Be a willing loser, be ‘fanaa’ about Life


In the Urdu language there’s a word called ‘fanaa’ which, I believe, means ‘annihilation’ or ‘to be annihilated’ in a Sufi context. In chaste Urdu it means to be ‘destroyed in love’, which is, to be ‘willing to be annihilated in (your) love for someone or something’. This morning I thought of this word. In the context of Life.

There will be times when Life will bring you to a point from where you will see no way forward. You will face an impregnable wall. Fear of, anger and hatred for, the situation will overtake any other sensible response you may still find brewing inside you. Yet, at such times, break free from anger, fear and hatred. Be willing instead to be destroyed by Life. Surrender yourself to the situation and let it take you to wherever you must logically__per Life’s design__end up. Just be ‘fanaa’ about the Life you have been given at that moment. And then watch the magic!

While we all understand detachment, having grown up hearing about, witnessing, learning from, Life, we seldom are able to bring it into play in our own Life situations. Because detachment cannot be practiced when you are still attached, when you are in possession. You may know what it means, but true understanding of what detachment really means or entails, you will get only when you lose something__whatever__that you are clinging on to in Life. So, when you are losing a Life battle __ losing someone you love to a misunderstanding, or death, or losing your money, your assets, your health __ be a willing loser. Be happy with the loss. Because while there may be a physical loss, often irreplaceable if it is a person, you are actually gaining an invaluable experience. You are learning a lesson in detachment through the loss. What is the worst that can happen when you are facing a grave situation in Life? You can die. Or you may lose some (a person or a thing) more?  Expunge your fear by recognizing that this Life was given to you without your asking for it. So, why cling on to your preferences or wants of how you want Life to treat you?

Actually, Life creates all of us to be free, to be in bliss. How many of us remember suffering when we were infants, before we turned 5, for example? Do you remember worrying, being anxious, angry, hurt, insulted or in grief? That freedom is our true state. That is the state we have been blessed with by creation. It is we, as we grow in Life, who create and invite problems into our lives. Soon, when the problems, become unsolvable, we blame Life. And as a result of such pointless, mindless blaming, we suffer!

There’s a story of Gautama, the Buddha, that I remember. One day the Buddha comes to his morning discourse carrying a handkerchief. It appears to be a costly one – perhaps some king has presented it to him. But everyone knows he does not accept such gifts, so everybody is looking, and thinking, what is the matter with the Buddha?

Gautama comes and sits, and keeping the handkerchief in his hand, says to his followers, ”Look very carefully.”

They all look. There is nothing to look at. It is just a beautiful silken handkerchief. And then the Buddha starts putting knots in the handkerchief – he puts five knots in it. There is a curious silence in the hall… everybody is simply watching what he is doing. Then the Buddha asks them, “Is this the same handkerchief, the same one that I had brought with me, or is it a different handkerchief?”

Sariputta, one of his chief disciples, stands up and says, “Why are you joking with us, O! Holy One? This is the same handkerchief” The Buddha says, “Sariputta, think again – because the handkerchief that I brought had no knots, and this one now has five knots. How can this be the same?”

Sariputta immediately sees the point. He says, “I am sorry. I do understand. Although it is the same handkerchief now it is in a very knotted condition – such as a man in anguish. He is the same man; a man in suffering is the same man that was born but now, one who is in knots.”

The Buddha replies, “Exactly. That’s what I want to show to you: that the man who is suffering is not different from Gautama, the Buddha. I am just a handkerchief without knots. You are a handkerchief with five knots.”

Of course the Buddha’s philosophy is of five basic problems that trouble man: violence, greed, untruthfulness, unawareness, and the ego. Each of us end up adding our own knots to these basic five – we may add fear, jealousy, anger, guilt, suffering, sorrow and several such. When our problems, the ones we have created, land us in a knotty mess, it is not a time to think of an end-game. You may be losing something material, but don’t think of losing the game of Life. Awaken instead to a higher level of consciousness through the experience. You may have been growing in Life so far, but by being a willing loser, you can actually grow up! When you hit a dead end, you can actually wake up from that impact. Think of the Buddha’s handkerchief in such times. And instead of hating that moment, be willing to be destroyed by Life. Be ‘fanaa’ about Life. And then watch the magic. You will actually become free. Because when you realize that you are responsible for your knots, for your problems, and are willing to live__and die__with the Life that’s coming at you, to you, you will really start living!
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