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Realisation of the changing nature of things reduces emotional attachment to the world
The first great change it brings about is that it drastically reduces your emotional attachment to the world. Things and persons don't attract you as before. Parting with them is not so painful. It is the nature of the mind to seek the permanent, to seek the real. So long as the world and the things in it appear to be more or less permanent, we run after them. We want to grab them, possess them and enjoy them. Not so when we realize that everything is in a constant state of flux.
A convict awaiting execution wouldn't be able to 'enjoy' things at all. If the friends of today are the potential foes of tomorrow, if the healthy body of the present is sure to become unhealthy sometime in future, if youth, beauty and wealth are not going to last as long as we would like them to, then there doesn't seem much point in making these things the be-all and end-all of life. Surely there ought to be, there must be — indeed, there is — something higher to strive for.
But people are not wanting who would say, 'Granted everything is impermanent (changing nature of things). But what can you do about it? The only sane thing to do is to enjoy as much as possible, as long as possible, and as quickly as possible. Make hay while the sun shines, friend, and for heaven's sake stop philosophising!' The famous American agnostic and orator Robert Ingersoll said much the same thing to Swami Vivekananda. He said, 'I believe in making the most out of this world, in squeezing the orange dry because this world is all we are sure of.'
Mr. Ingersoll must have been stunned by the following reply of Swamiji: “I know a better way to squeeze the orange of this world than you do; and I get more out of it. I know I cannot die, so I am not in a hurry. I know that there is no fear, so I enjoy the squeezing. I have no duty, no bondage of wife and children and property; and so I can love all men and women. Everyone is God to me. Think of the joy of loving man as God! Squeeze your orange this way and get ten thousandfold more out of it. Get every single drop!" ( His Eastern and Western Disciples, The Life of Swami Vivekananda)
Thus even from a purely utilitarian standpoint we see that detachment gives greater joy than all the emotional attachments of the world put together. At present attachments seem to be the source of all pleasure, and so we are reluctant to snap off our attachments. But the awakened soul, who has begun treading the Buddha-way, quickly realizes that it is attachments themselves that also cause sorrow and suffering. A little further on he makes a yet more startling discovery that attachments produce only sorrow; the joy they seem to give is only a chimera, a wolf in sheep's clothing. When his emotional attachment to the world reduces, he is freed to a great extent from the inevitable sufferings of worldly life.
To be continued
About the author
This article is an excerpt from Swami Tyagananda's “The Passing Shadows" which talks about emotional attachment, which when shed, owing to the changing nature of things, brings about a state of joy in detachment