Are you the Master or are you enslaved?

Is something possessing you? Or are you possessing something?
I saw a lead story in The Economic Times last week saying the iPhone 6S which launches in the US on September 25 will be available in the Indian grey market for Rs.1 Lakh – instantaneously. When I read the story, I could not help but reflect on the way some people look at Life. (Disclosure: I have never owned an iPhone. Ever since the iPhone launched I have been unable to afford one. My current phone is a basic Samsung smartphone that my friend has helped me acquire.) The fact that grey market entrepreneurs in India are seeing a business opportunity here is evidence that there are people who want to have that phone now. But I wonder why people can’t wait for an official India launch – after all isn’t India a big market for all ranges of phones? Perhaps, allowing logistical and regulatory delays, the iPhone 6S may well be available here by year-end. I am not even talking about the monetary price that people are willing to pay, I guess there is a spiritual perspective, a heavier price that people have to pay actually, to consider here – in reality, isn’t the iPhone 6S possessing these people while it only appears that they are rushing to possess the phone?
The iPhone 6S is but a metaphor. All of us are possessed, in fact enslaved, by our thoughts, by things we have bought and by opinions that we have cultivated. In our trying to build an identity for ourselves, what we have started to focus on is what we want to possess; in wanting more of such possessions we are missing the point that the possession has begun to possess us! And what possesses us goes beyond the material realm. I have a friend who believes that the world must go on appreciating his work – he is world-famous and a legend in his field. But he craves for validation and public appreciation – constantly. When he or his work doesn’t get noticed or talked about, he feels miserable. Now, who’s possessing whom – does my friend possess the attention he gets or does the attention that he doesn’t get possess him?
There’s nothing wrong in seeking attention if you can get it or buying what you want if you can afford it. But to become obsessed with what you want will leave you suffering when you don’t get what you want. It’s a simple truth that you miss – if you own something, you are its Master. If something owns you, it is the Master.

How many Masters do you have? Review your Life – from a ruinous habit to your car to an opinion to your thoughts to a parent to a spouse, anything or anyone can be controlling you. Even if you have one thing or person controlling you, you are living enslaved. To be free, you must stop wanting, stop obsessing. You must let go and simply learn to be happy with whatever you get and whatever there is.  

We have become ‘wanting’ beings

Give up all that you don’t need, don’t have or keep pining for. Life then, most certainly, will be bliss.
You – and I – thanks to instant gratification in a facebook and SMS era, have become obsessed with wanting things now and urgently. You try to reach someone and the lines are jammed. You get irritated. You get a mobile phone but you are not satisfied. You want an iPhone. You have a roof over head, but you want to own a property. You want to buy gold because prices are up now and you want an investment backed-up. You have a child, but you won’t leave the child alone; you want the child to be doctor, engineer, class-topper, cricket player, and such, never pausing to think what the child wants to do! Wants. Wants and more Wants! This has made your Life miserable. You have become a wanting being. Than being human! Which is why you are running from pillar to post. Trying to earn more and more thinking you will be happy some day in the future. Now, if you get all that you want it is fine. But Life doesn’t work like that. So, when you don’t get all that you want, you become desperate; you sulk, brood, and plunge your Life into an abyss of worries. Then you attend therapeutic programs and read spiritual books to ‘cleanse’ yourself. The feeling of oneness with the Universe lasts only as long as the programs do. Soon you have resumed the wanting in you and have lost yourself again.
Know that you will always get what you need and never always what you want!  If you have all that you need, just be happy with it. And stop pining for what you don’t have. Only then will you be in bliss!

Life offers no control; just impermanence and change!

Learn to live with Life’s uncertainties. Because Life’s like that!
Understand that everything that you call your own, will perish or cease to be yours someday soon. Know that your iPhone, this facebook account, your health, your relationships, your job, your bank balance, your health and your Life, all are, every one of them is, impermanent. You know this is true, of course, don’t you? But you conveniently ignore this truth because it’s comfortable to live imagining that what is yours is yours forever. Because to worry about things withering away, people passing away and you moving on, is uncomfortable, fearful and therefore, avoidable. But to kid yourself that Life is permanent and you will have lot more time to live in the future than in the now, is outright foolish. Since you consider yourself intelligent, since you know that both Life and Money are impermanent, wake up, and start living.
Here’s a simple Zen story that makes the point. There once was a young man who wanted to face “real” Life. So he left home and travelled to seek the real world. During his travels he reached a village and met a young family, where the wife was pregnant and the husband was hard-working. They welcomed him and invited him to stay with them. He was there for just one day and night.  During that time, the husband suddenly died and his wife mourned so much that it affected her pregnancy and she gave birth prematurely. The young traveler saw death and birth in quick succession and at close quarters. He saw the impermanence of Life that caused both grief and happiness. The wife grieved at the loss of her beloved husband and yet was happy to have a baby. He helped that family with the funeral service and then continued his travels.
He arrived at another village. Here he knew two brothers: one was successful in business and the other was not. He smiled at Life and moved on to another village. A year went by and he returned to the same village and met the same two brothers. Then he discovered that the one who was successful had failed and the one who had not been successful was now doing well in his business. He saw how change happens in Life; how success and failure had brought both fulfilment and disappointment.
Time passed by.  After he had travelled for many years he realized that he was getting old. He had learned that Life offered no control, but only impermanence and a series of changes. He had witnessed that youth changed to old age, past to present and the present to the future. Impermanence means that there is no guarantee that there would be a tomorrow.  The here and now is the only time which everyone has. It took a lifetime for this man to understand Life as it was. At the end of his Life, he rested in peace and happiness.
Do we need to spend a lifetime trying to understand this simple truth about Life? Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic philosopher, (535~475 BC), said, “Everything flows and nothing abides, everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.” So, embrace this uncertainty, flow with Life, knowing that when you get called, you too will have to go away!

Be soul-bound to live in bliss

What you assume is permanent will wither away. What you never thought existed or never took seriously will live on.

This is amazing. Think about it. Your money, your car, this body, your work, your position, your power, your iPhone__all these are transient. Over time, they will wear away, they will become useless. Of what use is all the money in the world if it can’t fix an artery that bursts in you? Of what use is your power if you can’t bring happiness into your child’s Life? Yet we subconsciously take all these things for granted, as permanent. If you are reading this, it is almost certain that you don’t even think of a minute of your Life when you are likely to be without your computer or tablet or mobile. You assume that all your Life your eyesight will be stable and your fingers will be able to work the keys. Yet the soul, that which you don’t connect with on a daily basis, indulgent as you __ and I __ are with things that tantalize your senses, never withers away. It lives on. Your soul is the gateway to experience your oneness with creation. You do briefly connect with your soul when you stand on the beach or in a quiet garden and look at the horizon, or look up at the sky and see a full moon or hear the evening birds. Or when you think of someone you love and feel her presence in you, with you. In that nanosecond you experience a soul connection.

This, the soul, is the only constant, the only real, indestructible, immortal part of you. This is the only part of you that is capable of bringing you to experience inner joy, that is capable of drenching you in bliss. Recognize that all Life__and all money and all that money can buy__is impermanent. So, be more soul-bound. You can stay connected with your soul if you are humble and are eternally grateful for whatever you have. To know this and to live with this “awareness” is to live intelligently!