Theosophy in Times of Crisis

By Julian Ochoa, 6 April 2020 Truthrises

‘May you live in interesting times’ says a Chinese proverb. Indeed we are alive in interesting times. Every day on television, the radio, the Internet,  we see all sorts of bizarre news especially about the idiosyncrasies of our leaders, who today are less leaders and more entertainers. We live in the age of reality television, and in some twisted way the tables have turned on us and now we are the characters in a strange reality television show where we are all suffering from the massive global  lockdown, which is a result from the widely spread Corona virus. 

Regardless of where people may say about where this virus came from, the virus is endemic, and it is here to stay, until a vaccine is found. According to scientists even if we get a vaccine this virus will never go away. I ask myself: what do these massive lockdowns and the virus have to teach us? Working from home during this period has made me observe carefully my behaviour and flaws which somehow are coming out to the fore. 

There is mass fear, hysteria, anxiety, incredulity and cynicism about what is going on, but the truth is that there are people dying, and there are workers in the health system putting their lives on the line to save countless patients. Some may say these workers are getting paid, but these workers are not really getting paid so much, so as to sacrifice their lives for a person they do not know. In this situation there is something more than meets the eye; the doctors, nurses, wardens, paramedics are fighting to keep alive not just strangers but humanity as a whole. There are some who think this is a joke but we have to remember that the last pandemic killed millions of people. there is worry that the global economy is collapsing, there are many changes taking place very rapidly and we have been unable to catch up with it. At the more personal level, we are worried about our jobs, where we will get the money to pay our bills, to see our family and friends, and our daily routines have been flipped upside down. We are unsure how long this crisis will last. All our plans, ambitions, trips, whatever plans we had are all now on hold indefinitely. What we forget is that just as all good things do not last it is the same for the so-called bad things. This situation will not last forever. 

Having said that I still ask: what can we as contemporary humans learn from this? The best way to learn from a crisis is looking back at what Theosophy, the Ancient Wisdom, has to say about life in times of crisis. How should one behave in times of crisis? What is there for us to learn?

How can we face a global pandemic with the clear possibility of being infected and maybe even dying? Fear and anxiety are the natural feelings we may all feel at the moment. Can we face this invisible threat in a better way? In the Bhagavadgita Sri Krishna tells Arjuna (Second Discourse, verses 31-35):

     Further, looking to thine own duty thou shouldst not tremble; for there is nothing more welcome to a Kshatriya than righteous war. Happy the Kshatriya-s, O Partha, who obtain such a fight, offered unsought as an open door to heaven. But if thou wilt no carry on this righteous warfare, the casting away thine own duty and thine honour, thou wilt incur sin. Men will recount thy perpetual dishonour, and, to one highly esteemed, dishonour exceedeth death.[1]

We are not in a war but in a global crisis and we should all assume our roles and responsibilities with dignity.“ H.P.Blavatsky said “The first duty taught in Theosophy, is to do ones duty unflinchingly by every duty”.  If we are just to stay home then that is all that has to be done. If you have to work take all the necessary precautions. If you were to die from this virus it is better to have lived your last days trying to play your role in the world with grace, knowing that the journey is not over as the march continues towards that ever glorious Light.  If you survive this situation you will remember this time as a period of reflection and a time when you participated with your community in ensuring that the virus did not spread. 

What this situation is teaching us is that we are not in control of external events and forces, and as a result we have come to realise that our march forward in this world of illusions has been shaken by a virus. Is it time to panic at the fact that most human activity has been halted? The truth is that life goes on. If you look at nature the animals are still going about their business,  the sun is still emitting light and warmth to the whole solar system, all the elements on earth are still in movement, nothing has stopped, life goes on. We should take this opportunity to grow in a different way, This is a time for humanity to reflect on how it wants to march towards the future. Will it be a march towards more wars, famines and greed or should we take the path of solidarity and empathy for others and for the planet with live in. 

In order to walk away from that which holds us back from living a better life, it is recommended to spend more time in nature, dedicate a bit more time with our loved ones, listen to them, read books, meditate, doing something as simple as sitting back and watching the ebb and flow of life opens the mind to greater possibilities. There is no need to be extra busy, no need to be preoccupied with online activities all the times, we should try detach ourselves from being “busy”. We did not come to this earth to ignore the world as if wearing horse blinkers and die, we came to wonder at the universe and to discover its mysteries. 

In these times one must act as a Theosophist, a Christian, a Muslim, Buddhist or any other follower of the Supreme Being would do and that is to be human in every aspect of the word. It is never too late to change the course of our lives, to become more self-aware and more empathetic towards all sentient beings.  For those seeking a way Theosophy advises that one should do the simple steps prescribed by the Adepts, which are to study the Ancient Wisdom, to meditate in order to have proper introspection, discover who we really are, and lastly to serve either by spreading the teachings of the ancient sages or by simply living an ethical and moral life, a life of love towards all sentient beings, without excluding anyone. The Adepts are humans like us that have put egotism aside and have dedicated their lives to the service of the betterment of humanity. There is nothing more constructive for a society than to have a man or a woman that serves their community in whatever trade or calling he or she may have with enthusiasm and who focus on the sole purpose of building a better world for the generations to come. 

This virus may isolate and distance us physically but it has not ruptured our collective connection, our connection to the earth and the universe and the invisible forces that guide creation. It is impossible for humanity to be obliterated completely, and it is only the cynics that would see humanity enslaved by materialism and egotism. This current drama is part of a cycle and it will also end. A new cycle will come where humanity will no longer suffer from its desires but will be in complete contentment with its fundamental unity with all living beings in the universe. Blavatsky mentions in the secret doctrine the three fundamental propositions, the third proposition explains that all souls are part of the great oversoul, she goes on to say that we are part of a journey through the universal cycles which are part of the great ebb and flow of life eternal, therefore we are in great company.

[1] The Bhagavadgita, translated by Annie Besant, The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Chennai, 2005, pp.20-21.