Non-Attachment is Subtraction – Chinmayananda
All the great saints, sages, and masters of the world who experienced the glory of infinite peace and bliss are people who used a different method, one of subtraction. I am not saying that we should not have any objects in the world. The objects themselves are not the problem, only our attachment or identification with them.
I operate some nursery schools in India. And when the children first come into the school they all cry. One child cries and all the other children join in out of consideration for the one who started. And it generally goes in waves. As soon as the class begins there is crying, then they cry again when the class is over. I was wondering why this happened and asked the headmistress if she needed some more help to look after the children. She said, “No, Swamiji, this only happens for the first two weeks. Afterwards everything will be all right.”
“How is that?” I asked. The headmistress explained that the children begin to cry the moment their parents leave them, but once the children have played for a while, they forget all about their parents. At the end of the day the teachers take the toys from the children and put them away. When the children have to give up the toys, they cry again. One child cries and the others join in. The teachers try to console the children and once their parents arrive, the children become quiet. Within two weeks, the same children, who are only two or three years old, have learned that the toys they play with every day have to be left behind when they go home. They also know that their parents will retum and that the toys will be there to play with the following day. Once they know this, all crying ends.
We are not like this, however. Like children, we want various things to play with, but then identify with them saying-— “my house, my wife, my children, my money, my investments.” If only we could understand that everything that is given to us is to play with for some time and that when we leave, we will return again to play with the same world of things and beings.
Once we have understood this, the fear of death or change is taken away and we can truly begin to enjoy life. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that we should not have any possessions. Everything has been made by the Lord for us to enjoy. Enjoy, but do not become attached, for when we have attachments we cannot enjoy, we only suffer. That is why we enjoy going to a friend’s house; we have no attachment to it. But when it is our house, we think “Oh, the wall needs a new coat of paint,” or, “it would be nice to have better fumiture,” and so on. There is no enjoyment because of our attachment.
Mananam Publication Series
Living in Simplicity
The Search for Happiness – By Swami Chinmayananda
Chapter: The Spiritual Quest