“If they come to you, let them come; enjoy their presence. But when they go, enjoy their departure too. When they come, they come alone, so allow them to go alone without losing your mind along with the external object.” – Sri Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
What does he mean? Like, don’t lose my mind over an ex or something? Be, like apathetic? Ew. No.
I don’t think Satchidananda wants us wading through a pool of apathetic sludge. I think it means that when the plug is pulled out of your bubbly bathtub, don’t let yourself be carried down the drain of despair. You don’t have to agonize over everything you have done or could have done to find fault with yourself and others just because things aren’t working out. You can learn from your mistakes but don’t determine your worth based on a tally of successes and failures. If you do that you’ll never value truly value the experience of life. You gotta try to enjoy everything. Don’t identify with the body you inhabit, the job you do or the car you drive so much that you don’t know what you are without those things.
Woah! What am I without all of that?
Getting pretty deep pretty fast. Don’t quit your job to “find yourself” just yet. It’s possible to answer life’s questions while actually living a regular life. I think.
According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, Ch2, sutra 14-15, everything that is external is impermanent: your body, relationships, jobs, money and possessions. These things can give us both great joy and immense sorrow because we constantly choose to identify with them. The elation felt at a promotion is as great as the dispossession experienced when fired. Now, when I say identify with them, I mean we let the desire to have them and fear of losing them dictate our behaviour. Fear and desire, when left unabated, determine a lot of our thoughts, emotions and actions. They can lead us further away from realizing ourselves. So, how do we control them? Feel nothing? Watch Netflix until your mind is numbed into oblivion or the Wifi is disconnected?
No. I don’t think the point of life is to be so detached that we can’t do anything or commit to anything for fear of getting hurt or hurting someone else. Or that we half-ass things because, well, what’s the point? I think you have to try hard at whatever it is you have to do in your day, do it with grace, succeed or fail and still be able to love yourself and others when you fall asleep at night. We can’t see the attainment or loss of these things as supreme. We have to live and work with and for others, in spite of #bestlife or #worst moments.
Use every experience you have to get closer to the love and truth that is life: if I am just a soul, then you are too – we come from the same place. This logic of sameness makes the world a kinder place. When everything is falling apart, try to see it as an opportunity to practice. Welcome the blessings and the curses and realise they are what they are – fleeting.