There is a comedian I used to like, called Steven Wright, and he had a joke. He said once, “I heard that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone; so I gave away everything to be able to find out what I had.” Giving away the bundle.
Oftentimes we don’t know what we have when we’re too close, too attached. But when we give it away, then we can wholeheartedly appreciate it.
Many stories from the Bhagavatam, talk about our emotional attachments. One of them is about a king named Suyagna.
The Story of Suyajna
Suyajna was a valiant fighter and a great martial artist. He fought many battles, and was famous everywhere. As a great king, he had many queens. Back in that culture, a king would have not just one queen but many.
After his last battle, just as the battlefield was clearing, the news got out that Suyajna had fought his last fight because he had fallen to the ground.
Suyajna’s beautiful dark hair was now an ashen color, filled with dust, and his limbs were broken. He had bitten his lip as he fell to the ground because he wanted to show his valor and that he wasn’t afraid to leave.
Seeing his position, Suyajna’s queens came out of the palace, clutched his cold body, and held onto his armor. They were wailing as one might do when one is emotionally attached to somebody and has lost them.
When somebody leaves their body, there’s a way to get closure. It is important to do certain last rites, but this closure was not what the queens were mobilizing for, instead, they were completely holding onto their husband.
At the point of their crying Yamaraja, the superintendent who oversees death, assumed the form of a five-year-old child and came onto the battlefield.
Yamaraja’s Lesson on Letting Go of Emotional Attachments
When a five-year-old boy or girl speaks philosophy everybody sits up and listens, thinking, “Wow! Hey, now you’re talking!”
When the queens saw the boy standing there, they looked up and asked, “Little boy, what are you doing here?”
The little boy replied, “Well, what are you doing here?”
They said, “Our husband, the king, is gone!”
“Gone? He’s right there!” replied Yamaraja.
The queens cried, “No, you don’t understand.”
The boy said, “Now, look: same nose, same ears, same mouth, same length, same arms. He’s there! What’s gone?”
The queens asked him, “Who are you, little boy?”
Then he spoke, “I’m the one who’s come to teach you something. You never saw your husband in the first place. This whole time you thought he was his ears, and his nose, and his legs, and his arms, and the armor, and his title, the king. But he was none of those things. He’s a spiritual entity passing through, just as all of us are.”
The Secret to Overcoming Emotional Attachments
The way to rise above these tightly wound emotions that are very, very difficult to give up, partly it’s understanding. Coming to the level of seeing that the emotions we have are loaded up in our subtle material body.
It’s a misidentification.
Or at least our emotions are real, but when they’re misdirected towards the body, which is going to leave today or tomorrow, then we suffer.
Therefore, first of all, get a higher perspective: I’m not my body.
I never was my body, I never will be my body.
I’m going to pass on from this station where I’ve just been hovering for a few years, that’s all. Having that vision is very powerful.