By Michael Ketterhagen, PhD
“For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made;
for you would not fashion what you hate.
How could a thing remain, unless you willed it;
or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?
But you spare all things, because they are yours,
O Ruler and Lover of souls,
for your imperishable spirit is in all things.”
--The Book of Wisdom from the Bible (11:24-12:1 - RNAB)
If I am to love as God loves and move more actively on the spiritual path, does that mean I have to love those people and things that hurt people? Does that mean, because God’s “imperishable spirit is in all things,” that I must love all things, too? Does that mean I must love the coronavirus? Covid-19?
How can a sincere lover of goodness, truth and non-harming (ahmisa) do that?
Yoga has always taught that yoga is “skillful action.” What would be the skillful action for loving something that seems like an enemy of the human race?
Yoga also says that the answer to all dilemmas is within us. Christianity says that too—“The kingdom of heaven is within you (KJV), within your midst (NAB).”
So the answer to our dilemma is within the human race, or specifically within the individual human. We must look inside.
And what do we find there?
We find a human body that is constantly defending itself from daily attacks. Our immune system is constantly searching out intruders or “enemies” that would disturb our joy and well-being. It is our immune system that is controlled by the Divine Source of Life within us that is our key to loving the coronavirus.
In order to love the coronavirus, if we consider it an enemy, we must make our immune system strong and robust. We will then easily defend ourselves against the current invader. When we have a powerful immune system, we are lovingly showing this virus that we respect it. And respect is what love is all about! We may not like the attacks or the nastiness of the “enemy” or the violator of our dignity but the perpetrator will stand down when we show our strength and confidence.
So then, how do we make our immune system strong? By nourishing our total self -- our body, our emotions, our mind and our spirit.
We nourish the body’s immune system through proper exercise, healthy food, diaphragmatic breathing—all of the practices of a yogic lifestyle. We give ourselves enough sleep and rest and balance our sexual behavior so we don’t deplete our vital energy.
We nourish our mind’s immune system with positive, loving, non-critical self-talk, which is often the initial step in criticism, blame, argumentation. This movement to positive thinking will also nourish our emotional life. It’s like a “Pollyanna” or “class is half full” thinking process. This is not faking ourselves out, but is the truth. According to yoga and many Christian saints, like Theresa of Avila, “All is well.”
Nourishing our emotional life is strongly connected to what we put into our mind. Do we watch scary movies? Do we watch news that sensationalizes the pain that is happening in today’s world? Do we participate in angry conversations on social media? Or do we participate in loving, beautiful, uplifting visuals and audibles? What kind of music do we listen to? What kind of people do we listen to? Do we bring flowers into our home?
This nourishment of the mind and emotions is the gateway to triggering our powerful, loving core, the authentic life force residing in our whole self. Although our spirit is always the source of nourishment, often our body, mind and emotions block that internal joy.
Yes, loving the coronavirus might mean actively focusing on strengthening ourselves inside by strengthening and nourishing our immune system.
We are now in charge of our welfare, our health! Alleluia!