I have been in the throes of loss. Resistance to loss guarantees suffering. And I have suffered.
But Suffering can also serve to Awaken us to choose freedom from suffering. About this I want to speak.
As part of my Awakening, I have been asked to detach. I know this because I have experienced much loss. Through the Guiding Principles I am encouraged, however, to remember that all things, including the coming and goings in my life, are purposeful, on time, and in alignment with my highest and best good. SO that tells me that the losses I have experienced are in fact, a necessary part of my spiritual journey to maturity.
Many times I have felt remorseful, and wrong about these losses. I’ve asked myself, “What did I do wrong that I should lose so much? What does this mean about me? Am I being punished for careless, selfish, misled choices made? Have I ruined my life forever? Is my life ending?” These questions and others like them have been ones I have, in great consternation, pondered and abused myself with over and again during the last year and more.
Over and again, I have met these punishing thoughts with questions prompted by the Guiding Principles, that remind me that even these losses are FOR me – but HOW? I demanded to know. And there have been layers of break-through that have brought deeper understanding and an acceptance of the necessity of these losses. What remains today is a tremendous amount of awe and reverence for the perfection of the Universal Plan that is moving me steadily along the path of my salvation.
For I see that I have been in the throes of what the Buddhists call, a process of “renunciation.” And it is no coincidence that the revelations about the necessity of my losses have also prompted me to explore more deeply the teachings of Buddha. And so found myself drawn to attend recently the dharma talk of a Buddhist monk, Gen Kelsang Chokyan, who reminded me of the true meaning of the term “renunciation.” (For the Universe always works to bring us the reminders and inspiration that will best support our spiritual journey now.)
Renunciation, the monk reminded us, is the pushing away of any thought that produces unhappiness. It is a mental state that allows us to “let go” of our “attachment” to things (people, places, conditions, etc) that we define as the cause of either our happiness or our unhappiness.
I realize that the things I have attributed to as being the cause for my emotional well-being (my Life-mate, my Home, Financial Security, my Work, Spirituality, Dance, Health,etc) are not the cause of my emotional well-being at all. NOTHING – NOBODY can make me happy – or unhappy EVER. Only me. I am the one who chooses happy thoughts or unhappy ones in response to what and who is in my life.
But my assigning to them the responsibility for causing my emotional state certainly DOES create suffering. Because that belief that something outside my own mind controls my feelings is a delusion; it is a lie and therefore cannot work.
Making the external world responsible for my happiness can only hold me prisoner to it. After years of effort to try and make external things bring me happiness, I have proven over and again that it will not work. Because it CAN NOT.
And that is a really GOOD thing! Because think about the slave we must become to that which we believe holds the key to our happiness!
For me it has required loss of many of the external things in my life to which I had attached and held responsible for my ok-ness before I could finally GET it! It has taken all of these losses for me to finally appreciate the need for letting go. For how was I going to find the peace and inner happiness I seek MOST as long as I believed these things were the source of it?
As soon as I have the thought that a certain person, or circumstance, event, or thing, makes me happy, the suffering begins. At that moment, happiness is gone! And in its stead remains only the fear of losing that which I have attached to for my happiness. Because now the mind grows preoccupied with trying to figure out how to hold onto this thing I think will save me from unhappiness. My thoughts become dominated with the fear of what will happen if I lose it, and plots of how to keep it.
In the same way, the opposite is true; as soon as I think something makes me unhappy, I suffer. For now, I see myself at the mercy of an unhappiness that cannot be alleviated until or unless I remove, control or change this thing that causes my woe. I am enslaved by the things I attach to as that which is required for my happiness.
In such moments I wrap my present moment around an impossibility – and must therefore suffer, when I could be enjoying what the world is offering me right now, instead. Inner peace then requires an attitude of detachment.
Detachment is, very simply, the complete and total renunciation of unhappy thoughts, regardless of whether things, conditions, or people, are what we think they “should” be or not. Detachment comes from the realization that happiness occurs when we can accept this moment for what it offers, without needing to hold onto it, resist, or change it. For I cannot hold onto or change anything – I can only respond to it and appreciate the opportunity it brings.
My personal walk has been to experience the loss of many of the things to which I have attached my happiness; I needed to have them taken from me to be able to see that I could be happy without them. I see the tremendous gift I have been given through these losses for it is only through them that I am finally able to make peace with the Reality of how much I have, rather than fixated on how much I have lost.
It is through appreciating the richness of this moment, including the losses incurred along the Way to NOW that allows us to see that those things we attach to and suffer over DO NOT determine our inner state of well being. Happiness is not dependent on what we have or who comes or goes in our life. Happiness is a choice we make to detach from the belief that external things have any power whatsoever to deliver or take away our peace of mind. That choice leaves us free to be here enjoying the NOW of Life, where every need is met.
Appreciation for the little things we have brings gifts of abundance to our door, and allows us to dance in celebration and awe at just how loved we truly are. For truly, are we not being led, step by step along the path of Liberation and Ultimate Freedom? I believe so with all of my heart.
May you too experience such joy. Blessings,