Parable of the sailboat - III



“The Totality of Nature is called Providence for the reason that it has provided for us all that we need for the fulfilment of the purpose of life. Still if we find ourselves bound hand and foot, it is because we have not identified and taken advantage of the natural conditions that are in our favour. Our lifeboat is tied down by the anchor of the Ego, held in place by the rope of Attachment.


“In the previous session we have seen how to dispose of the Ego. That leaves the now-superfluous rope dangling in the air. A long rope it is, as long as it is strong and twisted, that we have spun through countless generations. We have the choice to noose it around our neck or to thrust it under water. (I am reminded, somewhat inconsequentially, of what Benjamin Franklin told his American compatriots after signing the Declaration of Independence, ‘We must indeed all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately!’)


“You would have observed that even expert-cooks among housewives (and house-husbands) are averse to one post-dinner chore — that of scrubbing and cleaning the utensils used for cooking. That is because the cooked food, whether rice or sambhar or curry, has a tendency to cling tenaciously to the inside walls of the vessels and it calls for much pressure to detach the flakes and wash them down the sink. This remnant food, holding on to the receptacles is known by the word patru in Tamil which means ‘clinging.’


“Our Attachment to worldly objects is no different from this clinging; and Nammazhwar of the Vaishnavite mystics has voiced the truth most tellingly in one short sentence: ‘If patru becomes extinct, Liberation is attained.’


“Now the questions arise in our minds, ‘Here we are in a family set-up with life-partner and son and daughter and house and scooter and job and bank-account. How is it possible to be without Attachment to all these? Is it not a natural law that we cling to them and they to us?


“By way of seeking answers to these and other queries in the same vein, let me ask, ‘Are you or are you not aware and do you or do you not accept that you came into the world at a particular point of time; and under the ordainment of Nature, you have to quit the planet at another point of time, whether you like it or not?’


“In what way is the process of living different from an over-night train-journey? You ensconce yourself on the reserved berth right royally and you adjust the lamp and fan to suit your convenience. But do you develop any Attachment to these appurtenances? Why so? Because you are only allowed to use the facilities and not to put them in your suitcase at the close of the journey.


“Likewise in the course of six or seven decades you inhabit the Earth, you do need certain facilities and commodities but why do you commit the error of becoming attached to them? You must keep them in good order in your own interest but does not the link-up end there? Even Alexander the great who set out to conquer the world left with empty hands. A new-born keeps its hands closed but Time straightens the fingers so that they may hold nothing when the bell tolls or the conch blows.


“Let us eschew sentiment and get down to brass-tacks. Prolonged association with proximate objects and persons generates the illusion in your mind that they are permanent and it is this baseless concept that lands you in the trap called Attachment. If your interaction with your environment is such as not to generate friction under any circumstances, the objects of the world will not be a mental burden to you. If you come to realise that your association with them is time-bound you would not be inclined to cling to them nor entertain any expectations from them for the future. Whatever is due to you cannot be taken away from you; and what is not due to you will not come to you. In the light of this wisdom relationships will be weightless on your mind. Has not J.Krishnamurti said, ‘Live lightly in the world, even as a guest stays in a house, observing the activities around him but not getting bogged down in them’? Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi counsels us to deal with worldly affairs as a Bank-cashier handles the money coming to his table. These Sages, out of compassion, have given us a plan of action that would dispel the mirage of Attachment from our mind. Theirs is not a preaching but only a conditional advice: ‘If you seek to be freed from misery, adopt such and such an attitude to life.’


“When I was in school, I read a proverb in an old book of quotations which I recite from memory: ‘One who knows and knows that he knows is a wise man; know him. One who knows and knows not that he knows is asleep; awaken him. One who knows not and knows not that he knows not is ignorant; teach him. And one who knows not and knows that he knows not is a scoundrel; beat him!’


“Now is the time for everyone of you to decide whether you want to be only awakened or whether you are in need of a sound thrashing, at the hands of Nature which would only give you a blow without a word!”


(Excerpt from a Lecture by Sage TGN)

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