How can I know if detachment or indifference is growing within?
It is not difficult to know. How do you know when you have a headache and how do you know when you don’t have a headache? It is simply clear. When you are growing in detachment you will become healthier, happier; your life will become a life of joy. That is the criterion of all that is good. Joy is the criterion. If you are growing in joy, you are growing, and you are getting towards home.
With indifference there is no possibility that joy can grow. In fact, if you have any joy, that will disappear.
Happiness is health, and, to me, religion is basically hedonistic. Hedonism is the very essence of religion. To be happy is all.
So remember, if things are going right, and you are moving in the right direction, each moment will bring more joy — as if you are going towards a beautiful garden. The closer you come, the air will be fresher, cooler, more fragrant. That will be the indication that you are moving in the right direction. If the air becomes less fresh, less cool, less fragrant, then you are moving in the opposite direction.
The existence is made out of joy. That is its very stuff. Joy is the stuff existence is made of. So whenever you are moving towards becoming more existential you will be becoming more and more full of joy, delight, for no reason at all. If you are moving into detachment, love will grow, joy will grow, only attachments will drop – because attachments bring misery, because attachments bring bondage, because attachments destroy your freedom. But if you are becoming indifferent…. Indifference is a pseudo coin, it looks like detachment, but it only looks like detachment. Nothing will be growing in it. You will simply shrink and die.
So go and see: there are so many monks in the world — catholic, Hindu, Jaina, Buddhist — watch them. They don’t give a radiant feeling, they don’t have the aura of fragrance, they don’t look more alive than you are; in fact, they look less alive, crippled, paralyzed. Controlled of course, but not in a deeper, inner discipline; controlled but not conscious; following a certain conscience that society has given to them but not yet aware, not yet free, not yet individuals. They live as if they are already in their grave, just waiting to die. Their life becomes morose, monotonous, sad — it is a sort of despair.
Beware. Whenever something goes wrong there are indications in your being. Sadness is an indicator, depression is an indicator; joy, celebration is also an indicator. More songs will happen to you if you are moving towards detachment. You will be dancing more and you will become more loving. Remember, love is not attachment, love knows no attachment, and that which knows attachment is not love. That is possessiveness, domination, clinging, fear, greed — it may be a thousand and one things, but it is not love. In the name of love other things are parading, in the name of love other things are hiding behind, but on the container the label ‘love’ is stuck. Inside you will find many sorts of things but not love at all.
Watch. If you are attached to a person, are you in love? Or are you afraid of your aloneness, so you cling? Because you cannot be alone you use this person so as not to be alone. Then you are afraid. If the person dies or moves somewhere else or falls in love with someone else then you will kill this person and you will say, ‘I was so much attached.’ Or you may kill yourself and you will say, ‘I was so much attached that I cannot live without her or without him.’ It is sheer foolishness. It is not love, it is something else. You are afraid of your aloneness, you are not capable of being with yourself, you need somebody to distract you. And you want to possess the other person, you want to use the other person as a means for your own ends. To use another person as a means is violence. Immanuel Kant has made it one of his fundamentals of moral life. It is. He used to say that to treat a person as a means is the greatest immoral act there is. It is. Because when you treat another person as a means — for your gratification, for your sexual desire, for your fear, or for something else — when you use another person as a means, you are reducing the other person to be a thing, you are destroying his or her freedom, you are killing his or her soul.
The soul can grow only in freedom. Love gives freedom. And when you give freedom, you are free, that’s what detachment is. If you enforce bondage on the other, you will be in imprisonment on your own accord. If you bind the other, the other will bind you; if you define the other, the other will define you; if you are trying to possess the other, the other will possess you. That’s how couples go on fighting for domination for their whole life: the man in his own way, the woman in her own way. Both struggle. It is a continuous nagging and fighting. And the man thinks that in some ways he controls the woman and the woman thinks that in some ways she controls the man. Control is not love.
Never treat any person as a means. Treat everybody as an end in himself, in herself — then you are a religious person. Then you don’t cling, then you are not attached. You love but your love gives freedom — and, when you give freedom to the other, you are free.
Only in freedom does your soul grow. You will feel very, very happy. The world has become a very unhappy thing. Not because the world is an unhappy thing, but because we have done something wrong to it. The same world can become a celebration.
You ask, how can I know if detachment or indifference is growing within?
If you are feeling happy, if you are feeling happy with whatsoever is growing, more centred, more grounded, more alive than before, then go headlong into it. Then there is no fear. Let happiness be the touchstone, the criterion — nothing else can be the criterion. Whatsoever the scriptures say is not a criterion unless your heart is throbbing with happiness; whatsoever I say cannot be the criterion for you unless your heart is throbbing with happiness.
The moment you were were born, a subtle indicator is placed within you. It is part of life that you can always know what is happening, you can always feel whether you are happy or unhappy. Nobody asks how to know whether he is happy or unhappy. Nobody has ever asked. When you are unhappy, you know; when you are happy, you know. Then it is an intrinsic value. You know it, you are born knowing it, so let that intrinsic indication be used and it will never falsify your life.
But if you look in the scriptures there is danger, because for the person who wrote a certain book it may have been a growth, but it may not be a growth for you. He felt happy. Mahavir felt very happy with fasting; Buddha never felt so happy with fasting. So what to do? To whom to listen? Both are perfect beings. If you listen to Buddha there is a possibility that you will start distorting your own feelings; if you listen to Mahavir, there is the same possibility. Krishna lived in the world, loved many women, enjoyed himself. He was a totally different man, perfectly happy. He was always singing and dancing. He had his own feeling — maybe his feeling suits you or not.
So never try any outer criterion; never try the outside criterion for your inside otherwise there is a danger you may falsify your inner mechanism, the intrinsic mechanism. Listen to your heart.
I am here not to give you any criterion but to make you aware of your own criterion, just to make you aware of your own intrinsic awareness. Feel — and it is so clear that nothing else is needed to help it.
From Dang Dang Doko Dang, Chapter Six
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