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A Powerful Tool for Developing Non-Attachment

by Swami Kriyananda
Spring 2013 2 Comments

(An Exercise for Every Day of the Week)

Every evening before going to sleep, mentally build a bonfire to destroy some aspects of your life you have created around your ego.

First night: Think of all your possessions: your house (if you have one); your furniture; your clothing; your jewels; your kitchen; your books and recordings. Throw these into the fire one by one, until all of them are consumed. Meditate on your freedom, not on your loss.

Second night: Offer into the fire your attachment to home and country; to any racial identity that you fee; to every kind of membership, including church (remember, God alone is the truth; He is beyond all definitions of truth); to any belief with which you feel yourself too firmly identified.

Third night: Offer into the flames every desire you expect others to fulfill for you; even such things as their consideration and respect.

Fourth night: Offer up all pride of pedigree, of position, of skill in anything, of respect from others. You are so much more than any of these. Why limit yourself to such petty self-definitions?

Fifth night: Try to offer up every self-definition, including gender, age, nationality, race, job, and ability.

Sixth night: Offer up every expectation of life: of what you hope to receive from others; from your work place; from your family; from your friends; from everyone you meet. Don’t be a slave to others’ willingness to give you anything. You are the master of your own self; you need nothing and no one

Seventh night: Cast into the fire, finally, your own ego; your very sense of human identity; your sense that you are separate from anyone or anything else. Your true identity is that of a wave on the great ocean of Spirit.

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2 Comments »

  • Tandava says:

    I’m a bit puzzled about something regarding the first item here. I’ve heard Swami describe this exercise before, and he’s added the bit about the lady who did this and then her (real) house burned down. He follows that with something about how you’re supposed to visualize burning the attachments, not the things themselves. But this exercise as written does seem to focus on the actual things (which makes it easier to visualize, too, of course).

    So can anyone shed a little light on this? Maybe I’m remembering something wrong? Though I do feel like I’ve heard this several times, I don’t think I can track down the exact recordings very easily. Thanks.

    • Nakin Lenti says:

      Dear Tandava,

      Yes, Swamiji often tells the story of Lakshmi [Selbie] and how, many years ago, she used to visualize her house burning down every time she left it as an exercise in learning non-attachment—and then one day it did burn down to the ground. I seem to remember him laughingly saying that what she did was a good thing to do, but perhaps she did it too well. The implication in this story is that we need to mentally burn our attachments to all things, and not necessarily visualizing burning the things themselves. You may notice in the “Second Night:” Swamiji says, “offer into the fire your attachment to home and country….etc.” Visualizing burning up the actual things might imply that the things themselves were bad. Things are not good or bad. Master says, “…all conditions are neutral.” It’s primarily how we feel about things (likes and dislikes) not the things themselves, that hold us back from perfect freedom.

      Joy to you,
      Nayaswami Savitri

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