The Latin word virus, of the neutral gender, has no plural. This word initially meant « juice » but also « sperm », « venom », « poison », « pungency », and « bitterness ».
The Greek word for virus is ῑός, « venom », but also « rust ».
The etymologyi of these two words goes back to the Sanskrit word विष viṣa, which means, in the neutral gender: « poison, venom ». But the root of this Sanskrit word, viṣ-,basically means « to be active, to act, to do, to accomplish »ii. It thus had originally no negative connotation. It rather implied an idea of action, efficiency, accomplishment. The word विष viṣa, when in the masculine gender, means « servant » (implying the idea of being « active, zealous »).
One may learn from these etymological roots a useful lesson.
As one knows, when viruses infect living beings, they transmit to their genome some bits of their RNA, for example in the form of plasmids.
The COVID-19 pandemic is actually infecting a huge percentage of the entire human race, which will now share fragments of this widely distributed and constantly mutating ‘genetic heritage’.
The virus and its variants are then partly contributing to the overall, on-going mutation of human genome, and are also forcing humankind to be « active and zealous », in order to politically mutate and adapt its global ‘governance’ to reach a level of efficiency that should be higher, hopefully, than the genetic efficiency of the virus itself.
What is happening before our eyes can be undersood as a real-time ‘mutation’ affecting potentially the whole of humanity, genetically, but also politically, and even metaphysically, I would try to argue.
On a metaphorical level, this global pandemic could be compared to a form of incarnation (etymologically, a ‘penetration into the flesh’, an ’embodiment’).
The plasmids that we may inherit from the COVID-19 embody not just an ‘infection’ but also a metaphysical metaphor at work, — that of a continuous, immanent process of symbiotic incarnationof the « inanimate-unconscious » viral reign into the « animate-conscious » human species.
While using the word ‘incarnation’, a quote comes to my mind:
« The true history of the world seems to be that of the progressive incarnation of the divinity »iii.
It is certainly not my intention to compare the putative incarnation of the « divinity » in world ‘true history’ to a slow viral infection, but this metaphor offers some food for thought.
It links in a single knot the « inanimate-unconscious » viral reign, the « animate-conscious » human species, and the « animate-unconscious » divine reign.
The ‘progressive incarnation’ of the virus has its own way and timeline. Likewise the ‘progressive incarnation’ of the divinity. The word incarnation, in both cases, reveals an analogous process at work, in the respective natures of the divinity, the humankind and the allegedly ‘inanimate’, material world.
Undoubtedly, at a given moment, for some reasons of Her own, the Divinity has, in a way, resolved to come out of Herself, if only to allow Her own ‘Creation’ to exist, more or less independently from Her.
Was the eternal « confinement » of the Divinity no longer suitable, at one point? Did Her absolute, compact, total perfection appear to Her somewhat incomplete, notwithstanding Her apparent completeness?
One may conjecture that the Divinity got out of Herself, in order to break the tautology of her Being alone, the repetition of the Sublime, the circularity of the Supreme, the loneliness of the Holiness.
Before the world was even created, what did the Godhead do? She was, one may assume, bathed in an holy, infinite Unconscious. For what is called ‘consciousness’, and of which Man is so proud, is really a term that is not worthy of the supreme Divinity.
The Divinity is so infinite that She cannot know Herself like a mere ‘consciousness’ would. If the Divinity fully knew Herself in such a conscious way, then She would in some subtle manner be limited by this very ‘knowledge’ of Herself, by this projected ‘consciousness’ of Herself that would infringe on Her absolute freedom. This limitation is not conceivable in a divine context.
The Divinity must be beyond any form of consciousness. In other words, She is ‘unconscious’ of Her own, absolute infinity.
To put it another way, before the world or time was created, the Divinity did not yet know the scope of Her own Wisdom, let alone the sound of Her own Word, which had never been uttered (since there was really no ear up there and then to hear).
This is expressed in the Kabbalah’s image of the Divine Wisdom as standing ‘near’, besides the Divinity. There is not identity, but a separation.
In the unconsciousness (of the infinity of Her own Wisdom), the Divinity stood in a state of absolute timelessness.
She stood as a living Entity.
This ‘ignorance’ hid the mystery of Her unconsciousness from the Light of Her otherwise absolute knowledge.
iSee Alfred Ernout and Antoine Meillet. Etymological dictionary of the Latin language. Klincksieck, Paris, 2001, p.740, and cf. Pierre Chantraine. Etymological Dictionary of the Greek Language. Klincksieck, Paris, 1977, p.466.
iiGérard Huet. Sanskrit-French dictionary. 2013. p. 559
iiiC.G. Jung. The Divine in man. Albin Michel. 1999, p.134