Conversations with God - 11
Devotee - Swami, My pranams. Last week You were telling us that attachment is irrational because we shed tears because someone close to us dies, while we don’t feel anything when someone dear to another person passes away. Someone whom we call ours moves us, while someone theirs does not. Then what should we do?
Swami - Can you tell me what exactly is yours, and what theirs?
D - That is obvious, isn’t it? My house is mine, my property mine, my family mine; while their house is theirs, their property theirs, and their family theirs.
S - Has your house been always yours, and your family yours?
D –Well, before we bought this house it was someone else’s, and before I was born this family was not mine.
S - Before you acquired the property, it was not yours. When you sell this house or property they will no more belong to you.
D - Yes Swami.
S - Therefore all that you call yours are conditionally yours.
D - That is true Swami.
S - And this conditionality is very thin.
D - How Swami?
S - If you disown your family, or they you, the family is no more yours. If your house is burned down, the government acquires the plot and evicts you from the house it is no more yours.
D - What are you driving at ?
S - You are more enduring than what you possess. But is it not funny the way
people are possessed by what they possess?
D - Ah! What an interesting idea! Now that you point it out I realize it should
appear irrational, this being possessed by what you possess. But Swami,
one must, even conditionally, possess something to make living a reality. For instance, can I live without a family, or a house, or some money to buy my needs? Then what is wrong if I call them mine? That is the only way I can establish relationships.
D - Nothing wrong in relationships until relationships do not begin to master you, until you remain unfettered to achieve the primary goal of life. And remember, the primary goal is not arrived at suddenly at the end of a journey. You encounter it at every step towards it. Relationships are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. Most people spend first 3/4th of their lives in creating property, and the next 1/4th in protecting it! Their whole life has been a colossal waste, isn’t it?
D - Yes Swami, it appears so. I know a friend of my father who worked without rest for 50 years to make money, and buy property. After that when his children quarrelled with him for inheritance, he spent rest of his life, which was cut short because of worry, and disease, in redistributing it. He confessed to my father in his death bed that his irrational attachments to property had destroyed a precious lifetime.
S - Now you understand the difference between attachment and detachment?
D - Swami, I understood the bad effects of attachment, but how can you buy a house and not call it yours; build a family and not get attached to it?
S - What is your father?
D - He is a sales manager of a pharmaceutical company.
S - Does he have to travel?
D - Yes swami he has to travel the whole of South 20 days a month.
S - Does he carry a huge roll of bedding to be comfortable in journey?
D -No Swami, he has to spend nights in good hotels, and they provide all his needs.
S - And while leaving these hotels does he carry home whatever he used in the hotels?
D - No Swami, how can he do that! They all belong to the hotels.
S - Does he throw some towels through the window, break a TV, smash a vase.
D - Swami, what do you say! He stays there for a day or two on rent. The
condition of taking a room on rent is that you cannot damage anything, or
S - Then he has to get a dhobi to get the bedclothes, curtains washed before he leaves?
D - No Swami, all that is the responsibility of the hotel. He can enjoy the room as if it is his own during his stay without calling it his own.
S –He can enjoy the comforts of home without calling it his own! Isn’t that wonderful? That is what detachment is. You do the same thing with your house, your property, your family, and live happily like a tenant without being possessed by them, can’t you?
D - Err….well, I never thought it this way! Probably one can try it out. But then, who is the owner of all this?
S - Pass it on to God! Tell him, “God, my family is yours, my house, my property all yours. I am using them on rent. The rent I can pay you is my love for you. Let me not be possessed by them”. He will welcome the deal. All that you call yours, your intelligence, your skill, your money are the different gifts God gives you to make your life comfortable. When you lean back in your comfortable sofa and watch an excellent programme on TV, God chuckles from behind and asks you, “hey, son, like it? But don’t forget I am behind all this, just for your happiness.” Can’t you for once raise your hands and shout, “Father, thank You”? So you see detachment is right attachment. Detachment is not an empty life, it is fulfilled life emptied of trash.
D – Swami, now I very much regret I did not ask these questions to you earlier.
S - People don’t ask questions to themselves. Therefore they break down at slight challenges to their comfortable zone. I don’t need your obedience, I want your understanding, and understanding won’t come unless you enquire.
D - Swami, now what should I do?
S - Pray and practise, practise and pray.
D - How should I pray?
S - Pray that you have unshakable faith in God, pray that you love Him above everything else, pray that your vichara remain unaffected, pray that you develop shraddha in spiritual life, and in sun and shower, light and darkness He be with you, and go with you all the way.