Krishna’s Polycrisis

Polycrisis, permacrisis, omnicrisis…new words are emerging at the moment to try and capture the sense that the crises we’re facing are connected – symptoms of a deeper imbalance.

In Hindu thought, this is nothing new. In February, after Russia invaded Ukraine, my philosophy teacher Dr Kavitha Chinnaiyan (who practises and teaches in a non-dual Hindu lineage), convened a gathering to consider the crisis from within this tradition.

I’ll never forget the first thing Kavitha said on the call: ‘There will always be crisis’. She went on to say that crisis is woven into the very fabric of reality itself. Without crisis, there can be no creation, no manifestation. Reality is perma-crisis.

Wait what? would be the reaction from a more Western perspective. Doesn’t this normalise crises that are fundamentally wrong, like social inequality or climate collapse? Doesn’t it naturalise what should be seen as an outrage, an aberration?

Rather than normalising crisis, I’d say that Hindu thought allows for a certain intimacy with it. In this tradition, crisis and creation are one and the same, which puts a different spin on things. In the blink of an eye, one world is destroyed and another is born. We breathe in a new world and breathe out an old one. Individual birth and death, the rise and fall of civilisations, the creation and dissolution of whole universes are simply the same cyclical process, operating on different planes.

So perma-crisis is natural. It is part of reality. But so is perma-creation. At every point we are at a juncture between the old and the new, between destruction and creation. Every moment offers a chance to start again.

This tradition isn’t about sitting in lotus position while watching universes emerge and dissolve. On the contrary – it’s about seeing that perma-crisis is the deeper rhythm of reality: catch it at the right moment and we can begin again.

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