action, attachment, desires, detachment, freedom, goals, inaction, letting go
I emerge from the morning meditation with the sense that I am sitting in a field of brilliant white light, on a mound of white flow snow, warm as I can be… in reality, I am sitting on the floor, wrapped in my favorite comforter, with my eyes still closed as I can feel the brilliance of the morning outside. The hour has detached me from the external and transported me to a world within where I can experience deep stillness and silence, and even nothingness.
You may be familiar with the story of the catching of the spider monkeys in the tropics rainforests. The monkey’s favorite fruit is put in a bottle, whose mouth is just wide enough to fit the monkey’s open hand. The monkey grasps the fruit, but now his fist is too wide to retract through the neck of the bottle. All the monkey has to do to regain his freedom is to open his fist and let go of the fruit. And yet, his desire for the fruit is overwhelming, that he won’t let go — and the trappers have their catch.
In some ways, we live our lives like spider monkeys, driven by our dominant desires in the current stage of our life. We set goals, make plans and take action — driven by our attachment to the ‘fruit in the bottle’. We think that we are different than the spider monkey because we are smart enough not to be trapped by our attachments. And yet, the degree and frequency of fear, anger, anxiety, expectations and such that we experience speaks to our lack of detachment, doesn’t it?
So what is one to do to ‘break the glass’ and regain one’s freedom from the trap of our ever-multiplying desires? The Bhagavad Gita advises – “Do the work to the best of your ability, and let go of the desire to control the results.” This is the classic “letting go” approach to life, which is more often than not, much easier said than done, isn’t it?
In addition, some often (mis)interpret the “let go of the results” advice as an excuse for inaction! If I am to let go of my goals and results, why would I bother to perform any action anyway? The Bhagavad Gita clarifies – “Let not your giving up of the fruit of action, make you attached to inaction!”
As Swami Vivekananda summarizes – “Let your ideal be – work for work’s sake, love for love’s sake, duty for duty’s sake.” Let go of the fruit, do your best work, and be not attached to inaction. If we can imprint the ideal of ‘love for love’s sake’ in our heart, we can walk lightly the path of detachment that leads to true freedom — the sweetest fruit of all.
P. S. Join us for our weekly gathering and chat in #Spiritchat twitter, Sunday Jan 30 at 9amET / 2pm GMT / 730pm India. Namaste ~ AjmaniK