None gets bound by one’s possessions; it is the mental slavery to our possessions that shackles us. – Chinmaya
Possessions don’t bind us. Only attachment (mental slavery) to possessions bind us.
Therefore, attachment alone leads to bondage, not possessions.
A group of devotees came to PujyaGurudev Swami Chinmayananda and lamented, “Swamiji! We are all samsaris having wife and children, possessions and positions; we are bound by hundreds of worldly responsibilities. What is the way out?
Gurudev, who was the founder of Chinmaya Mission and managing hundreds of Mission centres world over, replied, “If possessions are the measure of one’s bondage, then I must be more bound than you all!!”
Bondage is measured not in terms of one’s possessions, but in terms of one’s attachment towards it.
There is an ancient story.
A man who had gone out of his town came back and found that his beautiful house was on fire. Many people were ready to give the double price for the house, but he had never agreed for any price, and now it was just burning before his eyes. Thousands of people had gathered, but nothing could be done. It was too late. So he became very sad.
Just then his son came running and whispered something in his ear, “Don’t be worried. I sold it yesterday and at a very good price ― three times. The offer was so good I could not wait for you. Forgive me.”
Father said, “Thank God! It’s not ours now!” The father was relaxed and became a silent watcher, just like thousands of other watchers. In fact, he started enjoying it just like everybody else in the crowd.
Then the second son came running, and he said to the father, “What are you doing? You are smiling ― and the house is on fire?” The father said, “Don’t you know, your brother has sold it.” The son said, “We have taken only advance amount; not settled fully. I doubt whether the man is going to purchase it now.”
Again, everything changed! Tears which had disappeared came back to the father’s eyes; his smile was no more there; his heart was beating fast. The ‘watcher’ was gone and he was again attached.
And then the third son came, and he said, “That man is a man of his word. I have just come from him. He said, ‘It doesn’t matter whether the house is burnt or not; it is mine. And I am going to pay the price that I have settled for. Neither you knew, nor I knew that the house would catch on fire.’”
Again the joy was back and family became ‘watchers’!
Actually, nothing was changing! Just the feeling that “I am/am not the owner of the house!” made the whole difference.
Greater the attachment, greater the bondage.
What do we mean when we say ‘being bound to the world’?
Any bondage expresses as helplessness, as lack of freedom. For example, when a person is tied to a pole, he experiences physical bondage.
Physical bondage is easy to understand; but in spirituality, we talk of psychological bondage – a bondage at the mental level which is subtler and deeper.
Bondage expresses as worries and anxieties.
Businessmen worry about their success in business initiatives. Students worry about their marks in the exams. A mother worries about her new-born child. This world being full of uncertainties, it is natural that we worry about everything. But it is bondage because though we dislike worries, we still keep helplessly worrying!
Greater the attachment, greater the fear.
Bondage expresses as our inability to see things as it is.
After living together very many years deeply attached to each other, when, say, the husband dies, the wife is not able to accept the reality. The lawns and the gardens, the shops and the streets, the chairs and the sofas – everything reminds her of her husband.
Greater the attachment, greater the delusion.
Bondage expresses as our inability to live up to our values and ideals.
It is said that the Great Wall of China was built to prevent intrusion from the enemies outside. But in the history of China, intrusion happened thrice within 100 years. How? The enemies bribed the guards at the entry gates!
Greater the attachment, greater the compromise.
Bondage expresses as our inability to check the negative thoughts.
Attachment to any thing, being or situation of the world is sure to bring in these negative thoughts – anger, lust, greed, hatred, jealousy etc.
A terrorist caught alive was heard saying, “All non-believers in Allah should be killed. This is my mission of life.” Unfortunate indeed! He has kept himself fuming in a perpetual self-lit fire of hatred, revenge and anger.
Greater the attachment, greater the negativities of the mind.
Bondage expresses as our inability to see the bigger picture of life.
Often parents go to watch their child perform in the drama played during the annual function of the school. The parents forget the happenings at the central stage of the drama, where kings, queens and ministers play their part. Their entire attention is upon their own child playing the role of a guard doing nothing in a corner of the stage! In the mobile-phone’s recorded-video of the parent, this child is in the central screen!!
Greater the attachment, narrower the vision.
Bondage expresses as our lack of control on our own mind.
The chain-smokers, the drug addicts and the drunkards are all classic examples.
Greater the attachment, greater the helplessness.
Bondage expresses as our inability to take the right decisions in life.
Though Dhrtarashtra was aware of the wicked deeds of his son Duryodhana, he could not punish the latter because his intellect was blinded by the love for his beloved son.
Greater the attachment, greater the malfunctioning of the intellect.
Bondage expresses as our inability to learn from others.
When we are attached very much to our ideas and ideologies, we tend to argue rather than to discuss. We refuse to listen to what others have to say; we are more interested in proving than in improving ourselves.
Greater the attachment, greater the inability to learn and evolve.
Bondage expresses as being a victim of situations.
When we are very much attached to our ego, praises and criticisms from the outer world is magnified a thousand times, and they determine our mood of the day. We become a helpless puppet in the hands of others; others carry the key of our happiness in their pockets.
Greater the attachment, greater the slavery.
Bondage expresses as our inability to know our true nature.
Being identified with our body-mind-intellect (BMI), we fail to know our infinite, blissful and immortal nature.
Greater the attachment, greater the ignorance of the Self.
Bondage expresses as our inability to gain liberation.
Being bound to the BMI, we go through the cycles of birth and death indefinitely.
Greater the attachment, greater the difficulty in gaining liberation.
The root cause of bondage is attachment, and not possessions as such.
Hence the wise say, “Spirituality has nothing to do with the atmosphere you live in. It is about the atmosphere you create within.”
O M T A T S A T