We pin our happiness on people, things and circumstances. Admittedly, their presence in our life does contribute to the joys of life. Yet, it seems our relationship and interaction with them is not always rosy and we do experience as much, if not more, problems enough to turn our life sour.
Having said that, the Vedas teach us that joy and sorrow are really constructs of our mind and not intrinsic to the world. Therefore, the nature of our experiences depends more on our attitude towards people, things and circumstances than anything else. Many tend to spoil the good that they already have in life by clinging on to them. Possessive people are always insecure about and in spite of what they have. They focus on controlling situations and outcomes rather than enjoying the present moment and appreciating things for what they are. Being possessive not only saps away the little joys of daily life but also ruins relationships.
Possessiveness is rooted in our misapprehension of our role in relation to this world. We were born without anything. We will leave all people, things and circumstances when we die. Everything that we have between birth and death comes from Isha – the ‘Infinite Consciousness’ because it is Isha or God1 alone that is manifesting as this universe and everything in it. We may own many things now but truly, as individuals, we are not the real possessors. Everything given is temporary. It is for us to create the life we want and learn from it instead of clinging on to it.
Therefore, the Isha Upanishad says ‘tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā’ – That which is left to you by Him (Isha), you enjoy.2 This statement means that we should enjoy life with an awareness that the good we have in our life is left to us by a higher Source. Here, we learn to acknowledge Isha as the real possessor of everything. By appreciating the good that we already have in our life and treating everything as a gift, ‘prasada’ from the Divine, the ego detaches from its possessive claims. When the mind becomes anchored in gratitude, possessiveness is replaced by detachment and contentment. In the absence of possessiveness, the mind regains inner freedom. This is the foundation required within us to enjoy life and share our joys in life with others.
- Read more on the concept of Isha here
- All this, whatsoever moves in this universe, including the universe, itself moving, is pervaded by the Lord (Isha). That which is left to (allotted to) you by Him, you enjoy. Covet (greed) not anybody’s wealth. – Ishavasya Upanishad (mantra 1)