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.
Are you in possession of something or is it in possession of you?
So very often we get attached to things. Every attachment fuels a desire to control. To possess. To own. Unknown to us, we end up being possessed by it! There are people who are worried about their status and prestige in society. To them, being humble, being ordinary, being vulnerable is suffering because they are constantly worried about what others will think about them. They no longer earn their status, they are controlled by having to keep it! Some are attached to their property, their car, their phones, their desks, their cameras and sometimes, to their opinions. Even attachment to an idea can cause suffering.
For instance, some have an idea that they will be happy subject to certain conditions being fulfilled. So, if those conditions are not met, they will be unhappy. This applies to habits too. Are you owning a packet of cigarettes or is it owning you__when you are in a no-smoking area and your mind is on the packet with you and on your craving to smoke, it is controlling your every thought, isn’t it? There’s a poem that describes The Buddha thus: “The Buddha is like a full moon sailing across an empty sky.” Meaning that The Buddha’s happiness was immense because he possessed nothing.
When our mental landscapes are full of things that we possess__ideas, material objects, opinions, habits, worries__we are no longer in charge of our lives. When we let go of every single thing we possess__physically, literally, figuratively and metaphorically__we will be blissful. This does not mean abdication. This means remaining detached so that we too can sail with abandon in the beauty of this wondrous Universe.
GIVE. Give without expectation. Give yourself, of yourself, selflessly. Simply, GIVE! Give your understanding, despite the circumstances, to someone who craves for it. Give your time, even on a busy nerve-wracking day, to those who need your counsel/support. Give someone a hug. Or give a small token contribution to a deserving stranger on the street whom you don’t even know! You could give a box of sweets or a simple dress, whatever you feel like. In your giving, you will light up your Life and another’s! That’s how we bring Peace, Prosperity and Light__words we so randomly use__in our worlds!
Examine what possesses you to understand how impoverished your really are!
All of us have been trained to calculate our net worth basis our material assets – property owned, gold lying unused in lockers, investments in stocks, insurance policies, vehicles, cash in the bank. If you think you have enough, all your thinking is focused on how can you protect your net worth, as viewed by you, from eroding and ensuring it actually appreciates in value. And if you think you want some more, and what you already have is not enough, all your thinking centers on amassing more assets – everything is about property, money, stock markets and investments. In either of these scenarios, you are being possessed by something you are not. And that makes you, very, very, very poor in Life’s scheme of things!
The truth is you are not your bank balance, not the property you own, not all the assets that your accountants total up to declare your net worth. You are Life, the Universal energy, in its purest form, and you imagine that you are a few pieces of paper and metal or a few measures of this earth, that which you cannot take with you in any case, when this human form of yours dies! As long as you are possessed by what you think you own, you are not living. You merely exist.
I met a friend recently, who, by his own admission, has plenty saved up in his bank accounts for his next two generations of family to exist comfortably. Yet, for several months, he confesses, he has been ‘grieving and suffering, often spending sleepless nights’, fighting to recover a sum of money owed to him by someone. Since that person has changed his address and is not traceable, a court order that my friend has secured stating that the party pay up cannot be served on the latter. My friend therefore has embarked on a pilgrimage to rid himself and his family’s path of all the obstacles that prevent them from recovering what’s due to them! In principle, there is nothing wrong in fighting legitimately for what is yours. There’s no harm in undertaking a pilgrimage too. But in either situation and effort if you are going to be ‘possessed’ by your desire to want the money desperately or by the fear that you may not ‘get what you want’, then are you not a slave? Of what use is all your wealth if at the end of the day you are enslaved by what you think you possess?
Do what you think you must do to earn your incomes, protect your wealth and grow your asset bases. Just don’t get possessed by your material wealth.
In Life’s book, net worth is judged not by how much you have, but how much you give. Give freely. Give food to the hungry, give clothes to the homeless and cold people this winter, give your time and attention to your family that perhaps doesn’t nag but pines for you, give your love and compassion to a harassed colleague at work or give a helping hand to a stranger struggling to cross the road or load heavy bags on to a cart at the airport. Give without expectation __and you will feel you have gained something. You will feel enriched. You will realize this simple truism about Life – that when you give, you rejoice, you exult, you feel happy and blessed. When you want, you feel tormented, depressed, fearful and always unhappy!
In reality also, all that you want can be robbed from you __ Life can take away your power, position, prestige, money and all your material assets. But no one, not even Life, can take away what you can give, unless you want to give it yourself. Like your love or your time that you choose to give someone – without any expectations of anything in return.
Think about it! Making a difference to someone’s Life can enrich you. Just making money for yourself actually impoverishes you! It is the difference between making a Life and making a living!