When wealthy English families in India were escaping at the end of British rule, their essential possessions were piled high in hurriedly-arranged carts.
Though the journeys were often long and fraught; and by the end, very few of their essential possessions remained on board.
They had fallen off or been broken or were used to bribe and barter for water or safe passage.
It must have been a painful and frightening journey. Though maybe some felt liberated by the end, recognising their only truly essential possession was them selves.
It is hard to accept there is nothing to acquire, and much to let go of. It is hard because our mind desires acquisition.
We do like a full cart.
Whether it’s shopaholics in their shops or professors in their books, we like acquisition. It creates a reassuring sense of progress, comfort and stimulation.
And if my mind isn’t acquiring, then what exactly is its purpose?
As an eminent preacher once said to me, ‘I was addicted to ideas. And it was great, because other people liked them as well.’
Yet while huge emphasis is placed on it, the acquisition of knowledge never changes anyone.
Whilst the dropping of an attitude does.
The acquisition of knowledge threatens nothing untrue.
The letting go of an attitude threatens everything untrue.
And most of us is untrue…so no wonder we prefer acquisition.
Each day we must leave behind society’s hysteria and our own self-righteousness and walk into the desert.
And as we walk, and as we leave behind, we will allow our illusions to arise, as they will…and let them fall to the ground, no longer needed.
And we will laugh as they fall and feel lightness and liberation. Though yesterday they were everything to us, a heavy weight and absolutely essential.
We are not our thoughts nor our feelings… nor our illusions.
So as they drop soundless to the ground, there is no anger in us. Indeed, we are surprisingly grateful to them.
For it is through the lie discerned that the truth is uncovered. You cannot see beyond the world until you have seen through it.
So we give up our illusion of control and our illusion of consistency of will and our illusion of victimhood and our illusion of decency… and all the others as well, so many.
And leap in delight. As the Buddhists say, ‘If there were no illusions, there would be no enlightenment.’
So our dear but fading illusions become our unlikely guide, leading us clear of the unreal and to a place of joy.
And even as I write that, I’m hearing that wily old Iranian poet Hafiz again; because he knew how we acquisition junkies can end up as slaves to the unreal.
‘Someone put you on a slave block,
And the unreal bought you.
Now I keep coming to your owner saying, ‘This one is mine’.
Don’t worry – I will not let sadness possess you.
I will gladly borrow all the gold I need to get you back.’