In Shakespeare's Macbeth - we see what happens to a man when his ambition becomes his obsession. It led to his damnation. Macbeth is one of the great 7 tragedies from Shakespeare. It is one of my favourite because it deals with one of the darkest afflictions of humanity - attachment.
Our attachments are no different than Macbeth's self-serving ambition. Whatever it is that we are attached to becomes our obsession. Different obsessions plague us in varying degrees. As long as we are governed by our attachments, we will never know the true meaning of freedom.
How can we be truly free when we reside within the prisons of our attachments?
And who would know better than we, ourselves - what we are really attached to and how these attachments have led us down paths we truly regret, or the madness that goes inside our minds when we do not get what we want, etc. So, to exemplify - it is not the object that we we abstain from or renounce. It is our attachment to that object. How we react when we don't have it, what we do without it?
Many people have the misconception that all Buddhists do is renounce and renounce. Hence, a lot of people assume that we, Buddhists, can't possibly live our lives to the fullest or even enjoy our lives in any way. Honestly, it is really not about renouncing life. It is about renouncing our very bad habits, attachments, fears and insecurities. There is a BIG difference.
Don't just recoil because you see words like renunciation, abstinence and surrender. Understand what these words really mean and what they entail. So, in Buddhism, we may use huge words like renunciation, but the real renunciation comes from us breaking ourselves away from our attachments.
As I learn more about Buddhism and renunciation, it invites me to look deeper into myself and discover what is it that I am really attached to. Freedom is not being happy only when we have what we want or just wanting and needing. Freedom is feeling happy and at peace, even when we don't have and we don't need to want.
Please read more about what Tsem Rinpoche explains about our attachments in here.
One of my biggest attachments revolve around yearning for approval, fame or recognition. This has led to me to do many things which I have come to regret. Most of the things I did were not things I really wanted to do. Hence, in the end, I never felt any sense of accomplishment or found any fulfillment in them. Most of the time, I'd abandon a project or task half way because I really found no meaning in them. This is just one of the many reasons as to why I have not done much in my life, and did not work for anything in my life. There are other reasons attributing to my complete lack of material success, but this is one of them.
In the end, I realised that the only true fulfillment I received all came from doing spiritual work. Or any spiritual related work. I am not saying that this is the right path for everyone. I am only sharing my experience and discovery.
Here, I'd like to share an advice which Tsem Rinpoche gave me -
And Shirley, if you have accomplished nothing in the material world at all for whatever reasons, let it be, accomplish everything in the spiritual world. It's not an escape or to make up or to gain face, but it's the only thing THAT REALLY MATTERS WHETHER PEOPLE ACCEPT THIS OR NOT.
I found my deepest gratification and meaning in doing spiritual work. Truly, I have and do. Nothing comes to close to it. Everything suddenly made sense whenever I do spiritual related work. And there are going to be people and friends who will never understand or accept. And I do not expect them to either. Each of us view success differently. Each of us have different definitions of success.
I equate mine with spirituality.
There are many people who take the road less travelled and do things just very differently. Some find joy and purpose in creating a FB page on a cause or become an activist. Some find immense gratification in marrying the richest guy who will have them and settle into a life of leisure, luxury and comfort. Others may find most enjoyment out of saving animals or promoting good healthy living.
There are many different types of individuals in our world and we are all motivated by different things. I know some people who wouldn't mind giving up their entire lives to save the poor and those less fortunate like Tony Meloto and Mother Teresa. Yet there are people who would only be satisfied if they have the car, big house, wife and kids.
There is no wrong or right.
As a parent, I would like to believe that we help our children to grow and find their own place in this world. We would not expect them to live our lives or our notion of what life should be. We can offer advice and guide, but we cannot shelter them from the mistakes they need to make in order to grow and become better.
Everyone's learning curve is also as unique. Just as everyone's pace and time to blossom and bloom are also very personal.
And if we do want to help someone or even our children, we should remember that we are helping them to become who they are meant to be, not what we think they should be. Many parents fail to see this. If we support someone or our children, support in a way that they continue to become the best of who they are meant to be - even if this may be very different from your idea of success and accomplishment. Otherwise, do not offer to help, give or support. Because if we hold any form of expectations, then we are offering to help with strings attached and with conditions. Then, this form of help and support cannot be real.
I think the above applies to everyone and every single situation - whether we choose to help or support a friend, a sibling, a family member, an organization or a charity event.
As of now, I have plans to create more causes for my spiritual journey to deepen. I love this message from Tsem Rinpoche below -
So whatever you are doing now, do not look at others on your left or right, you just look straight ahead and do it!
I used to compare and compete.
I used to look everywhere to see where I was at.
I'd like to NOT do these things anymore and just concentrate on what I need to do and do them with the best of my ability. Most importantly, do them with all my heart.
As Tsem Tulku Rinpoche says, "So the vows are not suppose to stop you from enjoying what you like or labelling it negative..It is more the perception of what you like. The vows help you to step back and see the reality of your attachments, likes, dislikes, activities and where they bring you….And keep the music playing please…"
Seriously, I have never been happier and more at peace than I am right now.
It's really because I have found myself and understood what I want from my life. And what I want from my life, extends to all lifetimes.
If you are really a friend or if you really care about my happiness and peace, just be glad for me and rejoice that I am no longer lost and clueless.
That would be so nice and I'd appreciate that very much.
I sincerely thank every single person who has helped me, supported me and especially those, who never gave up on me.
Most importantly, I thank those who took the trouble to understand me even when I could not understand myself.
Thank you from my heart.
May the music of love, care, compassion and understanding always play on.