It is interesting to take note of how the world reacts to the dangers and inconveniences resulting from this pandemic.

To the vast majority of the planet, living with serious threats to health, material welfare, and decent quality of life unfortunately are “all in a day’s work.” Because the quality of life for so many leaves much to be desired, pandemic or no pandemic is virtually the same,

To others residing in what used to be called the ‘civilized world,’ today’s challenges are unprecedented in their lifetimes, and require not only physical restrictions, but bring up mindset issues.

Janis Joplin famously sang, “Freedom’s just another word for ‘nothing left to lose’.”

I always had trouble figuring out what she meant—still do, actually—but those who cry, “mask mandates threaten my freedom,” may have different feelings about freedom.

The right to bear arms vs. gun control advocates in USA similarly pits a kind of freedom vs. loss of life debate not too different than those related to masks and vaccinations.

“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”— indeed, if life is to be so undervalued as to confuse “freedom” with life and death.

Unless we are talking about residents of the US state of New Hampshire whose mantra/motto is, “Live free or die,” many of the rest of us would rather compromise in return for longer life spans.

Relevant behaviors may include:

  • *giving up a favorite food or restaurant
  • *ending a relationship which, though pleasurable, had turned toxic
  • *valuing sobriety over use of your preferred mind-altering substance
  • *Avoiding superspreader events for a while longer

Whatever the action, basically discipline is discipline. The rewards are similar.

So in many ways, our lives in the past 1 1/2 years have been transformed into a vast experience or experiment with discipline. As tapa, the third aspect of Fivefold Path—self-discipline—however requires full cooperation of our minds and intellects, and many of us are not especially cooperative with pandemic restrictions, the self-imposed aspect of true Tapa at first glance, seems to be missing,

The restrictions and changes in our daily lives brought on by the pandemic are more forced rather than voluntary.

So “tapa by decree” might more accurately describe the status quo.

Past excursions into Tapa experiences, it might be argued, may have made us less disturbed by Tapa by Decree.

And certainly, we retain the freedom to follow or not follow mandates and decrees.

So, in reality not much has changed. The reasons we choose to engage in self-discipline may be more dramatic than pre-pandemic days, but the mind training that is needed and enhanced is the same.

So even though many aspects of our lives have changed since 2020, the mind training many of us aspire to remains a constant.

So, the more things change, the more they remain the same. And Fivefold Path is still the way for all the joy and all the bliss.