Recently a friend of mine was describing a situation in which giving something away was difficult for him. He said, “I knew that we needed to get rid of those things, yet I didn’t want to give them up. So, (my wife) said she’d give them away. But that was still too much to endure, so I had to leave for a few hours.” At which point my wife happily added: “And I gave them all away.” Then, with a contented grin, he said: “It was easy to give them away when I wasn’t there!”
Yes, that’s the key! What a brilliant statement. When our sense of self-concerned “I” is not there, matters such as worldly possessions are not important. Fortunately, whenever we choose, we can create a new way of life in which the self-concerned “I” is no longer an obstacle.
The surface of the mind is covered with a layer of self-concern called the ego, while the depth of the mind is a spark of the divine which is poetically referred to as the heart. The surface of the mind is ever churning and chattering with thoughts, opinions and worries, while the depths of the mind remain ever pure and calm. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to be so preoccupied with living on the surface that we forget about the pure, calm depths within.
Whenever we choose, we can shift our awareness away from the self-centered concerns of the head, into the selfless joys of the heart; a shift from limitation into the unlimited; a shift from attachments and desires into equanimity, shift from a world of doubt, attachment and suffering into a realm of blissful presence.
The head asks: What’s in it for me? What can I gain? How can I have more prestige, more wealth, more possessions?
The heart knows: There’s more that I can give! I can be more loving! I can be more kind, more generous, more compassionate!
There are many things in life which are intoxicating, but if we considered the nature of life we would realize that there is nothing more intoxicating than our life itself. We can see the truth of this idea when we think of what we were yesterday and compare it with our condition today. Our unhappiness or happiness, our riches or poverty of yesterday are like a dream to us; it is only today’s condition that counts.
This life of continual rise and fall and of continual changes is like running water, and man identifies himself with this running water, although in reality he does not know what he is. For instance, if a man goes from poverty to riches and then those riches are taken away from him, he laments; and he laments because he does not remember that before having those riches he was poor, and that from that poverty he came to riches.
If one considers what one’s fancies through life have been, one will find that at every stage of development one had a particular fancy, sometimes one longed for certain things and at other times one did not care for them. If one can look as a spectator at one’s own life, one will find that it was nothing but an intoxication. What at one time gives man great satisfaction and pride, at another time humiliates him; what a person enjoys at one time, troubles him at another time; what at one time he values greatly, at another time he does not value at all.