“Great many of us are possessed by our possessions.” Nothing can be more tied to truth.
When Siddhartha was beckoned by epiphany one night, he threw away all the trappings of the prince and set forth on the journey that made him the Buddha and gave forth to mankind a philosophy that was the inspiration for exhortations in some oriental religions. His renunciation of material wealth, what we call richness was not sacrifice- but a way of life, to free him from the mental agony and turmoil that haunted him. History has no reason to tell us that he eventually bemoaned what he left behind.
I have not read the Gita, as it is, from cover to cover in its hard bound condition. However I have scoured through Juan Mascara’s translation of the Gita that was published by the Penguin, and is in my small but treasured collection of books. Erudite men and scholars as well as people who find comfort in being self-acclaimed acolytes of the Gita - its treatise , have been heard saying that renunciation of possessions is the solitary way to happiness and contentment. Detachment from things material, relationships and so on, is necessary to salvage the soul and the mind from the agony of being born. A kind of Mumbo-jumbo, I would say!
To me, an ordinary and a commoner, such discourse- from a treatise seen as sacred by many has seldom been of much help. I understand “possessions” to mean all that one has, owns legally and morally. And also objects, matters and most of all people who are epicenters of our absolute happiness and contentment. To consider a state where one loses all, or either of the ones, is unquestionably haunting and devastating.
As Ruskin said, “Every increased possession loads us with new weariness.” I fear, often being trapped by the depth and the power possessions, of things that one holds dear to the bosom, animistic and inanimate. Because, when only one feels the torment from the loss of an inanimate possession-lost forever, do one fear and realize the inescapable depths of the excruciating torment that the loss of an animate possession can have.
It is a strange matter. A child ceases to wail after a while from losing a fancied toy. Whilst adults like us are suffocated for the remaining part of our lives after we lose a cherished and closely held possession, person or relationship.
Why then is man ensnared by what he has? Why are we susceptible to the distress and suffering by the loss of a person or a thing we loved and cherished? The beasts move on after the anguish the moment of divestment, loss or dispossession bring and there is no definite proof to tell that they are for life tormented by the deprivation or loss. The gypsies seldom or do not own something tangible. But they are like us, in flesh and blood and can feel the intensity of happiness and pain .
If I’m what I have and if I lose what I have then what am I? But, also tell me how can human beings get over the deprivation or parting of something closely cherished?