It’s the beginning of the end—the Fall. Autumn has started receding into shriveling winter. It’s yet another instance of change. Time to re-think as we go through the fag days of the year, to reinforce our strength to do what we set out to do and could not.
Likewise, we need to remember the truly special things. Keeping things in perspective: learning and living. Having heartfelt happiness as a part of our priorities. Being creative and aware and wonderfully alive. And always striving to discover our senses and serenities.
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. From futuristic cars, smartphones and hi-tech gizmos blah blah…..the things the West thinks of as necessities are luxury items for most of the world’s population. Still, the blessings of contentment and happiness 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 possessions. Consequently, the levels of loneliness and aggression seem to be 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? May be 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 of 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 our realities.
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 the human expedition. If ever we can do this, then only we can 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.
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 his commentary, Abul A’la Mawdudi writes about the whole theme and subject matter of this chapter —“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. Need to own someone and feel powerless if that person is not a part of your life in the exact way you desire, is our worst limitation. 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 abandon us, and get inevitably confined to obscurity. The exit is not the end. Detachment allows us to accept this fact with divine poise and complacency.
There are always different 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 gradually try to replace some of our hurts with harmony; our mournings with memory; and remorse with resilience. Let us learn a fresh way of thinking. Let the roads that we travel henceforward take us nearer to God, take us to good places, and have the faith it takes to aspire with honesty and humility. Hope our tomorrows take us to the summit of our meaningful goals, and our genuine joys take us even higher.