SUMMARY: Bhaja Govindam Class 16 - 29/04/23
Chinmaya UK Study Class, Śaṅkarācārya, Swami Chinmayananda (Sw. C.)
kātē kāntā kastē putraḥ saṁsāro'yamatīva vicitraḥ |
kasya tvaṁ kaḥ kuta āyātaḥ tattvaṁ cintaya tadiha bhrātaḥ || 8 ||
Who is your wife? Who is your son? Supremely wonderful indeed is this samsara.
Of whom are you? From where have you come? O Brother, think of that Truth here.
Verse 8: Relative relatives
We saw last week the unexamined attachment and the sense of duty we have towards our families and the ease with which the mind takes to unthinking attachment to our partners, children etc.
If our close relationships are left unexamined, we live in fluctuating states of co-dependency, blind attachment or feel trapped and duty-bound, sacrificing our own sense of self for others.
By this, I don't mean superfluous likes and dislikes (these need to be dropped, and our familial field provides us with plenty of opportunity to let these go - by giving us a field to support and serve each other and grow together)), but, rather, in the sense where we start to live adharmically (unrighteously) in the name of our family's.
For example, in the extreme case of Ratnaker, before he became the great sage Valmiki, who looted and stole to provide for his family.
Burnout, workaholism, working inauthentically and/or giving up all aspects of our lives for our families is not what is being asked of us.
Taking responsibility—the ability to respond
Once of age, each individual in the family is responsible for all aspects of their well-being—physical, mental, intellectual, and spiritual. We cannot outsource this to our partners, parents or children or use 'family' as an excuse not to take care of these things.
The reason is on many levels. We cannot serve if we do not feel healthy within ourselves. We cannot give what we do not have. If we don't have love, kindness, understanding, or compassion in our hearts, we cannot give these to another. If we are not fulfilled by our own standards - we will constantly judge, criticise and compete with others.
Family gives us the field to cultivate these qualities; they are not given just because we have a family....don't take anyone for granted!
Secondly, every action (in thought, word and deed) we perform is our own. And we will each face our own karmic lessons, be they 'good' or 'bad'.
Remember, some of the most profound insights and transformative experiences come from what seems like the 'worst' situations.
On the other hand...
Neither can we force our loved ones to do what we think they should do, nor can they force us to do what we don't want to do. For example, we cannot force our children or parents to eat healthier or stop eating sugar or exercise or pray or meditate, or come to study class/satsang, or anything else, good or not so good for that matter. Just as they can't force us to eat junk, become couch potatoes, gossip, or waste time, feel guilty, or... [xxxx] fill in what's true for you.
The only thing we can do, are the things that we feel are right (after we have enquired diligently and are convinced of their legitimacy ourselves) and become silent examples of baby sādhakās (spiritual aspirants/positive contributors/best version of ourselves - whatever name you want to give to living a fulfilled and joyous life) who are able/aspiring to serve with great energy, enthusiasm, and cheer, dedicating all our actions to something higher.
So, Śaṅkarācārya, how do we become less attached??
Every philosophy must provide a technique that can be used to grow into the required state of detachment.
The technique Śaṅkarācārya prescribes is intelligent enquiry.
Intelligent enquiry is not doing something because our parents or families or society tell us to do something. It is not blindly following any self-allotted authority of this world or the hells and heavens.
It is enquiring into something and reflecting for ourselves what things are, the purpose, what is dharmic and what isn't, and acting sincerely, to the best of our abilities, according to our findings.
The questions of enquiry in this verse are: Who is your wife/husband? Who is your son/daughter? Of whom are YOU? Where have you come from?
Who is your wife/husband/partner?
Our beloveds are/were the children of their parents. You most probably had an entirely separate childhood/youth from each other. A whole period when that person was almost non-existent to you.
Then, of the 7.9 billion people on the planet, you decide to make some sort of commitment, and become "tied to each other". No longer will we be alone or lonely in life!
From this one decision, attachment is formed.
Sw. C. prudently reminds us that before we were 'wed' we were independent entities, and after we pass, we will again be independent entities...
Even our dearest ones are only temporary companions in life. Each person is a separate entity, and they and we will pass at some point. The companionship parts when the destination is reached. If not liberated, that soul continues their journey with another set of familia 'chosen' by its karmic condition.
Therefore, live and work together in harmony, learn together, grow together, and serve and support each other; but don't become so unhealthily attached that we miss the purpose of this life.
OK...that's fine for my partner...but my kids? How can we not be attached?!
Children come through their parents, but they are not their parent's possessions or belongings...they have their own lives, their own karma, and their own set of self-addressed envelopes to navigate and exhaust.
A parent's role is to give them the necessary tools, the value system and, most importantly, live as an example that shows them how to think for themselves and become whole beings in their own right. This will provide them with the means to deal with life's ups and downs with equipoise and become positive contributors wherever they find themselves in life and not mere victims of circumstance, unexamined base desire or societal pressure.
To give them a sense of self that is rooted in higher ideals/Life/Self/Lord (whatever that becomes for them; that thing or path that never changes, that will be with them always, that becomes a place to anchor and centre, of space, of light and wisdom etc.)
- First, we cannot ask anyone to do anything we do not ourselves do or aspire to do.
- Second, we cannot force anyone to do anything.
So while we may provide certain samskaras (rites of passage) to our little ones, remember not to be attached to the outcome. Also, remember, children learn by example, not by being told!
This is sooooo incredibly hard, is it even possible not to be attached?!
Śaṅkarācārya makes it easier by asking us to enquire about the next question:
Where did they come from?
We shall unpack this in the next class...