Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Moksha: Liberation

Last spring on a deserted beach in beautiful El Nido, Philippines.

Moksha: Liberation

2015 has started out on a rough note for me personally, as two young men I knew from home died suddenly.  Since I live in China, I cannot go to either wake, but I’m sure their mass cards will say something like, “We give them back to you, Oh Lord, who first gave them to us”.  People will offer platitudes such as “They’re in a better place”, but how do we know this?

I’m struggling with this idea of ownership.  Also, this awful song has been playing on the radio, and it says “She’s my girl, go find your own”.  So who owns us while we’re here on earth?

Parents frequently “own” their children as they tell them what to do, even as adults.  Romantic partners “own” one another as they tell each other how to show affection and love.  Higher deities “own” their people as they seemingly control lives and fill them with sadness or happiness.  Bosses “own” their employees as they control their employee’s time and efforts in exchange for money.  Corporations “own” their customers as they control their customer’s experience in exchange for money.  Governments “own” their citizens as they control their place in society, their education, their health and mental well-being and where they can live, for a pre-determined amount of time.

But I don’t agree with this sense of ownership.  We have choice.  We can choose freedom.  Freedom from guilt, freedom from unfulfilled expectations, freedom from familial pressure, freedom from what society tells us to think and do.

While on the beach two summers ago, my friend didn’t want to go into the water and leave the phone he owned unattended.  He thought someone was going to steal his phone.  “So let them”, I said.  “Maybe they need it more than you do”.  He thought I was nuts.

Without knowing it, I was practicing detachment.

This summer I consciously learned more about detachment with Deepak Chopra’s “7 Spiritual Laws of Success” audiobook.

I also read “The Alchemist”, by Paulo Coelho, and this passage resonated with me:

“Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him.  [Adults] seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them.  We speak of these treasures only to children.  Later, we simply let life proceed in its own direction.  Most people see the world as a threatening place, and because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place”.

Today I think I finally understand the concept of detachment, even the unpleasant aspect of it, when it’s applied to human relationships.

The truth is, we’re owned by fear.  How many of us hold onto our bodies, clothing, dreams, electronics, houses, hope, memories, people, places, because of a fear of loss?  A fear of defeat? A fear of disappointment?  A fear of losing face or pride?  So we work and work and work to attain degrees, own material things, attach to status, prestige, money, maintain relationships, build businesses, to create a family. We hold onto whatever we have in our immediate grasp, in our immediate control, even if it brings us suffering, because we don’t see the infinite possibilities that exist in the universe.  We have so much faith in the systems that have been put in place for us; we do little to question their validity.

We depend on these external forces; all of the things we think we need to be happy.   But MAYBE, just maybe, the universe doesn’t owe you anything.  Maybe you’re not entitled to ANYTHING; not shelter, not food, not health, not wealth.  Maybe you don’t belong to anyone; you don’t owe anyone anything.

Maybe you can ONLY do what has been laid out for you, since fate has planned your life.
Wait, that might not be true either.
So many people die young, and I can’t believe that a higher deity would plan for someone to die so young with so many unfulfilled hopes, dreams and wishes.

So how do you pursue your hopes, dreams and wishes while being detached?  While pursuing your purpose for being here on this planet? Without adopting the life of a Buddhist monk, Catholic nun, or Hindu Sannyasi?

You believe in choice.  You choose to be happy with every grain of your being.  You physically move more; you travel, you learn, you read and you speak new languages.  You speak the languages of enthusiasm, love, and purpose.  You ask people questions, and listen, really listen when they speak to you.  You believe in change, even if change means loss, even if change means success.  You concentrate on the present, day in and day out.  You express gratitude for any and all experiences that come your way.  You recognize and focus on the good things that happen in your life each day.  You don’t fret over the past that has been and you don’t succumb to fear of the unknown future.

When life offers you something, you take it because you know it might not come along again.

But don’t get taking an opportunity confused with ownership, because it’s not yours forever.  

When change happens, live with intention, don’t exploit others, and always strive to have courage.
The courage to stand up for what’s right, the courage to care for those who don’t have a voice, the courage to step away from a negative situation, and the courage to listen to your heart.

You walk and bike as far as you can.  You take as many planes, trains and boats as possible.

Most of all, make smart choices.

Because you know you have one wild and precious life to live.

<3 paz. amor. felicidad siempre

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