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I can see in my own life the way in which clinging has caused me suffering. I remember years ago as I was losing my hair, how much I clung to somebody that had hair. So I would grow my hair long and then wrap it over my head. That required me to always know which way the wind was blowing! I noticed that as I entered middle age, the clinging to youth was causing great suffering.

Every time we surrender a role or a quality in life to something new, the holding on to the past causes suffering. Ultimately even in the act of dying, the suffering is created by holding onto living.

Part of the secret of non-clinging is to be fully in the moment. This moment is what you have, just this, not what was then or what will be, but just this moment. Is this moment enough? If you say no, what is it you’re holding onto is creating a suffering that says, “This is not enough.” If the mind is holding onto a model other than this moment, there is suffering. If only I were higher, if only I were married to a different person, if only I had more money, if only I were younger, if only, if only, if only… so much suffering.

I recall being at a railway station in India. I did not have much money and I was barefoot and had very bad dysentery. It turned out that the train was going to be two days late, so there I was with nowhere to go. I went to go to the latrine in the station which had gotten plugged up many days before and there millions of flies and it was very difficult to handle. Sitting on the floor of the railway station with hundreds of other people in the same situation, many who had children and goats and chickens and there was this smell of urine and food with so much noise.

Now I was raised in a very clean household and very carefully potty trained. I was trained to see this situation as hell. But there I was, and I was horrified to find that I was happy. Everything in my training said that I should not be happy. But I was surrounded by life force, of people living life. Even the flies were living their life, and I found that all of it, including the dysentery, was part of the dance of life. And I thought, “if I can be happy here, perhaps I can be happy anywhere.”

Another time, I was arriving at a rather run down hotel in the middle of the United States, and I walked into a very plastic room. I sat down and the thought entered my mind, “Only two more weeks and I can go back to my home.” And I saw in that moment, the way that thought was creating suffering. So I got up and I went out of the room and closed the door. I came back to the door, opened it and yelled, “I’m home!” Then I sat down and began to appreciate that the Universe was my home, and that I’m always home.

Where can I go? The art of cultivating the plane of consciousness in which there is no time and space allows you to bring into the moment that is in time and space, the fullness of eternality. So you are in time but your awareness is not caught in time.

 

-Ram Dass

 

Image via Flickr

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