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Faith Community Perspectives on COVID-19: Finding Peace in the Pandemic

By: Rushil V. Patel, MD, Frances Young Tang Research Fellow in Palliative Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Spreads rapidly
Impacts societies

While COVID-19 fits all these descriptions, the Rig Veda, a Hindu scripture, describes something else that can be equally viral but vital to our present moment.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj

“Āno bhadrāhā kratavo yantu vishvataha.” “Let noble thoughts come to us from every side.”

On August 29, 2000, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the late spiritual leader of BAPS, shared this insight in his speech at the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders hosted by the United Nations in New York. He explained how followers of all faiths must find opportunities to unite amidst diversity. Today, these words hold ever more real as citizens of all nations struggle to find opportunities to unite amidst adversity.

Indeed, social distancing and self-isolation have disrupted our daily routines, but we now have the space to nurture those noble thoughts. Noble thoughts carry with them positivity and hope, powerful sentiments to counteract feeling overwhelmed by the images and statistics that frequently flood our minds from the media. Noble thoughts are the tools our religion provides to inspire us to find opportunities to serve others. Countless individuals have answered the call to serve, but many more will need to respond in the coming days. Here are our opportunities to help:

● Practicing proper hygiene and social distancing to reduce the spread of infection.
● Sharing words of encouragement with our friends and family instead of blame, criticism, or gossip.
● Spending time with those at home to support them through this crisis.
● Praying to maintain composure and for the welfare of others.

As we find ways to move forward in these circumstances, let’s find peace in the noble thought with which Pramukh Swami Maharaj concluded his speech,

“In the good of others lies our own, In the progress of others rests our own, In the joy of others lies our own.”

Rushil V. Patel, MD is the Frances Young Tang Research Fellow in Palliative Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

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