In the movie, the Dark Knight Rises, Bruce has failed a few times trying to escape the pit where he is imprisoned to languish and die. When an older prisoner sees him fall yet again in his efforts to escape, he offers some words of wisdom.
“You do not fear death. You think it makes you strong?
It makes you weak.
How can you move faster than possible, fight longer than possible without the most powerful impulse of the spirit?
The fear of death.”The Dark Knight Rises
Unimaginably horrific scenes on witness in the nation as of now. It seems as if we shifted into some alternate reality within a space of a few weeks. From what seemed like an emergence from the dystopian times of 2020, we find ourselves in a much scarier scenario.
There are many ifs, buts, blame, frustration, anger, pain, and that too for good measure. For the ones who have had to struggle to get a basic human need of healthcare, seen a family member succumb to the virus in times when one cannot even get to say a proper goodbye, all this has been scarring.
So, yes. All of it should make us find fear.
We were lost in the haze and maze of living the modern life. Suddenly, life and its fragility are magnified. It’s a kind of a daily reminder no one asked for. Nature had its way of signalling that time is nigh for one to shed the body, i.e., old age. But, the virus is taking people of all age groups.
We are all, in a way hanging on to dear life. You do not know when or how the virus can strike. And even if you, by the grace of God, remain safe, what about the people you love and care about?
If you’re reading this, you’re still safe. You’re still around. You’re still getting to rejoice in this magical, precious gift called life. No matter how hard it seems to get, life still is worth fighting for. Life is worth living. I hope you agree 🙂
I was speaking to a few friends recently. I mentioned how even if Bhagavan Krishna comes and offers me His eternal abode with a guarantee of bliss and joy, would I be willing to let go of the attachment to my body and situations? Even in the current scenario?
Honestly, not really.
I may believe and read up all the scriptures and find solace in a divine figure like Bhagavan Krishna, and I will still hold my life dear. When this is the state of the ones like me who believe in the afterlife, rebirth and so on, what to imagine for those who think this is the only ONE life, one chance!
What do we do now, though?
People have died. We can cry, lament, drive ourselves mad over these things, but the harsh, fierce truth is that the ones who have died aren’t returning.
The Way Forward
Returning to our Batman analogy, when that old prisoner suggested Bruce to find fear, was it to demoralise him?
To somehow inculcate a cynical ideology into him?
The prisoner wanted Bruce to use fear as an impulse for him to increase his will to survive. To remind him that death is certain anyway and there is nothing glorious in dying in a pathetic condition without trying all possible means to live and survive!
So, what do we do?
We strengthen ourselves.
We do our best to ensure we do not become carriers of the virus and do not burden the system any further.
You may ask, Kushagra, any ideas/suggestions/inputs/insights?
Let me present some steps I undertake to keep myself sane and uplifted and find my version of fear of death and love for living. I call it the Pandemic Dharma (however, it’s good to keep using it even after coming out of the pandemic). I made a podcast on the said topic as well a while back. If you wish to listen to it, you can find the link here.
- Engage in some conscious breathing, breathwork/pranayama practices.
I use my post to remind of yet again of the timeless practice of Pranayama. Don’t hesitate, don’t delay, just for the sake of survival, do it. When we survive the pandemic, we’ll thank ourselves for choosing a holistic practice such as pranayama.
To help out, I suggest three practices (to be done in the mentioned order) for best effect:
- Bhastrika/Kalapabhati (please check their contra-indications in case you some medical conditions such as high BP etc.)
- Anulom Vilom
My additional two cents is that get a guide/teacher to learn it from.
- Use Ayurvedic herbs
Giloy, Neem, Turmeric (mixed with black pepper is even better), Tulsi (Holy Basil)— Taking these herbs early morning on an empty stomach condition can boost your immunity tremendously. Safe and effective. I say this with authoritative experience. We also must be adding multi-vitamins and supplements like zinc, vitamin C and D.
- Engage in some daily movement
Walk, run, hop, skip, jump, cycle or my pick— do yoga. Just move—minimum 30 minutes. If you can give an hour to the body, o boy, your body will be so thankful, and your experience of living in it so rewarding. Take it from me— someone who has spent a decade of his life trying to find short cuts and cheat codes to health, there is none. You have to invest the time for your body. And speaking of the body, it brings us to point four.
- Invest time in meditation (mind)
We need to ensure the mind remains healthy, especially now. Meditation of any form can help you from being in a reactive state to a state of conscious response.
Guided meditations are fantastic, to begin with. Go find a teacher or read a book. Or use a piece of nice calming music (my suggestion is that use binaural beats), get comfortable, use some deep breathing exercises and use your imagination productively. Visualise a healthy and happy you. That’ll take care of your fear.
A little word of a caveat: It takes time. Be patient. Don’t expect miraculous changes from the first day you engage in a meditative practice. It can even take years, honestly. I’ll not offer any fake advertisement for meditation. But, if you’re sincere and committed, you will see positive changes soon, so much so that they become a part of a brand new and refined you!
I’ll soon be sharing more tips on how to meditate effectively on my podcast.
There’s a saying that one is an atheist only until the plane starts falling. I say even the ones pretending to be theistic are atheists until the plane of their life, dreams, plans start crashing 🙂
I have spent fourteen years reading and experimenting with spiritual practices. My life has transformed. It sort of feels, it has felt like a new life since my introduction to Shri Krishna.
But, upon honest reflection and contemplation, I realise I chose to be selective, thrifty in applying spiritual wisdom and tools. The virus, finding the fear of death, and the awakening to the reality of mortality has me thinking that for the ones who survive, the virus can be a tremendous teacher to make lifestyle shifts. Heck, if we, the ones who survive (Amen), do not make lifestyle shifts, then it’ll be a missed opportunity.
Prayer connects you to the divine that is within. You discover the potential power lying latent. You find out the gift that the divine has offered for us to choose to connect to it.
Prayer is not a demand for fulfilling your bucket list but an affirmation of love and belonging to something indestructible.
If you are a newbie, do not worry. Our ancients have blessed us abundantly. Some powerful chants can not just shift reality for you but also put you on course for liberation. Pick a chant/mantra and keep chanting as long as you’re in a wakeful state no matter what you’re doing. Keep chanting internally while you eat, sleep, mate, wash, brush, watch tv, scroll your social media feed etc. Of course, you should also devote focussed time to chants as well.
How to pick a chant?
Be a spiritual scientist. Use the chants, which are just powerful sound vibrations and see which one you resonate with and then keep chanting.
- Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaye
- Om Namo Narayanaya
- Om Namah Shivaaye
- Hare Krishna Mahamantra (Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare. Hare Ram, Hare Ram, Ram Ram, Hare Hare)
Do it consciously for even ten minutes every day and see the change. This form of meditation can fetch miraculous results soon if one is committed 🙂
If you wish to read more ideas pertaining to the power of chanting mantras, you can refer to this blog post I wrote last year.
- Read Bhagavad Gita
Even when I’m using divinatory tools like oracle/angel cards for friends or clients, I refrain from making predictions.
But, I’m still going to stick my neck out and make a prediction which I hope comes true:
Never again are we going to face such tumultuous times as a species in the coming century. Fingers crossed, Om Tat Sat, Inshallah and all that.
Now that we are here and surviving:
PLEASE MAKE USE OF THE FEAR!
PLEASE READ THE BHAGAVAD GITA.
If you were to ask me what should be the two primary takeaways for anyone who reads this post, then my pick would be point 1 and 6, i.e., pranayama and reading Gita. Both these should be enough for a healthy surviving person to manage fear and boost inner strength.
When I see the pain in people’s hearts at the tragic loss of lives, I wonder how much of a missed opportunity it is on the part of this land that the teachings of Gita are not propagated.
The words of Krishna will not alleviate the pain, but they certainly act as a soothing balm on the miseries and challenges we encounter being alive. If read with devotion, they also empower you to become fearless and evolved.
If you do read it, please do send a blessing and prayer my way as well. Hopefully, even I can integrate some Gita into my daily life.
On the said note, seek good company, talk to positive people, read uplifting books and watch good content on tv. All such things have a tremendous impact on our mental well being as well.
If death does have to come, what will be better, to die miserably or to die with gratitude?
I like to think the latter is a better option.
The latter is not just a better option for dying but also for living. 🙂
Daily practice of gratitude can help alleviate the anxiety of the adverse events we perceive. Within a few weeks itself, we can re-wire our subconscious to start looking for opportunities than obstacles.
Every day, pick three things you’re thankful for in the morning and before hitting the bed. You can do more for sure. Start with three, though. Reflect upon the already beautiful moments you have experienced in life rather than stressing upon what may be and allowing the monkey mind to conjure horrific scenarios, most of which (thankfully!) will never come to pass.
Thank you so much for reading through until the end of the post. I hope, pray and wish that the post brings you some upliftment and joy in our testing times. God bless you and keep living. I, too, hope to come back with another post soon. 🙂
P. S. In the movie Batman Begins (first part of the Dark Knight Trilogy), when Bruce’s father is shot in the alley by a mugger, his father’s last words to him are, Bruce, don’t be afraid.
So, hey, Bruce (reader), don’t be afraid. 🙂