Vigilance in the context of the COVID-19 situation

One aspect the “Vigilance Regarding The Awakening Mind” chapter that resonated with me was it’s repeated emphasis on the importance of realizing that “one must act now” (24). I found this concept particularly relevant given our current situation with the coronavirus. This spring semester, I was taking more credits than I have in previous semesters and was struggling to fit in time for my other interests and hobbies. I also found that the weather took a toll on my overall mood and also contributed to my lack of time spent outdoors. As a result of these factors, I had the mentality that “once I get past this wave of midterms or this week of classes or this patch of bad weather, then I’ll take time to focus on my other priorities.” However, once Emory announced that classes would be moving online and students were to move out, I realized that I would no longer have the opportunity to focus on these “other priorities.” The announcement was a bit of a reality check that I should not have been postponing the things that were important to me, and it shed light on the fact that the idea that “one must act now” is something that should be taken seriously since we are not guaranteed anything past the now. This chapter also made me recognize that any despair I feel in response to a situation—such as the current reality with COVID-19—is only a result of my perception of the situation. One verse that I feel demonstrates this idea is verse 28, which states that “enemies such as greed and hate lack hands and feet and other limbs… they are not brave, nor are they wise.. how is it they enslave me?” (27). I interpreted this verse to be emphasizing that barring physical threats, the only negativity I face is a result of my own mind. The following verses expand on this idea, pointing out that the defilements are “lodged within my own mind” and that they “are weaklings to be subdued by wisdom’s glare” (27). To me, this verse seems to argue that with the right mindset, one can overcome any and all perceived negativity. In other words, the negativity we perceive in our lives is only harmful if we allow it to be. Instead of approaching the COVID-19 situation with an attitude of despair, I can reframe my perception of the situation to recognize the positive implications of my new reality with the virus: more time with family, more time for rest, and more time to focus on my hobbies. In conclusion, this chapter helped me to reconsider my previous feelings regarding the COVID-19 situation by replacing my despair with an appreciation for and focus on the positive aspects in my life.

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