New Delhi Diary – July 2020
As if COVID-19 was not enough!
Is 2020 going to be the worst-ever year, particularly for India? COVID-19, Cyclone Amphan, Cyclone Nisarga, Chinese intrusion into Ladakh and the subsequent killings of soldiers on both sides; 17 earthquakes over three months in northern India, and locusts creating havoc in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. As a result, we are now facing an unprecedented economic meltdown.
It is feared that we are in for bad days for the foreseeable future. Even then, there is a brighter side. As a friend says, having braved all these difficulties and hardships, we will learn some lessons, and be able to live a ‘better normal’. The phrase ‘better normal’ is an ‘improvement’ over the popular phrase, ‘new normal’ that has become a buzz word under these new circumstances.
And then came, as if to our rescue, Zoom, Google meet, webinars, and various other online means to ‘hold’ a ‘virtual conference’ enabling hundreds of people to talk with one another and discuss critical issues like ‘life betterment’ under stressful conditions.
Booked and hooked!
Here is a book that kept me hooked and booked, and prevented me from descending into insanity during these lingering Corona days: The Path of the Buddha: Writings on Contemporary Buddhism, edited by Renuka Singh, a former JNU professor. True, the book may not have anything new for someone who is already familiar with Buddhist philosophy, but what comes out brilliantly is the way each topic, from birth to death, karma to undoing of bad karma etc. has been dealt with by writers of eminence. It not only works as an introduction to Buddhist philosophy but also introduces one to the relevance of the need to have a ‘different-angle’ look into the mysteries of the mind and matter.
Mind and matter are, normally, two different things, and each has a tendency to ‘stay away’ from the other. But when matter, let’s say our physical body, particularly the brain, is made to look for that dynamic energy or force within us, then there is a union of mind and matter, even if for a moment of one’s consciousness!
The city was blessed with monsoon showers a week before its scheduled time. The month of July gives the city a new and fresh appearance. It glows in the charm of lower temperature, intermittent rain, parched land turning green, and birds and other animals in their best spirit. And, we, the 1.9 crore denizens of the city, enjoy a cloud-speckled sky with promises of imminent rain and cool, refreshing air. Since Monsoon is so kind to us this time, life has become a little more comfortable. With the intense heat of May and June behind us, one tries different ways to celebrate life, and hope for the arrival of better days soon.
And yet, despite so many problems, the clouds that come and go without any ‘convincing’ reason, give one the satisfaction and the understanding that nothing is permanent and that the good and the bad in one’s life is to make one a little more careful and loving so that one doesn’t mess up with life and nature!
Inner voice vs. outer voice
People often wonder: What is our ‘inner voice’ and how does it differ from our ‘outer voice’? Until one thinks over it seriously, one can easily get lost in search of an answer. And, as a result, one might conclude that these are silly questions and that there is no point in pondering over them. And whoever has heard of this ‘outer voice’? But if we mull on these questions more seriously it does reveal many dimensions. The nearest and the most convincing answer could be this: Well, inner voice, when given an expression and accepted by others, becomes an outer voice. And, an outer voice, accepted by an individual and given an expression becomes an inner voice. Well, it is so very complex, but, my dear, philosophy is always like that!
But, in a way, the ‘inner’ and the ‘outer voice’ support each other in gaining acceptance, and for the greater good of mankind. Both help one realise one’s own self and expand one’s consciousness.
Doctor: Ma’am, good news. Your husband is COVID-19 negative.
Wife: How does that change anything? He has been a very negative person all his life.
By P. P. Wangchuk