Looking Inwards

Let the roads we travel take us to beautiful places


It’s the end of fall. Autumn has receded into shriveling winter. Of course, it’s yet another instance of Change. Similarly, time to re-think as we go through the fag days of the year, to reinforce our strength to achieve what we set out to do and could not.
We need to remember the truly special things. Perhaps, keeping things in perspective: learning, loving, living. Having happiness as a part of our priorities. Being creative and aware and wonderfully alive. And always striving to discover our serenity.
We need to look westwards for the affirmation of this. We wrongly assume that in a land where everything is bountiful, people would have an eternal lock on fulfillment. The affluent West should be indeed the happiest place on the planet by those standards! It consumes the largest part of the world’s natural resources. It has the highest standard of living in the history of mankind. Refrigerators, cars, mobiles, and hi-tech gizmos…..the things the Westerner thinks of as necessities are luxury items for most of the world’s population. Still, the blessing of contentment, happiness and joyousness are missing. Why?
The answer lies in simple truism. The more people become materialistic, the less trusting they are. Instead of communicating basic human values, the emphasis has shifted to wallets and acquiring of possessions. Consequently, the levels of loneliness and violence seem to be a natural offspring of an excessively materialistic society. Is it possible then, to live our lives with inner bliss and harmony within the larger context of greed and accumulation? I believe the answers can be found in detachment.
  They say “detachment is the unwritten fact of the universe, which is always operating. The question is whether or not we are willing to tune into it and make it operative in our daily lives”. Most people cannot. Or just will not. After all, it challenges the very fabric of our lifelong misplaced notions and concepts.
Dr. Wayne Dwyer in his book ‘You’ll See It When You Believe It’, says that we are both form (the body) and formlessness (the mind- thoughts). “A large part of our being is formless, a part that includes all our thinking, spirituality, and higher consciousness. Thought is one essential dimension in which we do literally all our living...All our attachments are in form.”
As such, a form always accompanies an attachment. It’s a tangible, grasping reality. Something in the world of form to which we have accorded so much meaning that we are passionately and emotionally attached to it.
The moment we truly wake up, we discern the insignificance to any attachment. We comprehend that in essence we can never own anything. We realize that the more we try to cling to attachments, the more difficult it becomes for us to live with a really higher purpose.
The ability to be detached from things and people and still perceive ourselves as a part of the whole of humanity is one of the greatest paradoxes of human expedition. If ever we can do this, then only we can live value and celebrate what we have. It’s this blessed detachment that lets us feel whole and allows us to flow instead of fighting against the tides of life.  It is a kind of sanitization that leads to freedom from expectations. It is like not being a slave to the attachment of the things we have been accumulating. That’s why detachment is arriving rather than striving. It is experiencing what it feels like to row our boat down the stream. This, of course, implies to flow without hitches.
 Attachments do not always take the form of possessions. An attachment to things is a common thread that winds its way throughout our materialistic culture. There are others too, ruling our lives : attachments to other people’s opinions or even how we are perceived by others.
  Our most common attachments are a few. The first would certainly be attachments to things. This leads to an endless pursuit of more. The more we attach our value to things outside of ourselves, the more we give those things the power to control us. The holy Quran describes it in these words—“The mutual rivalry for piling up (the good things of this world) diverts you (from the more serious things)”Chapter 102:1. In its commentary Syed Maududi writes about the whole theme and subject matter of this chapter of Holy Quran—“In it people have been warned of the evil consequences of world worship because of which they spend their lives in acquiring more and more of worldly wealth, material benefits and pleasures, and position and power, till death, and in vying with one another and bragging and boasting about their acquisitions. This one pursuit has so occupied them that they are left with no time or opportunity for pursuing the higher things in life.”
The next is attachment to people. Loving someone is certainly not inappropriate provided we observe pious norms. However, needing to own someone and feel powerless and shattered if that person is not a part of your life in the exact way you desire, smacks of mental imbecility and nothing else. In his well acclaimed book The Prophet Kahlil Gibran writes-
‘Your children are not your children
They are the sons and daughters of
Life’s longing for itself.
They come to you but not from you.
And though they are with you
Yet they belong not to you.’
Our loved ones are always on their own path and the link between them and us is a part of that small journey. They may eternally leave us, but they are inevitably confined to obscurity. Detachment allows us to celebrate this fact with divine complacency and smugness.
There are always new journeys awaiting us. Decisions lying ahead : wondering what we will do, where we will go, and how we will choose when the choices are ours. So, let us let go today. Not all at once. Let us try to replace some of our clashes with cordiality. Let us learn a new way of thinking. Let us tell that sullen person in the mirror : ‘You are only the package that holds me.  Go ahead and do what you want!’
Let the roads we travel take us to beautiful places, and have the faith it takes to achieve and aspire. Hope our tomorrows take us to the summit of our meaningful goals, and our joys take us even higher. 

(The author teaches at Media Education Research Centre, MERC, University of Kashmir)

Lastupdate on : Sat, 4 Dec 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 4 Dec 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 5 Dec 2010 00:00:00 IST

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