There is a saying in Vadan, Alankaras that speaks directly to the situation many around the world are facing just now :
Though the ever-moving life is my nature,
thou art my very being, O stillness.
We are, by our nature, very active, on all levels – physically, mentally and emotionally. Our intense, densely packed urban environments are a picture of this; cities never sleep, their electric nerves are firing all the time. What is more, it is the nature of activity to accelerate until something stops it, as any parent will know from watching children play together. But when the children reach a certain level of intensity, their interaction becomes chaotic, and there are often shrieks and tears. Then the wise parent looks for a way to impose some silence, some quiet on the children, in order to find harmony again.
Because of the present epidemic, a large portion of the world has been forced to drop the usual activities and stay home. There are hardships in this (especially for families with small children, and for those with little income), and there is an overlying cloud of anxiety not only about the possibility of falling ill, but also about the uncertainty as to how long this must go on, and what life will be ‘afterward.’
And yet, there is also the blessing of stillness. Many have found in their loss of liberty the opening, or re-opening of a door to their spiritual life. The spiritual path is nothing other than a search to know our own being, but activity constantly blinds us, so that we cannot see ourselves–we only see what is before us, and our attention is on what we are doing and sensing. Now, we are compelled to hold ourselves in check, and many find nourishment in this stillness. As a consequence, on-line meetings seem very popular for spiritual groups now. And when we observe the silent city streets, from a balcony perhaps, we hear the blessing of bird song that was absent before. In the stillness, we find nature, and we re-discover our own being.
It is easy to see this period of our history as a ‘time-out’ imposed from Above on the children of humanity. It is painful, certainly, for many have lost loved ones, but if we allow ourselves to learn from the stillness, perhaps we shall be wise enough to avoid such an experience in the future. In other words, we have a precious opportunity in this difficulty; each one must make of it what they can.