“Oh, my God! A plane just hit the World Trade Center.” My sales team leader blurted out the shocking news for all to hear.

“Shut the (blank) up! And get back to work.” Our regional manager, the big boss, shouted back at him.

The date was 9/11/2001. 

I was working in midtown Manhattan for Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s company, Bloomberg L.P. Along with being a financial data service provider, Bloomberg is a media company. Most people know Bloomberg TV, Radio, or the magazine. In our office, there were TVs on the floor, the walls, on everyone’s desktop computer – the Bloomberg Terminal, which was like a trader’s workstation with four screens.

Everyone turned their TVs on and, just a few moments later, we all saw the second plane strike the World Trade Center in real-time. 

Pandemonium ensued. 

A few minutes later, before we could even recoil from the shock, security announced over the intercom for everyone to evacuate the building. It was a surreal experience. I remember running towards the West Side to try to catch the ferry back to New Jersey where I lived. I knew it would be my only chance to get out of the city. But it was too late; the ferry was already closed.

The city was on lockdown… sound familiar?

To make matters worse, my cell phone died (this was before the iPhone!). For those of you who know NYC, I walked all the way from Midtown Manhattan to Alphabet City (much closer to Ground Zero). Fortunately, my friend Gil was home and I was able to stay with him for the evening. We went to the rooftop of his apartment complex to view the tragic scene. It smelled, tasted, and looked horrific with plumes of smoke rising like a massive funeral pyre.

One thing that greatly helped me recover from the terrorist attack was finding a way to be of service. A few days after 9/11, I was able to go and help out at Ground Zero as part of a team of Bloomberg volunteers. My job was simply to hand out water bottles to anyone who needed a drink. Not a seemingly heroic task, but that simple act of giving to others began to free me from self-destructive fear. 

Now we are under attack again, not from a terrorist but a virus that is threatening millions of lives. Not everyone will get sick, but all of us are subject to fear.

To combat fear, I’d like to offer one simple suggestion: find a way to be of service. 

At Ananda LA, we’ve made the decision (not only for our safety but for others to help contain and mitigate the spread of the virus) to move all of our offerings online. Paramhansa Yogananda recommended being “practical in your idealism.”

Even though we are temporarily separated physically, it provides an opportunity for us to unite in spirit. As Paramhansa Yogananda said, “In distant closeness, love lives.” 

Let us banish the viruses of fear, hatred, and anger through the searchlight of love for God and service to Him.

Nayaswami Narayan

P.S. You can join our classes and services online at www.anandala.tv