Chapter 6.1 from "Study Circles for Divinity"
return to contents index



"Know that the Life of the world is but diversion and distraction, ostentation and vying for glory among your selves, and striving for more and more wealth and children. It is like the example of rain, the growth from which pleases the tiller, then withers, and you see it yellow: then it crumbles. And at the end in severe torment, and forgiveness from God, and acceptance. And what is the Life of the world but the stuff of deception?

Race to forgiveness from your Lord, and to a Garden wide as sky and earth, prepared for those who believe in God and the Envoys of God; that is the Grace of God, granted to whom God wills. And God has the Greatest Grace."

"Regard the body as a vessel of clay,  -  make firm the mind as a guarded city would stay;  -  strike mara with the weapon of wisdom tall,  -  and preserving the fresh insight so gained, abandon attachment all."    Buddha

"When a person thinks deeply of sense-objects, he feels an attachment for them. Attachment gives rise to desire and desire breeds anger. From anger comes delusion which results in loss of memory. The loss of memory causes destruction of discrimination and from the ruin of discrimination the man perishes." 
Sri Krishna

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither rust nor cloth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasures be, there will your heart be also." 
Jesus Christ



Today we are witnessing attachments growing without limit. Attachment to the body, to relations, to education or to the acquisition of knowledge is exceeding all limits. Even with regard to desirable objects, it is essential to limit one's desires. 'There can be no happiness without restraint of desires'. When there is no restraint excessive desire becomes an evil. It leads to misery. When we strive to control desire, in due course it develops into  non-attachment or renunciation. Renunciation means giving up association with objects, while recognising their inherent worth.

In a band of ten bad men, there may be one good man. Among ten good men, there may be one who is a seeker of God. Among ten seekers, there may be one filled with the love of God. Among ten lovers of God, there may be at least one who desires to experience the Divine. Among ten such devotees, there may be at least one who is ready to renounce all attachments. And only such a man qualifies for earning the love of God. That is why it has been declared: 'Only through renunciation can immortality (oneness with the Divine) be attained'. (110788)


Man must give up the craving for material control and the attachment to sense-objects. He must discard the false fears, the absurd desires, the sorrows, the worries and the artificial pleasures that now fill his mind. That is to say, he must discriminate and train himself to realise that everything is as illusory as the ghost in the well! Everyone needs this self-education. The pathetic condition of every man is due to its absence. Meditation is the remedy for this state of mind.

It is possible through meditation to bring into memory the Paradise that is one's empire, discarding as a dream and a delusion the transitory creations of the mind. By engaging oneself to meditation, systematically and calmly, meditation can be made effective and tranquil. Thus, the road towards the highest experience is laid. A new understanding dawns, clear and unruffled. When the heights of meditation are reached, this understanding becomes so strong that one's lower nature is destroyed and burnt to ashes! (Dhyana V 17)


Everything in this world is ephemeral, transitory: it is here today but it may not be here tomorrow. So, if you desire to crave for something, seek the Lord, who has no decline. Instead, if you crave for progeny, wealth and all comforts, you will suffer untold misery when you are called upon to leave everything and depart. At that moment, you would lament, "Oh, did I love so deep that I may weep so loud?" In this transitory life, joy and pain are also perforce transitory. So, to get immersed in this search for the evanescent and to forget the Supreme and the Everlasting is, indeed, humiliating to man. Ignoring God who is free from delusion and spending time in things immersed in delusion is fruitless; sorrow alone is the final gain.

There is nothing here fit to be worshipped as Eternal. Whomsoever you love, that love has to come to an end. The self-same Lord gives, and takes! He gives and takes as and when He wishes. Everything is His; so how foolish it is to lament when things belonging to Him are taken back by Him? The wise man will, therefore not pine over anyone or feel undue attachment to anything. Let all the pining and all the attachment be for the Lord; He alone is eternal; He is the source of all Joy. For the rest, love a thing as a thing, not more. Love Man as Man, not more. If you love them more, it is a sign that you have been deceived about their real nature. You can behave only for a short time as if the house you have rented out is your own. For, as soon as the period is over, it passes on to another.

The attachments of the world are short-lived. People have been born many times before and have lived out their lives; loving and getting immersed in love, and attaching themselves to others. But does any one now know where all that has gone? Does he worry about any one of those he loved then? Does he remember them at least, now and then? No. The same love and attachment were there then also; but with the passage of time it has been forgotten. So too, when one departs from this world the love one had for others and the joy, pain and happiness one had through that love, will be forgotten. Like the playgrounds of children, the senses of action of Man will also be changing, from here to there, and from there to somewhere else! Fixing their minds on the insecure, changing love, how tragic it is that people forget the cultivation of the disciplines that will give them the permanent bliss of the Lord! (Dhyana V 32)


Secondly, in worldly matters man is misled by the belief that he is the owner of various kinds of properties like houses, lands, vehicles etc. You build a house and call it yours. When you sell it, it is no longer yours. Likewise, you buy a car and call it yours. When it is sold, it ceases to be yours. So, things are yours only as long as you own and use them. Forgetting that all these possessions are temporary like fleeting clouds, you develop undue attachments for them. In fact, nothing is yours. How can those which belong to the body be yours? All these misconceptions are caused by the veil of maya - delusion and the resultant sense of possessiveness and the aberrations of the mind.

Prior to marriage, no one can say who is the husband and who is the wife. Before birth, nobody can say who is the mother and who is the child. Only after marriage, you say this is my wife. It is only after birth, you declare - he is my son. But these relationships are transient and not permanent and are based on the wrong identification of oneself with the body. Nobody brings with him even a tiny piece of cloth at the time of birth, and nobody leaves his address even, at the time of death. If they are really yours, why won't they give you their address at the time of final departure? Nothing belongs to you. Forgetting your own reality and mistaking the unreal as the real in this illusory world, you are creating problems for yourself. You are always yourself only. You don't belong to anybody, nor does anyone belong to you. There is only one thing that exists. Despite the unequivocal declaration of the Scriptures that reality is One, but sages call it differently, we continue to believe wrongly that diversity s real. (SSB 90,19)


You feel that the world is attaching itself to you and because of this attachment, it causes pain to you. If you think that while you make an attempt to detach yourself from the world, the world is not getting detached from you; it is wrong. You have attached yourself to the world. The world has not attached itself to you.

There is a small story. In this country, it has been the tradition for some people to trap monkeys. What they do is to take a big pot with a narrow mouth and put something attractive into that pot. They put the pot where the monkeys move about. The monkey easily puts its hand into the earthen pot. The monkey gets the material that is in the pot into its hand by clasping it. Its fist is full of that material and the fist gets bigger and is blocked. The monkey cannot remove the hand. The monkey then thinks that someone inside the pot is catching hold of its hand. There is no one inside the pot holding the hand. What is holding the food inside the pot is the hand of the monkey. The moment it can give up what is in its hand, the hand can come out of it. Alas! The monkey does not realise this.

In the same manner, this enormous pot of the world has got what may be called a selfish mouth. We enter into the pot through this selfish mouth of the world in order to satisfy our desires. For that reason, we are getting caught in it. If we simply give up what we have caught then there is no bondage. This is called detachment. Detachment does not mean giving up your home, giving up your wife and children and going to the forest. To make an attempt to decrease your desires is called detachment. This has also been described by saying less luggage and more comfort make travel a pleasure. If we can decrease the luggage of desires, then our journey of life will become a pleasure.

Our life is a long journey. In this long journey of our life, we get attached to many desires in the form of luggage and the journey becomes a long and weary one. Less luggage or decreasing this luggage of desires has been called detachment (vairagya) in the parlance of Vedanta.

Incarnations of Divine Atma: Our ambitions and attachments should be decreased to some extent. Better than promoting your desires, promote your sacrifice. By more desires, more attachments will come to you but satisfaction will not come. These things always keep on adding as plus, plus, plus. By decreasing our desires and by promoting sacrifice in us, we will be able to rise to the heights of glory and do good to our country. (SSB 77,212)


Many of you have travelled in the railways and have seen in the railway compartments the saying that 'less luggage makes travel more comfortable'. In one sense, our life is a long journey. This long journey, because we are accumulating a lot of luggage in the form of many desires, becomes somewhat troublesome. When we can diminish this luggage consisting of desires, then to some extent our journey of life is going to be less troublesome. This process of diminishing the luggage or shedding your desires as you go up in the journey of life is referred to in the language of Vedanta  as 'detachment'. Detachment does not mean abandoning the house, leaving your surroundings, leaving your wife, your children and living in a forest. That is not detachment. When we stay in the house, stay in the midst of our duties and perform our duties which we have to perform, having our minds free from desires and attachments to those duties, regarding all that we do as our actions for God's pleasure, that would be called proper dtachment. This is what is referred to as performing all the duties which you have to perform as being performed for God's pleasure. These are not being performed for your pleasure. The realisation that whatever you do is in the name of God and for God's pleasure, will eliminate all losses, difficulties and troubles to you during your life. (SSB 77,32)


A little reflection will give you the attitude necessary for developing detachment. You have a house in this city; you have lived in it some years; you call it yours; you are proud of it; you protest angrily when a poster is pasted on its walls; you have taken great care to see that it is comfortable, charming, impressive. Then one day you sell it. It is no longer the object of your attachment. Even when lightning strikes it, you are not disturbed. Now, the fields you have purchased with the sale proceeds become yours and they attract all your attachment. When flood waters invade those fields, you are very concerned and you run hither and thither trying to save them from harm. Next, you sell them too. You call the money yours; you put it in a bank and you become attached to the pass book issued by the bank. You keep it in an iron safe and scan its pages lovingly. The money you gave the bank may be loaned by them to someone you do not like, but you do not care. You have the pass book with you. Now what exactl is yours? To which were you attached so deeply? The house, the fields, the money, the pass book? To none of these things. You were attached to prestige, comfort, show, greed: things that arose in your mind as desire, as urges; to your own ego, basically. That was the thing which induced you to claim these things, one after the other, as yours! (270366)


The soul that lives in the body is indestructible and if studied carefully, we come to the conclusion that one who resides in the body has no birth and has no death and has neither attachment nor detachment. (SSB 74,73)


What exactly is the cause of all grief? It is the attachment to the body that produces grief as well as its immediate precursors: affection and hate. These two are the results of the intellect considering some things and conditions as beneficial, and some  other things and conditions as not. This is a delusion, this idea of beneficence and malevolence. Still, you get attached to objects that are considered beneficial and you start hating the others. But from the highest point of view, there is neither. The distinction is just meaningless. There is not two at all. How can there be good and bad, then? To see two where there is only one, that is delusion or ignorance. The ignorance that plunged Arjuna into grief was of this nature  -  seeing many, when there is only One. (Geetha V 22)


The most valuable message the Scriptures convey is this: 'Carry on your legitimate duties; discharge your obligations; live up to your rights; but do not allow attachment to grow. Be like a trustee so far as family, riches, reputation, knowledge and skills are concerned. Leave them gladly aside, when the call of death comes'. (230366)


return to contents index
return to top of this page