Friday, January 27, 2012


Only those who commune with the eternal essence within themselves and in all things can be eternally united.


Attachments – be it to people or possessions – are rooted in ignorance. We get attached to people who are related to us by blood or marriage, and also to people whom we like because they are similar to us. Relationship is only a partial and superficial reality, and so is similarity. Deeper than the relationship to a few based on blood or marriage is the kinship to all based on the universal spirit of the Divine. Deeper than the similarity to a few based on language, race, colour, creed or opinions is the identity based on the One that resides in all. Being related to all sometimes seems like a high-sounding excuse for loving none. It is true that there are only a few people whom life brings in close contact with each of us. While I may feel a kinship with all, there is only a small sample of humanity available to me for showering my love and affection. Within this sample, to some I feel connected because of ties filial or superficial. Knowledge that goes deeper than the surface appearances should save me from the pitfall of getting attached to the few to whom I feel connected and becoming insensitive to the needs of others. The key is to feel concerned about all those who are around me without getting attached to any. It is attachment to a few that leads to concern for a few and indifference to the rest. Attachment is rooted in the separative ego, because when I feel attached to a few, the ‘I’ occupies centre-stage. Attachment also has built into it the pain of separation. If I am concerned but not attached, separation is easy because while each separation separates me from one set of people, it also brings me in contact with another set, to whom I feel equally close, about whom I am equally concerned, and on whom I can shower love and affection equally easily. I feel like a wave that is repeatedly merging with the ocean and re-emerging in contact with a new set of waves.

Attachment to possessions includes not only those that we use but also many that just belong to us. Attachment does not necessarily end with voluntary reduction in possessions. A hermit can be just as attached to his begging bowl as a householder to his furniture, or a scholar to his books. Attachment to possessions that ‘I’ think are ‘mine’, is due to the superficial reality of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ occupying centre-stage. Possessions are meant to be used and shared. They should be used with care and concern because matter is also a manifestation of the Divine. If I do not need them, they should be shared. But attachment is rooted in ignorance. The possessions are not mine; they have been given to me by the Divine. The possessions may be useful, but happiness does not reside in them. It is ignorance that breeds anxiety of anticipated loss, and pain of actual loss of possessions. Tena tyaktena bhunjitha, or renounce and enjoy, as says the Isha Upanishad. Apparently paradoxical, one can truly enjoy a possession only if it has been renounced within, which is the same as being not attached to it.

In short, we may be concerned about people and care for our possessions, but we should also be ready to give them up. We may stick to them, but only like the post-it-note that is always ready for an effortless separation. Attachment is like the postage stamp that so clings to the envelope that separation is both difficult and damaging.