“You can only lose what you cling to”- Buddha
I understand these words deeply.
“Clinging” is what we all do, have been conditioned to do it from childbirth. One of the very first words we learn is “mine”. Innocent, but destructive, the idea of ownership is engrained into our ego. “Clinging” or “to-hang-on-to” is suffering as the Buddha put it. We suffer when we lose grip of what we think is important, and that can be just about anything from a partner, to a car, to your own personal story of what happened to you last week or twenty-five years ago.
When we hang-on to anything in fear of losing it or desiring more of it, we are setting ourselves up for punishment. Why? Because nothing lasts. Simple. Everything is in a state of decay, including you the minute you were born. Why? Because your time here will soon end in the grand scheme of things, which is unavoidable.
Your relationships will to soon come to end too when someone dies or walks out. Your job will end. Your car will break. Your clothes will wear out. Your coat will fall out of style. So, investing in the notion that something is yours will ultimately cause you some grief when its gone. It will also cause you suffering when you have it and worship it and hang-on to it. Your Porsche is simply a nice car of masterful ingenuity and engineering, I’ve had a few, and unfortunately, they made me feel “special” as I ego-tripped behind the wheel everywhere I drove. I ego-tripped even when I wasn’t behind the wheel. It became part of my identity, fortified my ego, made me feel important, and that is “clinging”.
I learned on my travels, especially to India, that less-is-more. I saw people who had nothing, and many by choice, happier than people here at home who seem to have everything. I learned in Thailand to let-go of everything, including my outward appearance when I was asked to shave my head, my beard and eyebrows and wore only white so I could live with the monks in a monastery, and try to live without my ego. Setting yourself free of the burden of the need for appearances and possessions to make you what you are is extremely liberating.
I used to spend a lot of money trying to stand out and be special. My ego signed me up to lengthy and expensive contracts and purchases. Keeping all those balls in the air because I thought I had an image to grow and protect caused me so much angst I could hardly sleep at times worrying about my finances and whether people liked me enough. The trap is there for all of us to fall prey to, just look at the ambitious companies out there trying to sell their wares with a barrage of aggressive marketing aimed at you generating debt for things you don’t need.
Your own story is maybe…
Hanging on to your story of who or how you got hurt in the past is by far the most damaging force and resistance to moving forward in your life. Regardless of what material possessions and financial wealth you acquire in your life, your “story” holds you a prisoner from you being free to find true happiness and joy. I know this for a fact as I used to blame my parents for abandoning me at a very early age.
They didn’t put me on someone’s doorstep and run away, rather, they left me with babysitters since I was a baby so they could go and work and start a new life and family in a foreign land as immigrants. They didn’t know that I would grow up with a chip on my shoulder and be an angry resentful show-off who begged for attention. That is why I have a history with doing very dumb and dangerous things in my early years throughout as an adult even into my forties.
My behaviour of having one foot on a banana peel and the other on the edge of a cliff while doing shooters was my personality, and everyone knew it, but deeply inside I was broken, afraid and very insecure. My “story”, this one I’m telling you of feeling abandoned, gave me the green light to excuse me of blame and responsibility, after all it was my parents fault for everything that happened to me, right?
Once I learned to meditate, learned to open my mind, nurture forgives and gratitude, my story began to dissolve and I started feeling free and alive, and joyful. I could slowly see the veil of illusion lift from my “mind-created” stories. Stories are just that, created in our “mind”. And all of these stories are from information filtered from our version of our experiences.
In other words; what you believe of yourself may actually not be true.