“Everything changes except the law of change. You cannot step in the same river twice. The river changes every second and so does the man who stepped into it. Life is a ceaseless change. The only certainty is the present moment. Why mar the beauty of living in the present moment to solve the problems of a future that is shrouded in ceaseless change and uncertainty?”
Nothing remains the same in the relentless march of time. If good days don’t remain, neither do bad ones. However good or bad a situation is it will change. Therefore life is a series of ups and downs. An ECG of a person also shows a line which keeps curving up and down. A straight line on an ECG indicates death.
Living in the limelight is exciting, but it is fraught with the liability of losing all that a celebrity has got accustomed to, and perhaps learnt to expect as his right.
Call it the law of opposites or the law of physics, the fact is that what goes up has to come down. And so, while a man is at the peak of his period of glory, he should remember that this period will not last forever; a time will come when he will be confronted with his vulnerability and his inability to sustain this acme of fame and good fortune. This moment may arrive when he feels that he did not deserve this decline, or perhaps he may not find the objectivity to realise that he does, but the fact is that the “moving finger of time” will one day write and relentlessly move on, giving no opportunity to wipe out its decree.
A celebrity will certainly have to confront the fact that the mass adulation and publicity which raised him to the heavens will one day discover his clay feet and drop him from the pedestal and soon forget about him.
Robert Browning understood the fickleness of public opinion and expressed it in his poem, “The Patriot”. The poem opens with the patriot recalling how it was “roses, roses, all the way, with myrtle mixed in my path like mad… a year ago on this very day”. In the first two stanzas, Browning describes the patriot’s moments of glory and the subsequent ones outline his fall from grace. Browning, who suffered on account of the public’s hostile misunderstanding or misplaced admiration of the dramatic nature of his work, ends “The Patriot” with the character finding comfort in cultivating a level of detachment and leaving everything to God.
Rudyard Kipling understood and expressed the need for detachment in the poem: “If”. The poem is steeped in philosophy and the lines that have become memorable for sports persons are the ones that are etched at the entrance to Wimbledon, “To meet triumph and disaster and treat the two impostors the same”.
We should not spend time brooding over sorrows or mistakes. We should not be the one who never gets over things. Frame every so called disaster with these words “in 5 years will this matter?” Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.
Since everything is impermanent, there is nothing in the entire existence to be serious about. There is not a shred of evidence to prove that life is serious. We just need to be sincere in the discharge of our duties to the best of our abilities and enjoy doing it.
The Vipasshyanaa meditation programme explains the need for detachment when students are asked to chant the message of impermanence, “sarvam kshanikam, kshanikam….(everything is momentary, momentary….)” at the end of every round of meditation.
Bhagavad Geeta embodies this message throughout, with Krishna explaining to Arjuna that change is the law of life.
“What have you lost, that you are weeping? What have you brought, that you have lost? What have you made, that has been destroyed? You brought nothing. What you have, you got from here. What was given was given here. You have come empty-handed and shall go empty-handed. What is yours today was somebody else’s in the past and will be somebody else’s in the future. You think it is yours and are deeply attached to it and therefore you suffer”.
Just because everything, including our life itself, is impermanent, temporary, ephemeral or momentary, we need not be pessimistic about life as such. One may think that “what is the use of doing anything or building anything, when nothing will last nor the life itself?” That is a very negative thinking. In fact one should thoroughly enjoy whatever quota of joy, pleasure or happiness that destiny brings, but without being attached to any of those things or beings. We need to develop an attitude of detachment. Detach and enjoy.
Detachment doesn’t mean that there is lack of love. In fact, one can truly love only in a detached state.
Attachment, like everything else, is also impermanent. Our objects of attachment also keep on changing. Attachment leads to obsession and possessiveness, which is very suffocating to the object of attachment, especially if it is some person. Moreover, if there is any reduction in the quality or quantity or loss or destruction of our object of attachment, it will cause us a lot of anguish and distress. Attachment to anything or being is the cause of bondage and sorrow. In life, the thing or being we are most attached to will become the cause of our biggest misery, sorrow or pain.
Krishna exhorts Arjuna to surrender unto the Lord, as He is the Ultimate Support.