Often, we become attached to something
or someone because deep down we fear we wouldn't be
complete without them. We fear letting go into the presence
of the unknown, and feel that we would be left bereft,
lost, alone without that outer possession, person, lifestyle.
Indeed, some of us have become so identified with these
things that we experience them as our actual identity
... I'm Mr. or Mrs. so-and-so ... I'm a teacher, engineer,
business person ... I live in ... My children are ...
My lifestyle is ... I, I, I, ... My, my, my, ...
Sometimes this identity can become so
real for us that without it we fear there would be nothing
or no one there. We fear non-existence.
Even in the asking, 'Who would I be without
my car, job, money, husband, wife, family, profile,
material possessions, home, friends, contacts,' an internal
scrambling for something to cling to arises. Because
of this, it's no wonder that attachment to outer things
comes up as a common experience for nearly all of us.
Then, when some spiritually arrogant
youngster, posing as an all-knowing guru or enlightened
sage, has the nerve to tell us that the key to Freedom
lies in non-attachment, we feel indignant. 'He's a monk
what does he know about "true" attachment. I'm
not really a materialist,' you hear yourself say. 'It's
natural to be attached to your loved ones, committed
to your job, invested in your lifestyle, proud of what
you've achieved, cherishing of the hard won possessions
you've acquired through years of dedicated work. Of
course it's normal to feel attached to a home you put
all your love and care into, to the knowledge you've
spent years attaining. How could something as natural
as valuing what you've made of yourself and your life
keep you from true freedom?'
An Indian master of some material means
was teaching and said, 'Let me tell you my secret, every
night, before I go to bed, I get down on my hands and
knees, and I thank God with all my heart for all the
blessings of the day. And then, with my whole being,
I offer up to God everything I hold dear. I offer up
my factories, my ashram, my homes. I offer up my students,
my friends and even my beloved wife and precious children
in my mind's eye I see the factories and ashram
burnt down, I see my family and loved ones taken from
me and resting in God's arms. And when my prayer is
finished, I go to sleep a poor man.
When I wake up, I look around me to greet
the fresh, new day, and I see God's grace is still surrounding
me. And, flooded with gratitude, I get down on my knees
and I thank God with all my heart that for one more
day he has blessed me with these priceless gifts. I
realise that I am only His caretaker. These gifts were
never mine to begin with. They have only ever been on
loan. Everything is on loan.
When I heard these words, they had a
profound effect on me. They penetrated deeply, and when
I arrived home after a retreat, I made a silent vow
to myself that I would take this teaching into my life.
Like the master in the story, each night I would take
a few moments to sincerely thank God for all the blessings
of the day, and would offer up to grace all that was
dear to me our home, our family, our lifestyle,
my marriage, our possessions and all our material wealth.
And I found that each morning I arose with a heart full
of gratitude, overwhelmed that I had been blessed for
yet one more day.
My relationships to the physical things
around me began to take on a quality of lightness. I
was fully aware that they really didn't belong to me.
They were a gift from grace, and my responsibility or
dharma lay in cherishing them, honouring them and savouring
the blessedness of having them around me.
I also began to view my relationships
with people differently. My relationship with my daughter
felt extremely precious and I viewed it as a profound
blessing, and I felt an even deeper honouring take place
in my marriage.
Everything around me began to feel special.
Everything seemed imbued with a light, scintillating
quality. I became aware of the ephemeral nature of all
things in life how short a time we really have
on this planet, and how lucky we are to have the bountiful
blessings we are surrounded with.
It was a simple, innocent practice, but
its teachings continued to reverberate with deeper and
deeper lessons about the fleeting nature of existence
and how it is our gift to cherish it while it lasts.
In caring for the things around me, I
also found that part of the gift was to pass on to others
the blessing that had been given so graciously to me.
And I began to notice that the material things in my
life were able to come and go gracefully, and the completeness
and gratitude I was resting in remained untouched. After
a while, it became clear there was no ownership abiding
anywhere ... just life dancing in a vaster context of
A paradox unfolded in my life. There
was the profound recognition that everything was on
loan, and therefore a blessing to be cherished; yet
there was also a totally non-personal acceptance of
letting the cherished things pass gracefully out of
my life and into others' hands if Grace so desired.
I loved the gift dearly, yet felt completely neutral
and unattached in its leave-taking. It really became
a rich but light relationship with the outer things
in my life.
And that is the gateway to true freedom.
Based on the book, Freedom Is
by Brandon Bays.
Copyright © 2006 by Manifest Abundance
Unlimited. Reprinted with permission from the publisher,
New World Library.
Brandon Bays is the international bestselling author
of The Journey. She travels all over the world
conducting seminars and speaking engagements on The
Journey, sharing her teachings of healing and awakening
to thousands of people each year. She pioneered her
transformative work through her own experience of healing
naturally from a large tumor. Her website is www.thejourney.com.
She currently resides in the United Kingdom.