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Secret of life in just three words
Excerpeted from "Conquest Of Mind" by Eknath Easwaran (Penguin Books), The Buddhist Channel, Jan 7, 2008
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia -- Mahatma Gandhi was once asked by a western journalist, "Can you give me the secret of your life in three words?" Gandhi, you know, could never pass up a challenge. "Three words?" he replied. "Of course: 'Renounce and enjoy!'"
If you really want to enjoy life, he meant, renounce all the personal demands you make on it.
The Buddha, who almost never talked about himself, once admitted quietly, "I am the happiest of mortals. There is no one happier than I am."
This is the joy for which every one of us is born. Not tuppenny-ha'penny pleasures, not tinsel delights or costume jewellery, but a jewel that is beyond price: the jewel hidden in the very depths of our hearts.
Detachment not only releases joy; it is also the secret of health. It is the best medical insurance in the world, and not only because it can keep us free from physical habits that sap our vitality.
Detachment is a longevity skill. Freedom from compulsive emotional entanglements is the best insurance against stress. More than that, by opening a window onto a fuller, loftier view of life than that dictated by self-interest, detachment brings a sense of purpose. Without a reason for living, the human being withers and dies inside.
However paradoxical it may sound, it is detachment that enables us to give ourselves wholeheartedly to worthwhile work without ever getting depressed, despondent, or burned out - right into the last days of our lives.
Most people who work hard, for example bring their work home with them, yapping like a poodle at their heels. Detachment gives us the capacity to concentrate completely while on the job and to drop it completely when we walk out the door.
A detached worker is a reliable worker, a cheerful worker, a harmonious worker. And when you can drop your work completely at the end of the day, you arrive home ready to give all your love to your family and friends. Mahatma Gandhi worked 15 hours a day for 50 years. When he was asked, "Don't you want a vacation, Mr Gandhi?" he said quietly, "I'm always on vacation." It wasn't a flippant reply; he meant every word of it.
So don't content yourself with two weeks in July or two weeks at a ski resort in January. You deserve 365 days of vacation, and that is exactly what detachment can give you.