Last year, around this time, we had already been in lockdown for six weeks. We usually spend so much time talking about and judging others that we forget to look deep inside. But during that first lockdown, I found time to reflect using tools I learned from meditation retreats. It’s easy to meditate for 30 minutes and be at peace, but the challenge is getting through the rest of the day when your mind is torn to pieces.
The key challenge is to let the positive energy flow in an environment where every conversation is driven by the negative news. Therefore, there is more pressure on people to think deeply – not in those thirty minutes of mediation, but in the course of our daily lives. There is this deep sense of fear, insecurity, and fear, but being aware of these feelings is an important step in getting past them. This is easier said than done, but we are now better prepared to anticipate these challenges. Last year I started voluntary sessions on internalizing and implementing change, which I am restarting for people who are open to asking questions about themselves in front of others.
For me, the pandemic brought with it the need for deep self-understanding and the need for change. This time there are two main thoughts that I think deeply about. First, our connection with past and future lives. Second, the need to be part of social functions.
Birth and rebirth
As someone born a Buddhist, past and future lives are discussed more than present life. There are functions and ceremonies for the people who are dead and gone. We spend more time correcting our previous lives and wanting a better life instead of focusing on this life. So what can be argued if someone who performed rituals for their ancestors in a Shraddha ceremony actually dies and contacts Covid-19? Is that person’s current life less important than the lives of that person’s ancestors? Or was it his karma to die this way? Many people believe that our destiny is written when we are born or even when we have died in previous lives.
Likewise, people would not stop weddings believing that the opportune time (saait) for weddings is predetermined. But what about the couple who got married at this auspicious time and contacted Covid-19 in that business and actually died? What if a guest attending Covid-19 signs a contract this way? So is it important to stick to the opportune time even if it means people can actually die? I’m looking for answers.
There is this immense pressure to be part of social events, be it birth, marriage or death. And there are a variety of religious functions. All the people who made so much noise last year, even in Nepal and India, and accused the Islamic Tablighi Jamaat movement of spreading Covid-19 in the region, were silent when millions took a bath in the river during the Maha Kumbha Mela in India. The extent of the infection in the latter case was much higher.
It is not understood what prompted our Septuagenarian former king together with the former queen to attend this religious function. Even after the lockdown, social media is filled with pictures of people attending weddings, birthdays, baby showers, and other social events – at a time when masks are recommended to be worn at home as well.
Many in Nepal claim that your own health is more important than your own safety. therefore one cannot avoid social functions. The problem here is that Nepalis tend to be rights oriented rather than responsibility oriented. We think that attending or hosting social events is our right. The topic of ethnicity and culture is included in the discourse when people are asked not to organize major events such as a jatra.
Is it that our present life is less important because we will have many lives in the future that we don’t mind sacrificing our own life or the lives of others? Or does the feeling of martyrdom set in when someone succumbs to Covid-19 when attending a social or religious event? Perhaps the tendency to see such people as unhappy martyrs rather than stupid fools who disregard protocols leads people to take these problems lightly.
When one is standing still, the only thing that can travel and cross the world is the mind. While it is easy to let the mind wander outside, it is equally important to lock the mind and let it explore deep within itself.