A great stoic, Epictetus, once said:
Your love has been given to you for the present, not that it should not be taken from you, nor has it been given to you for all time, but as a fig is given to you or a bunch of grapes at the appointed season of the year. But if you wish for these things in winter, you are a fool.
What does this really mean?
As strange as that may seem, it reflects a universal law. We do not own anyone or anything. Everything belongs to a higher power. This does not mean that we cannot enjoy objects, people, animals, plants, nature, etc. But nothing is actually “ours”, everything is temporary, just like a seasonal fruit or a cloud in the sky. It is there for us to enjoy, appreciate, learn from and possibly even enhance its own existence.
When I was attending the Ayurvedic institute in Albuquerque, NM, Dr Vasant Lad always mentioned his wife by her first name. When asked by one of the students why he never referred to her as “his wife”, he answered that doing that would imply some sort of “ownership” or “possession” instead of a relationship.
The awareness that we do not actually own anything or anyone, and that every relationship, whether human or otherwise, could come to an end at any point, makes every daily encounter more valuable and more profound.
How many times have you let your negative emotions get the best of you, regretting it half an hour later?
If you knew that this could be the last time ever that you were living that particular encounter, would you have still done it?
The Vedic system considers relationships a type of resource (artha) that is supposed to support our thriving life (dharma).
Learn more about the Vedic pillars for a good life on our podcast episode 0378 released yesterday.
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