Don’t let anything possess you – it’s simply not worth it!
A friend sent me a picture of a brand called ‘Bliss’ and suggested, totally in jest, that I should perhaps sue the company that owned the brand. The allusion was to a perceived infringement of copyright since I curate the popular Bliss Catchers Event Series at Odyssey bookstore each month. I replied asking, again in jest, “Sue them, and lose my bliss?”
Indeed. I have learnt from Life that there is really no original idea. Every idea is inspired by someone or something. Always. Yes, you must patent, you must trademark your work or idea to protect it from infringement. But just protect. Don’t get into the possessor mode. When you try to possess something and someone tries to take it away from you, you always become rabid – you lose your inner peace!
To be sure, I too used to want to control what others did to me and my work. My thinking then was that I am the owner of my Life, of my work. I wanted to be the # 1 player in my space and I wanted to leave behind a legacy that people worshipped for generations. I now realize that ambition per se is not a bad thing. Without ambition, there can be no progress. But to insist that everyone around you buys into your vision for yourself and to imagine that everything you plan will turn out exactly the same way as you want it to – well, that’s surely inviting misery into your Life. When everything Vaani and I had built painstakingly – our Firm, our business model, our modest material asset base, our name – was snatched from us and smashed to smithereens 9+ years ago (read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal ), we initially suffered a lot. Until we discovered that the key to non-suffering is detachment. It is only by remaining detached from all that you create, all that you own; it is only through being in a non-possession mode that you can be free from fear, insecurity, worry and anxiety.
Upon reflection I have realized that being perpetually inspired by Life and people is a great place to be in. Take whatever inspires you, build on it, and put it out into the world to make it a better place. As you do that, be fully aware that someone will soon come along who will be inspired by what you do and build on your idea and launch their version. And so it will go on and on and on. Such is Life. My popular Bliss Catcher Series, for instance, is inspired by Joseph Campbell’s liberating Follow Your Bliss philosophy. To imagine, even in jest, that I must control the usage of the term ‘bliss’ just because we have built the most recent body of work in that space is self-ruinous. Such possessiveness is sure to wreck our inner peace, our bliss!
The truth is also that when you possess something, eventually it starts to possess you. You need to ask yourself if such ownership serves any purpose; especially when you came with nothing and will go with nothing. Remember: You own nothing, you create nothing. Everything happens through you.
So, the simplest way to live is to be detached even as you do your bit, every single day, to leave the world a better place than you found it!
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Are you in possession of something or is something possessing you?
Anything that you cling on to is bound to bring you grief. Because you will first be consumed by your fear that you may lose it. Second, you will eventually end up grieving over its unavoidable loss – whenever that happens. Because, everything that you cling on to today will be lost surely someday! This doesn’t mean you give up everything. It doesn’t mean you renounce. It only means stop ‘clinging on’ to whatever is making you fearful or sad or both __ memories, things, people, habits, opinions, whatever.
A friend of ours owns a 2000 square-foot apartment in the heart of Chennai. The value of the real estate is a few crore rupees. He has been wanting to rent it out but strangely there have been no takers. So, earlier this year, he decided to sell it. But for almost four months now he has not been able to find a buyer. Every deal falls through at virtually the last minute. Our friend confesses that he has been losing sleep over this property jinx for several months now. His grief: for all his financial prudence, he is unable to plug the losses he is incurring over this dead – and locked up – investment in the past year!
This is a classic example of the possessor (my friend) being possessed by his possession (the property). His grief is palpable. With due respect to his financial acumen, I hope he realizes, sooner than later, that it is simply not worth it for anyone to be ‘losing sleep’ over ‘losing money’. The solution obviously is not to let go of the investment. But to let go of the expectation that just because there is an investment, it must yield returns. My friend can end his suffering, and get over his grief, if he awakens to the fact that his investment is not wrong, but his expectation of a yield from the investment, in a time-frame he expects, is what is holding him to ransom.
Clearly, Life doesn’t work the way we want it to just because we have drawn up blueprints and excel sheets. The humbling truth is that the more we cling on to plans or expectations based on our plans, the more we will suffer and grieve.
I have learned that clinging on to something actually ends up making you feel vulnerable and the opposite of being in control when you understand the vicious game your mind plays on you! While you are physically in possession of something, and you think you are in control, the truth is that the ‘something’ is controlling you. The mind loves dependence. It needs a crutch. And in your clinging on to many things at various times the mind exults at the innumerable possibilities for dependence. So, in effect, over time, your mind controls you, leads you and directs you. It is like being in a car where the driver has been rendered powerless and the car drives itself to wherever it feels like!? Do you even think this is normal? This is what has happened to each of us because of our ruinous tendency to ‘cling on’!
What are you clinging on to? To understand this, ask yourself what’s possessing you – a thought, an opinion, a suspicion, an object, money, property, a relationship or perhaps a habit? Simply un-cling. And watch how you feel. With your feet no longer chained to the ground, un-clinging sets you free! As Mevlana Jalauddin Rumi, the 13th Century Persian poet has said: ‘You were born with wings; why prefer to crawl through Life?”