One teaching says that non-attachment is, “freedom from longing for all objects of desire, either earthly or traditional, either here or hereafter.” Yet it may be early for us to idealize the renunciation of all desire, when we’ve not made much progress in supplanting our numerous bad desires with better ones, and it may be we’ve not yet even learned to enjoy taking out the trash.
And if the water is still and clear, we will notice reflected there the awesome beauty of the sky? And if the sky shines in the eye of a friend, likely we will desire to remain with this friend. And shall we also renounce future desires we do not possess? Naturally not, since desire is continuum and evolution of many refinements, and abstract philosophy will not serve as eraser. We must think realistically about desire. Renunciation is a supplanting process, and more of a direction and orientation than a decision.
“The essence is not in renunciation, but in realization of the especially Beautiful.”
— Aum, Helena Roerich
We make much of the bodily aspect and it may even seem to us that the spirit is less real than the physical, so a “real” encounter comes to equal a physical one. Yet, only the spiritual component of each encounter is real. Without spiritual consciousness, a physical encounter is unconvincing and with spiritual consciousness the physical encounter may not be required. The external is, at best, an attractive adornment to a real meeting. Our ability to tie an encounter to a certain incarnate body is incidental. It is the energy component of any meeting that is essential.
And what of the bodies of the books and talks? Everywhere the mediators of great thoughts show both grandeur and flaws—the best are like magnificent stained glass windows, but with occasional cracks, splotches of dust, or missing pieces. One must find enough greatness of spirit to love the grandeur while not remaining blind to the flaws.
I do not see total validity or total authenticity in any book or person. I see that spirit pertains to the essence of things, to the rainbow of spirituality that is the foundation of the universe. But all verbal formulas provide a picture that is “through a glass darkly.” The texts we have, like our personalities, are never entirely satisfactory.
There are limits to be considered in every verbal formulation as well as in those of us who draw on the formulas. The value of a good teachings is it’s merit as general guideline and stimulus to thought and reflection. In the details and specifics, and their application to any time and space, there is often much ambiguity and vagueness. So, in a sense, we are still on our own—otherwise put—the intent of a great teaching is not to turn people into “wind up toys.” Teachings are not the truth, but a catalyst to aid us in our approach to the truth.
A book of Yoga states “Death conquers death.” The meaning is paradoxical. There are two types of death: death as release from a limiting form, and death as imprisonment in form. Unilluminated incarnation is a dim and relatively lifeless existence; hence it is the temporary “death” of spirit. But death as freedom from a set form is entrance into greater life and a true action of spirit.
The benevolence of timely death is wide in scope. So, we hold to a certain pattern of thought or emotional identification, then find it no longer serves. We catch a glimpse of the next turn of the spiral. The old patterns fall away as our mind and heart ascends to the next strata of understanding. This is the freedom of death, the action of a powerful and benevolent principle. Hence, “Death conquers death.”