Back to FOTM

Jivamukti Focus of the Month

The Crown of Creation

“If we had the consciousness to see the impact of our choices on our greater world; which is our greater heart, then we would see that we are more a part of life on this Earth than our society allows us to recognize. We’re part of each other’s dreams, depth and prayer, we’re part of each other’s aspirations and needs, we’re part of each other’s fulfillment. If we want to reduce the level of fear in our society, in ourselves, in our bodies and nervous systems—it’s all the same process. We would have to question all the things that we do—our daily lives. One thing that the environmental movement has brought forth is the recognition of how interwoven we are with the natural world. What we do to the forests, what we do to the oceans, the rivers, the great biosphere, eventually we do to ourselves. If we poison the air, we poison ourselves. And when we grasp the degree in which we are interrelated and interconnected with all of life we start to be a vehicle of life itself, rather than a skin-encapsulated ego—a small self, narrowly trying to find our way. With the benefit of all the information all the wisdom of experience that we can tune into —we then can expand to our higher self—our real Self, our true nature.”

—John Robbins from the song, Is this a Bridge Exactly, by Audio Letter.

Coronavirus is a zoonotic disease—meaning the virus jumped from animals to humans. The stress of confinement suffered by trapped and enslaved animals is known to bring about pathologies. We know this from past pandemics. Mutations allow diseases to jump species: trichinosis, tuberculosis, and swine flu were originally diseases found in pigs, influenza came from avian (bird) flu, horsepox mutated into smallpox, bovine rinderpest became measles, Creutzfeldt-Jakobs disease is the human equivalent of mad cow disease. The 2003 SARs pandemic like today’s Covid-19 is thought to have been transmitted by bats. Many scientists think that AIDs spread to humans through bush meat. The 2014 Ebola outbreak originating in Africa was believed to be caused by eating bushmeat. Bushmeat refers to many species of wild animals including bats, antelopes, monkeys, snakes, and rats.

Isn’t it way beyond the time that we stop eating animals? Stop trapping them? Stop putting them in cages? Stop confining them in dark warehouses, feedlots and barns? Stop breeding them as commodities? Stop slaughtering them by the billions every year world-wide? When someone says that if other people choose to eat animals, that is their choice–their business; well, with this recent coronavirus outbreak, the Chinese animal markets have become our business too. Anywhere where animals are being used and abused should become our business. Animal enslavement, exploitation, and abuse are happening everywhere in every country, on land and sea. It has formed the basis of our global economy since the first stock markets.

Yes, it is a good step for China and other countries to close down the live markets dealing with the buying, selling and slaughtering on site of wild animals. But this will not eradicate the underlying cause. Putting blame on wild animals for carrying the coronavirus and wanting all bats to be exterminated is another example of our civilization’s war against mother nature—an extension of our fear of all things wild while establishing human superiority over other beings. Blaming others is never a valid solution.

To point the finger of blame on China or someplace else is to ignore what we are also doing all over the world: confining animals in farms and cages. The difference is that we keep them drugged and hidden from the public. Even with the heavy doses of antibiotics prescribed by the USDA and other health organizations that regulate the agribusiness, overcrowded factory farms and slaughterhouses are breeding ground for disease, including parasites, bacteria, and viruses along with new emerging pathogens that are antibiotic-resistant. Slaughterhouses and farms are not clean places and certainly not kind places. They are places of fear and violence. Animals are vulnerable, stressed, sick and filled with fear. Remember the Swine Flu, a global pandemic in 2010, killing hundreds of thousands of people across the globe, but because of its connection to domesticated pigs and the animal agribusiness, it was largely obscured.

We can learn from reflecting upon the past, but still, the big question is, what do we do now? Do we, as individuals, shirk responsibility and continue to blame and complain? Do we live in fear and angrily demand from our government leaders to take care of the situation? Do we turn a blind eye and party hardy? Do we wash our hands and hoard toilet paper? Do we hope that scientists quickly figure out a solution and give us a vaccine, enabling us to go back to our normal unsustainable lives, until the next pandemic arrives? Is fear, anger, and blame justified, can it really help? As yogis, we are committed to purifying our actions so as to cause the least amount of negative impact to others. Whatever we do to others will come back to us, so our own health, happiness and liberation is dependent on how we treat others. All of life is interdependent. What each of us does affects everyone. No one of us can be truly happy by causing unhappiness to others—other animals and the environment included. If we ourselves value freedom then our project should be liberation for all.

Corona means crown. Human beings have long felt that we are the crown of creation—superior to every other form of life. Our arrogance has vindicated our “might is right” attitude sanctioning the enslaving and exploiting of others for our own short-sighted gain. Perhaps Mother Nature is only answering our demands and giving us the crown that we have insisted we deserve. Back in the 1960s when Grace Slick, vocalist for the Jefferson Airplane sang, “You are the Crown of Creation and you’ve got no place to go…” could that have been taken as a forewarning to us now to wake up and realize that we are homebound—all of us on this small planet. Why not seize this time of crisis as an opportunity to take off this vile ill-fitting crown and humbly bow our bare heads in awe, respect and loving devotion to God and creation?

Teaching Tips

Read this essay (or a section of it) to the students who attend class.

 

Essential Teaching & Safety Tips 

None of us can completely eliminate our risk of getting COVID-19. Social distancing breaks or slows the chain of transmission from person to person so that our health system doesn’t collapse.

We urge all of you to pay attention to and respect the advice from your local health authorities and governments.

In addition, we suggest you do everything you can, to boost your immune system. Eighty percent of your immune system is the gut biome – so improving nutrition helps support optimal immune function.

Eat lots of vegan food rich in vitamins A, B and C and minerals like zinc, iron, and selenium;

Leafy greens, legumes, tofu, whole seeds and grains, nuts, yellow and orange vegetables, citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, beans, mushrooms, red bell peppers, ginger, spinach, turmeric and garlic (taken medicinally/internally)

Drink lots of filtered water and green tea.

If you are not in quarantine, make sure you spend some time outdoors every day, to stock up on Vitamin D and to connect with Mother Earth.

Get enough sleep, between 7 and 9 hours minimum each night. Sleep is crucial for your body’s ability to recover and defend itself. Make the most of this more quiet time with less social activity to take a nap whenever you feel tired.

Manage your stress level with at least 15 minutes of meditation each day. Practice Yoga asana. Don’t skip Savasana, and perhaps make it a bit longer than you normally do.

Exercise boosts your mood and keeps you healthy, so exercise moderately every day. This will reduce inflammation and support infection-fighting cells in your body.

Take breaks from social media and limit the time you spend online following the news about Coronavirus. Remember that it is crucial to unplug and unwind.

Chant mantras several times a day to protect and uplift your mind. See the Jivamukti Chant book for a selection of mantras and prayers.

If you are a yoga teacher, find new and creative ways to connect with your students. Set up a digital channel and live stream or record your classes so people can continue their yoga pratice even though they have to stay at home. Remember, the best way to uplift your own life, is to uplift the lives of others.

If you are a yoga student and miss going to your regular classes, check to see if your favourite yoga studio or teacher is offering digital classes. Most studios and many teachers have begun offering online classes.

Be safe. Be healthy. Dare to care. Be yoga.