Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Meditation 9 - Dropping attachments
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Mt. 4:17)
Imagine you have a radio that no matter how you turn the knob picks up only one station. You have no control over the volume. At times the sound is barely audible, at others, it is so loud that it almost shatters your eardrums. Moreover it is impossible to turn it off: at times it will be slow; it will suddenly begin to blare away when you want to rest and sleep.
Who would put up with this kind of performance in a radio? And yet when your heart behaves in this kind of crazy fashion you not only put up with it but even call it normal and human.
Think of the numerous times you were tossed about by your emotions, that you have suffered the pangs of anger, depression, anxiety, when in every instance it was because your heart became set on getting something that you did not have, or on holding on to something that you had, or on avoiding something that you did not want.
You were in love and you felt rejected or jealous; suddenly all your mind and heart became focused on this one thing, and the banquet of life turned to ashes in your mouth. You were bent on winning an election and in the din or battle it was impossible to hear the songs of birds; your ambition drowned out every other sound. You were faced with the possibility of a serious illness, or the loss of a loved one and you found it impossible to concentrate on anything.
To put it briefly, the moment you pick up an attachment, the functioning of this lovely apparatus called the human heart is destroyed.
If you want to repair your radio, you must study radio mechanics.
If you want to reform your heart, you must give serious, prolonged thought to four liberating truths. But first choose some attachment that troubles you, something that you are clinging to, or something that you dread, or something you are craving for, and keep this attachment in mind as you listen to these truths.
I. The first truth: You must choose between your attachment and happiness. You cannot have both. The moment you pick up an attachment, your heart is thrown own of kilter and your ability to lead a joyful carefree serene life is destroyed.
See how true this is when applied to the attachment that you have chosen.
II. The second truth: Where did your attachment come from? You were not born with it. It sprang from a lie that your society and your culture have told you, or a lie that you have told yourself, namely, that without this or the other, without this person or the other, you can't be happy.
Just open your eyes and see how false this is. There are hundreds of persons who are perfectly happy without this thing or person or situation that you crave for and that you have convinced yourself you cannot live without. So make your choice: Do you want your attachment, or your freedom and happiness.
III. The third truth: If you wish to be fully alive you must develop a sense of perspective. Life is infinitely greater than this trifle your heart is attached to and which you have given the power to so upset you.
Trifle? Yes, because if you live long enough, a day will easily come with it will cease to matter. It will not even be remembered - your own experience will confirm this. Just as today you barely remember, are no longer the least bit affected by those tremendous trifles that so disturbed you in the past.
IV. And so the fourth truth brings you to the unavoidable conclusion, that no thing or person outside of you has the power to make you happy or unhappy. Whether you are aware of it or not it is you and only you, who decides to be happy or unhappy, whether you will cling to your attachment or not in any given situation.
As you ponder these truths, you may become aware that your heart is resisting them or argues against them and refuses to look at them. that is a sign that you have not yet suffered enough at the hand of your attachments to really want to do something about your spiritual radio. Or your heart may place no resistance to these truths; if that is so, rejoice. Repentance, the refashioning of the heart has begun and the kingdom or God - the gratefully carefree life of children - has come within your grasp at last and you are about to reach out and take possession of it.