“As a ripe fruit has no other fear than to fall, so a man who is born has no other fear than death.” (Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 105.17)
यथा फलानां पक्वानां नान्यत्र पतनाद्भयम्।
एवं नरस्य जातस्य नान्यत्र मरणाद्भयम्।।
yathā phalānāṃ pakvānāṃ nānyatra patanādbhayam।
evaṃ narasya jātasya nānyatra maraṇādbhayam।।
Friend1: I trust you are doing well, putting into practice the guidelines from the authorities.
Friend2: And what are those?
Friend1: Maintaining proper distance from each other. At least six feet. Wearing a mask in public, if you feel the need. Basically, treating everyone else as if they were “eww dirty.”
Friend2: You are trying to be provocative, I know, but I will not take the bait. I will never advise anyone to go against the authority. They know better, after all.
Friend1: I am certain that you do not believe that. Anyway, it is a time of great panic. I have never experienced anything like this before. People are really afraid of getting this virus.
Friend2: The fear is unfounded, you think?
Friend1: I wouldn’t say that. You look at the death tally on the television screen throughout the day and you can’t help but be afraid. At the same time, it is not like there wouldn’t be death in the absence of the virus. People would still be in danger.
Friend2: Of what?
Friend1: So many diseases. There is danger at every step in this material world. Doesn’t Shri Rama say something to the effect of the mature human being afraid of death?
Friend2: The comparison is to the ripened fruit on the tree. It has no other fate than to fall. It has gone through everything else it needs to. Only one destiny. The mature human being knows the same will happen for them. It is not something to be taken lightly.
Friend1: Okay, but isn’t every person dangerous, all the time?
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: I am saying that in any circumstance, not just the public health emergency that we are in, there is danger from other living entities. The human beings can inflict the misery known as adhibautika.
Friend2: What is that?
Friend1: Sourced from other bhutas, which is Sanskrit for “living beings.” The ants can bite me. The mice bring dreaded disease. The weather, controlled by the demigods, can ruin my life. I am saying there shouldn’t be any added justification for panic at this time.
Friend2: That is a fair assessment. You can’t blame people for being concerned. It is difficult to keep a proper perspective during a time like this. Shastra, and especially the Vedic tradition, is here for our benefit.
Friend2: The proper consciousness. If you cling to the lotus feet of Shri Rama, really understanding the saguna feature of the Divine, then you will be able to tolerate the ups and downs. Gain and loss will be the same thing to you. A sudden pandemic will not alter your behavior or your concern.
Friend1: Wouldn’t someone say that is foolishness? Just trust in God that He will make everything right, instead of taking practical steps.
Friend2: Just the opposite, in fact. My main focus will be on service, for connecting in yoga. This means that I will automatically maintain proper habits. After all, the single greatest cause of health problems is lack of control over the senses. The Supreme Lord is Hrishikesha, or the master of all senses. If I direct my desires in His direction, He will help me to sleep properly, to eat just the right amount, and to stay calm in the face of danger.
Friend1: What is the way to serve? What is the service that needs to be maintained?
Friend2: It could vary from person to person. The simplest is to sit and chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This is a kind of sacrifice, yajna. It is the most potent yajna for this age. Just try and see for yourself. It will certainly make a difference.
Standing six feet apart,
From common sense depart.
That the disease sudden and new,
When always danger to me and you.
From this illness and that,
At any time can catch.
Better with Shri Rama to stay,
Who to guide in proper way.