Naked we come into this world and naked we depart. All the sages remind us. Little Jesus in his manger received gifts from the Magi, but what use were the gifts to him, one might ask. Perhaps the Magi brought treasures from his previous incarnation with which to identify the tulku. Perhaps they found what they were looking for. Perhaps the love they brought then shaped his life. In truth, we have nothing but love in this life. All the gold, frankincense and myrrh in the world can never be more than a token. We receive love. We give love. Nothing is given and nothing is taken. Only great freedom manifests.
When I was recently passing through Spain my suitcase got stolen. I hope the person who took it got some joy from it. I don’t suppose he had much use for a Buddhist robe and a heap of red clothes, but you never know. Things come and things go. They had their journey to make. This is not me, this is not mine, this is not my self. It never was.
In Buddhism we talk of letting go and Buddha talked of avoiding accumulation in the first place, but the reality is that we actually own nothing. We hold various things in trust for a while and then they pass on and leave us behind. Yet, even when we have been passed by, nothing has passed and there is nothing really that has been left behind, because even our life is not our own possession.
There are those who live in search of a Holy Grail and others who seek a perfect society. There are those who try to perceive their true self and others who grasp after fame and fortune. The sun rises and the sun sets and the light of dawn and evening is more radiant than any treasure. Will o’the wisp goes passing by and one can’t catch his shadow.
History unfolds. The signs are not good. The coming year may start a great upheaval. Everything we have taken for granted for half a century or so may be about to change and such impermanence comes hard. A great affliction shall spread across the earth and much will be lost. In the dark time to come, strong hearts will be needed and the strongest will be those least encumbered. There will be love in the midst of the pain.
Practice renunciation secretly, deeply, for all shall be taken and nothing spared. The human race has been mad with greed and arrived at an impasse. More than three sins, more even than four, have contributed to this calamity, but there is no way back. We have to go onward, through and through. It is at times such as this that faith is needed and spiritual quality counts more than gold.