When you are healthy and happy, you are at ease. But, you don’t remain that way always; you disturb it and then you call that dis-eased. There is meaning in your words, in your beautiful language. Diseased means you have disturbed your ease. That means you were easeful before and then your ease got “dissed.” If you became unhappy then you should have had happiness before. So, find out what disturbed the ease, what disturbed the peace. Then you can find the remedy and return to your easefulness.

First you were fine, then you got de-fined. Who is refined? Those who have returned back to their fineness. Somehow you did something to define yourself and now you can re-fine yourself. You filled out the forms and defined yourself: I am an Australian, American, young, black, old, white, boy, girl, your occupations. These are all your definitions. The more definitions you have, the further away you are from the fineness, because every definition defines you. What should you do? Raise above all these definitions and then you will return to your fineness.

I will give another example: you were in good form but somehow you got de-formed, so you have to be reoformed. And look at the English lettering. If you want to refer to yourself, what is the letter that you use? A big “I.” You are always a “capital I” when you just want to call yourself “I.” The big “I” has no decorations, nothing, just a plain simple stroke. The simplest letter in all of English is “I.” God created the “I” with one stroke.

When Moses asked God, “Who are you?,” God replied, “ I am that I am.” We all call ourselves “I.” But we don’t want to be just the simple, plain, and natural original I.” We want to be something. We cannot simply say, “I am I.” Instead, we feel we must be something; somebody. We say to our children, “You have to be somebody when you grow up.”

Saint Ramakrishna used to give an analogy. He said we should be like a boat. But see that you don’t become a holy boat. Be a boat without the holes so that you can float in the water. Otherwise you are of no use. If a boat sits on the ground what is the use? You should be in the water, and not let the water come into you. The boat should be in the water, the water should not be in the boat. If you keep yourself free of water, then you can save other people also, and you can take them from shore to shore. You can save yourself, but you can also save others. However, if you even have a little hole, you cannot save others and you cannot save yourself because you will drown.

Individuals should be like that. Be a boat in the water of the world. The world of creation is a big ocean. Be a boat and use the water to float, but don’t allow the water to get into you. Use the world, but don’t let the world use you. Be the master of every situation. It doesn’t matter what it is: your name, fame, money, power, or position. Be the master of all. The only problem is when you don’t know how to use them, they will use you. When you allow them to use you, then there is trouble. When you use them, you are safe. Only when we don’t know how to use something, then it becomes dangerous. Even a small penknife becomes dangerous if you don’t know how to use it. You may cut your fingers. But if you know how to use it, then it is very useful.

To use things properly, we have to get ourselves settled first. Our relationship with things must be clean. We should use everything for the sake of the humanity, for the benefit of everybody. The minute you want to use anything for your personal benefit, then your relationship is wrong. It becomes a selfish relationship, and that is what’s called attachment. You attach to something and then it attaches to you. A simple analogy can be made using the jackfruit as an example. When you cut it, there is a sticky glue-like milk that comes out and if you put it in your mouth it will bind your lips together. But the fruit is very tasty. It’s the milk that is in the skin of the fruit that is sticky. You have to find a way to get at the fruit, but not get caught in the sticky business. What should you do?  A simple thing is to smear a little oil in the hands then cut the fruit. The oil protects the hands, and then you can take the delicious fruit. Nothing will affect you, nothing will bind you. The oil is the vairagya, the non-attachment. Smear a little vairagya and then you can put your hand anywhere you want; you won’t get stuck to anything and nothing will get stuck to you.

Have the spirit of detachment, and with that you can do a wonderful job and enjoy the world much better. There is nothing wrong with the world; you don’t have to run away from that. You might think that the world is terrible and dangerous. Some call the world maya, and say they have to run away to a Himalayan cave. When they go to the cave, even the cave can become maya, if they think, This is my cave, you should not come in. It’s not the thing that creates the attachment, it’s your relationship to that. Keep your relationships clean, free from selfishness. Then no matter where you are, you can enjoy your life; you can always be happy and full of bliss. But if you have not developed that kind of detached, totally selfless relationship, if you are allowing your selfishness to swim around, there is only unhappiness. You don’t have to blame anybody for that. If you are unhappy, there is something wrong with your relationship, your attitude toward life. It’s very easy for us to blame somebody and say, “So and so made me miserable.” It’s easy to point a finger at others. But when I point one finger at you saying, “It’s your fault,” the other three fingers are pointing at me, and the fifth finger is the witness.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda