Though not entirely related to the main thrust of the original post, it provoked me to write about detachment, in the context of a human spirit every one of us will or have experienced at some point in our lives…
The notion of death and mortality has engulfed my psyche this past week – triggered by a couple of tragic developments (or should I say tragic devastations) in the extended family…one around the completely unsuspected, sudden and symptom-less end of a life…another around the discovery of terminal cancer.
How does one deal with a tragedy such as death of a seemingly healthy being, particularly when it’s timing was so unpredictable? Even more mysterious that it happened immediately following “darshan” at an *auspicious* religious vortex in south india, on an *auspicious* day last week. Was he blessed that he had to endure no pain and suffering and his last breath was a breeze, after a divine encounter? Or was it a misfortune that he jumped the age line to reach life’s finish line, leaving behind many older counterparts in the family to enjoy “longer lives”? So on and so forth.
Earlier in the week it was dealing with news about terminal cancer…..
……My heart went out to my cousin having to cope with the reality of her father’s condition that she could do nothing about, except be a helpless bystander. Moments such as these serve as triggers to catalyze deeper introspection. A million questions raced through my human mind. How is it/why is it that the silent killer lurks within our mortal system, so maliciously, only to reveal itself when we no longer are in a position to control it? Is there a more benevolent reason why some mortal beings are subjected to this situation, while many others have had the benefit of revealing symptoms, for timely medical intervention and control? How is it that many others have emerged strong and resilient cancer survivors? How do you cope with having to live your day and night with a loved one, painfully experiencing him wither & degenerate in front of your eye…watching the silent killer so mercilessly torture every moment of his limited remaining life…debilitating and paralyzing in slow motion, yet in rapid succession, every sensory and motor organ so vital to everyday living, that we take for granted. How do you cope with the concept of death-in-waiting and watch your father suffer to the finish line?
From amidst the swiss alps, I skyped my mother in India…only for her to see me completely choked by my own emotional state…tears streaming down my face. As she struggled to comprehend “her baby” in visible turmoil, I felt her maternal instincts take over to touch me, and wrap me in the comfort of her digital hug…through satellites and wireless routers into the depths of my grieving heart.
I was struggling with the circumstances around the loss of one dear soul, and the soon-going-to-lose another. My mind was trying to reconcile the contradictions in the 2 tragic events – one that was so rapid, sudden and instantaneous vs. the other that is, and continues to be, drawn-out in its path to the inevitable destination of mortal beings…yet, both outside the bounds of human control. Fundamental to the reconciliation process was faith in and acceptance of the concept of ‘karma’. Amidst endless group chatter around the unfairness around each of the two circumstances, I found myself silently differing. Recognizing the tragic realities as the will of a higher order, for a higher reason, enabled grieving with grace, and coping with the loss with strength & detachment.
After a long period of silence, wrapped in my mother’s consoling words, I broke that silence…wiped away my tears of endearment and attachment, and said to her:
in the context of karmic purpose of life on earth, words like ‘jug jug jiyo’ and ‘may you live long’, popularly considered as blessings, seem like absurdities of human desire (vs. divine will). For, the divine will is quite contrary.
She was struggling again…this time not to comprehend “her baby” in turmoil, but to comprehend what happened between the time I was so choked a few minutes earlier and the time I uttered these words.
Sailing the alternating waves of attachment and detachment, desire to control and desire to let go, in the context of our everyday life/activities may be a practical challenge. Nevertheless, faith in the fact that there is immense Grace in whatever happens around you or to you (most times incomprehensible by our limited mortal minds) gives courage and strength to live & endure life boldly, fearlessly and with passion. Desire to control stems from attachment, desire to let go stems from detachment.