Saturday, February 11, 2012

Ecstasy & Agony

“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?


Insignia said...

Detachment is possible only when man realizes that nothing is forever and you and I know; how tough is to realize that :)

ousu said...

I couldn't agree any less with your question, "I am what I have and if I lose what I have then what am I?" Me, your Christian Brother have read it in the Bible and surely would have most other religious brothers as well. The same question in different forms. I am hopelessly in trouble with that question and please let me know, if you have a clue.

Meera Sundararajan said...

I have heard somewhere this phrase"detached attachment" - something that I have been striving to practice all my life. I think that attachment to material things can be overcome what is more difficult to move away from are relationships..! Can we let go of our children to "fly" when they are grown up? As a culture probably we are very possessive on that score. Surprising ... considering that it was our culture that has given rise to this philosophy!

R.Ramakrishnan said...

Certainly food for thought and points to ponder. There are no definitive answers to the perennial puzzle of life.

anilkurup said...

@ Insignia,

B, the fact is for almost all of us except for a persevering few, who has the guts in them, detachment and all these nonsense are nonsense.
I write this after being devastated some time ago after losing much. I have not blogged on that though alluded.
While I could mange the time then somewhat nonchalantly, the pangs have been haunting since. So if possessions that are off shoot of your toil and your dream is gone, imagine what it would be if a loss of a loved one can bring.

Good to talk philosophy etc , but in real life we are just the ordinary. aren't we?

@ Ousu,

Man is a helpless creature . not ruled by design, but by chance pure.So when much is unexpected, unfathomed, and not known to us, as to what , when and how, the sane recourse that has to be embraced is let go. The problem is when we identify our happiness with something over which we have no control and purchase.
This is my take.

@ Meera Sundarajan,

Yes relationship and person are more intense , I guess. Our ancient wisdom has nothing to do with what we are now. Look at the Greeks, do they have anything to do with the philosophers of ancient Greece?

R. Ramakrishnan,

You said "perennial puzzles", Sir.
Then can they ever have answers ? They would be perennially seeking answers!

NRIGirl said...

We can never get over losing someone; but something? May be we can... Or I should say we must as otherwise we'll fail to appreciate what we have.

You are right, I am what I have - not my belongings - but who I belong to.

Insignia said...

Exactly Anil!

Its nice to retrospect our lives, talk about near-perfect stuffs but we are all still fearful ordinary mortals

....Petty Witter said...

Not that I would say that I'm possessed by possessions but I must confess that I'd probably be upset if I were to be parted from certain possessions. Generally things that remind me of a loved one who is no longer with us, its silly really, as though I might no longer have a physical reminder of them they would remain forever in my heart which is surely more important.

Happy Kitten said...

As long as one has a beating heart and is not a sage reposing on the heights of the Himalayas, one can never be detached from anything. A loss will continue to haunt you.. how much one tries to deny it.

As for the sage, is he not there for the same reason? Is he not testing his detachment?

Strange is this world that we live!

anilkurup said...

@ NRIgirl,

Yes you are right. I agree

@ Insignia,
Yes B, you are right.
We can only boast and assert when the situation warrants , but not when the deluge is upon us.

@ Petty Witter,

Perhaps it is the nature of Man to keep the falvours of relationships that brings anguish!

@ Happy Kitten,

A sage? I think those folks are not practising detachment. are they?
Can one be really detached?
Are they not taking the escape route? Many, I'm sure.