jealousy?
Possibly, the suffering that the covid pandemic has caused has also a meaning. It is conveying a message, there is no hypothetical ‘tomorrow’, to live is to live here and now, and at this very moment with a deep awareness of love and gratitude.
(Dr Naresh Purohit is a Medical Expert and Advisor National Communicable Disease Control Programme. He is also Advisor to six other National Health Programmes and visiting Professor in five Medical Universities of Southern India including Thrissur based Kerala University of Health Sciences. (The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author)